Saturday, 19 March 2016

Review: SHOWER'S PASS Rogue Hoodie


In my search for a new waterproof jacket this winter, I had a look at the current offerings from Showers Pass. While in the end I went with a Craft 'cycling specific' waterproof jacket, I also bought a second jacket intended for more general purpose use off the bike but also suitable for casual cycling: Shower Pass's Rogue Hoodie.

The Showers Pass website describes the Rogue Hoodie thusly: 

A street wise, bike friendly, and fiercely weather resistant technical hoodie, the Rogue Hoodie is like your favorite sweatshirt, in a flattering women's cut. The Rogue features a 3-layer waterproof softshell Artex material: the cozy fleece lined fabric wicks sweat away from skin, while the outer fabric and waterproof membrane keep wind and light rain at bay (seams are not sealed). 

An employee favorite here at Showers Pass, we wear the Rogue for fall and winter bike commuting, hiking, camping, on the slopes and around town – over a T-shirt when it’s 50 degrees, or layer up a few wool baselayers for colder conditions. Bike friendly features include a slightly dropped tail to protect against tire spray, longer sleeves with wrist gaiters, reflective accents, and a large back pocket with light loop.


The reference to Artex material meant little to me. ((Isn't Artex a material for covering walls?) My expectations to be honest were fairly vague and low:  basically a sweatshirt type jacket with some kind of weatherproofing. Not truly waterproof and certainly not breathable enough for 'spirited' prolonged riding, but cosier than your usual cycling waterproof jacket (most of which aren't designed to deal with chill as well as wet). 

I've got to say, this jacket has confounded and exceeded expectations in every way. I'll deal with specific features shortly but firstly I want to try and categorise this jacket, as I've never worn anything quite like it before. 



Firstly - it is not anything at all like a sweatshirt hoodie. It's softer than a hardshell (less crackly) but more protective than a softshell. In many ways it reminds me of my old Berghaus Gore-Tex walking parka with detachable fleece jacket lining -- but the Rogue Hoodie is lighter and less bulky, while being cosier, just as waterproof and heavens (that's a technical term, right?) more breathable. In other ways, it reminds me of my Lands End fleece in terms of softness coupled with some protection against the wind, but the LE jacket makes no pretence of keeping moisture out... although it's quite effective at keeping moisture in (i.e. it is not at all breathable on a brisk walk, much less a bicycle ride). The Rogue Hoodie on the other hand seems to take the best from both worlds and bring it all together in an extremely wearable and versatile outer garment. 



On to specifics: 

Waterproof
The seams may not be taped but so far I rate this jacket as highly for waterproof-ness as anything else I have ever tested, including high-end Gore jackets that claim to be fully waterproof (and to be fair, usually are). The conditions I go out in most often include mist or light rain or intermittent showers but I have also been caught in a few heavy downpours in the Rogue Hoodie without a hint of dampness seeping in, not even around the neck or shoulders, which are the most common problem areas. 

Wind protection
The Rogue Hoodie gives good protection from the wind, although it's not a 100% block. It is quite good in the body. I do feel a little wind chill at times in the lower arms, but usually in those conditions I will wear a long-sleeve top or base layer anyway. 

Warmth
I've been wearing this jacket nearly every day whether walking, cycling or using public transport (which always involves some standing around in all weathers). Depending on the layers underneath, I have been comfortable from just about 0C (32F) up to about 10C (50F), regardless of my activity level.

Layering
Layering is easy with this jacket. Through the shoulders in particular, it is obvious that the designers had layering in mind.  Through the coldest winter weather down to 0C, I wore a long sleeve base layer t-shirt and a long-sleeve jersey (both merino). In recent (slightly) warmer temperatures I have been layering a Nuu-Muu sports dress over the long sleeve base layer (or under a thin merino jersey). 

Sizing
I would say the XL that I purchased is true to size (UK 16) and, if you're choosing according to the bust measurement, not too divergent from what other brands seek to accommodate in that size. Sadly, however, my experience with other jackets has overwhelmingly been that they are cut to suit body shapes with hips larger than bust, i.e. the 'pear shape'.  In my case, this means I am forced to choose the size according to the bust but then find the waist and hips -- and annoyingly, shoulders -- swimmingly oversized.

