Author Topic: Riding in the rain clothes  (Read 5032 times)


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Riding in the rain clothes
« on: March 22, 2023, 01:57:21 pm »
Open question to all but my mind is probably thinking uk weather

Iíve thought on and off over the last few years about a complete biking system

Clothing included

What do I do when it rains ?

From my tiny experience, goretex is great stuff and works , but eventually will wet out, probably like most or all jackets out there

The only thing Iíve seen that is supposed to genuinely waterproof and will not wet out is the goretex shakedry stuff that came out a few years back . Expensive but good stuff

It is apparently being discontinued or has been .

The company ďgoreĒ have made a cycling version, a running version and a hiking version. Some you canít get now. They all have slightly different cuts and thicknesses of material. The hiking version bring a little tougher to cope with back packs.

Again, I have a good softshell goretex north face jacket but it wets out after a while and feels cold/damp and I just your heat/sweat is building up if the moisture canít escape .

So yeah, my best solution at the moment is buying some used shakedry and keeping it in the pannier until if and when the rain comes on

Unfortunately they donít make shakedry trousers . Well I havenít seen any

So what to do about covering the lower half is an issue.

Iíve had a pair of gore paclite goretex cycling pants in the past and basically just lived in the all the time as regular trousers , then with my goretex jacket I was completely covered in case of rain . Had goretex shoes too by berghaus.

I wore these trousers out but may buy another pair as they were light and did they job. They wet out too tho and felt cold and clammy against the skin

My other thought was , is there a thin light goretex suit out there that could withstand a heavy Scottish downpour ?

I also heard of a guy who was up Ben Nevis multiple time who I think used goretex leggings/tights (whatever you call them ) underneath probably just a regular pair of hiking trousers . Iím guessing if it rains his trousers get wet but his legs stay dry coz of the goretex underneath

For shoes Iíve had a look at goretex overshoes . Never used them . I hear some use waterproof socks

So I donít know

I know I donít like wet feet or shoes , and got to watch the rain running down into the top of the shoe /boot

As uk folk will know how quickly weather can change and I reckon being out in the open road in the middle of nowhere could potentially be deadly for a person not properly equipped. Cold wind and rain can just suck the heat out of you and turn the mood grim. Difficult to function if your hands and feet are cold and numb. And doing any repair work on a bike would be tough when your hands are like that.

oh never mentioned gloves.

Any thoughts ? Have you found a solution for staying comfortable in an hour or two of heavy rain/wind etc in cooler temperatures .

John Saxby

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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #1 on: March 22, 2023, 02:54:30 pm »
Ah, jeez, that's a big 'un.  Probably best to follow advice from folks closer to Scottish weather than those of us whose families said Goodbye To All That some years back...

FWIW, tho:

1)   I've found Ground Effect gear, from NZ, to be top-notch stuff.  Expensive, but beware false economies in this domain.

2)   Tights:   I've had great success with a MEC product, which I've had for 10-12 years now.  As per usual practice, they no longer offer it, but this sounds like a reasonable choice, or at least a reference point:

3)   Booties:  I've had good success with Sugoi, with a slight nap on the inside for warmth in cold'n'wet.  Make sure you have enuf overlap betw cuff of your tights and top of booties.

4)   Gloves:  Suggest you think first of "hand coverings", rather than "gloves". After decades of Canadian winters, I've never found a pair of gloves that work well for me in cold weather, for any activity -- mitts of varying thicknesses with liners have always been the answer.  Despite this, am currently trying out a pair of Sealskinz gloves (purchased from Ground Effect) for transitional seasons. Jury is still out: gloves are comfortable & fit well, and are good temp-wise for +4ļ to, say, -4ļ. BUT I haven't yet used them for cycling, so I don't know how they handle sweaty hands inside the gloves. And, the makers got the positioning of the velcro wrist-closure tab all wrong, so I had to get my ace tailor to change that.  :(.

For wet/cool-weather cycling, the best setup I've found so far is a "lobster-claw" over-mitt/glove (waterproof-breathable), combined with either cycling-glove inners, or light/medium wool or blend inners.

5)    Helmet cover:  lots around, inexpensive and valuable. Reflective tabs help as always, and these things are v handy in cold dry weather too.

I guess I'd also add, stop somewhere warm & dry before your hands get so cold that you can't manage your controls properly.

Good luck!


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #2 on: March 22, 2023, 04:12:22 pm »
I have tried various brands for rain wear (agree Ground Effect make superb cycling clothing which I use).

