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 — or at least highly water-resistant — clothing we've tested on road.cc, from jackets to bib tights, gloves, hats and overshoes.
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.
The Howies Herald is a fantastic waterproof jacket that's ideal for commuters. A little more reflectivity for night riding would make it nigh-on faultless.
The Herald is clearly designed as a jacket for active wear, even if it's not obviously cycling-specific. It's made from a two-layer, matt waterproof and breathable nylon shell, with a mesh polyester lining. Seams are double taped for added water protection while the lightweight fleece collar is there for a spot of comfort.
Perhaps more exciting than the Herald's fabric is its practical design. There are two typical zipped hand pockets, a subtle zipped chest pocket, a zipped internal pocket and – my personal fave – a zipped forearm pocket with fitted bungee cord and clip for secure holding of your front door key. (I'm going back a bit with my references here, but I'm pretty sure Frank Spencer or Mr Bean had something similar.)
The Galibier Tempest Pro Jacket has an impressive ability to shrug off the heaviest of rain for ages without soaking you from the inside out, and when you don't need it, just stuff it in your rear pocket. There's a bit of a plasticky feel to the fabric, but it works really well.
Using a HydraStop membrane, the Tempest Pro delivers factory results of 9,000mm when it comes to waterproofing; that means it can resist 9,000mm of water from a hydrostatic head (tube of water) before it can't hold any more and it leaks through. In the real world that means heavy rain and downpours.
The biggest plus point is the staggeringly low price. The Galibier Tempest Pro compares favourably with jackets like the Endura Pro SL Shell II or even the Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Shadow but is over £100 cheaper.
The Lusso Aqua Extreme Repel V2 Jacket is one of the best waterproof jackets on the market. Made right here in the UK, in Manchester, the Lusso Aqua Extreme Repel Jacket V2 keeps serious rain out without creating that boil in the bag sensation found with many others on the market. A huge amount of reflective detailing makes this jacket perfect for night rides too.
At just £30 (£25 for the black version), the Triban RC 500 Women's Showerproof 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 Waterproof 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 fifty 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 Pro SL Shell Jacket II has impressive waterproofing and will really keep out the worst of the rain and wind. It can get a little hot and sweaty, though, and for me it got a bit boil-in-the-bag when the temperatures hit the teens on training rides. It just about fits in a large jersey pocket, and is a good investment for cooler days when you need a robust level of weather protection.
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.
With these tights, cold legs are a thing of the past. We've tackled sub-zero morning rides with a hefty dose of windchill with no problems, in fact they're the warmest cycling tights we've ever tested.
The Pearl Izumi Elite AmFib Bib Tights manage this with a combination of the company's own Elite Softshell and Elite Thermal Fleece fabrics. The softshell fabric is used in key areas (seat and front of legs) to provide wind and water resistance, and the Thermal Fleece is used everywhere else for insulation, and more breathability.
The fabric is bulky, but used strategically with shaped panels and pre-curved legs to enhance the fit. Getting them on is a bit of an effort, but once on the tights conform to the legs nicely, and the size and fit is good.
And they're stupendously good in bad weather. The two fabrics provide unparalleled warmth. They stop the wind from causing a chill, and rain just beads off the surface. You can be out for hours in sub-zero temperatures, or in winter rain and be quite happy. When you want the absolute best protection from the wind and rain, few tights are as good.
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.
There are limited sizes at teh link above. If you need a size L try here.
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.
The Lusso Windtex overboots offer a large working temperature range across a myriad of different weather conditions. And don't let that Windtex name fool you – these booties will also keep the rain at bay for way longer than you'd expect of a fabric this light and thin.
I'm nitpicking a bit with that 'con' of not being thick enough for sub-zero temperatures, because Lusso does only say that the Stealth overshoes will work from 0°C through to 14°C, and it was only on rides where the mercury was nudging freezing that I was right on the level of my comfort zone. Any lower and I'd have to think about thicker socks or sneaking a sandwich bag in there. Many people don't ride when it's freezing outside, so for most it won't be an issue.
GripGrab's Windsters are good quality, wind and water proof gloves that allow for lever grip combined with smartphone usability. They're impressively flexible too; they manage to not only keep your hands warm and dry, but it is still relatively easy to grip and feel handlebars and levers.
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.
Dexshell Ultra Dri Sports socks work really well to keep your feet warm and dry. With a waterproof breathable Porelle membrane construction, high calf cuffs that grip your shins and repel water as well as can be expected, and a merino inner for warmth, they're a great option for sodden cold days.
The successor to Gore Wear's Equipe cap 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.
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.
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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.