How to Bike in the Rain – Considerations When Choosing a Jacket

With autumn here and winter coming soon, inevitably it can mean less desirable biking conditions; however, this doesn’t mean you have to stop biking! I woke this morning to an 80% chance of rain… bummer, but still manageable. First off, a good rain jacket is a must. I have a few, here’s the rundown from left to right:

Jacket Montage


Far left is an old REI brand lightweight rain jacket. I leave this at my office in case I am caught in an unexpected storm.

  • Pro, it was cheap (about $50) and I’ve had it for years. When this was new it was great. Keeps you dry in most conditions, is breathable, and these types of jackets come in a lot of colors so you can choose one that is bright.
  • Con, since they are lightweight, the waterproofing only works for a limited time. This is not a great jacket for a longer bike commute. Also, my jacket doesn’t work great anymore as much of the waterproofing has worn away. This is why this jacket remains my emergency jacket.

In the Middle is a super durable Pro Shell Arc’teryx jacket that I purchased a few years ago.

  • Pro, this jacket is amazing and will keep you dry during just about any weather and for any length of time. If I had to choose one jacket it would be a Pro Shell /heavy weight rain jacket such as this one. I love my jacket, but Patagonia also makes one that is amazing and a little cheaper.
  • Cons, it’s super expensive – mine was almost $400. Also, I wouldn’t recommend black as a color for a biking jacket, brighter is better so you can be seen.

Far right is a Helly Hansen jacket I got for free from a friend.

  • Pros, this jacket is stylish and most importantly really bright. When it’s raining it is harder for cars to see you, so do everything you can to be visible.
  • Cons,  no pit zips, which are so important when you’re biking. This jacket definitely skews towards fashion rather than function, so it’s not great for longer rides. Retail price around $150.

There are lots of other options including capes like Cleverhood, which I’ve tried and work pretty well, but I have to be honest I felt pretty goofy wearing the cape.

Want more biking in the rain tips – see our article from last year How to Bike Stylishly in the Rain.


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