Move Over Lycra: Showers Pass XC and Gravel Gear [Review]

Photo: Hannah Morvay

As gravel riding has evolved over the past few years, there still seems to be two major cultural influences: that of road biking and that of mountain biking. Races like the DK see Tour de France riders pulling on the Lycra, but the mountain bike side of dirt road riding is sticking with its roots.

Showers Pass – and others – have some new gravel kits, which include shorter and slimmer shorts, light weights, technical materials, and designs made for long days in the saddle.

Showers Pass Men’s/Women’s Apex Merino T-shirt

Photo: Hannah Morvay

The Apex Merino shirt (available online at Moosejaw and Amazon) doesn’t look like a bike jersey and that’s what I like about it. The fabric is a Merino wool blend, and feels very light. Both myself and Hannah, who tested the women’s version, found that the Apex dries quickly, moving sweat to the exterior and is comfortable on warmer days. There aren’t any pockets or real tech features on the shirt, and that’s OK.

The fabric holds up well to snags and stink, and I have felt fine about wearing the shirt twice before a wash. The Apex comes in three colors and five sizes for men, and four colors and six sizes for women. At $75, it’s not inexpensive, but it is a quality shirt, and for anyone who wants to pack lighter (as in only one shirt) for bikepacking or multi-day gravel trips, the Apex would do well.

Women’s Cross-Country 10″ Shorts

Photo: Matt Miller

The women’s Cross-Country shorts are a technical piece, with an externally adjustable waistband, and 4-way stretch with fabric consisting of Nylon and Spandex. The overall theme is simplicity, and yet they’re still made with performance in mind. The rear inward side of the waistband is layered with silicone to keep the shorts riding high and there are some reflective accents just in case you’re crossing traffic.

Like the Gravel shorts below, the Cross Country shorts have a panel in the rear for added venting. Keeping the spirit of XC in mind, these shorts are not loaded with pockets, which keeps them as slim as possible. These Showers Pass shorts come in two colors and seven different sizes. MSRP is $89, and the shorts are available at Competitive Cyclist and Amazon.

Showers Pass Gravel Shorts

Photo: Hannah Morvay

Short mountain bike shorts seem to be on trend lately, and Showers Pass isn’t the only brand I’ve seen making something with a shorter inseam. Naturally, these sit about an inch above my knee. The Gravel shorts are light and breathable, with an extra vented panel on the rear for added breathability. The side pockets can open up and also be used as vents.

On the sizing, Showers Pass says, “This style fits true to size for folks with a lean distance runner’s or climber’s build. If you’ve got more of a sprinter’s physique, we recommend ordering one size up from what you’d normally buy in jeans or slacks.” I’d say this is accurate. The size 32 I received, which is what I’d normally wear was short. With a bib underneath the shorts, the bottoms would peek out from below the Gravel shorts on rides. The waist belt is adjustable, so a larger size could probably be fitted around the waist, but I’m not sure if they would be baggier than desired.

The side vents/pockets work well and hold a large phone easily. The look of the shorts is conservative, and paired with the Merino Apex shirt, riders shouldn’t have concerns popping into a 7-11 for a snack on a long route. These are available in seven sizes for men and three different colors. Showers Pass does not have a directly comparable gravel short for women yet. The MSRP on the men’s shorts is $89, and they are available online at Moosejaw.

Thanks to Showers Pass for providing these items for testing and review.

⭐️ Compare prices and styles for the Showers Pass Apex Merino t-shirt, Cross Country shorts, and Gravel shorts.