It was inevitable; the seasons have turned and the time of mists, mellow fruitfulness and rain has arrived. Don’t let a little precipitation get in the way of your commute – there are loads of products out there to keep you dry and comfortable from top to toe, and we’ve got a selection for you to investigate.
Starting from the top down, keeping your head dry and preventing the drowned rat look when you arrive at work always makes for a better start to the day. The helpful cooling vents on your helmet are less of a help when it’s chucking it down, so pop a waterproof helmet cover on over the top.
Several brands make them, including Gore, Bontrager and Polaris. These are also often high viz as well, to give you a bit of added visibility in the darkening evenings.
A good waterproof jacket is an investment well worth making for your cycling commute. The two elements you are looking for here are waterproofing, and breathability.
As a general rule, the more you spend the more breathable the jacket becomes. This might seem like the wrong way round; however a non-breathable jacket can be completely waterproof, but you’ll end up getting soaked by the trapped sweat you produce which can’t evaporate away.
Entry-level jackets, starting at around £40, will provide breathability via venting, usually on the back and underarms. High level jackets, around £120 and upwards, will use technical fabrics such as GoreTex. Between the two there’s a whole range of options, so there’s something to suit every budget.
Look for cycle specific jackets that usually have a drop tail – longer on the back to cover your bum when leaning forward in the saddle. They’ll also usually have a high collar, reflective detailing, and hi-viz colour options.
If it has one, you can also put the hood of your waterproof jacket up under your helmet, to help keep dry. The problem with this, however, is that it can obscure your peripheral vision – not ideal if you’re riding on busy urban roads – so best avoided.
If you want to keep your bottom half as dry as your top half, then complete your waterproof outfit with some waterproof trousers. Ranging from about £26 up to £170 for the Gore versions, they tend to come in a fairly standard black, with a few flouro yellow options thrown in for good measure. You’ll also find varying levels of reflective detailing on them, the most being on the Altura Night Vision trousers that come in a ladies cut.
As with the jackets, the more you pay the more breathable the trousers, though it isn’t quite so critical on your lower half.
Waterproof socks and shoe covers
Let’s not forget the feet! Squelching around with soaking socks and shoes is a demoralising and unpleasant sensation, but there are a few options you can choose between to keep trenchfoot at bay.
First up are waterproof shoe covers. These are little booties that fit around and over your shoe, often with elastic underneath to keep them in place. Again, most of the manufacturers who make commuting shoe covers will have high-vis details included in the design.
If you ride clipless, you’ll have lots of options here including neoprene covers, which fit on very snugly and keep your feet insulated as well as dry. If you are looking for covers to fit over everyday shoes or trainers, you’ll need to make sure they have a loose enough fit. Both Gore and Altura produce some that will fit over most shoes. They don’t look the most stylish, but they are far better than wet feet!
Waterproof socks are another options if you are not bothered if the shoes get wet, but you want to keep your feet warm and dry. Sealskinz produce toasty socks in a range of sizes, so you could even keep some on standby at work in case of unexpected rain.
Waterproof bag covers
If you want the contents of your bags or panniers to arrive home dry and working, then a waterproof cover is a simple solution if you don’t already have a waterproof bag.
The North Face produce bag covers in a range of sizes that will fit most bags and panniers. Respro produce a waterproof version of their popular hi-viz Hump rucksack cover; in flouro yellow, with lots of reflective detailing, you’ll be easily spotted when the light-levels drop.