Rain beating gear to keep you dry on two wheels

Keeping dry on two wheels

There are two reasons I love waking up to the sound of rain against my window. The first is that I don’t mind getting on with work, when it’s pouring down with rain. The second, is that I’m always eager to get out my winter cycling gear.

Here’s what I’m using in my arsenal against the weather this year…

SKS MudguardSKS Mud Guard X-Tra Dry 
(£11.74 lowest price)

I’m a minimalist when it comes to my bike and I don’t see the reason for riding around with a mudguard (fender for US of A readers) when the sun is shining. However, I do like the option to quickly attach one at winter. That’s why the SKS X-Tra Dry mudguard is perfect. It can be attached and removed in seconds and keeps my back dry.

Rucksack coverWaterproof bag cover
around £10.00)

I went trekking in Japan once (show off!!) and I bought a waterproof backpack cover. I thought it was a little expensive at the time, but it’s come in incredibly useful for keeping my possessions dry. You can grab one from any outdoor store but this one from Amazon looks pretty good with the straps you can tighten around your bag. Otherwise, you may be lucky enough to use a waterproof bag. Many of the messenger bags tend to have good waterproofing.

DHB_SYNC_JACKET_PAIRDHB Sync Waterproof jacket
(£71.99 cheapest price)

A while back I reviewed the DHB Sync Waterproof jacket. I still regularly use it as it provides great waterproofing, with the option to unzip two huge flaps beneath the arms to keep you cool. Wiggle seems to have bumped up the price a fair bit, from £59.99 to £71.99, so you may want to choose something else from their range. However, even at the new price point, the DHB Sync is an excellent jacket. There are models available for ladies too (and they are top sellers on Wiggle!).

dhb-minima-wpp-aw10-medDHB Minima Waterproof Trousers

The DHB Minima trousers have some great features going for them at this low price point. For a start, they can be wrapped in to a small size so you can fit them at the bottom of your bag or panniers in case the rain starts. They are easily adjustable and provide great waterproofing. Thanks to their lightweight design, they won’t push up your body temperature.

Keeping your feet dry

The area I haven’t really covered with this gear are my feet. I’ve yet to find an ideal solution for keeping feet dry. However, I’ll soon be testing out the DHB C1.0 Commuting Shoe, which clips in to your pedals. I’m hoping this will provide some decent waterproofing.

There are many alternatives such as waterproof socks, overshoes, putting a plastic bag over your socks or simply changing in to a different pair of socks and footwear at your destination. Let me know if you’ve got any good suggestions in the comments..

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39 Responses to Rain beating gear to keep you dry on two wheels

  1. Rory 24/09/2012 at 1:16 pm #

    Feet? I take a spare pair of socks to work and leave my work shoes in the office, so I’m nice and dry… At the end of the day, I keep the dry socks on, but the shoes are always damp which isnt that nice. Not an ideal soloution, but for a short commute (30 mins), overshoes are a bit of a hassle, especially if your constantly clipping in and out at lights etc.

    I’m thinking of getting some waterproof shoes if such things exist, so be interested to hear how you get on….My mate who’s a mountain biker swears by waterproof socks, so going to look into that too!

    • gareth 01/10/2012 at 8:15 pm #

      You could just buy waterproof ‘overshoes’. A friend recommended them to me last year and they work really well. A bit like neoprene wetsuit fabric. Companies like planet x sell very reasonable basic over shoe.

  2. Dan 24/09/2012 at 1:20 pm #

    Very timely post! I commute 20 miles every day so for me mudguards/fenders are a must! Just out of curiosity, what don’t you like about them Andreas?

    • Andreas 24/09/2012 at 2:27 pm #

      I quite like having my bike looking as simple as possible so anything that takes away from that I tend to shy away from. However, I’m not stupid enough to ride in weather like this without fenders – hence why I use the SKS removable ones.

