My bike gear's gross at the end of the day.
November 11, 2008 3:34 PM   Subscribe

How do I dry out my rain gear after a wet bike commute?

In between last rainy season and this one, I changed jobs. I commute by bike, and my last place of employment had a bike room that was heated and de-humidified in the winter. The lockers were high-school-locker type, metal with vents, so rainy bike gear would be more or less dry (and if not dry, at least just barely damp) by the end of the day.

Fast forward to this year. My new place has no bike facilities, but my gym is conveniently located just two blocks away from my work. So I rented a locker from the gym, and intend to use that over the winter to store my wet stuff during the day - I share a cube with two people, and have neither the room to spread my stuff out nor the inclination to subject my cube-mates to my soaking wet riding gear.

The problem is, my gym's lockers are in...well, they're in the locker room, of course, which is humid, due to the proximity to the showers. The lockers themselves are made of wood, and the doors have no vents in them so air can't circulate through the locker.

So, yesterday, it rained on the way to work, and I got soaked. I changed, went to work, and came back to the gym to change...and my clothes were still wet and disgusting. Is there anything I can put in my locker to aid in the drying process?

I keep thinking of those "DESICCANT DO NOT EAT" packets that come with electronics; is there something like that I could put in a locker, or something else I can do to remove as much moisture as possible from a smallish enclosed space?
posted by pdb to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Most gyms have washers and dryers for their towels - see if you can pay a little extra for them to tumble dry your clothes occasionally.
posted by wfrgms at 3:47 PM on November 11, 2008

Got twenty minutes for the sauna? I used to go to a Y where folks regularly used a spare sauna to dry out wet clothes.
posted by klangklangston at 3:55 PM on November 11, 2008

Is there a cloakroom at work that's not packed, or could you find a spare cupboard? I've found that hanging the jacket on a hanger, and then looping the drawstring of the pants over the hook (on the front so it's not clashing with the hood) minimises the obviousness and lets them dry well, especially with a midday adjustment.
posted by carbide at 3:56 PM on November 11, 2008

Damp rid or similar products will help, although probably not totally solve the problem. In my closet at home I have a bucket on the floor and a hanging bag amongt the clothes, and they suck in a lot of water. This is the dessicant equivalent that you've asked about, and I get mine at a local supermarket.
posted by shelleycat at 4:17 PM on November 11, 2008

The desiccant will eventually become saturated from the environmental moisture and no longer work. But it will work as long as you're willing to replace it on a regular basis.
posted by 517 at 5:00 PM on November 11, 2008

Tidy Cat Crystal is a big bucket of dessicant, but any solution like that won't work long term. As they suck up moisture, they'll need to be recharged in a 200 degree oven now and then. I think it might be easier to carry a camp towel or chamois and wipe rain gear mostly dry before going to work. For things that aren't waterproof, you might roll them up in a towel and give them a little squeeze or something. At our YMCA, they had a swimsuit spinner that might also help.
posted by advicepig at 5:04 PM on November 11, 2008

shelleycat: that may in fact be the thing. How often do you need to replace it?
posted by pdb at 5:31 PM on November 11, 2008

Have you poked around at work to see if there's an out-of-the-way spot you could hang your gear? Maybe a bathroom (nice because of waterproof floors), or a warehouse, or even a janitor's closet? Also, where do you stash your bike? If it's indoors, could you drape your wet gear on top of your bike to dry?

I don't think anything will induce your wet clothes to dry in ~8 hours in a tiny locker with no airflow but if you can find a spot with normal room ventilation you should be fine. I hung my stuff in my cubicle, no special fussing, and it was always dry by the end of the day.
posted by Quietgal at 5:36 PM on November 11, 2008

Just hang them up someplace at work, like you would a coat.
posted by zippy at 6:05 PM on November 11, 2008

Quietgal and zippy: Space is at a pretty big premium in my office, we don't even have coat closets or anything. We're bursting at the seams. My floor has about 100 people that work on it, and I don't really want to hang my soaking clothes in the bathroom because they'll make a huge mess as they drip dry. The whole issue is that I can't find a spot with normal room ventilation in my office. There's nowhere to either hang them up or lay them out.

I park my bike outside, in a corral, and while it's locked I don't feel comfortable leaving my clothes out there.
posted by pdb at 6:12 PM on November 11, 2008

In my normal clothes closet I change the hanging bag about four times per year (it's pretty humid here) and refill the bucket twice. None of this stuff is overly expensive in my experience, so even if you have to change it every month it shouldn't be a huge issue. I'm not convinced this will get your clothes even close to dry but if you really have no other option then it will make the locker better than it would be otherwise.

You should probably also look into faster drying cycling clothes. My boyfriend cycles to work regularly and it's pretty rainy here. His merino wool cycle tops are awesome, never smell, feel like smooth synthetic (so no itch), come in summer or winter weights, and always dry even in his shower-room-adjacent-locker. I also wear merino or synthetic exercise shirts when walking to work in the rain and have no problems drying them by just leaving them piled under my desk in a corner. Fancy exercise clothes are more expensive than say a teeshirt but you only need a couple because they don't need to be washed a lot and they last for ages.
posted by shelleycat at 8:15 PM on November 11, 2008

shelleycat: I have the fancy exercise clothes; they need air to dry rapidly. I would love to be able to leave my stuff piled under my desk, but I share it with two other people and there's not room.

I have yet to try merino but I may give that a shot. I'm not laboring under the misconception that anything short of laying them out will get my clothes bone-dry - they are, after all, in a locker - but something to take even a bit of the moisture out of the air so that at the end of the day my clothes are less wet than at the beginning is what I'm shooting for.
posted by pdb at 9:22 PM on November 11, 2008

Why don't you just buy rain pants and a rain coat that won't absorb water and will dry much more easily than fabric? I use the chepest Sierra Designs stuff which is not breathable for pants and have a breathable jacket and they dry in less than an hour hung on a hook in my cube. I imagine it would dry in a locker if it had all day.
posted by fshgrl at 12:06 AM on November 12, 2008

Ouch, you really don't have a lot of room!

The thing I like about merino (and any wool really) is that it doesn't feel unpleasant or cold when it's wet, so putting back on damp clothing isn't such a big issue. Still not hugely fun for the first few seconds but then just feels normal. And the fancy new things they can do with merino keeps those properties while still feeling like a lightweight synthetic, it's not at all "woolly" or too hot. I love mine and totally swear by them (heh, and of course the New Zealand merino is way superior to any other I've tried).

I've only been linking to Damp Rid specifically because it's the main brand I can think of. There are other brands of similar stuff around and it all works in pretty much the same way - a container full of balls which absorb the water from the air as they dissolve (so you replace/refill them when all the little balls are gone and it's filled up with liquid). They definitely make a big difference in my home wardrobe and, as I said, are pretty cheap. So I reckon you should buy one and see how much it helps. You can always load up your locker with several if it turns out to be worthwhile.
posted by shelleycat at 12:40 AM on November 12, 2008

What about making a mini-coatrack under your desk and putting a tupperware tub or a towel under the rack to catch any drippings?

You could make a serviceable hanging spot by putting a small screwhook under your desk and hanging a hangar off that.

I'm assuming you're using, or willing to use, plastic raingear. This stuff doesn't require lots of ventilation to dry, just a place to drip a bit.
posted by zippy at 6:09 PM on November 12, 2008

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