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.
At just £25, the B'Twin 500 Women's Waterproof Jacket is a real bargain from sports superstore Decathlon. The jacket has a good cut, feels comfortable and has some good features such as the mesh-lined ventilation gussets at the front of the shoulders and on the back. It's a great lightweight, high-vis waterproof to stuff in a jersey pocket or wear on your commute from spring through to autumn.
There's also a men's version, which is similarly excellent value.
The dhb Classic Rain Shell Jacket does what it says on the tin, at a price that would get you an arm and half a collar from some other brands. It's not loaded with tech – in fact there's almost no tech on show – but if sixty quid is your budget it's hard to go past.
If you're after a highly waterproof jacket and are willing to accept a small amount of extra bulk over some other offerings, the Polaris Fuse is well worth looking at. Its waterproof quality is up with the best, keeping you dry in rain that, speaking from experience, would see others fail. It's really well made, and represents good value for money.
The Endura FS260-Pro SL Shell is an exceptionally breathable, fully-fledged miserable-weather jacket with a host of features but no excess faff. It's a cracker.
Endura has used a three-layer Exoshell40 fabric (in black or fluoro green) of amazing thinness and only 70g per square metre (for reference, even a thin merino baselayer is twice that). The fabric can apparently breathe 60 litres of moisture per square metre per day, and has a waterproofness measure of 18,000mm (meaning a tube of water 18m tall with a patch of the fabric over the bottom wouldn't seep through). The whole thing is fully tape-sealed – even around the small square stretchy panels near the hip. It's a masterclass in detailing.
Gore stands out in the cycle jacket market because it designs and develops its own fabrics, many of which are used by the leading brands in the market. Gore Bike Wear's stunning One Active waterproof jacket comes as close to the Holy Grail of perfect waterproof jacket as any we've tested.
Gore's One Active fabric replaces the durable water repellent treatment of its previous Active fabric with a new Permanent Beading Surface. This allows Gore to reduce the construction of the jacket from three to two layers, improving breathability, making it very easy to pack away and reducing its weight to not much more than an emergency gilet, It's the benchmark lightweight waterproof jacket.
Dressing for the UK winter got a whole lot easier with the Sportful Fiandre Extreme Neoshell, a comfortable, warm and waterproof jacket that copes well with a wide range of weather conditions. It really is one jacket to rule in all weathers.
Like the rest of Sportful's Fiandre range, this jacket is designed to cope with variable and constantly changing conditions. It's been race-tested, like all Sportful's top-end clothing, by the Tinkoff-Saxo professional cycling team. It's designed to keep you warm and dry, and be breathable enough to avoid overheating.
Wet weather bib tights
Funkier's S-984W Winter Aqua Repellent unpadded bib tights are comfortable, warm and keep you dry in lighter rain, though torrential downpours will see some water getting through.
The tights are made from a microfleece fabric that's 80% polyamide and 20% Lycra. As the name of the tights suggests, it's designed to repel water, and it works to a large extent, depending on how heavy the rainfall is.
Sportful's Fiandre NoRain bib tights handle rain really well, keeping your legs drier than regular tights. Add good insulation for cold temperatures, impressive breathability and excellent comfort, and you have a great pair of bib tights for tackling the British winter.
The idea behind the Fiandre range is clothing that is ideal for cycling in cold and dry weather but can also cope with the rain. Weather in the UK can be really unpredictable and deciding how to dress isn't always easy. The Fiandre range is designed to make that decision easy, and these Fiandre NoRain tights are intended to offer more protection than the regular NoRain tights.
These tights have a second layer of NoRain fabric over the top of the knees, thighs and around the bum. Sportful has managed to do this without compromising the fit and comfort – there's no detriment to knee articulation at all.
Madison's Sportive PU Thermal overshoes are a great option for wet weather riding, with the added thermal benefits providing some much-appreciated insulation at times.
Although described as a mid-weight overshoe by Madison, they don't struggle when the temperature gets down to low single figures.
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 are impressive too and a recent price reduction makes them an absolute bargain.
The SealSkinz Neoprene Halo Overshoes incorporate a powerful LED light in the heel, a clever idea that I'm surprised has never been done before. Don't discount them as being a gimmick, they really do work well and are ideal for regular after dark cyclists.
The overshoes are constructed from a neoprene material with taped seams, a silicone leg gripper and storm flap lined rear zip. The zip has to be mounted on the side of the overshoe because of the LED, but getting them on and off isn't hampered at all. A Velcro tab secures the top of the overshoe around the ankle, and there's another underneath the shoe. Getting a good snug fit isn't difficult.
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.
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.
When the temperature reaches freezing the Gore Universal Gore-Tex Thermo Gloves keep on going, keeping out the best that Mother Nature can throw at them. Truly awesome!
They're waterproof too, as you'd expect from the company that invented Gore-Tex, though the extra insulation means they're not as breathable as some – especially at temperatures above 5°C – but until you take them off you don't really notice it.
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 Equipe cap from Gore Bike Wear is made from the same excellent Gore-Tex Active material used in their jackets and, in this cap, provides a completely waterproof and windproof shelter for your head. For anyone intent in not letting the rain stop play, this is a very good investment.
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.