As an all-weather bike commuter I find the days I struggle most are when it rains. In the warm summer months, I just accept my fate and get wet, then towel off and change when I get to work or home, as rain gear would surely make me not only just as wet with sweat, but smelly, too!
The winter is more of a struggle, though; I’ve had a waterproof jacket and boots for many years which have been invaluable, but my legs would end up getting wet in my regular tights so I’d have to bring an extra change of clothes to change into for my ride home.
After a few days in a row of rainy days close to the freezing point this winter I had finally had enough of that, so I purchased a pair of Showers Pass Transit rain pants to finally stay a little dryer and warmer on rainy days.
What’s in the package?
The pants came on a hanger with a mesh bag and various literature about the company and the Artex material, which is what keeps the pants waterproof. I imagine this material is essentially their version of Gore-Tex’s own waterproof material.
I quickly discovered that the mesh bag is great for holding the pants while they’re rolled up. This is perfect for tossing the pants in your pannier or backpack on days when rain is a “maybe” in the forecast, although it’s still quite bulky and at 14 ounces (400 grams) on my kitchen scale it’s certainly not something for a jersey or jacket pocket.
The pants I purchased were a size medium, and I’m glad I tried them on in the store before buying because I usually defer to a size large in cycling gear.
At 6′ 1″ tall with a 33-inch waist I found the large plenty long but far too baggy to stay up, whereas the medium had an acceptable length for my height with a waistband that actually fit.
The pants have suspender straps, which I suspect is for those who don’t fit so well into the standard S/M/L/XL sizes.
I always wore my Northwave winter boots with these pants, as they have a very high ankle cuff and a Gore-Tex waterproof exterior to keep them waterproof. Off the bike, the length of the pants was plenty long to go over my shoes and in theory, would keep water out.
Reflective stripes go up and down the entire length of the sides of each leg, which is great for visibility since a cyclist’s profile is usually the least visible as far as lights and reflectivity in poor conditions or at night.
Unfortunately, reflective material was not on the backs of the legs, which I found to be a curious omission for a product designed to be used in poor weather and poor visibility.
The bottom of the legs each have velcro straps to tighten the leg if need be, which can be useful to prevent the pants from rubbing on or getting caught in your chain or cranks.
On mine I tightened up the right side a little bit to stop rubbing on my chain (I have a 1x drivetrain, and in a 2x drivetrain it’s possible the pants may have gotten snagged on the big chainring), but I couldn’t tighten the velcro too much or the pant legs would not go over my shoe’s cuff anymore and as a result water would just pour down the shoe.
Both pant legs also have a very long zipper to help you pull the pants on over your legs with shoes already on, which would happen if it started raining in the middle of your ride or commute and you wanted to put the pants on without removing shoes.
All the seams inside the pants are taped, which keeps water from intruding at the points of stitching. Taped seams are not all made the same, but the seams on these pants are on par with higher end rain gear that I’ve seen or own.
I’ve spent the last three months using these pants on any day where it rains, in temperatures as low as 35 degrees and as high as 60 degrees (this winter was unfortunately devoid of snow for me, otherwise I would have gladly tested then as well!).
The Artex material does a wonderful job blocking the wind, and on dry mornings where I wore the pants expecting rain they were plenty warm despite their baggy fit compared to the tights I’m used to, and with my winter boots and heavy wool socks I had no problem staying warm wearing nothing underneath the pants except standard summer-weight cycling shorts.
In the rain the water truly beaded right off the pants, and even in an hour-long ride in torrential rain, the pants never felt like they were starting to soak up water and my legs remained completely dry.
The only time my legs actually ever felt wet was that day where I tried them at 60 degrees, and the wet was from a little bit of sweat and not rain. I was expecting to get far sweatier than I did but the Artex material apparently breathes really well.
The tricky part with the pants, though, is making sure they’re long enough throughout your pedal stroke. It doesn’t matter that they fit perfectly while standing up if they can’t cover your shoes when pedaling (these are pants for the bike, after all!), otherwise water will just run down into your shoes.
At the bottom of my pedal stroke, the length was perfect, nearly the same as when standing up.
When at the top of my pedal stroke with my knee bend the most the coverage did not look as good as at the bottom of the stroke, but it was still enough to cover my shoes and prevent water intrusion.
I will admit that on longer rides and heavier rain the cuffs of my shoes, and occasionally the tops of my socks extending past the shoes, did get wet a little from splashing, but I expect that’s likely to happen with nearly any pant and my feet overall were still completely dry after changing socks.
I really can’t say enough how impressed with these pants, especially at the price of a little over a hundred dollars when high-quality rain gear often costs two or three times that.
My only real complaint with them is that they lack the reflective material on the rear that Showers Pass’s higher-end pants have, but I hope you have enough lights and reflective gear on you and the bike otherwise for that to not be an issue.
I highly recommend these pants, and while I’d suggest you try them on before you buy at your local bike shop (don’t showroom your local bike shop!), if you trust size charts enough you could also pick them up on Amazon here.