Like much of the Pacific Northwest, Portland, Oregon is well known for its fusion tacos, microbrews, and a consistent stream of rain that begins in early autumn and ends in early July. It’s the ideal testing grounds for garments like the Cloudburst Jacket from Showers Pass.
Fortunately, I got to test the jacket in northern Italy, where it rains far less frequently. During the summer months there will be a short and sharp dumping from angry lakes in the sky that drain without notice. Clouds hit the Alps and stop, passing their leavings on to reduce the dust. The rain jackets come out, and we ride on.
The Cloudburst Jacket is a premium-priced piece of kit, at €199, or $189. It’s made from the brand’s three-layer eliteAIR™ fabric technology that has a 10.2K waterproof rating to keep your jersey dry, and boasts what they claim to be “industry leading 43K MVTR (Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate)”. The goal for this particular jacket design was to prize breathability above all else for a waterproof layer that you can pedal or run hard in, and I’d say they nailed it.
While sitting still the Cloudburst feels a little warm, requiring airflow to penetrate its shell. Once you get rolling the material breathes better than nearly any rain layer I’ve worn on the the bike. It moves breezes through so well that I figured it would fail hard at the waterproof test, but I was proven wrong. Riding in high alpine summer storms, with temperatures between 8° and 15° Celsius, the Cloudburst has made several messy adventures more enjoyable. It will definitely do the same on colder rides with a little layering, but for rainy days above 15° I don’t bother wearing a rain jacket.
In addition to breathing and repelling well the Cloudburst Jacket has a lovely athletic fit. It’s tighter than some riding garments, and if you hope to wear a back protector underneath you’ll want to size up. Since it’s intended to be worn during a wide variety of outdoor activities, the tail isn’t dropped much below the front hem, but it still overlaps the waist of my trousers. I am 178cm tall and weigh 70kg fully dressed, and the size small is right at its limit for me. In hindsight, I would order a medium to leave some space for additional layers. Both the arms and torso are sewn tight enough that I couldn’t comfortably fit a back protector or elbow pads under the small cut. The fabric is stretchy, but adding padding would make it too tight.
Storage space is also affected by the fit. There are two large hand pockets that double as vents if you want more air flow, and the internal area behind those pockets creates two additional internally accessible pockets of the same size. There’s also a lumbar pocket that’s about the size of an average paperback novel. That’s a load of storage space for a jacket, and I’m not sure it would be comfortable if each of those pouches was filled up. Regardless of how much gear you want to store on your torso, the pocket contents will also be more comfortable if you size up. Folks who are into a more aerodynamic fit will be stoked with their usual size.
There is a stretchy cinch cord along the waist hem to tighten the Cloudburst around your hips in the worst of conditions. As ever, the neck opening is lined with a fleece-like material that feels similarly comfortable to your own skin texture. The wrist cuffs sit tight with an elastic band, so there are no straps or velcro to manipulate if your hands are numb or gloved.
Topping off the features list, there are reflective stripes along the rear shoulders, lumbar pocket zip, and down the length of the front zipper, adding visibility for urban commutes. It’s not the world’s most packable piece, wadding up to about the size of a pint glass, so you’ll want to commute or shred with a bag for storage.
The phrase “you’ll also feel comfortable in this gear at the pub post-ride” is a well-worn one, with little real meaning to those of us who don’t mind looking like cyclists. This jacket has a clean aesthetic that could be called “athleisure” if we need to box it, while it definitely isn’t cut like your average department store fashion. Heck, it only comes in light grey and bright orange, both of which scream activity proudly. Overall it’s a highly breathable rain layer for folks who get out and work hard in all elements. If that’s you, check it out on the Showers Pass site.