Cycle commuting in the rain can be a right pain. You arrive at work soaked through, resembling a drowned rat, clothes and bag sodden. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Choose the right waterproof cycling kit and accessories and you’ll sail through the downpours and puddles, arriving at work warm and dry (and just a little bit smug.)
Generally speaking it’s worth investing in a good waterproof jacket, but these other waterproof cycling gear and accessories will make all the difference.
Watching the pennies? We’ve also come up with some cheap cheats as an alternative to gear mentioned below. They might not last as long, but they’ll get you out of a fix!
1. Waterproof Cycling Helmet Covers
Designed to fit over your cycling helmet, waterproof helmet covers keep the rain from getting through the vents in your helmet and getting your hair wet. However, they won’t stop water getting down the back of your neck so the other option is a jacket with a hood.
Cost: From around £15
CHEAT: Grab one of those plastic shower caps and pop it on over your hair, but under your helmet. You can of course go for one of the larger, more robust (and often floral) shower caps and wear it over your helmet – you’d certainly get noticed!
Cost: Around £1.50 for 10
2. Waterproof Cycling Gloves
Not only are wet hands unpleasant, you’ve got the double whammy of cold hands, and the deeply unpleasant sensation of putting your hands back into wet gloves for the ride home. Waterproof gloves like these offerings from Sealskinz and Gore keep the water out and the heat in very effectively.
CHEAT: Grab some disposable gloves and bung them on under your cycling gloves. They won’t stop your gloves from getting wet, but they will keep your hands a lot warmer. Keep spare pairs at work to put on before you put your wet gloves on to head home.
Cost: From around £1 for 18 gloves
3. Waterproof Cycling Trousers
If you’ve ever arrived at work soaked to the skin, knickers and all, you’ll know how much of a difference a waterproof layer on your lower half can make. There are plenty of waterproof over-trousers for cycling available on the market now. Most will have wide openings at the waist and leg so you can fit them over your clothes easily, and bright reflective detailing.
CHEAT: We’ve seen a few people use the plastic bin bag cheat, which basically involves taping bin bags around your legs. It’s effective, but a bit of a faff, and looks kinda odd. Another alternative is to buy a cheap pair of waterproof trousers from an outdoor shop. They won’t be breathable, so they tend to get wet with condensation on the inside, but they’re okay for short journeys and heavy downpours!
Cost: Pakka Women’s Waterproof Trousers £12.99
4. Waterproof Cycling Overshoes and Waterproof Socks
Cycling overshoes are usually either stretchy neoprene or a waterproof fabric that pulls or zips on over the top of your regular shoes. They will usually have an open base so you can still use clipless pedals, and/or so they don’t get caught or ripped on your pedals.
If you don’t mind your shoes getting wet, then waterproof socks like these ones from Sealskinz are a great option. Pop these on and your feet will stay dry and warm to and from work. The other good thing about waterproof socks is that they are versatile – you can use them for walking, hiking, mountain biking, or other outdoors activities.
Cost: Waterproof Overshoes from £33 , Waterproof Socks from £24
CHEAT: If you’ve got an old pair of shoes or trainers you don’t mind getting wet, then pop a plastic bag over your socks before you put them in your shoes, and tape or tie the handle firmly (but not too tight!) around the ankle. This will help keep your feet warm and dry, but you might find your feet slip around in the shoe a bit, and you’ll probably need spare bags for the return journey.
Cost: Free if you have a stash of bags.
5. Waterproof Rucksack Cover
The last thing you want to do when you get to work is reach into your bag only to find your papers are soggy and your laptop is sitting in a puddle of rain water. Disaster! Avoid this by either investing in a waterproof rucksack like the AquaPac Wet & Dry bag, or getting a waterproof bag cover like the one above produced by Hump which is also high-viz; handy!
CHEAT: Line your rucksack with a bin-bag, make sure you twist and fold over the opening at the top, and your kit will arrive as dry as you. A more high-tech version is to get a dry-bag to put your kit in, and then pop this in your bag. Again, if you’re outdoorsy, dry-bags are a very handy and versatile piece of kit.
Cost: Bin bags from 15p each. Dry bags from approx. £8 each.
There are few things more miserable on a cycle commute than the feeling of icy, dirty water flying up your back then running down into your trousers. Yuck. Putting on a mudguard won’t just prevent this, it will also increase your popularity with fellow cyclists as they won’t get a face full of road spray as they ride behind you.
Cost: Starting from around £12 for a rear mudguard only.
CHEAT: Make your own mudguard from a plastic bottle! It’s free, simple, and gets you out of a jam if it starts raining while you’re at work. Plastic folders also work well. Check out these guides on Instructables and Bike Hacks for the How Tos. If you don’t fancy making your own, there are also the simple and cheap Ass Saver mudguards which work in a similar fashion. [Check out some more bike hacks from our friends over at Dirt Magazine.]
Cost: Homemade mudguard free! Ass Saver Mudguard £6.49
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