You love cycling, whether it's a weekend club run, a Sunday pootle or riding to work. Nothing beats enjoying the great outdoors on two wheels. Don't let the rain put a damper on your favourite pastime. There’s a huge range of waterproof jackets available to keep you in the saddle all year round. Here's our guide to help you find the right one.
What to look for
Waterproof cycling jackets can vary in style and appearance. Whatever you go for there are a few features that you should expect to see
- High collar to protect from windchill.
- Taped seams to prevent water ingress.
- Dropped tail to reduce splashing from the rear wheel.
- Under-arm zips to increase ventilation and breathability.
- Pockets to stash your essentials – some may have reinforced waterproof pockets
- Longer sleeves - some will have longer sleeves than others to accommodate a more aggressive position
- A hood. Generally, you’ll only find this on MTB and commuter jackets for protection off the bike.
What will you be using the jacket for?
Think about the type of riding you’ll be doing most often. Most jackets will be cut for a specific purpose and will fall into one of the three categories below.
A performance jacket will have slightly longer arms and a tighter cut to reduce loose material. These jackets are designed to keep you dry with the minimum impact on performance. The dhb Aeron Tempo 2 is great to keep in a jersey pocket in case the heavens open whilst the dhb Aeron Storm FLT features reflective flashes to boost visibility.
Expect a slightly looser fit to allow for work clothes underneath and freedom of movement off the bike. Hi-viz colours, retro-reflective panels, and even built-in lights will keep you visible to other road users. The Altura Nightvision range includes jackets designed to get you noticed on the road, whilst still being stylish enough for after-work drinks.
Packable jackets are available in both performance and commuting cuts. Many will pack down small enough to tuck into a pocket so that you can keep one on standby for unexpected showers. The Endura Pakajak, available for both men and women, is a popular option.
Until recently, most packable jackets were only water-resistant. Fine in a brief shower or light drizzle but the water would eventually get through. This is still mostly the case but GORE-WEAR’s new ShakeDry fabric offers another option, making it possible for a jacket to be packable, lightweight and totally waterproof. This technology doesn’t come cheap but it’s a worthwhile investment if you’ll be out riding in any weather.
Fit and sizing
As with any cycling kit, it’s important to get the right size. If you’re looking for a new cycling waterproof, always check the size guide on site as this can vary between brands and even between a single brand’s ranges.
For example, performance jackets from brands such as dhb, Castelli, GORE, and Sportful have a close-fitting ‘race cut.’ If you’re going to be wearing thicker layers underneath, it may be worth sizing up.
Many of our cycling jackets are available in both male and female specific cuts to ensure a better fit.
Lined or unlined
Some jackets have an inner mesh lining for additional warmth and comfort. If moisture builds up inside the jacket, it can feel cool against the skin. The mesh keeps the outer fabric away from the skin and traps warm air.
The lining can add more bulk, so most packable jackets are unlined. However, thanks to recent developments in fabric technology, it is possible to create a jacket that is warm, waterproof and packable.
GORE has led the way with their Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex SHAKEDRY 1985 Insulated Jacket. The revolutionary Polartec® Alpha® traps body heat inside whilst still remaining breathable and comfortable.
If you are going to be using your jacket for commuting or riding on the road, you’ll need to think about how visible you will be to other road users.
Commuting and city riding
If you're riding through built-up areas, there's a lot going on around you so all-over hi-viz colours and reflective elements can really help you to stand out amongst the noise. The Altura Nightvision range has been designed specifically for city riding. You can choose from all over hi-vis neons, or more subtle darker colours with panels of material which shine brightly in car headlights. dhb's Flashlight Force is another popular commuter option, combining bright neons with 360 reflective prints.
If you’re riding long distances or training in the darker hours, you might prefer a performance-cut and the dhb Aeron Storm FLT is perfect for this. Featuring 37.5™ Technology, it will keep you at the optimum temperature for high performance and it will still keep you totally dry. The strategically-placed 360 reflective details will get you noticed on the roads.
If you just want to use your jacket to keep you dry as you nip to the shops, breathability isn't so important. However, if you're riding hard or over longer distances, the level of breathability of a jacket will have a significant effect on your comfort.
If you think you're going to be working up a sweat you need a jacket that will allow that moisture to evaporate into the atmosphere through the fabric, otherwise you'll end up getting cold every time you hit a descent.
The 37.5 technology in the dhb Aeron Storm FLT uses 'Active Particle Performance’ which rapidly increases water moisture dispersal and evaporation the hotter you get, maintaining the perfect temperature.
Waterproof jackets for mountain bikers
Road cyclists and mountain bikers have distinctly different demands from their kit. Road cycling jackets are close-fitting, often with high visibility detailing, and long arms. They’re designed for faster riding in traffic and cut for a more stretched out position on the bike.
By contrast, mountain biking jackets are designed to be able to deal with both the rain falling from the sky and the mud coming up from below. They are also made to be comfortable off the bike when you might be trekking up to the next downhill or waiting for the next uplift service.
As a result, they are made of more robust materials. You’ll probably find pockets to stuff your hands in to keep them warm and a hood to protect your head from the rain when you take your helmet off. Mountain bike jackets also tend to have a more relaxed fit, with a focus on comfort rather than streamlining. The dhb MTB Trail Hooded Softshell Jacket has been engineered with some thoughtful details, like silicone grips on the shoulders to keep your hydration pack in place and glove-friendly zipper-pulls, so that you can focus on the trail ahead free from distractions.