Showers Pass Transit - Women's Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Optimized for cycling, thoughtful features, durable, comfortable
Cons: Thicker fabric better for cooler temperatures, no vents, no pockets
Manufacturer: Showers Pass
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Transit pants are an excellent waterproof shell for rainy bike commutes. Optimized for wet weather bike commutes, they define the standard in bike commute rain pants. These are made of thick, three-layer fabric and are designed by a company based in Portland, Oregon; as such, they are optimally suited to the cool, wet climate of the Pacific Northwet. (Not a typo.)
Showers Pass has an extensive and informative website. Scroll through all the info tabs, and you'll find their rating system, which classifies their garments according to their waterproof and breathable qualities. The Transit pants earn 4 of 5 stars on their waterproof scale, which means they use fabrics rated 3,000-15,000mm, and have taped or welded seams. The ratings can get pretty techy, but it's interesting to know how it is measured.
This test describes the pressure of water it takes to leak through the fabric. Imagine a one inch by one inch square tube. Fill it with water and measure the height of the water at which the fabric leaks. In a jacket rated up to 15,000mm, this means that the tube would need to be filled to a height of almost 50 feet before the fabric would leak. This is not conceptually easy to relate to normal use, but useful to compare to other garments which use other fabrics, at least when you have experience with a few different types of materials. This is where our field testing becomes useful.
The Transit pants are made of waterproof-breathable Artex Hardshell 3 layer ripstop fabric. Three-layer materials are the burliest of all waterproof fabrics; they also often feel thicker and stiffer and are typically best for cooler climates or environments. On our rides, these pants were reliably waterproof. The fabric is excellent, and the seams are taped, further ensuring they remain wind and waterproof.
The fit ensures excellent protection from rain when bent over on a bicycle, as the waist is high enough to help prevent any unintended gaps and easy to cinch and hold in place. The pants are also compatible with their four-point suspenders, should you want extra security.
Comfort and Mobility
According to Shower Pass, the Transit pants have a trim fit. However, we found they were relatively spacious when compared to other pants of the same size (in our fleet). This allows you to easily and quickly layer these pants over your casual pants when the sky cracks open during your commute. The cuff zippers help speed up the effort, as well.
The elastic drawcord hem quickly secures the pants in place, while the Velcro tabs at the ankles (one of our favorite features) allow you to cinch the pants (with your casual pants securely underneath) close, so the material doesn't get caught up in your pedal or chain. Swift, secure, smooth, brilliant; they're so great that we sometimes wanted to wear the pants on sunny days - just so we wouldn't have to roll up our jeans.
If these features aren't enough to make you feel footloose and fancy-free on your bicycle, they also have articulated knees, which makes pedaling feel unencumbered by the otherwise stiff materials of a hardshell pant such as these.
Breathability and Venting
Here is where we find another techy data point from Showers Pass; the Transit pants achieve another 4 of 5-star rating for breathability. According to this scale, that means the fabric is rated to at least 10,000g/m2/day and has wicking linings or multiple venting options.
Numerous tests report the transport of water vapor in grams per square meter in a 24 hour period; 10,000 in this case. They essentially all attempt to measure how much water vapor passes through the fabric membrane in a day. As we know, lab tests can only tell us so much about how well gear will perform in the wild.
Over a series of various rides and field testing, we assessed what this "4-star" rating felt like compared to other similarly rated garments. As a 3-layer fabric, these pants are on the burlier, thicker side of pants in this review. The company, Showers Pass, is based in Portland, Oregon, and we feel these pants are optimally designed for the cool, wet climate of the Pacific Northwest.
We preferred to wear light pants underneath on our longer rides, as the thicker material blocks wind well enough to limit the chill of our early morning commute. These pants do not have any vents; however, on a bike, we think they would be annoyingly flappy, and if anything, we often want to block the wind when going at relatively high speeds on a bicycle.
Showers Pass explains on their website that the "laminated tricot liner offers increased protection of the membrane and drier feel on the skin while cutting down the bulk of traditional two-layer fabrics that have hanging liners. The extra protection allows for a thinner membrane with a higher concentration of pores and, therefore, a more breathable, durable garment."
At 11 ounces for a size small, these are not the lightest rain pants in the review. However, weight is not as critical as it might be if they were intended for backpacking or climbing, where every ounce counts (since you're carrying them on your back). Since these are optimized for cycling, we kept them with us on our commutes, just in case the weather turned wet. We do still like to minimize the weight of things we carry on our back, even on a short bike commute, and this category was not the strongest for the Transit pants.
The mesh stuff sack helps compress the pants and makes it even easier to toss them into the bottom of our bike commuting backpack (or pannier) for when the weather turns.
The pants are made of relatively thick three-layer fabric, and we were pleasantly surprised at how small of a stuff sack they (easily) stuffed into. This is great for keeping bulk down in your commuting bag and allowed us to save space for a healthy lunch and gym clothes.
The feature set of the Transit is very well-tailored to their intended use as a bicycle commuting rain pant. They have roomy legs that allow you to layer your casual pants underneath, and they're easier to throw on in a rainy rush. The ankle zippers ensure you're able to easily pull them over your bike or casual shoes, as well.
The elastic drawcord hem secures the waist, and the Velcro tabs are compatible with 4 point suspenders, which are available from Showers Pass. The articulated knees ensure comfort while pedaling, and the reflective stripe along either leg gives peace of mind on the shorter days of the year. Finally, our favorite feature, the Velcro ankle tabs, allow you to cinch the material around your calves closer, so the pants don't get caught up in your chain or any other moving parts while pedaling. These thoughtful cycling rain pants made our wet weather commutes smooth and enjoyable.
The Transit pants are made of very durable 3-layer waterproof fabric, which is the burliest waterproof fabric. They're very well made and are hailing from a high-quality factory. The taped seams ensure these pants will be reliably waterproof for the long haul.
We carefully examined and imagined the most likely ways to damage or wear out a pair of cycling rain pants. The top risk we came up with is getting the cuffs caught in the chain, which is not only bad for the pants, but also for the bike! The Velcro cinching system is a brilliant fix for this risk. The next most significant concern is the amount of friction concentrated by the repetitive motions of cycling.
The articulated knees help to reduce the strain on the fabric in the knees and legs, and the use of burly three-layer fabric helps ensure durability as well, including sitting on a wet seat for long periods. That said, we do recommend a seat cover if you'll be leaving your bike outside in the rain. Even if the pressure of sitting on the seat doesn't force water through (which it did not in our tests), the water under your tush will feel cold.
Given the impressive durability of these pants, we think they are an excellent value. They are not the most versatile rain pant in this review, as they are designed specifically for cycling, but they are simple and useful for a variety of other uses. We would even consider them for hiking and mountaineering purposes. If you need a pair of rain pants for your bike commute, we're guessing you'll get your money's worth from that activity alone.
The Transit pants from Showers Pass make rainy bike commutes much more enjoyable. We loved testing these pants, and they made our soggy commuting days much drier and warmer. For any bike commuter, these are an essential gear item, especially if you live in a wet climate. They are durable, reliably waterproof, impressively breathable, easy to layer over casual pants and street shoes, and well made. The Transit brings another conceptual layer to our freedom of the road.
— Lyra Pierotti