Sometimes it’s hard to avoid the rain. Whether it’s the daily commute to the office or a training ride that you just don’t want to cancel, riding in the rain is sometimes unavoidable. Luckily there’s some very good clothing designed for such weather, with many fabric and performance advances in recent years.
We've already covered the waterproof essentials previously, looking at some of the key products like mudguards, jackets, gloves, lights that make riding in the rain safer and less unpleasant. So now here's a roundup of the best waterproof clothing we've tested on road.cc, from jackets to bib tights, gloves, hats and overshoes.
Wet weather cycling jersey
Windproof and highly water-resistant jersey for performance riders looking for an advantage in changeable conditions. Also the choice of many of the pro peloton.
It's a jacket, but one of the new breed of fitted race cut softshells that in use looks more like a winter jersey albeit a waterproof and breathable one. Two varieties of Gore's Windstopper material are used in the construction, all treated with Sportful's water repellent finish. A fleece lined 4-Way Warm type is used in the front panels, around the neck and along the outer half of the arms. A lighter, more breathable 4-Way Light is used everywhere else.
The Stellar II is windproof and waterproof, with fully taped seams. I wore it in sleet, heavy rain, and persistent drizzle. I also went mountain biking and sprayed muddy water all over it for a couple of hours and it coped with the lot.
This is a jacket designed by racers for performance cyclists, but it's just as happy on the fast commute. It offers impressive performance in the worst weather imaginable, making use of Gore-Tex's latest Active Shell fabric.
The Rapha Hardshell Jacket uses a new fabric that turns your body into a metaphorical ducks back; water just runs off it. The good thing about this fabric is that unlike many fabrics it isn't treated with a water repellant finish to keep you dry for light showers but which will eventually give in if it rains hard enough for long enough (and which may also wear off in time), this fabric is simply impermeable to water.
Intended to be a lightweight rain shell for road riders, this is designed with all those requirements in mind. The jacket is a sleek race fit, with a curved drop tail, it's made from a soft silky slightly stretchy waterproof fabric.
Vulpine's Cotton Rain jacket is made from Epic Cotton, a fabric created by applying a microscopic silicon coating to the cotton before weaving, this makes the Epic perform like ordinary cotton in that it breathes well because air can escape though the holes in the weave, but it's also water and wind-resistant.
Made from Gore-Tex Stretch Active Shell, the Oxygen jacket is designed to fit close to the body and cover the torso perfectly when you're stretched over the bike – although that does also mean you can look a little silly when you’re off it. If you’re looking for a tight fit, it provides outstanding waterproofing and unclammy breathability in equal measure.
Wet weather bibtights
Rather than a DWR coating, as used on waterproof jackets, which is merely a treatment applied to the surface of the fabric, the Sportful fabric has tiny nano-filaments of silicone integrated within the structure of the fabric ( a bit like the Vulpine jacket above). So it's there for ever, and isn't going to wear out over time.
Castelli's Nanoflex is clever stuff. It feels like a normal Roubaix-type fabric – it's stretchy, it's warm, it's breathable – but it is also water repellent thanks to a silicone 'nanotechnology treatment'. Water beads up and rolls off the surface. Really, it does.
'Pioggia' is the Italian word for 'rain' and that tells you what these overshoes are all about. They're made from a polyurethane-coated fabric that won't let water through. And when I say that it won't let water through, it really won't.
Overshoes come in two varieties: neoprene like a wet suit, good for an insulating layer but not waterproof and once wet, they tend to get colder and colder; and waterproof ones like the Craft Rain Bootie, which like a dry suit, hold the water off.
The Tarmac H20s are made from antibacterial bamboo charcoal fleece with a stretchy polyurethane coating that's described as 'water resistant'. I would suggest this doesn't do the Pro' justice as I didnt find any hint of water getting inside the overshoes even during very wet testing.
Waterproof cycling gloves
The Diluvio is made from Japanese neoprene thermally welded on the inside seam and sewn on the outside. That makes them completely wind- and waterproof for those cold, wet rides.
dhb's Extreme Winter Gloves are designed, as the name implies, to protect your hands in cold and wet weather. And they do just that.
Sealskinz waterproof performance Leather Road Cycle Gloves might not roll off the tongue but they're amongst the best winter gloves I've used in a very long time.
Waterproof cycling socks
The Activity sock is Merino on the inside, acrylic outer and a hydrophilic membrane that's completely waterproof - we're big fans of waterproof socks in these parts, especially those that feel more like ordinary socks when you're wearing them.
Waterproof cycling cap
Their All Weather Cycling Cap is made of a supplex material that has the durability of nylon but looks and feels like cotton. It's got a high thread count to keep it windproof and it's coated with DWR (durable water repellant) to make it waterproof too.
Waterproof cycling shoes
The uppers are made with an exclusive Koala Gore-Tex membrane, available on the entire Artic range and marketed as offering maximum protection from wind, rain and snow. They keep out the cold and wet in all but the most foul conditions and the fabric is also very easy to wipe clean.
The upper is made from Gore-Tex, providing the reliable waterproofing you'd expect from that brand. There are two storm flaps which Velcro-close over the lacing system. The tongue, too, is completely integrated into the boot, so there's very little chance of water seeping in the front. They're certainly sprayproof, rainproof and puddleproof, and they rise fairly high up the leg, which helps to keep rain out and the ankles warm.
David has worked on the road.cc tech team since July 2012. Previously he was editor of Bikemagic.com and before that staff writer at RCUK. He's a seasoned cyclist of all disciplines, from road to mountain biking, touring to cyclo-cross, he only wishes he had time to ride them all. He's mildly competitive, though he'll never admit it, and is a frequent road racer but is too lazy to do really well. He currently resides in the Cotswolds.