Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt

Intro

Showers Pass has been making technical cycling apparel for over two decades, but in the past they’ve been better known for their road-biking line, rather than products designed for the trail. But the brand is now offering a wide selection of mountain bike and multisport apparel, most of which focuses on lightweight, comfortable construction.

The IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt both offer a Trail-oriented fit, fabric, and feature set and emphasize breathability, so I ran them as a kit for many of my longest and hottest rides this summer.

Xan Marshland reviews the Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt for Blister

Showers Pass IMBA Shorts

Showers Pass IMBA Shorts

Size Tested: Medium / 32

Stated Features:

  • Breathable Nylon-Spandex blend 4-way stretch fabrics with heavier weighted fabric on the back panel for excellent durability
  • Adjustable waist cinch and stretch articulation on the hips and low back for the perfect custom fit, on or off the trail.
  • 2 thigh vents offer enhanced cooling when temperatures rise
  • Back zippered pocket and right-hand zippered pocket
  • 5% of net proceeds benefit the International Mountain Bicycling Association
  • Reflective accents of the sides provide low-light visibility
  • 2 snap closure with hook and bar for durability
  • Gunmetal hardware
  • 12” inseam

MSRP: $98

Reviewer: 5’10”, 145 lbs

Test Locations: Tahoe & Downieville, CA; Oakridge, OR

Test Duration: 4 months

Fabric and Features

The Showers Pass IMBA shorts are designed to provide comfort and breathability for Trail riders, with a relatively thin, stretchy fabric and a middle-of-the-road 12” inseam on all sizes.

The shorts feature zippered vents and subtle silver reflective lines along the sides of the legs to add a bit of safety when you get off the trails at dusk. Storage is accomplished with one zippered front/side pocket (that doubles as one of the vents) and one zippered back pocket, each big enough for a wallet or phone. Additionally, there are two non-zippered pockets hand pockets, which I wouldn’t recommend using during a ride for anything you care about.

Xan Marshland reviews the Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt for Blister

Showers Pass IMBA Shorts

Sizing and Fit

Based on my measurements, I’m a size Medium in the IMBA Shorts. But the shorts seem to run big at the waist, so I couldn’t quite get them as tight as I wanted with the two velcro waist adjustments. On the pair I tested, I ended up just tying off the straps without using the velcro so they’d fit tighter.

Showers Pass has now updated their website recommending that you size down, which will definitely make the waist fit better. And we also confirmed that all sizes of the IMBA Shorts have a 12” inseam, so you can count on the length staying the same even if you size down.

Pairing the IMBA Shorts with most kneepads isn’t a problem. The 12” inseam is on the shorter side compared to more DH-oriented shorts, so I found that the IMBA Shorts interface better with thinner, pedal-friendly pads like the POC Joint VPD Air.

Performance

In terms of performance, the IMBA shorts do everything I want out of a hot-weather Trail short. They wick sweat, let cool air in, and move with my legs nicely on climbs. The fabric stretches, but not so much that they loosen and change fit when saturated with sweat.

Xan Marshland reviews the Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt for Blister

Xan Marshland in the Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt.

And while I haven’t used the non-zippered pockets for storage, the two zippered pockets hold gear quite nicely, without any undue flopping or sliding.

Durability

I’ve slid in the dirt a little bit in the IMBA Shorts, and so far, they’re just mildly scuffed. No other damage to report. Given that these are way less substantial than your typical bomber DH / Freeride shorts, I’m pretty happy with their durability.

Bottom Line

In terms of features, construction, and performance, the Showers Pass IMBA shorts have a lot to offer. They breathe and pedal well, and have held up well for how thin and light they are.
The fit can be tricky, and I’d recommend that most people size down to get the waist to fit properly. But if the fit works for you and you’re looking for a lightweight, breathable Trail short, the IMBA Shorts are worth a look.