The Showers Pass Rogue Hoodie is a pleasant surprise in this regard as it suits my proportions very well. The overall size permits a reasonable degree of layering underneath without resulting in some areas being restrictively snug while other areas are still loose. In other words, the body of the jacket fits me in a fairly trim, even fashion, from shoulders right down to the hip.

Length 
The Rogue Hoodie has a dropped rear but is also cut a little longer in the front than the 'high hip' length of your average cycling jacket. Because of this longer front, I'd like to see a double-ended zip on this jacket, on which more comment below.)

Colour
The Women's Rogue Hoodie is available in either Black or what is called "Chili Pepper Red". 

I bought it in black, as orangey-reds don't suit me as well as they do fellow blogger Lovely Bicycle! 

A note of caution may be in order if you purchase this jacket without seeing your chosen colour in the flesh beforehand:  the Black is certainly not properly black but more of a very dark charcoal grey, which is  noticeable when the jacket is put against items that are truly black e.g. scarf, hat and trousers. (I also suspect the Chili Pepper Red is less spicy than advertised, more 'pumpkin' than 'pepper'?)

Design Features 

Adjustable cuffs 
The cuffs incorporate a strap that can be fastened in one of two positions (or indeed left loose). When I first got the jacket, I kept the strap fastened at the loosest position and was happy with that. The size of the opening is just about right to allow gloves underneath, without leaving a gap for cold air to get in.




As the weather has improved (not gradually but rather in fits and starts so that I sometimes get 'caught out' by a warmer-than-expected day), there have been times when it is too warm (for me) to wear gloves. Without them, suddenly the sleeves of the jacket feel too long, with the cuffs weighing heavily nearly to my knuckles. That's when I began to appreciate the genius of the second snap (popper) that allows the strap around the wrist to be cinched in and fastened. 


This is basically my default fastening when I'm not wearing gloves. Adjusting the position of the strap is now automatically part of my routine when donning and removing gloves (as yes, they are still needed at some point, most days). 

Inner cuff gaiters
The design includes a thin light insert inside the ends of the sleeves. Showers Pass call these gaiters. They are akin to what we used to call a "dickey" - a part of a garment fastened on the underside of a complete garment to give the illustration of two garments being worn in layers. (You know, the Howard Wolowitz look.)  Anyway, the Rogue Hoodie has this kind of thing in the ends of the sleeves, which can be pulled out to extend beyond the sleeves. They offer a thumb hole. I suppose the aim is to eliminate any chance of getting chilly wrists!  I have tried using them but don't really need them. They are not at all obtrusive though and stay inside the sleeve when not in use. They are made of smooth stretch nylon which I have found to be bit chilly,. Sadly, this fabric snags fairly easily when it comes into contact with the velcro closures at wrists of many cycling gloves.  Because I hardly notice their presence, this doesn't bother me but if they get too snagged, I will probably just cut them out of the sleeves. 

Front pockets
One of the nicest features: fleece lined and big enough to get your entire hands in, without being impeded by the cuffs or even gloves. The pockets are deeper than the zip opening, so small items like lip balm, keys, etc. don't easily fall out. I've even discovered after an hour out on the bike that I've forgotten to zip up the pocket, yet everything is still there. Big win here.

Light loop in rear pocket
I'll get a photo of this but there aren't many lights that can be usefully fastened to the loop that has been fitted inside the rear pocket -- and any such lights I have found are cheap poor quality ones that don't serve their purpose so I don't buy them.  So.... I have found the light loop inside a pocket concept a non-starter.

Reflectives
These are minimalistic, consisting of one strip of narrow piping across the chest (with bits adjoining that reach under the armpits, for reasons unknown) a strip across the upper back and two strips à la 'Princess seams' down the back. The outer-facing surface of the cuff straps are reflective but not much surface area is exposed if the strap is loose, i.e. when I'm riding my bike. I'd consider these a nod to convention more than anything, certainly not to be relied upon as safety features.

Hood
This is good for those that like hoods, bad for those who don't. I personally don't use them very often and this one doesn't bother me. Or rather... the presence of a hood would not bother me except for one small but crucial detail of the design that, in my view, is a complete fail.