The most effective in rain for me has been Paramo.

If it is not heavy rain then I find Rainlegs keep the worst off my legs.

I go barefoot in sandals - gave up socks during Lent some  years ago and  never went back to using them.
Your feet will get wet but also dry quicker than with soggy shoes on.
I donít ride in snow!


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #3 on: March 22, 2023, 07:58:55 pm »
For heavy rain and wind I use a Paramo Quito jacket with hood (so helmet cover not essential) and lightweight Kamleika waterproof trousers, plus neoprene overshoes. This works reasonably well in cool temperatures, but if it is warm I get soaked in sweat. On very long rides in continuous heavy rain my feet end up wet whatever I do.

If there isn't too much wind, in moderate to warm temperatures I prefer a traditional cape, combined with Rainlegs over cycling shorts.

Base layers with Merino wool stay relatively warm when damp.


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #4 on: March 22, 2023, 08:29:13 pm »
Quito +1 here. I like the big hood and long pit zips. I donít think theyíre made now. Expect thereís something to take itís place though.

Photo from road between Westport and Galway, Eire.


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #5 on: March 22, 2023, 08:32:29 pm »
Ive biked Scotland a few times
Longest self supported trip was my end2end of Scotlandshire. Way back in '14. That's 2014, I'm not that old.😉
Everything, bar snow thrown at me. Even an empty beer bottle but that's for your next question: hazards of touring.

My solution/ preferred method is.....
to stop riding and take shelter.
Setting up a tent in wet/ cold gear ranks second to listening to our politicians spout off.
Even finding a hotel on the remote West coast of the Outer Hebrides was not nice in wet gear
There was always a hole or some shelter in a wet emergency. Pay attention to weather forecasts of course.

Btw, when are you planning your trip? If I'm back from Thailand, I'd love to tag along


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2023, 10:12:22 am »
I've never cycled in any circumstance where not having the right clothing would have been a risk to survival.  So my objective is to remain comfortable and avoid misery.
There isn't a single answer, just as there isn't a single definition of adverse weather.  Here's some of the stuff that works for me and it's benefits and limitations:
jacket, probably the most important garment - Paramo, not sure the model, not cycling specific, good for cold weather where there's a good chance of rain.  Not good for layering, too bulky to carry, takes ages to dry after a good soaking, maintaining the DWR is a bit of a chore.
Showers Pass Refuge jacket, full on three layer Gortex like membrane, the fabric will preform like all other materials of the type (The original Goretex patent has long expired) I like the fit of the SP, it isn't pocketable, but still small enough to carry on tour or day rides with a fair chance of rain.  The ventilation id good enough that I'll often continue wearing it while others are taking jackets on and off.
Cheapish (£30) water resistant  windproof, forget the make, comfy, pocketable, hold off a shower, slows down heavier rain, I tend to carry this on day rides where I'm not expecting too much rain and know it isn't going to be cold. it's this or the SP, I don't carry both.
Trousers - Touring and day rides where it's not going to be wet all day, I go for quick drying.  I've tried Rainlegs and Goretex MTB shorts over longs, didn't get on with either.  If I'm going to be out all day and it's likely to be raining for a large proportion of it, I have the excellent Showers Pass Skyline trousers, these are not 100% waterproof, having a mix of materials on different panels, the result is they keep the vast majority of the wet out while remaining reasonably comfortable, too bulky for carrying.  For short utility trips, I have some cheap waterproof overtrousers. 
Baselayer - as already posted, merino wool stays warm when wet, there's other materials do the same, I have a bamboo viscose one and I've seen others advertised with the same advantage.
Footwear - I no longer use SDP's so don't have those restrictions.  I ride in various footwear with different levels of water resistance though none are waterproof.  I have some nylon overshoes that pack small enough to carry.  I also have some waterproof socks for all day wear, the most comfortable of which are the thin DexShell. In my touring/Audax kit i have a compressed bag containing a pair of these, a small microfibre cloth and a zip bag of talc, changing into dry socks has been a ride saver several times.
Gloves - I don't know the answer! I've yet to find the perfect glove or mitten, I have quite a collection, they're all good in some way and fail in others. Collecting gloves can be an expensive hobby, not helped by having XXX large hands so many fail by not fitting in the first place!

I don't usually mind riding in the rain, sometimes quite like it, but if it becomes unpleasant, the best strategy, as Matt suggests is to stop doing it!  I know that isn't always possible, but the barrier is sometimes ones own stubbornness and I certainly include myself in that.

