Rain, for many cyclists a deal breaker. However, if you’re prepared for it, there’s no reason not to ride. Whether around the corner running errands or all day/night in a brevet. This past Sunday I did my training ride in pretty bad weather. Not only was I able to stick to my training plan, but I was able to find some weak links in my gear. So since I get asked about my gear all the time, I figured I’d share my rain kit.
Most of my gear comes from Showers Pass. They are based in Portland, Oregon so you can imagine that they have wet weather riding all figured out.
I’ve got two options when it comes to jackets. The first one is the Showers Pass Double Century jacket. This jacket is very lightweight and compresses down small. It does a great job keeping me warm and dry, and when the sun comes out the jacket can fit in a jersey pocket. However, a drawback to the lightweight design is that they recommend not using it with a backpack. In fact, I’ve found a couple of holes on my jacket in various places. I think the holes are from constant use.
When I have to use a backpack I use the Showers Pass Mountain Elite. This is probably the toughest jacket that Showers Pass offers. It’s designed to be used with a backpack and includes rubber patches on the shoulders to keep the backpack straps from sliding. It also includes rubber patches on the elbows just in case you end up on the ground. This jacket is considerably heavier and bulkier than the Double Century. The reason for this may lie in the choice of fabric. The Mountain Elite is made with eVent fabric, while the Double Century is made with Artex. The Mountain Elite does breath a little better than the lighter Double Century. They’ve placed the pit zips on the chest which allows for the opening and closing of the vents without being blocked by your backpack, if you’re wearing one. Another nice feature is the fold down flap at the rear of the jacket. Essentially a mud flap designed to keep you a little dryer/cleaner, although another reason why the jacket is heavier.
For my legs I use the Showers Pass Convertible Pant. Like the Mountain Elite Jacket, these pants are bulkier and heavier than some other options. However, they’ve never failed me so I think they are literally worth their weight. I tend to use them in the knicker setup. This helps to lighten them slightly and I never feel that I need that little section of leg to be covered anyways. In fact, lately I’ve just been leaving the lower leg portion at home. They have a nice reflective collar sewn in where the zipper is located which is always nice for night riding. I did have to add the optional suspenders though, as they do tend to get pulled down as I ride. The suspenders correct that, but it does weigh more to use them.
For my hands I just some simple Pearl Izumi full finger gloves. They aren’t waterproof, but they do hold off the water for a while. They are fleece lined so they keep my fingers pretty warm. However, once they get wet I pull out my overgloves. These simple mitts are awesome! They are made by a fellow randonneurs mother. They work great in all sorts of weather, mostly the cold, but in the rain as well. The open palm design allows you to take one or all of your fingers out of the mitts to regulate temperature or to use your camera.
The final part that I’m working on right now is the rain and cold protection for my feet. Up until now I haven’t done anything and I’ve been ok. However, when it gets really wet the water makes it way inside my shoes and, as I found out on Sunday, it’s only a matter of time before I get too cold and too wet. I don’t want that to happen again. So now I’m going to be trying out these Showers Pass Shoe Covers.
I cut out a hole on the bottom so that I can use my SPDs. I did a dry run with them around the block and I was able to clip-in and clip-out with any problems. However, I’m so skinny that I can’t them tight enough around my ankles. I don’t want any water running in from this opening so I’ll have to alter them. I’m thinking that a velcro ankle band will work temporarily, but I’ll probably end up running them through the sewing machine soon.
Well, that about covers my rain kit. Not only does this gear work well in the rain, it works just as well for the cold. With this gear there’s no weather that, with the right combination, can keep me from riding my bike. Ok, well maybe constant snow, but that’s a whole ‘nother story. So what gear do you use to ride in the rain?