Bicycles Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people who build and repair bicycles, people who train cycling, or commute on bicycles. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I commute about 10 miles a day in Portland, OR. Needless to say rain is a big part of many of my rides. My current rain pants leave me almost as sweaty as if I had just ridden without the rain gear. So I'm looking for pants with a hard shell/ gore-tex/ dwr front and soft shell sides and back. I figure that this combination has to exist out there and that it would help with my moisture transfer issues. Who makes my Holy grail of rain gear?

share|improve this question
dunno if this is any help but I've bought from a shop in Portland, Cento Cycling, and always got great kit and great advice from them. However, I think they specialise in high-end road gear, but you never know... Personally I accept that if it rains, I'm going to get wet. I'm more interested in being able to dry out once the rain stops, so I go for traditional shorts and tights. Its only really when I get my socks wet that it becomes uncomfortable. – PeteH Nov 20 '12 at 12:07
I'm with @PeteH on this. Although we don't get much rain where I live. For commuting I just bring a change of clothes. And if I'm riding for fun/exercise, I'll just change when I get home. Shoe covers can help your feet stay dry. – Kibbee Nov 20 '12 at 14:57
Maybe I just need to embrace being wet, skip the rain pants, and towel off when I get home. I do love the shoe covers, they keep my feet toasty warm when it gets really cold. – Wadelp Nov 21 '12 at 17:19
Does "poncho" qualify as an answer? – RoboKaren Sep 11 '15 at 16:24
up vote 4 down vote accepted

Which pants do you have right now? And did you enjoy that downpour yesterday? There wasn't a dry cyclist in the city, breathable pants or not. Some days we're just going to get wet.

Showers pass is made right here in portland, and I use them on all the nasty days, for me they work great

Arc'teryx, even though I can't pronounce their name, make the top of the line holy grail rain gear. I was just looking at these for myself yesterday:

share|improve this answer
Some how I missed this pair of pants when I looked at Showers Pass. They look just right. And yea, it really doesn't matter what you are wearing when it rains 2 in in a day, you are going to be wet. Best you can hope for is warm enough to stay comfortable. Thanks for pointing out those pants hillsons. – Wadelp Nov 21 '12 at 17:11
eVent when compared to Gore-Tex is extremely air permeable--this helps it feel comfortable and "breath" in moderate weather. In the very cold weather, I've felt like I was freezing using eVent while I felt only slightly chilled using Gore-Tex. – James Schek Nov 30 '12 at 17:45

According to my experience, the gore-tex promise, i.e. breathable and dry is a myth*.

The combination you are looking for might become available if you're using so-called "rainlegs" in combination with whatever you consider "soft shell sides and back".

(*) According to my experience from rainy Germany, if you cycle during heavy rain, you always end up being soaked. The only difference you can make by using different gear is the initial source of being soaked, i.e. either (external) rain or (internal) sweat. After another half an hour, these initial conditions become irrelevant...

share|improve this answer
True, when it really rains you are going to be wet no matter what. I guess I'm looking for a piece of gear that will keep me a little more comfortable when there is light rain, and I'm not worried about getting wet when it super rainy. – Wadelp Nov 21 '12 at 17:15

Get a Rain Cape (basically a poncho) if you want to keep drier on the legs without overheating as much. The design diverts water away from your legs and has more ventilation than a standard jacket since it has the open bottom. If you've got fenders to keep the splashing to a minimum, a rain cape, and cheap water resistant pants (for days with heavy rain), then you'll stay pretty dry on your commute.

share|improve this answer

If you are "not worried about getting wet when it is super rainy" I would suggest to skip rain pants completely. Ride with good fenders in normal cycling clothes you would use at the same (or slightly lower) temperatures if it was dry. For me that often means tights with woolen, thin knee warmers. Change into civilian clothes at work.

I have yet to find one good pair of waterproof cycling pants. The better ones all look fine in the shop. But they either fail more or less completely to keep me dry in the first heavy downpour, or they are less comfortable than damp tights. After instead using them as a wind breaker during winter for one season they will definitely not be waterproof in the saddle area any longer...

share|improve this answer

I use cheap water resistant nylon pants, then use Nikwax wash-in waterproofing to make them more waterproof.

They are still relatively breathable, and I stay dry beneath.

I have a pair of cycling rain pants that are completely waterproof, and though they claim to be breathable, they aren't. The nylon pants work just as well and are much more breathable.

share|improve this answer

Gore-tex and equivalents don't make water disappear -- it has to run off someplace. I think pants like that would just result in the water running off and soaking the sides and back of the pants.

EDIT 12/18/2012: although someone on Quora just recommended these, which are like rain chaps, somewhat similar to what you're talking about:

share|improve this answer

Wear rain pants - that's my opinion. I lived in Seattle and had my car stolen. For a fall/winter/spring I commuted to work from Capitol Hill to Bellevue - a nice downhill and uphill both ways with a short bus ride across the 520 bridge (no bike lane, so had to take the bus for that part). So I experienced lots of rain, lots of uphill huffing and puffing and sweating. When it rained, which it did A LOT, I wore a rain jacket, rain pants and booties. Sitting on the bus got me sweaty as all get out, so it was nice to take off my cap and jacket to breath a bit. But I would keep the rain pants on and I wore my work pants (just jeans) underneath. When I got to work I had a small towel I used to wipe down quick before I took off all my rain gear and pack away. I'd change my tshirt, but my jeans were dry (very very slightly damp from the heat/condensation of exercise) and I was ready to go to work without needing to go someplace private and change into different clothes altogether. So, just saying, rain pants help.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.