Head to Toe: How to Stay Dry
Umbrellas for your skin.
Perhaps you’ve seen images of people cycling upright through the rain, umbrella in hand. And sure, that very well may happen somewhere, but it’s just not practical. Having both hands free for navigation is key when riding through the city.
So if you’re not going to use an umbrella to keep try, what can you do? The good news is you have options.
Obligatory helmet cover section. We don’t think these are all that important. Most helmets only let in a little rain so unless you’re on a long ride we think breathability outweighs the hassle caused by a few rain drops in your hair.
If your head or ears get cold easily, you’re going to want to wear something thin under your helmet. An ultra light wool beanie, such as this one from Icebreaker, is a fantastic option. For something more minimal, consider a wool headband that you wear over your ears. Some people prefer a headband made out of synthetic materials and often with a very thin fleece lining to make it comfortable, but we find that the wool holds up better and needs less cleaning.
Cape it Up
A rain cape isn’t for everyone – some people feel silly in them – but they are an effective option with a lot of good features like immense breathability, they try out fast and they’re compact. Plus, it’s one article of clothing that can keep both your upper and lower body dry while riding.
There are a million rain jackets on the market so we won’t even begin to explain them all. It really comes down to budget, style and personal preference (Hood? Rear flap? High visibility? Breast pocket? Wrist cinches?)
Bike specific rain jackets are really the way to go. Though you might be tempted to all-purpose your standard rain coat, chances are it lacks the breathability of a jacket engineered specifically for cycling.
How much time do you have? We could talk about gloves all day long. For now, let’s simply address waterproofness. Warm and waterproof combined – that’s a deeper discussion.
Choose a glove that fits well. As your hand warms up and sweats, getting your glove on and off can be a major hassle. And you’d be surprised how much you might want to perform this action over the course of a long ride (answer your phone, open up something intricate, free up your dexterity, etc.)
There are a wide variety of brands out there. We like the option of selecting a glove that’s soft on the inside and one that has a soft pad on the outside for wiping your nose.
They’re kind of a pain in the ass, let’s be honest. Rain pants can be a hassle to put on, stiff to wear, and annoying to remove in mixed company, or just in front of people in general. But if you’ve got a long rainy ride ahead, rain pants are a solid way to stay try.
Hate removing them in front of people? Here’s our trick: Head straight to the bathroom. Take a deep breath, relax, remove your shoes, remove your pants, wipe them down with a cloth, put your shoes on, take a deep breath, drink a glass of water, fix your hair, gather your belongings and walk composed into your meeting/office/date/etc.
No Rain Pants
Don’t like rain pants? That’s cool; you’ve got other options. Some people prefer a lightweight cycling pant or tights. There are also rain knickers that are intended to stay on once you get off the bike. Ladies might prefer to simply wear wool tights that will try out relatively quickly, perhaps with a skirt over the top.
Trick: Wear a wrinkle resistant skirt. Tuck it into your waistline and ride wearing just your tights (they’ll just look like yoga pants anyway). When you arrive at your destination, pull out and smooth down your skirt. Voila! You look great.
Wet Feet Stink
Those are your options. Choose what’s right for you. We love the waterproof socks from Portland-based Showers Pass.