I'm commuting an hour each way each day in summer now and it rains sometimes.

I have a GoreTex jacket which I bought 10 years ago for walking in. With additional inner warm clothes I wear it in temperatures down to -5C (23F). I can wear it with a shirt when cycling when the temperature is up to (i.e. below) about 15C (60F): it keeps me fairly dry; and if it doesn't (in a downpour for up to an hour) then at least it's wind-proof i.e. fairly air-tight i.e. insulating on a bike and can therefore keep me warm after I'm soaked and it's still raining.

It's too warm to wear in summer though, when biking. In a light rain with a temperature over 22C (70F), if I wore it zipped up I'd get soaked with sweat: and might as well, instead, arrive at work soaked with rain.

What can you recommend for a summer rain jacket? I'm guessing that options include:

  • 'Breathable' (e.g. GoreTex) bike-specific jacket
  • 'Waterproof', vented material
  • 'Poncho' of some kind
  • 'Nothing': instead, insulating clothes to regulate temperature even when wet (I have a pannier), and change of (dry) clothes at the destination.

I'm looking for something that will:

  • Last for an hour, commuting 18 km
  • Rainfall of 1 mm to (if I'm lucky) 5 mm per hour
  • Temperatures of 22C and above

I went to a bike store. One option there was a lightweight waterproof, with venting (e.g. in the armpits) for a bit over $100. Another option was a "GoreTex PacLite" for about $250, which doesn't have venting ("unlike cheaper, waterproof, doesn't need venting").

My uncle flippantly recommended a poncho; however the few people I've seen wearing one on the street seem to be riding at only about 10 kph, which would more than double my journey time: is that right, or can they be faster?

I was tempted to buy the GoreTex but it's expensive enough that I wouldn't want to regret the purchase, so I hoped to ask you. Can an unvented jacket be usable when zipped up and biking in warmer temperatures, if it's (for example) GoreTex? Are there good reasons for or against vents?

I have a pannier to carry it in when it's not raining (I use the pannier only for whatever spare clothing I may want to carry that day, and the U-lock); so light-weight would be quite nice but pack-ability seems less important.

  • This question is similar to What clothing is best for wet weather/cycling in the rain? - except that question asks about all types of clothing and (implicitly) all temperatures: whereas mine is more specific, just a summer jacket (I've mentioned the temperature, duration, distance, and the amount of rainfall).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 12:35
  • Rain capes look like a good idea, but I'd be worried about wind. Example: yehudamoon.com/index.php?date=2008-02-02 I wore a yellow poncho for a bit, and you can't go all that fast but they are awesomely confortable. Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 16:48
  • @Neil Is a poncho and a rain jacket the same thing? What size/features/type of material was yours? What is its shape, is it cycling-specific? "Awesomely comfortable" sounds like it might be well worth trying.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 4:39
  • Mine was just a normal, everyday rain poncho; I only used it a bit, as it was clumsy to use. Cycling ponchos (aka rain capes) are similar, but made more for cycling. A rain jacket is (more or less) a waterproof jacket customized for cycling, often with a pocket in the back like a jersey, cut longer in the back than in the front, and so on. You could try a non-cycling poncho, and if you like the feel, maybe get a cycling rain cape. Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 5:21

3 Answers 3


I have, and like, this Gore Countdown jacket. Breathable, light, waterproof, not too hot, although I haven't used it since I move to Dubai and 45c temps, Fully closable vents, so you get the best of both worlds, and reasonably cheap.

  • Can you estimate what the warmest in-rain air temperature is in which you could or would wear it for an hour?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jun 28, 2011 at 14:42
  • I've used it regularly in Seattle springtime temps of 19-21 degrees celcius. I have no information on temps between 22-35c.
    – zenbike
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 8:11
  • That's not the answer that I wanted, necessarily, but it is a difficult (perhaps impossible) question. GoreTex, and vented. Thank you.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 1, 2011 at 17:29
  • You're welcome. What answer were you looking for, just for curiosity? Did I misunderstand the question? Or were you looking for an alternative to what you already appear to have known?
    – zenbike
    Commented Jul 2, 2011 at 4:47
  • A perfect answer might have included, "I have [clothing] which I wear in [temperature in the mid-20s]. It has [feature] so [it's cool|it's breezy|it stays on]. I just slow down to about [significant percentage] of my usual [speed|effort] in order to stay as cool as I would be normally, if there were no rain and I were wearing only a short-sleeved shirt in that temperature."
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jul 6, 2011 at 4:36

In my personal experience, anything you wear while riding that is even moderately water proof will trap heat and sweat and for me, I will end up just as wet if I had ridden with or without the jacket.

GoreTex and the like are just riding an edge of being helpful. Short rides, cool temps, perfect. Long rides, doesn't matter, you are going to get wet. From the inside or the outside. :)


I've had similar problems this year (although it's winter here now). I ended up using a light vented (non-waterproof) spray-jacket and then treated it with water repellent (like http://www.stormwaterproofing.com). Not sure about the longevity of the treatment. It's lasted a couple of months for me so far, but I've been careful to minimise rubbing on the jacket. I'd also like to know a bit more about possible environmental impacts.

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