Waterproof gear?

I live in the PNW and while we have some decent summer time riding around here, what we are most known for is our rain. I am looking for recommendations of winter clothing that is waterproof, specifically in the winter bibs department, but also any other waterproof gear that you think might be necessary for 2-4 hour rainy rides?

Also to note, rain varies from torrential downpour to a light sprinkle and anything in-between. I don’t mind if I am wet near the 3-4 hour time frame but would really like those first twoish hours to be on the dry side. Please let me know what gear you all recommend!!

Side note, I am not too worried about cost as I can get the gear likely through my bike shop on discounts so throw all ideas my way!

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Nothing is going to keep you dry. And if it could you’re going to be sweating like a pig because waterproof fabrics aren’t breathable (despite what they might say). You might get away with a light rain jacket for those light showers but nothing else is going to keep you dry. (Unless you go full Gortex and are riding around at walking pace).

Also waterproof fabrics don’t stretch. So there’s not going to be anything that form fits around your legs.

Good news is. Like my old man used to say. Humans are waterproof.


Nothing waterproof but I have been doing some 4-6hr rides recently up in Vancouver and in medium to heavy rain at ~3-8c and have settled on some kit that works well for me.

Bibtights I run pasnormal deep winter, they are warm and partially water repellent. They will soak through eventually but stay warm when wet.

Shoe covers and gloves I run Spatz pro2 overshoes and their rain gloves. Again will eventually soak through but keep my feet and hands warm even when wet.

Rain jacket I have a few different ones but anything actually waterproof and with a double zip works well in my experience.

I have some pretty nice gear from Rapha (long bibs thermal) and Pas Normal Studios (Thermal jacket). Throw on a merino base layer and gillet (optional thermal) and you’re good for a long time.

As the others say, in my experience, the good gear is mostly holding off getting soaked right away.
In the end it’s a period of feeling damp, then wet, then really soaked. How long that takes depends on how much it rains. From this point it gets quite unpleasant after 30-60min with temperatures around 0 Celsius. Especially if you have a hilly route with descends.

Basically I consider a 1-2 hour ride almost always possible. More can be tricky.

I live in Vancouver BC and ride year round. I wear winter bibs with a specialized rain coat, base layers depending on how cold it is. Wool cycling cap with ear flaps. Neoprene gloves.

The biggest challenge I had was keeping my feet dry and warm. What ended up working best was taping up the vents in my shoes, water proof over shoes and using sealskinz water proof socks. Also putting my bibs over the over shoes helps with ingress.

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Original Goretex ShakeDry is magic and no longer going to be made due to the fact that the manufacturing process for the fabric is environmentally unsustainable. They are still making jackets and hats out of existing stock, but once they are gone they are not coming back in stock.


Water proof fabrics come on a sliding scale, because inherently you trade off water-proofness for breathability. I have a rain coat that lets nothing through. But it also lets no sweat escape. It has two armpit-to-waist zippers, but that compromises water-proofness.

To me what really matters are temperatures:

  • Above 10 degrees: I usually ignore the rain, unless it rains so hard, I have trouble seeing (I need to wear cycling glasses with corrective lenses) and/or the road becomes unsafe.
  • ~0 degrees ≤ T ≤ 5 degrees: This is the danger zone. I personally simply would not ride. I got severe hypothermia once, because the weather forecast was not spot on and I hadn’t brought my water proof rain coat.
  • Safely below freezing aka riding in the snow: That’s lovely. I take out my mountain bike and ride trails at a mellow pace.

I’d also make some adjustments to my rides:

  • If it rains hard, I either would stay indoors or do shorter rides. If you are on the road, you increase your risk for accidents — including those that are no fault of your own.
  • I would not ride as long. If you are dry for 2ish hours, why not do 2ish hour rides and work on other things such as strength training or recovery?

Goretex Shakedry 1985 model has been my best waterproof jacket so far. Arm warmers and standard jersey under it keeps me warm. In some stage races, even just base layer and jacket has worked for me.

Have sweated in all wp jackets, so despite keeping the rain out, you still get sweat wet from the inside.


I’m in the UK where we get our fair share of rain and I’m out for periods up to 5 hours on my weekly long rides in the winter.

I follow a different approach to the waterproof shell, even in the heaviest rain. I found with waterproof that I just got soaked from the inside from sweat which cooled and then chilled me. I was wetter than if I never wore a waterproof.

My approach for many years now is to try and keep my skin dry even if there’s some moisture in my layers.

  1. A base mesh layer. This absorbs virtually no water, and creates a warm air layer against skin.
  2. If cold (<5C) a long sleeve merino layer above this
  3. An outer windproof shell that has a fast wicking insulating liner.

I find even heavy rain rarely gets past outer layer 3 , it captures and holds the moisture. The inner of the wicking liner staying dry due to the temperature gradient pushing moisture out along the hollow fibres. You don’t get sweat built up and the rain can’t soak to the inner base layers.

