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I'm a bit baffled by the large choice of cycling waterproof jackets. Could someone recommend me a good budget waterproof jacket?

A bit more information:

  • I mostly ride off road
  • About £70 (approx 112 USD) is the maximum I'm willing to spend
  • I'd like to buy something I can wear all year round
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2  
In American English "waterproof" isn't used as a noun, but always an adjective—would it be confusing for British speakers to change the post title to "...waterproof jacket"? –  Drew Stephens Oct 30 '10 at 21:23
    
No, not at all. Thanks for the pointer, I've updated the question and title –  Phil Hale Oct 30 '10 at 21:49
2  
Converted to wiki, there's no right answer to this. –  Neil Fein Nov 17 '10 at 7:36

11 Answers 11

Bizarre though it may seem you could do worse than take a look at Aldi's extremely cheap cycling equipment, I bought a waterproof jacket from them 2 years ago and it does the job adequately. If I remember right it cost £10, and is still going strong, I was in one of their shops last week and they appear to have a new range of cycling stuff for sale (winter cycling underwear etc).

In terms of your requirements you can wear it in the winter but it's just a waterproof (and windproof outer) so you'd need warmer layers underneath for colder weather.

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Aldi's cycling stuff is very good. I have a pair of SPD shoes that have survived a lot of winter commuting. –  mgb Oct 30 '10 at 15:28
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Don't bother with goretex- no waterproof is breathable enough for the amount of work you do riding offroad, and they are only really breathable when it's not raining anyway. Plus Goretex also only works when it is clean! –  mgb Oct 30 '10 at 15:29
1  
I'll second the no-Goretex recommendation because it is a relatively heavy fabric. –  Drew Stephens Nov 2 '10 at 18:42

I've just purchased a Karrimor waterproof jacket from Sports Direct. £20, reduced from £60. Best waterproof jacket I've had in a long time, no complaints.

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All jackets have to do two jobs:

  • Stop the water (rain) getting in.
  • Let the water (sweat) get out.

While being easy to transport when not in use.

£70 is unlikely to buy you a jacket that works well doing both if you pay full price. I would look out for a Paclite in a sale, as they are light and take up very little space on wqhen not in use.

However remember that the jacket is as much about keeping you warm when you stop for a break as it is about keeping you dry while you cycle. So maybe just have a wind proof top for when you are riding and a cheap none-breathable jacket for when you are resting.

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While it is not "waterproof", polyester is rather water resistant, and I use it whenever it rains to keep dry. It won't protect you from a downpour, but it does a good job at repelling water as it will just roll off. I only mention this because Gore-tex, and E-vent are expensive waterproof materials, and you may find that a simple polyester windbreaker or jacket may be sufficient for you, and more cost effective.

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Foxwear makes a great jacket for fall and spring riding, and you can use it as a layer for winter cycling as well. If I lost mine I'd get another one right away.

(They're a US company, is this thread restricted to jackets available in the UK?)

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Although I use waterproof cycling jackets, I often find that a garbage bag with holes for the head and arms does the trick - especially when there is only a chance of rain. The price is right (less than $1), they stow easily in the pocket, and they be found in many places.

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I just bought an Endura Gridlock jacket after spending a few months searching looking for options. It's not too expensive at about $100 USD retail, and it's a little on the heavy side (I bought it for cold weather use too) but still well vented. I plan on using it for touring and commuting. Showers Pass was probably a close second before I settled on Endura.

Previously I had the cheapest set of rainproof clothes I could find at the bike shop, but I got tired of something that's not vented and generally crappy.

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[This maybe ought to be a comment but it's probably too long for a comment]

How long are your rides? Maybe the thing to manage is heat, not moisture.

On a hot sunny day you can plenty wet (from sweating while biking)

On a freezing winter day you could get too wet/sweaty too, by biking in a too-warm winter coat without ventilation.

If it rained while the temperature were 28C in the tropics, you wouldn't necessarily want a jacket then that could make you hotter.

I used to commute 1/2 hour each way, rain or shine, hot or cold (in Toronto where 'cold' means about -15C), and instead of worrying about how wet I am (and when it pours, it really really pours), the thing to manage is how warm I am.

FWIW I always have short-sleeved cotton shirts and jeans, and on top (to insulate my 'core') wear a variety of anoraks or windbreakers (e.g. with Gortex and a mesh interior lining that helps to keep the sweat off), winter coats (e.g. with down filling), polyester/fleece waistcoats ... typically with zips so I can vary their ventilation.

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GORE-TEX

Other people have said, in their answers or in comments ...

Don't bother with goretex- no waterproof is breathable enough for the amount of work you do riding offroad, and they are only really breathable when it's not raining anyway. Plus Goretex also only works when it is clean!

... and ...

I'll second the no-Goretex recommendation because it is a relatively heavy fabric.

... and ...

I only mention this because Gore-tex, and E-vent are expensive waterproof materials

I'd like to mention that there's more than one kind of Gore-Tex (Gore-Tex is a manufacturer and brand of fabric by the way, which various other clothing manufacturers then use to make jackets etc.). For example, MEC mention at least 3 maybe 4 kinds, some heavier, some more breathable:

  • GORE-TEX®
  • GORE-TEX XCR®
  • 2-ply and 3-ply
  • GORE-TEX PacLite®

More on the GORE-TEXT web site.

A jacket's performance depends partly on how its made (e.g. mine has a mesh lining inside which keeps it away from the skin, helps ventilation). It wasn't especially cheap; but I've had it for maybe 15 years now and it seems to me good as new (though unfortunately that brand isn't made/sold anymore).

For what it's worth and for example, Amazon UK are selling Paclite jackets for GBP90..120. If it were me I'd want to try one on before I bought it. You might also find clothes discounted/on sale sometimes.

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I like my Montane Velocity DT. It packs up really small and is a pretty good compromise between rain barrier and breathability. The RRP on the Montane website is above your £70, but shop around and you can get one for price - I did from Chain Reaction Cycles.

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I bought this Pearl Izumi for 60$ and surprised now to see it almost twice as expensive. Just find a sale with a good discount. Considering that jacket, the hood is large to fit helmet, but without helmet it's much too loose. Also the hood looks ugly when not worn and just hangs on the back.

Also you may consider wearing cycling poncho. I didn't like that hood on my poncho prevents me from looking backwards, but for off-road use it's not such a big deal as on roads with traffic. Since ponchos are made from non-breathable material they are cheap and sturdy compared to membrane jackets.

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