      • Vladimir 28/09/2012 at 4:16 pm #

        I see what you mean, the personal preference angle, and aesthetics matter to you. I have to say, I don’t get it. I really don’t. There is nothing wrong in my eyes with a set of full length mudguards on a bike. They just look like they belong. It might mean that the bike doesn’t look quite as “clean” – but then again, who is looking at your bike as you ride? very few people, let’s face it. who is looking at you when you arrive at your destination? a hell of a lot more people! and if you have a streak of gunge down your back? you’re going to make a good impression! (sarcasm).

        this isn’t even taking into account the fact that it isn’t only mud that is on the roads. there is also a lot of diesel and salt to boot. All these things wreak havoc on your expensive components… I didn’t pay £800 for a bike with a high quality chainset on it, only to erode the hell out of it by means of a winter’s riding on salty roads…

        full length mudguards are just a smart choice! and no, I do not work for SKS…

        and when it comes to fitting them, you can fit them to anything with a bit of know how http://forum.ctc.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=59362

        • Max 10/10/2012 at 12:09 pm #

          Agree with Vladimir.
          I use to have the SKS mudguards but I found them rather ineffective. I just bought some new full-length mudguards, and it makes my commute far nicer in the rain.

  3. Daniel 24/09/2012 at 1:23 pm #

    Do you feel that Mission Workshop, Chrome Bags or T-Level Backpacks provide good enough waterproof capabilities for the English Weather?

    • Andreas 24/09/2012 at 2:26 pm #

      I’ve got a Chrome bag and it seems to suffice for my needs – be interesting in hearing other people thought’s though.

  4. Ross Burton 24/09/2012 at 1:27 pm #

    I’ve a pair of Merrel light walking shoes (mainly for walking the dog) that have a gore-tex layer and so are pretty much waterproof, but I do find that as the sole is designed for traction on the ground they are not great on flat pedals (and obviously are no good with cleats).

    As a MTBer I do have a pair of waterproof socks – Seal Skinz – and they are amazing. As long as you don’t mind your shoes getting wet they are magic. The soaked shoe thing may or may not be a problem – where I work if I cycled in the rain with seal skinz on I’d just walk around in new socks, leaving the damp shoes near a computer to dry out…

  5. Matt 24/09/2012 at 1:33 pm #

    I just stick some endura overshoes on over my trainers (as I dont like to be clipped in all the time). You have to make sure you take them off as soon as you get to your destination though or you look like you are wearing part of a gimp costume.

  6. Barton 24/09/2012 at 1:36 pm #

    In a light rain, I just use my windjacket, as it handles a little bit of wet. But in a downpour, if I must be out on the bike, I use a poncho, that I secure on the handles with rubber bands, so my hands have free movement underneath (getting to shifters, brakes, etc). I try to tuck the back of the poncho under me, so it doesn’t flap about too much. Try is operative word.

    I look like a complete nutter. But usually I’m on the only idiot out at this point (me and the young dudes too cool to wear wet gear who are soaked to the bone), so I don’t care too much. I leave a poncho at work and one at home, just in case they are needed, so I don’t have to carry yet another piece of equipment with me.

  7. Dave 24/09/2012 at 1:47 pm #

    I just ‘like’ Matts comment regarding looking like you are wearing part of a gimp costume.

  8. UK Cyclists 24/09/2012 at 1:48 pm #

    Nice tips. I’ve found that packing a spare pare of clothes which are in a plastic bag inside a bag is a good option, but obviously it can depend on what you need to wear at the other end of your journey.

    Having a towel in the office is always useful as well. Good luck everyone!

  9. Simon M 24/09/2012 at 1:49 pm #

    Socks/shoes – my thoughts:

    Hate overshoes – they always end up getting torn cos I put my foot down suddenly or something.

    Sealskinz socks – they do work, combine them with light, fast-draining, fast-drying shoes though. If you put ’em on with a shoe that has padding, you have to ride with a very squelchy, spongy feeling shoe.

    Waterproof boots – got pairs from Lake, Specialized etc. They’re brill. But… water running down your leg into the shoe on longer rides can be an issue. And, of course, if the boot is waterproof, nowhere for water to go away to. The solution is to either use a boot with a very tight neoprene cuff, or overtrousers that are long enough to cover the top of the boot even when pedalling, or at a push use waterproof socks as well!

    I’m also surprised no one mentioned helmet covers yet (or if they did, I missed it). Ideal for ensuring you don’t end up with loads of water running into your eyes and stinging.

    • Barton 24/09/2012 at 2:00 pm #

      Good point about helmet covers. I LOVE mine (honestly, there was a point a few years ago where you couldn’t find one, and I used a shower cap instead). Somehow, I don’t mind the rest of my body getting soaked as long as my head is relatively dry and rain isn’t dribbling down my face….

