Author Topic: What to wear in the rain?  (Read 5631 times)

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Offline sanuk

What to wear in the rain?
« on: May 05, 2010, 10:54:39 pm »
I'm new to this forum and am happy I found it.  Great info.  So, hope this query comes under the right topic heading.  I'm coming to Seattle this summer with the intention of cycling the Pacific Coast - or part of it at least.  Not sure how far I'll get, especially if it rains a lot, as it is known to do.  Mostly I intend to camp.  I know what the weather can be like as I was once a resident in Vancouver, Canada.  However, in terms of appropriate clothing I'm not well prepared - yet.  My old GoreTex hiking jacket is no longer what I'd call waterproof.  I was/am thinking of buying another Goretex more appropriate for long distance cycling, but then a jacket doesn't keep your legs and shorts dry.  Then I thought of the cheaper, and some might say better, option: a waterproof poncho.  I rode recently with a cheapo plastic one in a tropical downpour and it worked reasonably well if a bit messy and sweaty, but it can also be used as a bike cover - sort of.  Costs, utility and weight/bulk are all considerations.  Any thoughts/advice? 

Offline johnsondasw

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2010, 12:14:36 am »
I just use a lightweight bike jacket and let it pour.  It is kinda waterproof, but you get wet from sweat.  I've ridden many wet miles in it, and have to stop and get a little dried out sometimes.  If it's too terrible, you can get a motel or spend part of the day in a cafe/coffee house.  We rode the coast starting June 21 for 20 days (WA to Southern CA) and had rain only the first day, from Olympia WA to
Astoria ORE.)  In summer, it slhould not be too bad.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline paddleboy17

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2010, 12:17:42 pm »
Down to 50F, I can radiate enough body heat that I can ride in the rain with tights protecting my lower body and a Gortex rain jacket protecting my upper body.  Your limits might be different.  I also do not know the temperature range in the Pacific North West, but I will bet you could research what temperature range to expect.

I believe that the Gortex patent expired, and that there are other choices for Teflon-Nylon laminates.  So overall, the price for good rain gear has come down.  I would get a good rain jacket that has a cycling cut (long tail in the back).  It is up to you about your need for rain pants.  I also have a helmet condom (coated nylon helmet cover), and it is part of my standard gear.  I have yet to ride in conditions so miserable that I have needed the helmet condom.

I once did a century ride with a cheap rain jacket that allowed water to run down the small of my back.  That is truly demoralizing, so I have always tried to have good rain gear.
Danno

Offline rvklassen

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2010, 12:45:55 pm »
I'm new to this forum and am happy I found it.  Great info.  So, hope this query comes under the right topic heading.  I'm coming to Seattle this summer with the intention of cycling the Pacific Coast - or part of it at least.  Not sure how far I'll get, especially if it rains a lot, as it is known to do.  Mostly I intend to camp.  I know what the weather can be like as I was once a resident in Vancouver, Canada.  However, in terms of appropriate clothing I'm not well prepared - yet.  My old GoreTex hiking jacket is no longer what I'd call waterproof.  I was/am thinking of buying another Goretex more appropriate for long distance cycling, but then a jacket doesn't keep your legs and shorts dry.  Then I thought of the cheaper, and some might say better, option: a waterproof poncho.  I rode recently with a cheapo plastic one in a tropical downpour and it worked reasonably well if a bit messy and sweaty, but it can also be used as a bike cover - sort of.  Costs, utility and weight/bulk are all considerations.  Any thoughts/advice? 
Much depends on what you find demoralizing, your temperature tolerance, and the temperatures you will be encountering.  I find that if I'm working (riding hard enough), I can ride barefoot in sandals down to somewhere in the 15-20C range.  That and shorts.  Then I only need to keep the top of me dry.  Fenders make a big difference too.  A reasonably good rain jacket does the trick there, and if it gets colder, put something in the fleece/wool line underneath, so the jacket is not in direct contact with your skin.  At some point, and I know it's above 10C, I need to add in rain pants, as my legs don't want to be that cold and wet.   But I find tights when they get wet are just cold and heavy. If it's not too cold, I'm better off in shorts, as the water evaporates from my legs faster than the tights.  For me probably the biggest demoralizer is wet socks inside shoes.  Hence if it's warm enough I'm barefoot in sandals.  Otherwise I need to go to great lengths to keep my feet dry.

