Essential wet weather cycle clothing and gear
From mudguards to waterproof jackets to overshoes and more, here are some of the best products to help you survive the rain
We're in the midst of the worst storm in 20 years according to news reports, so riding in the rain looks inevitable for the foreseeable future. Few cyclists take pleasure from riding in the rain, but if you're commuting on a daily basis, or just keen to stick to a training schedule to prepare for the summer, you're going to have to face the rain.
Fortunately there are lots of very good rain-specific cycling products available these days, from waterproof jackets. to mudguards and overshoes. We've rounded up some of the best wet weather clothing and gear that will hopefully make riding in the rain a little less unpleasant.
It goes without saying really, but a good waterproof jacket should be an investment no serious cyclists turns their nose up to. With high tech fabrics getting better all the time, it's now possible to choose a lightweight jacket that will keep you dry and be breathable enough to prevent the dreaded 'boil in the bag' effect produced by waterproof jackets from years ago.
dhb's Minima S Waterproof Jacket is ideally suited to prolonged rides in heavy rain
You can spend as little or much on a waterproof jacket as you like, there is a jacket for most budgets, from the dhb above to the Vulpine below. If you plan to cycle a lot through the winter, it's likely the jacket will get a lot of use so it needs to be durable and stand up to frequent use. The best jackets will use high quality branded fabrics like Gore-Tex or eVent and have taped waterproof seams and waterproof zips.
Casual-looking rain jacket that you can keep up with fast guys in, Vulpine Men's Original Rain Jacket is a more relaxed styled waterproof
If you're looking for a commuting jacket, focus on visibility and extras like pockets, hoods, bum flaps and storm flaps. These can make commuting a bit more comfortable. The level of breathability differs widely from jacket to jacket. If you're looking for a training jacket, choose one that boasts good breathability with optional vents and panels that open up will help prevent you overheating on the hills.
Madison's Stellar II Waterproof jacket ticks all the boxes, with a windproof and waterproof build with fully taped seams and very generous reflective panels.
It's not just rain that gets you soaked, your own spray from the road can, without mudguards, ensure you'll be soaked very quickly. Mudguards are available in wide range to fit just about every model of road bike, from full-length traditional 'guards to simple and cheap clip-ons.
If you just want to keep your bum and back dry, the SKS S-Blade is a simple and cheap clip-on 'guard.
The mudguards you can fit depends on your bike. If you have eyelets at the fork and rear dropouts and clearance in the frame, you can fit full-length traditional mudguards. They are light and offer the best protection from the spray as they nearly fully enclose both wheels.
Worry not if your frame isn't compatible, there are many mudguards that can be fitted to almost any bike. Using clips and zip ties these 'guards can be attached, and removed easily, to any road bike. While they don't quite give the same level of protection as traditional mudguards, they're better than not having any at all.
The SKS Chromoplastic mudguard pictured above has been a staple for audaxers, tourers and commuters for decades.
Overshoes and waterproof socks
Ride a bicycle without mudguards and soon your feet will be very wet from front wheel spray. Most cycling shoes are far from waterproof, the large majority have lots of vents. Great in the summer, just let in water during the winter.
Overshoes are simple items that slip over your shoes, with zip or Velcro fastener at the rear to seal them up. While not always completely impenetrable by the rain, they can go a long way to preventing your shoes from becoming paddling pools for your feet.
These Castelli Pioggia 3 are a good example, using a polyurethane-coated fabric that won't let water through.
An alternative to overshoes are waterproof socks. Often when it's really wet, we'll pair them with overshoes or oversocks for an extra layer of defence against the rain.
SealSkinz is the de facto name (others are available) when it comes to waterproof socks.
Perched out on your handlebars your hands face the brunt of the weather. As your hands become sodden from the constant rain, their temperature quickly cools, and before too long you can have some very frozen fingers to deal with. Frozen fingers aren't much good at changing gear, braking or clinging to the handlebars.
