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If you’re looking for a new cycling rain jacket that is both parfaite for urban commuting and de rigueur for post-work socializing, then the new Navigator from Showers Pass might be the answer. Highly reflective at night, but with a subtle all-over pattern during the day, this is a feature-rich jacket that is quickly becoming my go-to. We’ll take a look shortly. But, first, a brief musical interlude.
As friends and family know, one of the biggest influences on my life has been Taylor Swift’s music. Her album, 1989, was a classic of modern pop and her new album, Midnights, includes a track which I’ve had on repeat since the album launched: Paris.
Paris: A city that’s somewhere where the culture’s clever and one of the other biggest influences on my life.
So, it was an exciting day when Showers Pass got in touch and said, “Do you want to test out our new Navigator jacket? It’s got an all-over print in reflective ink of a custom map which features some of the world’s major cycling cities. One of them’s Paris”.
My first thought was, “How could I refuse?”
My second was, “But where shall I go to test it?”
Well, I’m so in love with the Navigator that I might stop breathing. Taylor may have drawn ‘a map on her bedroom ceiling’, but Showers Pass have used maps of 11 different cities around the world to combine into one overall pattern that they’ve printed in reflective ink across the jacket.
The effect is stunning.
But we’ll talk more on that in a moment because, under the hood, the Navigator gets even more exciting.
At-a-glance highlights (and some tres mal French)
• Tres bon nighttime visibility thanks to the reflective map print
• Subtle daytime design that looks magnifique on the Champs-Élysées or at the after-work bar
• Highly imperméable waterproof 3-layer construction plus breathable fabric and core vents
• Stretch fabric for ease of movement
• Roomy fit allowing extra midlayers for days that are tres froid
• Plenty of useful pockets
• Helmet-compatible hood
• Adjustable hood, lower hem and cuffs
My Favorite Features of the Navigator jacket
I’ve been testing out the Navigator in the Medium and this gives me a comfortably roomy fit (for reference I’m 5’8” and around 180 lbs).
There’s space underneath for a base layer and a thicker midlayer – without feeling like you’re unable to move your arms. That said, I’ve found that the jacket alone (i.e. with just a jersey) is cozy and warm, locking out the breeze when I’m pedaling, or stumbling down pretend alleyways at night, drinking cheap wine and making believe that it’s champagne.
The jacket comes in one color – black.
Reflective ink map design that comes to life at night
The hero feature of the jacket is the eye-catching reflective design. In the daytime this looks subtle – before seeing the jacket, I was a little worried that it was going to be over-powering, but it actually looks great.
From a distance, the gray lines of the map blend into a very cool, seemingly random, overall pattern.
Get up close and personal though and you’ll start seeing all the details of the maps. Rivers, roads and other intriguing features combine together in a kaleidoscopic way. Making a fascinating pattern that really catches your attention.
Take the jacket out at night and that pattern then comes to life under the street lights. Bike lights and clothing with reflective detailing are a good baseline for nighttime riding. But, when you wear a jacket like the Navigator that really shines, then you’re 10x-ing your visibility to other road users.
And that has a massive positive benefit to your safety on the roads.
This is how the reflective ink map glows at night when you shine light onto it:
Highly waterproof and breathable
I’ll be the first to admit that late summer in Paris isn’t the best testing ground for a waterproof jacket. Thankfully, since I’ve been back home, the weather has been nearly endless rain.
That’s not been great for my vacation tan, but it is good for confirming that the Navigator does a great job at keeping the rain out.
Not only is it highly waterproof, but it doesn’t leave you feeling damp with trapped condensation either.
The fabric (which is stretchy and super-soft) is breathable. Plus, I’ve found that the core vents (which double up as side pockets) let out a ton of hot sweaty air and can be adjusted with the zippers to get the airflow just right.
Details, details, details, it’s all in the details
I’m a details kinda guy and it’s clear that the folks at Showers Pass love details too. Why? Because the Navigator has a whole host of well-thought-out features.
There’s plenty of adjustability built into the jacket, so you can customize the fit to make it perfect for you. I’ve mentioned the core vents already and you also get toggle adjustment at the hood and lower hem, with Velcro fasteners at the cuffs.
There are four pockets – two exterior side pockets and two internal mesh dump pockets – and these are spacious. A useful bonus is the key clip in the right side pocket for making sure that you don’t leave your car key out on the trail.
If I was being picky (which I am) then I would also have liked to see a chest pocket. Which I find useful on cycling jackets for keeping wallet and phone in (and being able to regularly check up on them).
It’s worth pointing out that the Navigator is a capable all-rounder and not a cycling-specific jacket i.e. it doesn’t have a drop rear hem. That said, the jacket is sufficiently long that I don’t find myself getting a soggy rear end when I’m cycling through puddles.
Lastly, I’ve really appreciated the removable hood (which is attached with a zipper and Velcro tabs). This has been handy as I can take the hood off when I’m heading to the bar for after-work refreshments.
Yeah, the flashing lights on the (Eiffel) Tower at midnight might be quite noticeable.
But just wait till Taylor sees the Navigator.
This is a highly-capable feature-rich waterproof and breathable jacket. It will keep you dry for commuting to the office and suitably attired for a little post-work light entertaining with a glass of vin rouge at the pub round the corner afterwards.
The real hero of this jacket is, of course, the MapReflect print which looks awesome day and night, and will help keep you safe on the roads in low light conditions.
In “Paris”, Taylor was concerned that “All the outfits were terrible; 2003 unbearable”.
Had she seen photos of the Navigator when she wrote those lyrics?
No, I suspect she hadn’t. If she had, I think she’d have been taken by the view.