Offline alfonso

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2010, 12:04:55 am »
In the 1980s, I used a poncho when commuting. It was designed so that the cyclist sat on its tail (so that it wouldn't flap behind you too much) and it had thumb loops that let you hold the brake hoods without interfering with their function. All in all it did a good job - but I was commuting in a comparatively bike-friendly city, not riding for hours in open country. It kept me moderately dry, but did present problems in moderate or stronger winds.

I don't believe that it's possible to ride in the rain and stay dry. You're going to get wet, either from rain or sweat or most likely both. I think the job of a rain jacket is to keep you warmish and deflect wind and some rain. However, my judgment is based on Australian conditions, and we don't see cold as severe as the USA. I must say my breathable rain jacket is one of the most useful pieces of equipment I have - it does as well as can be expected in the rain, keeps me fairly warm and out of the wind, and is highly visible in bad light. If you find a jacket you like better than your current one, buy it, but don't expect it to keep you completely dry.

Offline Galloper

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2010, 08:04:31 am »
In heavy rain I use a Goretex paclite jacket and occasionally, pants.   with the jacket on, I tend to leave the top couple of inches of zip undone which helps reduce condensation.    I use a buff to stop dribbles making their way in.

And top tip, a shower cap is a much cheaper option to fit over your helmet than expensive bike shop covers :)

With showers and light rain, the jacket on it's own is generally enough.

Offline vanvalks

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2010, 02:57:31 pm »
As a point of reference, it partly depends on your travel dates as to the weather you'll get.  Tavelling between July 15 and Sept 15, the chance of getting much in the way of rain is really quite small.  Fog, on the other hand is quite common.  (for reference, Seattle during that span of time gets less rain than Phoenix does).  Earlier in the year, and the chance of rain is much higher, but the incidence of fog is lower.  After Sept 15, it really becomes a crap shoot.  Some years the weather is perfect into Oct and the fog incidence is low.  Others it rains like hell, and is foggy all the rest of the time.  The thing to remember is that the rain forest occurs on the west side of the Olympic Mountains.  By the time you reach Gray's Harbor, you are out of the heavy rain belt and into much more moderate weather.

Bob

Offline geegee

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2010, 06:01:19 pm »
I've made it a habit to bring a pair of waterproof bike sandals with SPD-cleats as my second pair and off-bike footwear (great for going to the campground showers). They are great to wear in the rain, and if it is cold I just slip on a pair of neoprene socks (you can find good ones in kayaking stores). Your feet will still get wet, but like the way a wetsuit works, your feet will only have to warm up the water between your skin and the neoprene. If your feet get numb with cold, you can even pour some hot water in the sock before slipping it back on — I think divers do this to their suits before going into frigid water.

Offline sanuk

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2010, 12:54:56 am »
Thanks very much for your replies.  They will help when I'm roaming around the REI store in Seattle picking out what I need - or think I need.  Looks like a lightweight breathable jacket is best.  Thanks again.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2010, 01:49:34 am »
A good, lightweight, waterproof and breathable one will not be cheap--probably in the $150-$220 range.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline PeteJack

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2010, 02:32:57 am »
Two years ago in the UK I bought a spendy Gore Bike Wear jacket for about $300. I didn't give it a real test until I rode the North Cascades highway in October 2009. The jacket was worse than useless, it leaked like a sieve and I got hypothermia. A couple of months ago I decided to email Gore Bike Wear customer support and tell them about this. They quickly replied saying their clothing was guaranteed not to leak and asking me to send the jacket back to them (in the US). I then got a phone call telling me they had tested the jacket, found it defective and I could have any new Gore Bike Wear jacket to replace it. (Bear in mind the jacket had been used quite a bit and had oil smudges on it) I asked for a ALP-X jacket, list price $279.99 which the sent me within a week. It's magic, I've done 25 miles in heavy rain since I got it and was dry as snuff. Morals: (a) Gore Bike Wear has first class customer service (b) if you can afford it get good stuff. The cheaper stuff "keeps everything out, keeps everything in" and you end up soaked anyway. When the temperature's warm this is no more than a nuisance but if it's cold it can be downright dangerous

Offline Galloper

Re: What to wear in the rain?
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2010, 08:11:43 am »
One thing we've missed here is not so much the outerwear but what's underneath.   I tend to shed a layer as soon as I put a jacket on (depending on how many layers I'm wearing).   

Of course, if it's warm rain, why bother  ???