First Impressions: Showers Pass Syncline Jacket & Refuge Duffel

Men’s Syncline Jacket
When it comes to choosing biking gear, I place a premium on versatility. Sure, I want cycling-specific features, but something like a rain jacket should work well–and look good–on or off the bike. Recognizing the need for versatile, affordable outerwear, Showers Pass designed their new Syncline jacket ($125 MSRP) to work equally well for biking, hiking, or camping.

Constructed from Artex™ Hardshell 2.5-layer fabric, the Syncline offers waterproof, breathable performance in a lightweight, packable design. Taped seams insure maximum protection, while the cross-core (zipper) vents provide air flow during strenuous activities. The Syncline’s rust colorway is complemented by 360 degrees of Scotchlite™ reflective material. Two handwarmer pockets easily hold a wallet, keys, and phone.

Just how well does this do-it-all jacket perform on the bike? Very well. The jacket’s full cut provides the necessary room for layering, but it doesn’t flap around at high-speed. Extended rear coverage means your backside stays dry, and the sleeves are long enough for riding in the drops. Most important, though, is that the Syncline will keep you dry and comfortable in really crappy weather (which I tested plenty of times during my rainy afternoon commutes).

The $125 Syncline jacket definitely performs above its price point. Showers Pass didn’t skimp on the details, and the fit capably blends performance and comfort (I’m 5’10”, weigh 195 pounds, and the size large fit me nicely). If I have one complaint, however, it’s that the Syncline’s fabric is somewhat noisy (it makes a crinkling sound during extended movements). The Syncline is available exclusively at REI or directly from Showers Pass.

Refuge Waterproof Duffel Bag
When I saw the words duffel bag in the press release from Showers Pass, I immediately thought of the cumbersome, sagging cotton duffel bags of my youth. The Refuge, thankfully, is a duffel in name only, and shares none of the annoying traits of those oldschool bags. With its modern materials and impressive feature set, the Refuge ($189 MSRP) is equally at home at the trailhead or airport.

Showers Pass built its reputation on foul weather gear, so it comes as no surprise that the company’s Cloudcover bags are made to withstand some pretty terrible conditions. To keep water out, the Refuge utilizes 840-denier ballistic-strength Nylon and 100% waterproof, fully welded construction. Despite its burly appearance, the 51.3-litre bag weighs only 2.93 pounds. While I didn’t subject the Refuge to my pressure washer torture test, the duffel did an outstanding job keeping its contents dry while sitting in the rain for two hours.

For several weeks, I tested the Refuge by hauling clean–and dirty–clothes to and from work. On weekends the duffel served as carryall for day trips, easily holding clothing, shoes, and assorted drinks and snacks. As I am what you might call organizationally challenged, the Refuge’s three waterproof compartments made it easy keep dirty and clean items separated (cue that song by the Offspring). For easy access to small items such as keys or a wallet, Showers Pass spec’d the Refuge with no less than three internal pockets.

If you’re a frequent flyer, the Refuge meets most major airlines’ requirements for carry-on luggage. The well-padded shoulder strap is easily removed, so it won’t get mangled–or worse, taken. To eek out the last possible bit of carrying capacity, both the internal divider and bottom stiffener are removable. If your bag ends up spending time on rainy tarmac, you can rest assured that what’s inside will remain protected from the elements.

Disclosure: Showers Pass provided review samples for this article, but offered no other form of compensation in exchange for editorial coverage.