This was fun, probably the wettest days cycling I've ever had, riding through waterfalls in the Picos (Not my photo, I didn't risk getting my camera out)

« Last Edit: March 23, 2023, 10:16:58 am by PH »


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2023, 12:10:06 pm »
I only read the first four sentences of the first post, not the rest so I am probably redundant here.

I am answering this assuming you are talking about cool weather as you are in the UK.

Rain cover for my helmet.  My helmets all have visors, thus the rain is less likely to go down my forehead into my eyes.

Breathable waterproof jacket.  I do not use a hood on a bike, but I like a hooded jacket for bike tours so I can use the hood off of the bike.

Breathable waterproof pants, side zippers so I can put the pants on or take them off with out removing shoes.  I do not like to try to keep these up with a tight waist band, I use suspenders on my rain pants.  Legs on rain pants have to be long enough that when you bend your knees, your pants continue to cover your shoe covers.  The down side of suspenders is that the pants have to go on before the jacket.

Shoe covers.

Most bike shoes have cleat hardware that will let water into the shoe if you step in a deep puddle.  If that concerns you there are waterproof socks.  I only use water proof socks in winter in case I have to step in a slushy ice cold puddle.

I use yellow glasses in rain, sunglasses do not work so well.

Gloves, full finger ones.  I particularly like the ones that have a cover that converts them to mitts in case it is cold and windy.

Or, I check into a hostel and go sight seeing instead of bike riding.  Twice I have stayed at a hostel instead of setting up my tent in the rain after an all day ride in the rain.

You want to make sure that you are easy to be seen, the car driver behind you with worn out wipers and a defective defroster might not see you until they are quite close.  I used to wear a bright yellow rain jacket, but I got it replaced under warranty and the most visible one they had at that time was red so that is what I have.

I usually store my rain gear on top of my front loader panniers under the strap that goes over the top.  That way it is readily available on a moment notice.


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2023, 12:58:23 pm »
Couple of other thoughts:
If it starts raining, but the temperature hasn't dropped significantly, why would anyone add a layer of clothing?  I don't, instead I replace jersey with jacket, seems so obvious to me, yet when riding in a group and we stop for the rain, I'm usually the only one doing so.  That's probably related to something I said upthread, I'm not the one eager to stop and take it off again when the rain is over, I'm not the one overheating!
Couple of mentions for helmet covers, I don't use one, instead I have a Sealskin waterproof cycling cap, it has the advantage of being usable with or without the helmet, on and off the bike.


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2023, 02:13:16 pm »

Most bike shoes have cleat hardware that will let water into the shoe if you step in a deep puddle.  If that concerns you there are waterproof socks.  I only use water proof socks in winter in case I have to step in a slushy ice cold puddle.

I found that pushing blu-tac from the inside of ones SPD compatible shoes/boots to plug up any spare cleat holes and cover the mating backplate does really well in creating a waterproof barrier that allows one to stand in low depth puddles without water ingress. I experimented with blu-tac in a dish to test its waterproofness and it is indeed impenetrable. Good thing also is that it is moldable, can be removed with ease and will form flat so no creating any lumps or bumps when re-inserting ones shoe insole over it so you can't even tell it is there :)

John Saxby

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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2023, 08:06:19 pm »
A footnote/extra detail on gloves, which I forgot in my note above: 

This summer, I'm going to try using a pair of very good w'proof/breathable gloves I use to use for motorcycle touring. These are made by Tourmaster, and I bought them from an outfit in Minnesota named Aerostich

These have lasted for a dozen-plus years, and I've used them on m'cycle tours across and up and down N America.  They're durable and comfortable, and worked well on my airhead. Only "but" is that they (and I) were protected by a full fairing, although they did get wet when it rained.

They would probably be good down to about 2ļ -- they have no lining other than the goretex material.


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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2023, 09:59:05 pm »
I'm eagerly following the "gloves" discussion here as well. Back in the late 1980s, I badly frostbit my fingers when commuting to work. It was cold -- 5įF/-15įC and my overgloves failed, so I was left with only my fingerless cycling gloves...and then the freezing rain started and by the time I ended my work shift in an unheated building, I had hard, white "pearls" in every fingertip. By late afternoon, the runny blisters had formed and broken and I was able to see the doctor, who made the diagnosis. Same for the ends of my big toes, as I had left my rain covers at home that day (everything went wrong as a pipe burst just before I left home and that caused me to leave some necessary items behind in my hurry to Not Be Late).