Xan Marshland reviews the Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt for Blister

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt

Size Tested: Small

Stated Features:

  • Merino Wool blend fabric provides antimicrobial protection from odors, natural breathability and stretch for comfort during aerobic activities
  • Raglan sleeves are flatlock stitched for durability and comfort
  • Side pocket with hidden zipper
  • Flatlock stitching on side panels with no traditional side seams reduce chafe points
  • Soft and durable 50% Merino Wool 50% Polyester blend on the front and back
  • Side panels offer natural antimicrobial protection from odors with 87% Merino Wool 13% Nylon blend
  • Relaxed fit with longer back length for on the bike coverage
  • Reflective label on back
  • Quick drying
  • UPF 40 protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays
  • 150 gsm summer weight fabric
  • 67% Merino Wool, 27% Polyester, 6% Nylon

MSRP: $69

Reviewer: 5’10”, 145 lbs

Test Locations: Oakridge, OR, Tahoe, CA, Downieville, CA

Test Duration: 4 months

Fabric and Features

The Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt serves as both a bike jersey and all-round athletic shirt. It’s a pretty simple piece, with an understated look and two color options. The jersey is constructed from an ultra-thin mix of Merino wool, polyester, and nylon, which makes it super soft to the touch and gives the fabric a bit of stretch.

The only real feature included on the Apex Merino is a small zippered pocket on the lower right side that could fit a phone or car keys. I’m not a big advocate of pockets on non-Lycra jerseys — since a baggy jersey rests on your shoulders and essentially hangs off the rest of your body, I find that the weight of items in jersey pockets causes them to move and twist on your body. I opted not to use the pocket for anything during this test, but I think it could be an okay spot for something light like cash or a credit card.

Sizing and Fit

Showers Pass offers the Apex Merino in five sizes, ranging from Small to XXL. At 5’10”, 145 lbs, I decided to go with the Small since I appreciate a fairly snug fit for jerseys (at my height and weight, I’m on the lower end of Showers Pass’s sizing recommendations for a Medium). Overall, I’d say the Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt feels like it fits pretty true to size. And speaking as a pretty skinny rider, I think Showers Pass absolutely nailed the cut of this jersey. It sits pretty snug around my shoulders and arms, but doesn’t feel overly tight or constricting. That said, larger riders might find the fit to be a bit too tight.

Performance

Wool has a reputation for being an insulating, cold-weather material, which does tend to be true when you’re looking at things like thick wool socks and sweaters. But quite to the contrary, the finely woven Apex Merino jersey is one of, if not the best hot-weather pieces I’ve ever worn.

The thin material circulates air nicely and wicks sweat almost instantaneously, to the point where I never really experienced that uncomfortable feeling of sweat pooling on my back — even in extremely high temperatures when sweat was practically pouring off of me.

Xan Marshland reviews the Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt for Blister

Xan Marshland in the Showers Pass IMBA Shorts and Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt.

The jersey also managed to not accumulate much odor, even after a few days of riding without washing it. As a fairly gross dude who does a lot of riding and camping without access to laundry, this is a major bonus, and is one of the primary benefits of wool’s natural anti-microbial properties.

As is the downside with a lot of thin, wicking apparel out there, when you sweat, you’ll leave a bunch of gross salt marks on the jersey. But that’s really the biggest weakness I could find with this jersey, and this issue is by no means something specific to the Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt.

Durability

After a few months of riding, I have no durability issues to report. I’ve worn the Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt with a variety of different packs on mountain-bike rides and occasional hikes, and so far there’s no sign of pilling or any other damage due to chafing against straps.

That said, I haven’t managed to take a real crash in the jersey, so I can’t speak to how well its ultra-thin fabric holds up to being scraped on rocks at speed. I’ll report back next time I have a high-gravity day. But for fairly casual Trail riding, the Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt has held up well.

Bottom Line

The Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech T-Shirt is a very impressive piece of apparel, and one that I’ll continue to grab for any long, hot day of pedaling. I’d highly recommend it to any relatively thin rider who rides in the summer heat and wants to prioritize breathability and comfort above all else.

And for what it’s worth, it’s also a pretty “normal” looking piece, so it can just as easily be worn on hikes, runs, or in the gym.

2 Comments

  1. non September 12, 2018 Reply

    i always wonder why they put pocket on these shirts. i find them annoying ;p

    the shorts looks right though

    • non September 12, 2018 Reply

      annoying as in “put a backpack on and the zipper digs in your back” (posted too fast)

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