Image: Riding in the rain (CC BY-SA 2.0 Dave Gingrich)
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.
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 Original Rain jacket is made from Epic Cotton, a fabric created by applying a microscopic silicone 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.
The Grip Grab Arctic Overshoes are a great example of you need when the UK sees temperatures below freezing. You need decent overshoes, and these provide excellent insulation and very effective waterproofing.
As well as being both warm and waterproof, these overshoes are very durable. The stitching is strong across the body of the shoe and the toe and rear of the shoes are fitted with rubberised and hardened grippers. These add to the already impressive durability.
When the cold and wet hits, these Shimano S3000R NPU overshoes, with their thick neoprene construction and water resistant coating, provide the necessary barrier to the elements and insulation to keep you pedalling happy circles and not frozen squares.
If you suffer with cold feet in the winter months read on as Caratti's Deep Winter Overshoes are among the most insulated we've tried. Their waterproofing and build quality is impressive too.
Waterproof cycling gloves
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 we've used in a very long time.
Waterproof cycling socks
SealSkinz sock have Merino on the inside, and 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
The Thermal version of Vulpine's water-resistant Storm Cap adds a fleecy inner and lower band to the original Storm Cap, thus keeping both bonce and ears toasty.
Waterproof cycling shoes
These Gaerne G.Winter Road Gore-Tex road shoes offer the sort of protection you need if you're determined enough- or should that be mad enough? - to keep cycling through really bad weather.
As the name implies, there's a Gore-Tex membrane inside the shoe. This delivers impressive rain and road spray protection, and feet stayed dry even in prolonged downpours, or riding through flooded roads. Our tester didn't find himself in any conditions when the G.Winters couldn't cope with the rain and water.
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.