My rain gear

Some people asked about rain gear and I was inspired by Warren’s post on cool weather riding. Here’s a picture of my typical cool-weather rain gear. When I buy cycling rain gear, I look for these features: waterproof, taped seams, pit zips on jackets, tail on the jacket, and adjustable ankle and wrist cuffs.

Winter cycling gear

On my head I have a light cap — in this case, REI’s Novara cycling beanie. For heavy rain, a helmet visor helps keep the rain away from my eyes.

The jacket is a high visibility waterproof cycling jacket. “Pit zips” — zippered ventilation at the underarms — provide ventilation to let sweat escape. Taped seams ensure water doesn’t sneak in at the seams. A tail on the back helps keep my seat area dry. I sweat enough under this jacket that I need to change my shirt when I arrive at the office.

The pants, like the jacket, are windproof and waterproof with taped seams. These Novara Express cycling pants zip almost to the knee to allow for easy on-and-off over shoes and pants, and adjustable ankle cuffs let me batten things down near by feet. Down to about 45 degrees I generally just wear cycling shorts under these pants, though I’ve worn my office pants under them in heavy rain. They work well.

They’re not shown in this photo, but when rain is especially heavy I’ve worn waterproof gaiters over my calves and feet. Gaiters are used by mountaineers to keep snow out of their hiking boots.

Bridgedale wool hiking socks keep my feet warm even in the wet. Where I live now the rain is light enough that fenders do an adequate job of keeping my feet and shoes dry. When I lived in truly wet climates, I’ve worn plastic bags between the socks and shoes to keep my feet dry. I always bring a dry pair of socks with me when it’s raining.

The gloves in this photo are Seirus spring skiing gloves; these gloves are windproof and waterproof, but because the seams are not taped water still gets in. These days I wear a pair of Manzella Silkweight Windstopper gloves (Reviewed here on CBB). The Manzella gloves are water resistant, but that’s usually good enough for my commute.

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0 thoughts on “My rain gear”

  1. Spencer (Portland, Left Coast) says:

    I found a great pair of over shoe covers from MEC (canadian REI) here:

    These things are make of codura, water proof, relatively cheap, very hard wearing and very easy to put on and off compaired to the more aero ones favored by roadies. These go over any pair of shoes easily in a few seconds and I even wear them mountain bikeing on muddy days.

    I also like to carry a light weight cycling cap with a foam rubber brim. The rubber brim is important since it won’t deform in the rain. This keeps my glasses magically dry on rainy days. I get the cool max ones, since my helmet cover often makes my head hot.

  2. […] Fritz wrote a fantastic post today on “My rain gear”Here’s ONLY a quick extractBridgedale wool hiking socks keep my feet warm even in the wet. Where I live now the rain is light enough that fenders do an adequate job of keeping my feet and shoes dry. When I lived in truly wet climates, I’ve worn plastic bags … […]

  3. Warren T says:

    There once was a cyclist named Fritz
    Who’s jackets must have zippered pits
    He can ride in the rain
    Even though it’s a pain
    But ice storms make him call it quits

  4. Fritz says:

    I’ve pedaled through ice storms, actually 😉 Hail pinging off of my bike sounds cool but it hurts — hail even finds its way through helmet vents and hits my head. Freezing rain results in bike, body, clothing and eyeglasses covered in ice.

  5. Warren T says:

    Okay, we’ll try a biku:

    Hail pings his helmet
    Finding its way through the vents
    Ice? Not a problem

  6. John says:


    I use a standard Novara biking jacket for the upper body, but some old Gore-tex bright blue rainpants.

    As for the feet, I wear some Gore-tex socks and old running shoes. This is an awesome combination. Basically, it’s impossible to keep water out of shoes in my experience, at least in the rainforest where I live (North Vancouver, BC). So I don’t even try — I wear old running shoes that leak like a sieve. However, the Goretex socks keep my feet dry and comfortable. When it is really cold and very wet my feet get a little cool, but never wet.


  7. JiMCi says:

    I like riding in the rain. The sounds are different, the road feels smoother and there are a lot fewer obstacles (read: joggers, strollers, roller bladders) on the bike lane!

    On hot summer days, I don’t use any rain gear, only my regular cycling jersey and shorts. When it’s colder, the “Whoosh” cycling jacket and pants from are just great. Add a polartech beanie, a good pair of gloves and neoprene booties and you’re all set! What I wear under this gear is dictated by the ambient temperature.