The Sugoi RS Rain Gloves are for cycling in cold wet weather. They keep out most of the rain, and keep your hands and fingers warm even when wet
Waterproof gloves will use a membrane to keep the rain out, or be made from a waterproof material. Neoprene is favoured by some, as while it doesn't keep the rain out, it does stop your hands from getting chilled. Sizing is critical with gloves so be sure to try before you buy.
You've got a good jacket, now you need to think about the lower half. Trousers or tights, depending on your preference, are available in waterproof varieties. Waterproof trousers are ideal for commuting and short rides, they can be worn over regular clothing. There's less choice for waterproof tights, but some brands do add a waterproof finish, like Castelli's No Rain treatment, which encourages the water to bead off the surface.
The Ride Aquazero bib tights pictured use a water-repellent material, which typical road spray from damp roads posed no problem to their water shedding ability.
Another option is waterproof trousers or baggy shorts, borrowed from the mountain bike world. For commuting shorter distances waterproof trousers can be pulled over your usual cycling kit and will ensure you stay dry.
These Showers Pass Skyline waterproof trousers are a solid investment for anyone who rides in really filthy conditions and wants to stay warm and dry
Sometimes, even overshoes aren't enough protection. Waterproof shoes and boots can be a very smart investment, especially if you're determined to ride in the rain. They typically have a neoprene liner and extended ankle, and a fully waterproof exterior that completely seals the feet up. Pair with waterproof socks for the ultimate protection from wet feet.
A great addition to the winter wardrobe, Northwave Arctic Commuter R GTX shoes keep out the cold and wet in all but the most foul conditions.
A those vents in your helmet just serve to let the rain in. Wearing a hat or cap underneath will keep some of the rain out, and will stop your head from getting too cold. Simple traditional cotton caps can serve you well, and the peak serves to prevent a lot of rain dripping into your face.
You can buy cycling caps made from waterproof fabric, and there are numerous skull caps made from water resistant and windproof fabrics. A simple Buff-style garment wrapped around your head will go a long way to keeping the cold at bay.
Castelli Risvolto Winter Cap is a stylish insulated and breathale cap for winter weather.
Aero helmets, intended to help you go quicker in the summer, also come in handy in the winter, as the lack of vents help to keep out most of the wind and rain compared to a regular helmet. The Giro Air Attack was one of the first of this new breed of aero designed helmets.
Be seen - lights
The rain can seriously impair visibility out on the road. A set of bright front and rear lights in good working order is another consideration for cycling in the rain.
The Strada from Exposure is a serious light and punches out 800 lumens onto the road ensuring even on the darkest country lanes you'll be able to see potholes, rabbits, badgers or other road users in plenty of time.
A rear light is a must too. This Cateye Rapid X is a compact, lightweight, rechargeable rear light with excellent all-round visibility.
Hi-viz jacket or vest
A jacket with hi-viz panels and details, or alternatively a hi-viz gilet that can be worn over the top of anything is a good way to boost your presence on the road. You want to make sure you can be seen by other road users ahead and behind, and a reflective vest will grab the attention of other road users.
Craft's Active Safety Vest is going to get your spotted on the road.
The Conquest Water Resistant Gilet offers lightweight protection from the weather and it's easily packable into its own rear pocket when not in use.
Spare tubes and a good pump
You're far more prone to punctures in the rain, so it's a good idea to carry a spare inner tube or two. The water serves to wash all the debris, grit and glass out of the gutter into the road, and the water acts as an annoyingly effective lubricant to help sharp objects slice through rubber.
There are few experiences more depressing than changing a tube in the pouring rain, so make sure you've got a spare tubes, a good working pump and tyre levers, if you need them.
Lezyne's Alloy Drive Mini Pump might look beautiful but it really does the job and will have you back up and running as quick as you like.
You can help prevent punctures by fitting a pair of Slime Pro Pre-filled Lite tubes. More expensive than a regular inner tube, but you should see a reduction in punctures.
Got any rain essential tips you want to add? Let's hear them below