It's the 'grown on' look.


The hood ought to be attached at the base of the high stand-up 'funnel neck' collar, rather than sewn onto the top of the collar. The hood adds weight. Attached to the base of the neck, it's within easy reach when you want to use it but it's out of the way when you don't. Attached to the top, the weight is felt whenever the hood is not in use. It pulls the collar down.  When the collar is full zipped, the toggles of the hood rest on your face. (It would be nowhere near the face if affixed to the base of the neck.)  Cycling into a headwind with the collar up, the hood scoops up air and... guess what... pulls the collar back. This is uncomfortable in all circumstances - it is only a matter of what degree of discomfort you experience, depending on the strength of the wind. 

Attached in this way, too, there is no way for mere amateurs such as myself to remove the hood altogether. I would have to take the jacket to a professional seamstress to have it done. My problem is, I do use the hood occasionally when off the bike, such as when waiting for a bus in the rain. So I hesitate to lose the hood altogether. I would just like it not to be in the way -- and not liable to choke me -- when I'm not using it. 


While I'm discussing "negatives", there is just one other detail I would do differently on this jacket:  a double-ended zipper down the front. 

Maybe it's because this jacket is a bit longer in the front (less of a difference between the length in the front and the length in the back) than jackets that are blatantly cycling-specific. Maybe it's because I'm proportionately a little short in the body. But I have loved double-ended zips whenever I've had the great fortune to wear a jacket with one. I think they are tremendously sensible and useful and I'd like them on all my jackets!  (In fact, my Berghaus jacket, my last Showers Pass waterproof cycling jacket and my Madison softshell all have them.) 

I have spoken to a number of brand representatives at cycling shows about the advantages of double-ended zips. They don't seem to think there is much demand for them. Admittedly, they are a little more expensive than 'normal' zippers. But not by much. And when we're talking about garments that cost more than £100, the difference between a good quality single-direction zip and a corresponding dual-direction zip is surely negligible. I find myself particularly annoyed about it with this jacket because Showers Pass do use double-ended zips in other models of jacket that they design, make and sell. And given all the obvious 'extra thought' that has gone into some of the not-strictly-necessary-but-nice-to-have features of this jacket such as the cuff straps and inner gaiters, surely a better zip is warranted? 

Okay, it's just me, then.

Nonetheless, the single zip and the 'grown on' hood do not keep me from wearing this jacket pretty much all the time, every day, practically every time I step out of the house.Who knows, maybe I love it because of its two "I'd do this differently" design flaws, not in spite of them! 

VERDICT

Cycling-specific design features: 9 / 10

Usefulness e.g. accessibility and comfort: 9 / 10 
My only complaints are the method of attachment of the hood and the lack of a dual zipper. Weighed against the amazing combination of waterproofness and breathability, and the range of temperatures in which this jacket is comfortable, those are mere trifles.

Durability:  9 / 10
Only time will tell. So far, I have trimmed two small loose threads from beside the zipper, and there is some snagging to the wrist gaiters.

Attractiveness:  9 / 10 
Practical design for cycling but equally doesn't scream "CYCLIST!" when away from the bike. I think the overall impression is fairly discreet casual winter outerwear. And it looks well made.

Value for money: 9/ 10 
I paid approximately £100 for this jacket (with a store discount). I feel that is extremely good value for a jacket I expect to wear 4-5 months out of the year, in winter conditions for, I should hope, 4-5 years. 

Overall: 45/10




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Alternatives you may wish to consider 

Vulpine makes a "Waterproof Utility Jacket" (available in Charcoal, Mulberry or Aqua) with very similar features plus the hood attachment method I prefer, but it appears to be a shell i.e. not fleecy on the inside. It looks beautifully made and is no doubt of Vulpine's usual high quality. It is however much more expensive than the Showers Pass Rogue Hoodie, at £229.

1 comment:

  1. A very in-depth review-- I've yet to find a "normal clothes" cycling jacket that I like, so I rotate through various materials and colors with a separate set of rain gear. I've heard good things about Showers Pass, I'll have to try one on someday.

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