    P.S. I must admit that I do enjoy the “you biked to work in THAT rain?” co-workers remarks and feel good when politely declining their offers for a ride back home in their cage. 😉

  8. Richard says:

    Can someone recommend a place to find good rain gear for very hot conditions? I commute in Miami, FL and during the summers it is nothing but heavy tropical storms that we get sometimes non stop for 3 weeks in a row. I needed heavy rain/wind gear, but something wouldn’t make me suffocate in 100 degree weather.

  9. Spencer (Portland, Left Coast) says:

    I don’t think any rain gear is going to keep you dry from the rain and breath enough to get you from sweating. Just remember that skin is water proof.

    I think your best bet given the temperature is a riding vest with a mesh back and maybe a pair of knee length riding chaps. This will do more to keep down the wind chill and the brunt of the rain. Both are made of fabrics that don’t absorb water so you won’t get water logged. I would also get a good visored cycling cap to keep the rain out of your eyes or off your glasses.

  10. RainCityCyclist says:

    My biggest annoyance is soaking wet shoes. After riding in, and changing in my office, I try to get my shoes dry. Even after a full day at work, I have to slide my feeet back into soaked, cold, wet shoes for my ride home. Not a huge deal, but its the one piece of gear that suffers the most in the rain. Not that we get rain in Seattle, but…

  11. Daniel Ruitman says:

    I live in Portland Oregon, and I commute all winter long.
    I picked up some cheap nylon jackets and pants from a Goodwill thrift store.
    I happened to find a nice SOU Cross country Nylon jacket with 2 layers of Nylon on the sleeves and a tail on the back, along with a Velcro vent on the back (for some reason the front of my arms and tops of my thighs get the most moisture)

    For extremely wet and cold conditions:
    I put on a pair of thermals, top and bottom, then my nylon pants with a liner and a pair without a liner over that.

    After I put on my thermal top I put on a thin wool sweater and my nylon jacket.

    For my feet I put on wool socks (or some wool blend) and when I had regular pedals I put on my waterproof boots. Or regular like basketball shoes with neoprene booties. Now I use crank bros egg beater clip in pedals with mountain shoes and neoprene booties.

    I also wear a balaclava under my helmet.

    And well get this … for my hands I use 2 pairs of miracle gloves. Ya know the kind you see everywhere .. one size fits all .. made out of some synthetic material or poly-cotton blend. They cost like $1.50 a pair and they truly are miracle gloves! they work absolutely perfectly all winter long. Even if I had a pair of $50 gloves I wouldn’t wear them. The miracle gloves were the most unexpected but perfect match for the extremely wet and cold winters in Portland.

    I also enjoy the remarks and stairs from co workers … “Nice Costume” or what have you. I work at a call center and here everyone is either fat or naturally a twig and I cant help but laugh back at fat people for giving me grief when I have to wear all this equipment to get to work in the winters. Your fat and I wear nylon and bike 50+ miles a week to and from work.

  12. Daniel James says:

    The best advice I’ve read for shoes in the rain is cycling sandals. Keen has a pair out that I’m considering getting eventually, just wear waterproof socks and your good… They would dry out by the time your done with work. If your really gutsy wear some warmer socks underneath and it would probably work just as well in the winter.

  13. Don McCubbin says:


    Thanks for your thoughts on raingear!

    I have been riding in the rain with an LL Bean jacket that has a hood. I am going to start wearing a helmet, so the hooded jacket won’t work.

    What do folks do to keep rain from going down their neck, without a hooded jacket?


  14. Daniel Alvarez says:

    I commute daily in Bogota, Colombia, where it rains a lot (though not as much as Seattle), and the days are warm (though not as hot as Miami). My strategy is a homemade vinyl, old school poncho (looks like Grundens bike poncho from Rivendell, but a bit longer) that adjusts around the neck with velcro. I roll my pant legs up above the knee, roll my socks down to the ankles and wrap my feet in plastic grocery bags. Only my head and calves get wet, but I’m bald so it’s not an issue. The poncho is great in hot weather because air flows in freely from below. Not once have I had a sweaty shirt or wet socks or shoes.

  15. Scott says:

    Rain! Now that’s something we have by the bucket (I’m based in Scotland.) Check out the gallery here 🙂

    Used to be armed forces (Royal Navy) – have been through a force 6 on the deck of a frigate in trousers, wooly pully and goretex “foulies”. Was misery on a stick 😉

    But I was dry 😀

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