In partnership with Showers Pass
On paper, the new Cloudburst jacket from Showers Pass promises a lot and I was keen to give it a spin in the kind of weather that would really test it out. In the end, the weather didn’t disappoint, and neither did the jacket.
When you’re on the hunt for a new cycling jacket it often feels like you have a spectrum of wet weather gear to choose from. At one end, you have jackets that are light and pack up small…but aren’t very waterproof. At the other end, you have jackets that are very waterproof, but so heavy and bulky that you have to leave them at home unless it’s already raining cats, dogs, and an assortment of other domesticated animals.
A cycling jacket that is waterproof, light and packs up small feels like the holy grail. A waterproof, light and packable cycling jacket that won’t break your credit card? Wow. A waterproof, light and packable cycling jacket from a company with a heritage that stretches from Oregon all the way back across the Atlantic to a little spot that’s an hour’s drive from where yours truly was born and raised? Now, that’s worth a closer look.
There’s a ton of great features to take a look at with the Cloudburst, so let’s dive in. I’ll add in my own thoughts on what I like (lots) and dislike (not a lot) about the jacket and we’ll see who it might be useful for (hint: bikepackers might want to read on).
What do Showers Pass say
“eliteAIR™ fabric keeps the elements out whilst allowing perspiration to ventilate”
“4-way stretch fabric is soft to touch and moves with your body”
“Large core vents double as mesh pockets”
“Jacket packs down to fit inside back pocket”
“Weight: 9.8 oz (Medium)”
What do I like
The cycle jacket I’ve been testing is the Orange in size Large and there’s also a Titanium color, with sizes available being Small to XL. In addition, there’s a women’s version with the same color/sizing options. I’m 5’8” and around 180lbs and the fit of the jacket was great. Snug around the waist band and cuffs, as it should be, with sufficient room down the body and along the arms so that I didn’t feel constricted on the bike. I’ve worn the jacket with just a jersey and also a jersey/softshell combo and the fit has been good. The collar was a comfortable fit (I take a 16.5” collar in a dress shirt) – not tight but not too loose that the wind whistles down your neck.
When I’m picking raincoats for biking, I always like to go with bright colors, and the orange Cloudburst didn’t let me down. In my experience, wet weather often comes with reduced visibility on the roads and so a waterproof bike jacket that makes you more noticeable to drivers can only be a good thing. The titanium is a great color for when this isn’t an issue or where you’re trying to fly a little more under-the-radar.
In the Showers Pass website Tech Specs, the eliteAIR fabric sound great, but what is it like out on the road? Well, I’ve taken this jacket out in some fairly mixed weather to say the least. One day it’s been pouring with rain and the next it’s blazing sunshine. Waterproof breathable cycling jackets can make all the difference in those kind of conditions. In my experience, the Cloudburst held up to the worst downpours without letting any rainwater through onto my jersey. And, on warmer sunnier days, when I cycled in the jacket to test out its windproof and breathable abilities, it performed superbly. Letting sweat evaporate leaving me dry and keeping the windchill down low.
One aspect of the jacket fabric that I particular like is its stretch. All the bike raincoats that I’ve tried in the past (even thin waterproof jackets) have felt stiff and crinkly to the touch. Not so with the Cloudburst. The eliteAIR fabric feels soft and warm, making it comfy against bare skin and giving a ‘not there at all’ feeling which is particularly appreciated. The stretch makes it especially good for cycling in – moving WITH you rather than constricting you. And so it’s been a great piece of gear for MTB and gravel biking, where you tend to move around more on the bike than with road cycling.
The jacket performs great when it’s on your back, but how does it perform when you pack it away? I’d been on the hunt recently for an ultralight rain jacket for cycling. A cycling rain jacket that was highly packable, without sacrificing waterproofing or breathability or a good fit. In the Cloudburst it’s possible that I’ve found it.
