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Living in a corner of the country where rain is on the daily menu nine months of the year, I have developed something of an obsession with jackets. I have my reasons: A truly water-repellant jacket can prove the difference between pedaling blissfully for hours and having an obituary written about you that prominently features the word “hypothermia.” That may sound like hyperbole, but the last thing you want to do is discover-20 miles from the trailhead-is what happens when your core temperature dips below the point of no return. It’s hard to put a price tag on “warm and dry.”

Showers Pass is an outfit out of Portland that made its bones with no-nonsense bicycle-commuter garb. In recent years, Showers Pass has expanded its line to include apparel targeted at the more adventurous side of cycling. Consider the Refuge: it works great on the bike-there’s plenty of mechanical venting here that keeps you from steaming alive during hard efforts and the generous drop-tail keeps your backside from collecting all that disgusting road spackle from your rear tire. Not feeling the hood? Just unzip it.

One of the Refuge’s greatest assets, however, is that is works well for any outdoor application that requires a light-yet-rugged waterproof layer. The jacket’s cut isn’t so form fitting that it is constricting-something, unfortunately, true of many cycling rain jackets. You can safely wear the Refuge into the supermarket or gas station without feeling like you are wearing a body condom in public. Always a good thing. When you are paying this much for a piece of apparel, you’ll probably want it to be useful for more than just one activity-the Refuge excels here.

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The Refuge works brilliantly for commuting and mountain biking--the drop tail rear is just one of many key features. Very effective vents, a detachable hood, velcro cuffs, drawstring hem, plenty of pockets and generous reflective highlights round out the package.

The Refuge works brilliantly for commuting and mountain biking–the drop tail rear is just one of many key features. Very effective vents, a detachable hood, velcro cuffs, drawstring hem, plenty of pockets and generous reflective highlights round out the package.

“Waterproof” is a seemingly simple ideas fraught with complications. There are plenty of allegedly waterproof jackets that fail to hold up to more than even a couple hours of rain. Lackluster materials and relatively weak factory-applied waterproofing are usually to blame. Showers Pass, however, takes the term “waterproof” seriously. I’ve ridden out dozens of rainstorms in the Refuge with nary a leak.

This fully seam-taped jacket is made from a triple layer, waterproof-breathable hardshell fabric that sheds water like a duck. Showers Pass also equipped the Refuge with large YKK Aquaguard zippers, which keep out the wet and are also easy to operate, even when your hands are cold, wet, and frozen into that distinctive lobster-claw shape that makes simple actions like unzipping a coat nigh impossible.

Smartly designed, durable, and versatile, the Showers Pass Refuge has a lot going for it.

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$279 – BUY


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