Tuesday, September 2

Belts and Suspenders, So to Speak

The Ocean Shores Ace Hardware has LOTS of Belts AND Suspenders!
This post was INSPIRED by the notion of belts and suspenders, shown above by the “belt and suspender” department of the Ocean Shores Ace Hardware store. The implementation was mine alone.

Over time, I’ve concluded that the most effective and serious cycling raingear today is made by the “Showers Pass” company. That title was formerly held by Burley, and companies such as REI would like to assume that title, but Showers Pass (of Oregon) is IT at the moment. I’ve accumulated a fair amount of their items. For me the weak points of cycling rain protection are head and hand dryness. THIS post addresses head dryness.

Rain Hat, Designed to Work With Showers Pass Rain Jacket - No Helmet Needed or Intended
Showers Pass has two approaches to head dryness. The first is a hat that velcros on to some of their raincoats, as shown in the photo above. It works well, except that you wind up with the choice of one of two fatal flaws. In the first way to use this first hat, you cinch down the elastic to hold the hat securely on your head. In THAT case, the edge gradually creeps below your eyebrows and you lose the ability to see the whole picture up ahead. BAD - while I'm not in fear of cars killing me, who knows what a frightened deer up ahead might do? In the second way you use this first hat, you abandon the elastic. In that case, the hat drips all over and blows off before too long. ALSO BAD. If Showers Pass added a second elastic strap that would pull the hat UP when the main elastic is cinched down, this problem would be dramatically lessened, but neither they, nor anybody, else has come up with that idea yet.

Showers Pass Helmet Cover Rain Protection
Fortunately, Showers Pass also has a rain hat that is designed to cover the typical CPSC helmet available today. I used it in preference to the first hat when I was commuting to work in DFW. It works OK, except that stuff leaks through on to your head. It also only works WITH a helmet. FWIW, that strap at the back is apparently intended to hold a light. Odd to have a light holder in combination with a BLACK helmet cover. Said by someone who just bought the stuff to stay dry and has few dogs in the "style versus visibility" contest.

For "Best" Protection, Use BOTH Hats at the Same Time!
Inspired by the Ace hardware “belt and suspenders” Department, I tried using BOTH Showers Pass hats at the same time. With a helmet/hat on, the elastic was not needed on the first hat, and my head arrived back at home perfectly dry. Rain, however, never sleeps. As shown below, it got my “IGA Pink Espresso Card” wet while I waited, and THAT wet card stained my “high vis” rain jacket pocket. My saddle also got wet while I waited behind the motorists, but a rain cape recently mentioned by Chandra, could probably help that problem. Improvements continue…

Head May be Dry, but Wetness Seeps Through! Perhaps adding a Rain Cape?


Chandra said...

Love this post!

I see the suspender collection and how you used it.
I would have gone for 'keeping my rain pants on' myself, but that's just me.

I still have my Burley jacket, which is has a tear, but works well.
I also have the Endura jacket, which I don't use unless it is cold out.
Now, I have a Carradice cape, which I only use in winter, in heavy rain.
The last item keeps my total body dry, unlike the jacket.
I do have a pair of Endura pants, which I have only used twice so far, that too in Texas snow.
That slipping and sliding of the rear somehow ain't cozy.

If you have the time, might I suggest a cape?

Peace :

cafiend said...

I would offer that what you identify as a light attachment on the helmet cover is actually a reefing device to cinch the hat back above your eyes. North Face includes such a strap on the hoods of many of their jackets.

As for a light seeming silly to you on black headgear, a light is a light. A good one functions on its own merits. A black background serves as well as any other color. In the dark all cats are gray.

RANTWICK said...

I have come to dislilke almost all raingear in anything but well below freezing weather. I would much rather get wet with rain and be warm (you know, wool, neoprene, etc) than roast and get soaked in sweat under rain gear. I have never had any Showers Pass stuff, so perhaps I am speaking out of school, but I haven't found true waterproof AND good breathability in any product I've tried so far, some of which were pretty high end. Showers Pass is recommended by many... do you think I would have the same complaints, or is it just that good?

RANTWICK said...

I'm guessing Chandra would suggest a cape to me too; it does breathe after all. I am just kind of averse to flappiness of any kind :)

John Romeo Alpha said...

I have a newish rain jacket purchased for European adventures in countries where it rains more frequently than home, and by reading this post and comment I've found out what the heck the velcro strap on the top of the hood is for, and what its proper name is. Thank you Steve and cafiend for that, it was really bugging me not knowing what it was or what it does. With my giant head I don't know if I truly require a reefing device, but know I know how to use one if I do.

cafiend said...

Did you ever wonder if the full name of Showers Pass might be "Showers Pass, You'll Dry Off Afterward?"

I've been in the outdoor gear business since the beginning of the Gore Tex era, so I've heard all the explanations, excuses and disclaimers from sales reps. At its introduction, Gore Tex was significantly expensive, so its merits were energetically debated. The reps explained how it could be overcome even if it was functioning at its best in a given set of conditions. Gore and competing companies worked on variations and improvements (and snake oil, in some cases) to address specific conditions and activity levels. In the end, anyone going out in precipitation has to balance the moisture going out against the moisture trying to get in. Human beings are just skin-covered bags of water, after all. Only rarely will you come through feeling perfectly protected.

Steve A said...

Cafiend - The "cinch strap" is minimally effective on the helmet cover which doesn't obscure my view without it. There is no equivalent strap for the "helmetless rain hat." Agreed about a light being a light, but I depend on my bike to keep my own lights stable and pointing in useful directions.

Chandra - I've got my eye out for a cape. It'd keep the saddle dry when waiting in line for coffee!

Rantwick - I've had the same problem with raingear, though Showers Pass IS pretty good in that regard. Notice I did not say "perfect." The helmet cover would work for you without inducing sweat. Ditto for their shoe covers. Their jacket breathes pretty well, though if you open all the vents, the rain gets in and if you don't, you risk sweatiness. That is not a big problem in Ocean Shores which generally has lighter rain and shorter distances than North Texas, as well as being cooler.

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