Buyers guide: The best waterproof cycling clothing

Riding in the rain? Here's some of the best waterproof jackets, tights, gloves and overshoes we've tested on

by David Arthur @davearthur   March 21, 2013  

Riding in the rain - 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 you make riding in the rain safer and less unpleasant. So now here's a roundup of the best waterproof clothing we've tested on,from jackets to bib tights, gloves, hats and overshoes.

Castelli Gabba WS Rain Jersey  £150.00

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.

Sportful Fiandre Norain Jacket  £170.00

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

Madison Stellar II Waterproof Jacket  £69.99

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.

Sportful Survival jacket £200

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.

Rapha Hardshell Jacket  £240.00

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.

Rapha Women's Rain Jacket  £190.00

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 Cotton Rain jacket  £195.00

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.

Sportful Norain bibtights  £90.00

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.

Ride Aquazero bib tights with insert  £54.99

These tights use an Aquazero Pro material. This is designed so that water beads up on the surface instead of just soaking in, much like Castelli's Nanoflex material. Add a bit of airflow to the mix and the water just slides off the surface leaving you dry underneath.

Castelli Fluido Bib Tights  £170.00

Yes, Castelli's Fluido bib tights are expensive but they're also incredibly good at keeping out the wind and also protecting you from rain and road spray. You'll be amazed at the performance, these are the best bit of clothing I've tested in ages.

Castelli Pioggia 3 Shoecover  £55.00

'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.

Craft Rain Bootie Cycling Shoe Cover  £36.00

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.

Pro Tarmac H2O overshoes  £29.35

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.



Castelli Diluvio gloves  £35.00

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 Extreme Winter Gloves   £29.99

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 Leather Road Cycle Gloves  £45.00

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.

Seal Skinz Activity socks  £29.99

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.

Rothera Cycling All Weather Cycling Cap  £20.00

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.

Northwave Celsius GTX boots  £139.99

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.

13 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

Bought a pair of Castelli Fluido tights last autumn and barely had anything else on my legs all winter. Their ability to shed water is remarkable - I've worn them for 4 hour MTB rides in truly filthy conditions and yet still had dry legs. Combined with a long-sleeve Gabba top, a perfect combo.

Make mine an Italian with Campagnolo on the side

posted by monty dog [420 posts]
21st March 2013 - 23:21


The Sportful and Madison look like plastic bags compared to some of the other jackets; coated lycra fabrics seems to be the way ahead.

I am stronger than Mensa, Miller and Mailer, I spat out Plath and Pinter.

bikeboy76's picture

posted by bikeboy76 [1705 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 0:40


I've a pair of Northwave Artic, same construction as the Celsius but more warmth.
Best boots I have ever had, you will get wet feet when the weather turns biblical but with a massive hole in the top of the boot for your foot that's is always going to happen.

they get the chrispy thumbs up!

posted by mrchrispy [398 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 10:31


Good article.

pssst though: Showers Pass. They know about rain in Portland.

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [142 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 11:41


Yes, Showers Pass stuff looks good, we haven't tested any in years, we'll have to try and get some in.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4201 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 11:46


+ many for the Celsius boots-worn all winter ie still wearing them.One product that works for a change.Anyone want to buy one of my many *waterproof* jackets?


posted by nevman [17 posts]
22nd March 2013 - 12:05


Intriguing list. I'm clearly not rich enough for the "best" gear.

posted by vbvb [408 posts]
2nd April 2013 - 23:40


Do not rate Sealskinz stuff at all. Used it in the past and found that tho waterproof, was incredibly uncomfortable and with the fitting, could make you very very cold.

posted by Steven_L [48 posts]
3rd April 2013 - 8:14


I have some Sealskinz gloves marked "waterproof" and they're not even water-resistant. Totally not worth the money.

The socks are better but you need to wear them under trousers. If the tops get wet, the water soaks into the sock and you get a pool inside.

posted by Hollisharri [41 posts]
1st May 2013 - 19:31


Great article, but depressing as hell that it's relevant in mid May

mr-andrew's picture

posted by mr-andrew [303 posts]
15th May 2013 - 13:36


Useful reading for those of us in the southern hemisphere, though, as are users' comments. Enjoy your "summer".

Gerard the Kiwi

GerardR's picture

posted by GerardR [93 posts]
18th May 2013 - 21:48


Some interesting gear. Although I have to say from personal experience Sealskinz socks are not completely waterproof in fact they aren't waterproof or warm at all. Not sure how they continue to get away with making such claims!

posted by adeasp [1 posts]
9th September 2013 - 14:34


haha you're not alone there vbvb!

posted by james mckay [15 posts]
15th September 2013 - 20:11