I find the above creates just the right balance between sweat egress and rain ingress to keep me warm and comfortable on wet winter rides.


Mudguards (or I guess they’re called fenders in PNW?). Cut out the road spray and you’ll stay a lot drier, particularly your legs and feet. And legs and feet are the hardest part to keep dry. Waterproof bibs don’t really exist, the best you’ll get is water resistant which does at least keep the worst out. Feet are a challenge. Fully taped waterproof boots will stop the water getting in the bottom, but in heavy rain it can be hard to keep it from getting in the top and then there’s nowhere for it to drain out which is horrible. I find the least bad option to be Spatz shoe covers, and then merino socks so your feet at least stay fairly warm if/when some water does get in. Know people who take it a step further and put clingfilm over their socks and inside their shoes, that’s worth a try if you’re going out on long rides in really wet weather!

Advice from the UK where winter means almost all days are wet, only a few are cold and icy.

A shakedry jacket. The best purchase of a jacket I have ever made. Then just layer as you would for a cool transition day between seasons underneath. Legs will always just get wet but you do want to have mudguards/fenders on the bike. It’s a nonsense vanity to not put them on a bike if you are riding in the winter and wet. In terms of your feet they will also eventually get wet and so merino socks are a must. Merino wool keeps you warm even when it itself is wet. Overshoes will also eventually let the water through and so some windproof ones are what you want. Velotoze work but are a pain to get on and off so just get some well made zip up wind proof from whatever manufacturer takes your fancy. Same schtick with gloves. They will all eventually get wet. Cheap labourer gloves for handling ice blocks do a pretty good job of staying dry for a good hour and a half or so until they give up the fight, very cheap to buy as well. But even when wet they manage to keep your hands warm. With your head I once again like a merino wool skull cap as, like the socks, it keeps you warm when wet.

Esker bibs by Chamonix are the best winter cycling investment I’ve made. Wind proof, vents in the thighs for when you get warm, good gathers/flaps at the leg so water does not enter your boots, pockets in the back. They are not heavy insulated but can be combined with warmer clothing underneath for extreme conditions.

+1 for shakedry-jackets. One of the best investments I’ve made gear-wise.

For legs I use waterproof shorts over bib tights to keep my crotch area and tighs warm and dry. Endura gv500s work fine and are thin enough to pack into pocket if necessary.


UK based also, Spatz Roadman overshoes, Assos Equipe winter tights and a soft shell jacket, normally Castelli Perfetto or Assos Ultraz/Habu, over a Spatz Base layer.

If raining hard, I throw on the Assos Sturmprinz over the top, best jacket I’ve ever used (won’t touch shakedry due to the black colour)

I was in the same camp until I found the one that has bright yellow on the sleeves and tail. If I’m wearing the shake dry it also means I’ve got the electric green rain cover on my Osprey pack as well.

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You really need to specify temperature ranges when asking for recommendations. You will dress for cold and wet differently than warm and wet. Even “cold” ranges from +50F to -40F.

Pearl Izumi Amfib is the go to for 40F and below. They also have wet weather gear for warmer weather.

I forgot to mention temperatures here, i will be riding in anything above 40F as below that I tend to run into black ice from the night before.

I want to try the pearl izumi stuff as I love their pro line bibs. Rapha is another one that I am keen on trying and so is Q36.5. Ive heard mixed things on the assos stuff but anything that you all can link specifically would be great.

Also please link to good base layers for top and bottom, Ive never worn a base layer but have heard some great things about them for both winter and summer. Would love to get some and trial with my winter rides.

Yes for me to.
Recently i did my first ride with it including 3x15 FTP and totally dry after 3 hours and I didn’t blow myself up during the blocks

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I’m also a UK resident and I tend to go for breathability and warmth in my water proof gear which usually leads me to a softshell like the gabba or a similar lecol long sleeve jacket I have or another soft shell with a Waterproof Gilet when I know theres a good chance of it being cold/wet. (Or perhaps a softshell with a lighter gilet in the pocket when it less cold/wet). I do have a rapha hard shell which is good on both fronts but I do tend to gravitate to the softshells.

In terms of base layers, I think everyone will have their own personal favourite. I’ve used fishnet-type for a couple of years now and I really prefer them for the first layer. They basically create small “air bubbles” and thus offer very efficient insulation given their weight and bulk (or lack there of). Also, since they don’t have much fabric they also don’t hold much moisture in them. But becouse of their open structure you need to have fairly windproof outer layer for them to be effective. On the other hand, you can quickly dump loads of heat by opening the jacket’s zipper.

Brynje offers polyester and wool based net-baselayers for a reasonable price. Aclima also makes woold based ones (woolnet) and Castelli has their “miracolo” baselayer which is fairly similar to Aclima. I personally use Brynje’s polyester baselayers for cool and cold conditions and Aclima’s woolnet for more relaxed activities in cool conditions (ie. hiking) or in cold conditions for higher output activities. I’ve had my Aclima baselayer for five years now and it’s still going strong so definately worth the price for me.