  10. Andrew 24/09/2012 at 1:51 pm #

    I have the DHB minima trousers and they leak through the seams around the knees.

    • Andreas 24/09/2012 at 2:32 pm #

      That’s not good – did you consider returning them or washing them in some waterproofing coating? E.g. Nikwax

  11. Steph 24/09/2012 at 2:00 pm #

    Wellies! – naturally the best waterproof shoe there is, simple really. And mudguards are a must, also as a courtesy to other riders riding behind you who don’t want to be sprayed with muck from your wheels!

  12. Corin 24/09/2012 at 2:28 pm #

    Steph – well said! I hate riding behind people without rear mudguards on wet days.

    What about capes like the cyclist in the picture is wearing (also popular in the film Blade Runner)?

    • Andreas 24/09/2012 at 2:30 pm #

      I’ve ridden with a cape before – you are right Corin – very effective for keeping dry. There’s a few cycling specific ones out there but I’ve found the ones you can pick up from M&S just as good.

  13. babble on 24/09/2012 at 5:18 pm #

    I love my wellies on wet days! Between my to-the-knee waterproof yet breathable Sun Ice jacket and my trusty wellies, I’m still dry by the time I get to work, because I mostly wear skirts, and also I pull my hood over the helmet to keep my hair and neck dry.

    But gloves…!! Where do you find waterproof gloves? A friend of mine uses neoprene diving gloves, though they are pretty cold for our wet Vancouver winters. Any suggestions out there?

    • Simon M 26/09/2012 at 9:40 am #

      Lots of waterproof cycling gloves around – by Sealskinz, Specialized and others. Several do a kind-of two layer glove thing that works really well – thin waterproof outer that’s enough for autumn, then extra fleecy insert that works brill in depth of winter.

  14. Chris 24/09/2012 at 5:36 pm #

    In reply to ‘babble on’ – skiing gloves are pretty effective if they have a water-proof liner such as Gortex and you can pick up a cheap pair from Sports Direct shops, rather than pricey places like Ellis Brigham. They can be a bit on the thick side, but I’ve found no problems operating brake and gear controls, and they’re lovely and toasty warm too.

  15. Chris 24/09/2012 at 5:41 pm #

    Oh and have a look under the heading ‘Cycling Gear’ at the top of this page – there’s a section on winter gloves 🙂

  16. Adrian 24/09/2012 at 9:43 pm #

    The DHB slice rucksack from wiggle comes with a waterproof cover tucked in the bottom of it(except the 15l), handy if you want to know it’s always there.
    Last winter i tried the sealskinz all weather gloves which were nowhere near warm enough and the cuff lets water in through a cut out for the velcro, i’m looking at the handlebar mitts from sealskinz at the moment and they seem good for the harsher weather but maybe too much for dry days, specialized do something similar called the sub zero which are slightly cheaper and get some awsome reviews.

  17. Paul 25/09/2012 at 7:41 am #

    I have rapha softshell trousers, bit expensive but warm and waterproof and look like normal trousers so can be worn in the office.
    swrve do some too that are good.
    Also recommend the swrve Milwaukee hoodie, amazing!
    Gloves and socks – going too look at sealskins.
    Someone mentioned chrome bags – I have a bigxtop bag which is similar, it has a waterproof lining like yacht bags

  18. dexey 25/09/2012 at 1:10 pm #

    I used to ride in a cape in the ’70’s and ’80’s but they are difficult to vent without water running down your neck. Also, they catch the wind and make hand signals very difficult.

    I’ve been using the same system as Kent Peterson since I discovered his blog. If it works in Oregon it’ll work here. Extra is a cheap Keela jacket (Odin) in Winter – if it works in Scotland it’ll etc. and it does.

  19. recur 26/09/2012 at 12:37 am #

    I do head to toe Gore Goretex when it rains. Gore Path Jacket with hood, Gore pants, Gore overshoes, Gore gloves. All of that will keep the rain out, but the problem when wearing any “waterproof breathable” fabric is overheating & sweating. I find I have to keep my cadence way down, especially on hills, so that I don’t end as wet from sweat as I would have been from the rain the Goretex is protecting me from.
    Which has led me to this pearl of wisdom: If it’s breathable, it’s not waterproof. If it’s waterproof, it’s not breathable. Those qualities are mutually exclusive where it comes to fabric.