In the 35 years since, my hands' and big toes' tolerance for cold has steadily decreased and it seems they become uncomfortably sensitive/painful as ever higher temps as time passes. I still ride when it is snowing and cold, but more often in pain as temps around 40įF/4.4įC now cause me problems. I've found layering helps; my Danneauxmade Gore-Tex lobster claw mitts over the top of several gloves seem to work best but not ideally. The localized pressure of riding on the brake hoods is a factor and -- duh! -- so is keeping my forearms warmer (warmer arms means warmer hands for me). Will be re-reading the member contributions carefully again.

Thanks, All!

Best, Dan.

Andre Jute

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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2023, 10:14:36 pm »
Photo from road between Westport and Galway, Eire.

Looks like that cloud has your name on it.

I have a cycling cloak like the one Martin mentions. It's all right when there is absolutely no wind and if you have good mudguards with rain flaps that are not only for show, or the small aero devices SKS sells for their mudguards which work well on my bikes to direct the water off the tyres elsewhere than on my feet or the mechanics of the bike. I bought my cloak by e-mail from The Netherlands. The Dutch also use a transparent plastic set of trousers and a long overcoat as commuter wear -- actually, I don't know that they don't use it on tour, I just suspect it would be too damp'n'clammy for sporting/touring wear.

Because of local topography and conditions (black ice on narrow lanes) I do not ride down to freezing (when rarely I did, usually in the middle of the night when the bigger roads were not so heavily trafficked, I often got a police escort as the policemen on night duty broke the boredom by driving behind or thoughtfully in front of me), so my normal riding gear is street clothes of cotton, khakis or tracksuit bottom, a button down dress shirt of cotton, and a cotton zip jacket. I have a Berghaus mountain jacket of Goretex from my days as a hillwalker but there's always wind here and on the bike it easily turns into a sail, and is hot and sweaty besides, plus the nap of the nylon, even in tiptop condition straight out of the clothes dryer, will eventually be defeated by even a mild drizzle. (Goretex is for letting moisture out. It offers zero protection for penetration from the outside: that's the duty of the nylon.) For an hour or two in persistent rain, I wear a heavy stevedore's cotton bomber jacket, which doesn't soak through. I also have a highly reviewed Altura cycling jacket but I've never even closed the pit zips -- same problem, too hot. The best cycle jacket I ever had was not designed as a cycle jacket, but was made of some kind of plasticised cloth and cut with a faux ventilation cover across the full width of the back, under which I cut holes with a common paper punch, so I was both dry and cool under it because of the air circulation. It cost fifteen quid on a sale, a mickey mouse amount of money to waste on wet weather cycling gear, and it wasn't a waste; eventually it was reluctantly retired while still fully functional because of its bright yellow colour, which made the eventually nearly black collar disgusting.

Four seasons I wear full finger dress gloves of leather, with linings appropriate to the season, from nothing through silk to cotton flannel to a wool lining for really cold weather. My handlebar grips are of leather rings tightly held together end-on by miniature spokes (really!) and they're so soaked in neatsfoot oil (by me, not Brooks) that no water penetrates, and high quality leather in the gloves don't get soaked until very extended use.

A novelty from farming lore: In theory an Aran lambswool sweater of raw wool (not refined or more than superficially washed, with the lanolin still in the wool) should protect you from a steady drizzle or medium rain for half a day to a full day's worth of riding, but I'm on my bike for my health, so I pedal until just short of breaking out in a sweat, and thus find the Aran sweater more than just a bit hot -- and mine was actually custom-made to have a loose knit for maximum air circulation. I have no doubt doubt that in lower temperatures than West Cork ever experiences it could a good option. Very, very bulky, so suitable for day rides with a trustworthy weather report of daylong rain, but I don't know where a touring cyclist would park the thing once he takes it off.

Since I don't ride in freezing extremes and most of my mileage is no more than an hour or two from home, like Julk I don't mind my feet getting a bit wet or cold, and for three-quarters of most years I ride in sandals (a copy of Shimano's cycling sandals in leather but with Clark's soles, no SPD fittings, made in Vietnam, many years old and probably no longer available).

