What is the best raincoat?
July 14, 2009 2:50 PM   Subscribe

What raincoat will keep me the driest?

I just moved to Eugene, OR, and I understand it's probably going to be raining a lot more than I'm used to.

I don't know the first thing about selecting a quality raincoat. I'm not really shooting for fashion here, I just want one that will keep me as dry as possible while riding a bike in the rain (though if it looks cool, that's a plus).

I have no idea what to budget for something like this, because I really have no frame of reference for how much raincoats cost.

What sort of raincoat do I need? Are "rain pants" of some sort a realistic option for keeping dry while biking? Will wearing a pair of them (if they even exist) mark me as a total Pacific Northwest n00b?
posted by solipsophistocracy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to stay really dry on the bike, look for a rain suit designed for motorcyclists. This may, however, be overboard for what you need.
posted by nitsuj at 3:13 PM on July 14, 2009

Deep-sea fishing gear, too, might be overkill. Plus it's not breathable.

Gore Bike Wear
is pretty nice stuff. It's overpriced versus general-purpose rain gear from Sierra Designs or Campmor or whatever, though, and you might not appreciate the bicycling-specific features.

Instead of rain pants, get fenders.
posted by box at 3:30 PM on July 14, 2009

Any really good rain jacket inevitably drains right onto your pants.
posted by smackfu at 3:53 PM on July 14, 2009

GoreTex if you're serious, or something from The North Face. $100-$150 or so? (Light real raincoats start at about £70 here in the UK)
posted by Sifter at 3:59 PM on July 14, 2009

Are "rain pants" of some sort a realistic option for keeping dry while biking? Will wearing a pair of them (if they even exist) mark me as a total Pacific Northwest n00b?

Mr. Corpse, a born-n-bred Northwesterner, wore rain pants when he was commuting 35 miles a day by bike in the winter. It's okay to wear rain pants so long as you're on your bike or on your trawler.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:05 PM on July 14, 2009

A few years ago I visited southern Chile - one of the wettest places I have ever seen (and I live in Scotland). I remember meeting a farmer who would ride his horse while wearing a builder's hard hat and a set of old fisherman's oilskins. In the deluge he stayed much drier than those of us who wore expensive Goretex jackets.
posted by rongorongo at 4:24 PM on July 14, 2009

I've had pretty good luck with Frogg Toggs on the bike (jacket and pants) without having to invest a lot of $. The jacket is pretty roomy through the arms and pits, which you might not like, but that helps keep me from sweating too much. I like having a jacket with a hood that goes over the helmet so I still get some air around my head. I also think having a visor on the helmet keeps some of the rain off my face and out of the neck area of my jacket.
posted by BlooPen at 4:56 PM on July 14, 2009

My gear from Nau (I have the women's shelter jacket for rain gear and the asylum shell for skiing) keep me quite dry. I don't bike in the rain, but I do walk in the rain and I have worn it kayaking.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:18 PM on July 14, 2009

Get something from Filson.
posted by yesno at 8:37 PM on July 14, 2009

Peter Storm "No Sweat" line of rain gear is exactly that - extremely breathable, very effective rain gear. Moreover, the "No Sweat" fabric is nearly silent in movement, which is a big improvement over ballistic nylon shells and similar types of rain gear. Wears very, very well, and remains waterproof for life of garment. Ordering from UK can be time consuming for U.S. customers, but is feasible.
posted by paulsc at 10:37 PM on July 14, 2009

I'd start researching rain gear for hiking, specifically "hard shells" if you are looking at seriously rain-proof gear.

There are various types of rain-proof/repellant fabrics out there - they are always a trade-off between rain-proofness and breathability - which some fabrics manage to do better than others.

I'd rank the fabrics I experienced as follows:

eVent fabrics > GoreTex Paclite and Patagonia > generic brand fabrics (North Face, ...) > No name stuff

For a rain jacket I could specifically recommend the RAB Momentum Jacket, for rain pants the Patagonia rain shadow pants.
posted by mathiu at 5:51 AM on July 15, 2009

I have a regular expensive rain coat for cycling in thunderstorms and rainy days. ~$200. I chose this over a cycling specific jacket because I wanted a raincoat that had a substantial hood on it rather than a little foldaway thing. I also get to use this jacket as a ski jacket (with added layers). It has armpit vents for serious exercise.

I also have cycling rain pants. ~$100 The upgrade from regular cheapo rain pants was really worth it. They have reflective tape and are generous enough in the knees and but for full movement.

Fenders are great for puddles or small rides in the rain, but they will not keep your thighs dry. If you are out for any length of time your thighs will get soaked.

If you want to be dry, you won't look cool and you may make swishy noises. But I love the ability to bike in any weather. Admittedly, when I lived on the east coast, I used to bike in the rain without much protection because the rain was often light and I wasn't going far. That is not the case now.
posted by Gor-ella at 12:10 PM on July 15, 2009

I bike commute in Olympia WA, and this last winter I picked up a Showers Pass jacket and a pair of rainpants (brand name escapes me ATM). I probably would've gotten Showers Pass pants if they made a version for women. Absolutely critical for biking in the rain, IMHO, and the particular items I got were well worth the money. IIRC, I spent about $200 altogether on jacket & pants.

Wearing them will mark you, not as a n00b, but as a serious cyclist. :) Take a wander around your local bike shops to see what they have and what the shop staff like.

Also, you will want fenders...even if it's not raining, very often the roads will be quite wet.

One last thought: if budget allows, you may want to get a separate non-cycling rain jacket. A bit less bike-dork factor for going out in the evening and such. It looks like there's an REI in Eugene, might be worth browsing there to see what suits you.
posted by epersonae at 9:10 AM on July 16, 2009

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