Category: "Reviews"

Another Negative Showers Pass Touring Jacket Review

November 15th, 2012


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Image by Wojtek Michniewicz from his review at crazyguyonabike. Captioned "Peeling laminate on SP touring jacket." More images there.

Another negative experience with the Showers Pass Touring Jacket.

I discussed my problems with the Touring Jacket, here and here. The thread also describes some positive experiences with Showers Pass and some design improvements to one model.

Sounds to me as if the Showers Pass Elite jacket may be made from different materials than the Touring and Transit jackets and that the Elite Jacket doesn't leak -- or at least doesn't leak as much.

The Showers Pass jackets, in my opinion, are pricey enough that they should perform well. The Touring jacket is $150. Even if the jacket performed as advertised, that's quite a bit of money.

If you have a Touring jacket, and are having problems, return it. If the vendor won't take it back, ask Showers Pass for a replacement. I think that may be the best way to reiterate to Showers Pass that (at least some of) these jackets have serious problems. And it will give Showers Pass a chance to "make it right." It seems like a good company that made a mistake with one product.

If you are shopping for raingear, consider whether the cost of a cycling-specific jacket is actually worth it. Gerty wears her regular, brightly-colored rain jacket and does just fine. (In fact, on our last rain-drenched tour she was much drier in her hiking jacket than I was in my Touring jacket.) I feel a bit dumb that I shelled out over $100 when I could just wear my hiking raingear -- particularly since I routinely rail about the evils of materialism.

If you really want cycling-specific gear, take a look at J&G Cyclewear's line. One commenter highly recommends them. I have no experience whatsoever with them. Their website, which is not nearly as slick as that of Showers Pass, says that they, too, are a small Oregon company.

Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3 v. Skyledge 3 Review

July 23rd, 2011


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Mountain Hardwear Drifter 3.

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Mountain Hardwear Skyledge.

We took two Mountain Hardwear tents on our recent bike tour: A Mountain Hardware Drifter and Mountain Hardware Skyledge. They were both wonderful tents. (A huge improvement over our old Sierra Designs Flashlight and even older Eureka Timberline.) Mountain Hardwear makes great tents.

They were both watertight, lightweight, and had two doors. The two doors cannot be beat. The widespread use of netting rather than ripstop means both tents were very close to as cool as can be in the heat. Both have large vestibules when the flies are pitched.

I'm over six feet all and Gerty is not petite. There was plenty of room for us in both of these tents -- they are, supposedly the three-man versions.

Which is better?

The Drifter ($194.95) is a great, simple tent. No tent is easier to set up. It has two matching poles. Sturdy enough. Very light. The opaque side panels are tall enough to provide privacy even in cramped campgrounds on a hot night. Stephen said he thought there was less cross ventilation because of those panels but I have trouble believing there was significantly less. The footprint is a piece of ripstop.

The Skyledge ($424.95) is another great tent. It is made for ultralightweight backpacking. It doesn't seem quite as sturdy as the Drifter -- I'll bet the Drifter lasts longer -- but the weight shaving doesn't compromise useability. The Skyledge has a bit less floor area but an additional short pole across the top (in addition to two cross poles like the Drifter) makes the difference unnoticeable in use. The Skyledge packs a bit smaller. The footprint is olefin -- very light but makes noise when you're unfolding it.

The only thing I would change about either tent is to make the tent poles fold small enough to fit inside a pannier. This is minor and a personal preference: the poles fit easily on top of a rack.

All in all, I would buy the Drifter and save the money. The weight saved by the Skyledge (less than half a pound?) just isn't big enough to make it worth an extra $200.

REI Panniers Nearly Killed Me (Again) Today

September 30th, 2006

This afternoon, one of my REI Traverse panniers tangled in my spokes and launched me (and my groceries and my bike) into the path of an SUV. I am fine, but my rear wheel is bent, and my rear fender more or less swallowed itself, in the process bending every strut and fastener attached to it.

Fortunately, the SUV driver was alert enough stop before running me over.

The panniers are crap. On this version, the backplate – which is supposed to stay flat and rigid and keep the bag out of the spokes – curls. It curls so much that its back corner can wedge into one's back wheel.

Black REI traverse (?) pannierMagnify the image

The culprit.

This is the second accident caused by these panniers. Back in June, I was nearly decked, while carrying only a textbook and a U-lock. I figured that having only a couple small and heavy items in the bag was the problem.

After rebuilding my rear wheel from that mishap, I have been careful never to use these panniers when I wasn't carrying something bulky or very light. And, I have been compulsive about making sure that the compression straps were properly adjusted whatever I was hauling (though they were nice and tight the first time.)

I also wrote to REI about the problem. I mentioned the faulty backplate and the curling issue. REI's response said that my letter would be forwarded to “product management.”
I don't know what REI's “product management” is or does, but if they are supposed to investigate reports that REI products might kill someone, they don't. I never heard a word from it or them.

But, the problem wasn't me or what I was carrying. Today my panniers were stuffed with groceries. The compression straps were tight. The panniers could not have been more solidly placed on my rack.

The problem is a dangerous design or the deterioration of the backplate's firmness with age or use - though the latter explanation doesn't excuse REI - these panniers are only about a year old.