With a number of bikepacking trips planned for the near future, it’s been a goal (obsession?) of mine to track down the best cycling gear that packs up small and is light to carry. The Cloudburst measures up very well indeed on both of these metrics. Weight for the Large is only 10.5 oz (299gm) which won’t upset even the most extreme of weight weenies. This makes it the most lightweight rain jacket in the entire Showers Pass range. The jacket packs down into its own back pocket and then measures around 8” x 6.5” x 3.5” (20x16x9cm). But that only tells half the story, because without too much effort you can then compress this down to a barely-there 5” x 4” x 2.5” (13x10x6cm). Is this the most packable cycling rain jacket? Possibly.
A few other stand-out features to mention are the hi vis reflective elements on the chest, zips, cuffs and across the back – useful for getting you noticed on gloomy days. Plus the extra roomy side pockets, which double up as useful ventilation to help you keep your cool.
There’s also a side-benefit to the soft eliteAIR fabric in that it’s super quiet. I’ve tried plenty of raincoats for biking in my time and generally found that, the more waterproof they are, the more crinkly and loud the fabric is whenever you move. Thankfully, Showers Pass have hit the sweet spot with a fabric for the Cloudburst that is soft, warm, highly breathable, virtually impervious to wind and rain, and doesn’t require teaming up with a set of noise-cancelling headphones. Phew.
What do I dislike
To be honest, there’s not a lot that I dislike about the Cloudburst, but there are one or two niggles that it’s worth being aware of.
The main point to note is that the jacket isn’t a specific cycling cut. It’s primarily designed as a running jacket, so there was no need for the rear hem to drop down as far as it would on a ‘true’ cycle rain jacket. Is this a problem? For me, no. I’ve tried the jacket on different bikes, with different riding positions, to see how far up the rear hem was pulled as I hunched over the handlebars. On mountain bikes, hybrids, and cruisers there’s been no issue. Even on road bikes, there’s been sufficient overlap between jacket hem and bike shorts to avoid any danger of getting a chilly slice of lower back as I rode along.
Interestingly, I suspect that this runners cut helps contribute significantly to the ultralightness of the jacket – less fabric for the drop hem means less total ounces of jacket weight.
The jacket also doesn’t have a hood (which again will help with weight). Whilst this may be an issue for some riders, this wasn’t a concern for me. Particularly as I’ve been sporting Showers Pass’ new Crosspoint waterproof beanie through the colder and damper months. Keeping my head warm and dry.
I’ve already mentioned that the cuffs on the Cloudburst are snug and comfortable. They’re elasticated, however, and don’t have the Velcro adjustment that you’d get on some coats. I’ve been testing the Cloudburst with the Crosspoint Knit gloves and the jacket cuffs have gone easily over the glove cuffs. If you wear much bulkier ski-type gloves for riding in the depths of winter then this may be a challenge as the jacket cuffs probably won’t stretch sufficiently to go over them.
As I read back through these points, I think it’s worth stressing that none of these are in any way dealbreakers for me. And actually, in the case of the ‘runners’ style rear hem, that weight reduction that it gives is actually a benefit when it comes to packing for bikepacking trips, etc.
Who is it for
I’ve mentioned that I’ve got some bikepacking trips coming up and I’ll definitely be taking the Cloudburst with me on those. For its combo of wet weather protection, ultralight weight, windproofing, and packability, this cycling jacket is one of the best there is for bike touring and bike camping trips.
It also excels for bike commuting. Office washroom locker space always tends to be fairly tight and this won’t take up much space. And, being able to stuff it in a pocket for your journey, means that, should the rain start to pour, you’ll be able to keep your office-friendly button down in pristine condition and not arrive a soggy and bedraggled mess.
Those are a couple specific examples but really any time you’re going out for a bike ride and you look up at the dark clouds and think, “will it stay dry or will it rain?” Then you should grab the Cloudburst and tuck it into your jersey pocket ready for use at a moment’s notice.
I like it. I like it a lot.
Is it the best waterproof cycling jacket? I don’t know. Is it the smallest packable, most ultralight, waterproof, windproof, and highly breathable wet weather cycling jacket? Yes, I think it probably is.
The Cloudburst is your new best friend for those days when drizzle and downpours are possible (aren’t they always?) and on-the-bike cargo space is at a premium (isn’t it always?).
Grab a Cloudburst now and laugh in the face of the rain.