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Biking in the rain
September 2, 2014 2:25 PM   Subscribe

I've always adored biking in the rain for leisure but now that I'm commuting I actually need to look presentable when it is raining. Should I give up trying to stay dry and bring my work clothes with me and change when I arrive? Or should I splurge on some high quality waterproof gear?
posted by Aranquis to Travel & Transportation (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The problem with rain suits that fit over your regular clothes is that depending on where you live/temps/exertion you end up sweaty. I bring my clothes (but leave things like shoes and belt and extra socks at work) and change.

But if you take it easy and it's not too hot and you have some pricey/effective gear it's worth a try to see which option you prefer.
posted by mikepop at 2:36 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Eventually you will have to prepare for both types of commute. At a minimum, keep dry shoes at work and, if you can, a complete change for those days you get drenched on the way to work. I tried various rain gear but found nothing that would keep me dry in a downpour partly because waterproof head to toe outfits were usually too hot down here. Sometimes I'd opt for public transportation or even a taxi in the mornings if the weather was really bad simply to avoid the hassle of a complete change of clothing and keeping soggy, discarded clothes stashed away all day. However, rain on the way home was sheer bliss; I'd arrive home soaked to the skin and gloriously refreshed--the day would be completely washed away.
posted by Anitanola at 2:41 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


I vote for give up. It's pretty hard to waterproof yourself on a bike since water is coming at you from many directions and most times of the year (where I live) you'll sweat too much under all the gear anyway.
posted by ghharr at 2:45 PM on September 2


I have some wonderful and truly waterproof rain gear, but I get so sweaty in it (even on a completely flat commute at a very sedate pace) that I don't bother most of the warmer months. So another vote against raingear. I sometimes wear horseracing goggles when the wind is really bad and I want to keep the rain out of my eyes.

I have a pair of croc maryjanes which I hate for everything except bikeriding in the rain (obvs. I just have simple platform pedals for ordinary shoes) but which I love for riding in the rain.
posted by crush-onastick at 2:55 PM on September 2


Yes, bring your clothes with you and change when you arrive. Leave bulky things like shoes at work so you're not carrying them back and forth. Believe me, I biked through an Oregon winter (and here is my question about it, same title as yours and everything) no amount of high quality waterproof gear will keep you sufficiently dry AND not stinky to make that a viable option, unless your commute is under a mile (and even then, harder rain will make you wet no matter what).
posted by rabbitrabbit at 2:56 PM on September 2


Also leave a hairdryer and comb at work. In a downpour your hair will be soaked.

Depending on temperatures you should get the rain gear anyway. In winter when it is 5 C / 40 F and raining, I am far more comfortable in rain gear. Still have to change though.
posted by crazycanuck at 3:03 PM on September 2


Another vote for bring your clothes and change. I have good-quality, fairly pricey rain gear but I don't bother wearing it on my commute because I generally get sweaty in it, and in a proper downpour a fair amount of rain gets in through the neck and cuffs anyhow. For situations where it's not raining hard, you might consider getting a rain cape (basically a poncho that goes over your handlebars).

Resist the temptation to wear a rain jacket without rain pants; the jacket will merely funnel all the rain onto your upper thighs.

I love the horseracing goggles idea!
posted by mskyle at 3:03 PM on September 2


I've heard good things about a rain cape in combination with full bike fenders, like this.
posted by megancita at 3:05 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'd go for a merino baselayer and cycling longs in all but the coldest rain, with a full change at the end, if it's properly wet. If it's drizzly, I find a woollen or fleece hat keeps the hair dry, which is the biggest deal when I ride in the wet.
posted by ambrosen at 3:12 PM on September 2


It depends on what sort of bike you're riding. I keep a raincape (poncho) with my big Dutch bike, that I can pull out if it starts to rain. That bike has fenders and a chain guard, and between those and the cape, I stay pretty dry above the knee, even in the wettest conditions (I've only had an issue with lower pant legs and shoes in the most severe downpours, and that can be rectified by waterproof shoes/shoe covers and gaiters).

For my other bikes, I put work clothes in a messenger bag, and ride in cycling-specific clothing (typically a jersey, and bib-shorts with cuffed-up army pants over them, so as to have pockets while riding in the city). I change at work.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:14 PM on September 2


I will speak out in favor of dorky rainsuits! I commuted several winters in Portland, OR (2-3 miles each way) and didn't get unduly hot and I thought the rain coat / pants were great. This was drizzle, not heavy rain, and my jacket had pit zips, which helped a lot with ventilation while not letting a noticeable amount of water in. I also usually just wore a tee under the jacket, and packed along a cardigan/shirt/whatever to put on at work. Wool cap over hair, under helmet. Yes to fenders. The pants were the cheapest rain pants REI had.

I currently commute a couple miles each way in the Deep South, and in the summer I wear sweat clothes to ride anyhow, so there's not really additional planning for rain. In the winter, I still wear my rainsuit, and it works fine in moderate rain.
posted by momus_window at 7:36 PM on September 2


I've got full fenders that keep me dry, and most importantly, keep me from getting muddy/gritty. A little damp dries off quickly assuming you're not wearing something super-prone to wrinkling, but dirt means you're going to have to change or else look disgusting. Full fenders make the prospect of riding through puddles (fast!) something that I look forward to, because wheeeee.

In a real downpour or if it's cold and rainy, I keep a rain jacket (pit vents are a must, seriously) to use. I've also got rain pants but have never actually bothered with them. The rain cape looks like it might be the best option for easy, non-stinky gear.
posted by asperity at 7:36 PM on September 2


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