    • Simon M 26/09/2012 at 9:45 am #

      Recur, have you tried eVent stuff? Find it much more breathable than Gore-Tex, more durable too (and just as waterproof). There’s also now Gore-Tex Active (?) for sweatier activities too.

      I mountain bike and I use a mix of Gore-Tex stuff and eVent. And have managed to avoid turning into a boil-in-the-bag. If you are finding even mild exertion very humidifying, then suggest finding jackets with pitzip vents etc. Ideal for staying waterproof but also venting out any sweat. Also, merino wool base layer? Really helps wick away sweat from your skin.

    • Adam 28/09/2012 at 12:41 pm #

      Not necessarily – I can definitely recommend paramo jackets, they’ve kept me dry in huge downpours without boiling me inside

  20. Alan 26/09/2012 at 9:19 pm #

    I just put each foot in a plastic bag (Sainsburys of you want that hi-viz look) and tie it round the ankle. But it rarely rains hard enough that I have to resort to such measures.

  21. peter mccloskey 28/09/2012 at 11:48 am #

    i wear trainers on my bike to work and have dry socks and shoes there -when the trainers get very wet they take days to dry out are horrible to put on-this summer i went kayaking in scotland and wore a wetsuit with typhoon watersport boots which have a tread on the bottom-i ordered some off the web for about £20 but have not tried them yet-i’ll let you know if they are successful.

  22. Adam 28/09/2012 at 12:39 pm #

    I bought a pair of endura mt500s the other day to put over normal shoes (I ride with toe clips, not cleats), and they work great. They’re designed for mtbs, and I ride a roadie, but the toe’s got some reinforcement on it so it won’t rip if you put your foot down suddenly etc. They also pack down nice and small. Highly recommended

  23. Jeroen (NL) 28/09/2012 at 1:17 pm #

    For autumn / winter I use Shimano MW-80s: Gore tex and Thinsulate, and step into spare office shoes when arriving. My fresh shirt and the rest I carry in an Ortlieb Office Bag which is waterproof. The Shimanos are clipped onto combipedals PD-A530.
    I am amazed at you UK people having to wear high-viz jackets to survive, but they are great to see and of good quality. And I am also amazed at the Olde-English tailor tradition adapted to cycle requirements, such as your Brompton Oratory jacket and the Rapha Tailored jacket. Both styles are not regular in NL. But how can you ever afford those prices??

  24. Jamie 28/09/2012 at 1:20 pm #

    haha! I’m not 100% sure, but I think that’s me in your pic!
    Loads of people laugh at my yellow cape and I know I look a prat in it, but it was very cheap (£14 off Amazon). Some people may think that it acts like a sail, but I’ve not really found that, unless it is incredibly windy. The best thing is it goes over the handle bars, so it keeps my thighs dry, while still allowing air to circulate and I don’t get too hot and sweaty. Only my ankles and feet get a bit wet in very heavy rain. It’s got a hood too which is good and I’m also very visible!

  25. Dean 28/09/2012 at 2:57 pm #

    I use Shimano MW80 SPD Winter Boots – £115 two years ago – not cheap but kept me communiting 10 miles each way all winter (except during the heavy snow in 2010).. best piece of winter kit I’ve ever bought and has paid for itself.. Overshoes are fine if your out and back for a trainnig ride but for communing warm dry feet on the way home are a must..

  26. Duncan 30/09/2012 at 8:55 am #

    Nothing more annoying than a zippy racing bike cutting close in front of you and spraying you in the face because they dont have mudguards. Mudguards on my Brompton are superb when its pissing down.

  27. Seb 16/10/2012 at 5:19 pm #

    Rain is the main reason I paid more for Ortileb panniers, been through everything and everything is dry inside. The only pain is they are one giant compartment. But I keep everything in different plastic bags inside for easy access.

  28. David 23/10/2013 at 6:38 pm #

    I reject the idea of waterproof anything on a bike . Even if you are drenched its amazing how warm you feel with proper TIGHT roubaix tights on. Jackets also need to be TIGHT. And it is only necessary for them to be windproof on the front. Roubaixlycra on the rear is sufficient . If you dress in waterproofs then on balance you will end up wetter than the above.

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