I have a rain cap for my helmet but don't use it. I anyway use a jugging skullcap of microfibre under my helmet to keep sweat and rainwater falling into the helmet vents out of my eyes (the visor also does the same job for runoff). I have 3M thinsulate caps too but they're too hot except in temperatures I don't go out in. It is worth knowing that people lose most of their heat from their uncovered heads.
« Last Edit: March 24, 2023, 10:11:53 pm by Andre Jute »

Mike Ayling

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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2023, 10:57:43 pm »
It doesn't get that cold here in Melbourne Downunda and I find my ShowersPass Classic jacket keeps me quite dry. It is definitely upper body only as you will see if you follow the link but they also have  trousers.
One of my riding mates is looking for a new jacket and I mentioned Ground Effect to him. Their top of the range jacket is now about AUD $500! But good stuff nevertheless.


John Saxby

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Re: Riding in the rain clothes
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2023, 04:50:08 pm »
Hi again clarion,

'Bin thinkin' bout Jackets some more, prompted by the several good posts above.  Let me offer my last comments on the matter. (You're probably thinking, "Jaysus, Mary an' Joseph! Will it never end?" Well, probably not...)

Eh bien:

1)  On the matter of cost:  My guideline is "Buy the best you can afford."  For me, that usually works out to the top of the middle range, or bottom of the upper. I don't need/want expedition grade.

      I've found that by using that guideline, I have jackets that last a good 20 years or more.

2)   Key question on use:  Do you want a jacket only or mainly for cycling? Or something for other activities, that you can also use for cycling?  Reason for posing/answering this question is that the designs differ quite a bit: cycling jackets are usually a slimmer fit, with few pockets, than jackets designed for other activities. (More on that later, by way of example.)

       The intersection of the "cost" guideline with the "use" question is this:  You can probably get a decent cycling jacket and a decent various activities jacket for the same price as a top-of-the line (expedition grade) jacket of either kind.

3)   A couple of examples, then:

3.1)  Cycling jacket:  I've had a MEC "Downpour" cycling jacket for about 15 years.  It cost me around Cdn$150-175.  It's robust, waterproof/breathable, with a breast pocket and a lower back ditto. Its armpit vents are in fact double-zip that go all the way to the waist, so that the jacket can be converted to something like a well-ventilated cape.
        The downside is that the jacket is rather bulky and heavy (maybe 1 1/2 lbs?) when rolled up.
        I have used it for motorcycle touring, and for cycle-touring, and still use it for errands on my city bike, in all sorts of weather.
        I machine-wash & dry this every other year, using Nikwax or Grangers' products for that. And, after washing, I apply DWR (durable water repellent) spray.

        So, a really good jacket, a keeper, but not what I want right now for cycle touring.

3.2)  Cycle-touring jacket:  Recently, I splurged for a top-of-the-line cycling jacket, the Ground Effect Anti-Cyclone.  It's light, compact when rolled, and very well ventilated.  Like all GE garments I've bought & used, it's very well made, and fits me well. I'm looking forward to using it for as long as I can.  BUT:  after wearing it a few times, I realized that not even GE's designs are perfect:  I have long arms, but this jacket, a Large (as I usually take) had arms that were an inch-plus too long for me. (The perils of ordering online -- there's always a first time  :( ) Off to my ace tailor once more, who made the adjustment as needed, and if you didn't know that she'd done it, it wouldn't be evident. 

3.3)   Versatile multi-activity jacket:  In 2009, following a hike on the West Highland Way, I bought a Mountain Hardwear goretex-lined soft-shell jacket (down to my bum). This is a first-rate piece of kit. It's burnt orange in colour, and sufficiently water-repellent to work in anything but a full-on downpour.  I have used it for hi-output sports like x-country skiing, skating (indoors & out), as well as hiking, and cycling in spring and fall (day rides & around town). (Also while BBQing on a mid-winter evening on our  back deck, though that may be a culturally specific application.) Cost was Cdn $200-plus, and it's been worth every penny. It has nicely snugged cuffs with thumb holes; two waist pockets (zipped), two zipped breast pockets (one external, one internal), and underarm zips.

     Only "but" in this design is the hood: originally loose, it got in the way and collected snow, so I asked my ace tailor to please add a velcro tab so that could roll the thing up and out of the way.  Done.

      As with the other jackets, I wash this and add DWR spray.

4)   For colder-weather riding on all the above, as well as for winter sports like skiing & skating, I use layers: lightweight merino close to the skin (Icebreaker is my favourite); then a 100-weight Polar Fleece, very occasionally 200-wt.) The Mountain Hardwear jacket handles the extra layering very well. Both of my cycling jackets have s slightly slimmer fit, but still have enough space for the fleece layer.

Hope that's helpful and not "too much".

Cheers,  John
« Last Edit: March 24, 2023, 07:19:11 pm by John Saxby »