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Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

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Old 05-16-11, 10:06 AM   #1
dmcalloway
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Rain gear : Showers Pass vs. J&G vs. Poncho - any ideas ?

I need rain gear, badly. I am in Ohio, which could go from 90 degrees to blizzard in hours - but I am fairly convinced that I will need some rain gear, as my existing jacket gets soaking wet in even a fairly light rain/drizzle....

I am looking at :

Showers Pass Mens Club Pro jacket

J&G waterproof/breathable jacket

rain poncho (either J&G or another kind from Amazon - Stormtech packable rain poncho)

I have no car, and will eventually ride 12 miles roundtrip for four days, and 21 miles roundtrip for one day - just to get back and forth to work. I do not intend to stop during the winter. I am working my way up to this, but I am wondering which option would be better ?

The two jackets are at about $100 each, but the ponchos are more budget friendly at this time. All I have to go by is marketing copy, and a recommendation from a local bike shop that I could expect to spend at least $100 on a jacket (actually, I have seen more expensive ones, but I am not racing, or a racing wannabe). They only carry the Showers Pass, but I cannot find out where it is made - J & G state that they make theirs in Oregon, onshore......

Has anyone actually used this stuff ? How well would it work for commuting ?

Last edited by dmcalloway; 05-16-11 at 10:06 AM. Reason: Needed to clarify that I will cycle year-round.
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Old 05-16-11, 10:20 AM   #2
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A long time ago when I could afford it I had a gore-tex cycling specific jacket. I still got wet from the inside in it. For this reason when I became a commuter again in my declining years I opted for J&G's non-gore-tex rainwear. I get wet but I haven't shelled out $~220+ for a jacket and pants from any of the respected sources. A poncho is probably going to be 'drier' inside even if made from non-breathable material. I was planning to get both a poncho and jacket for summer and winter but winter came first. My only question is weather to get a quality poncho or something cheap. My main advice to you is to expect that you will sweat and get wet inside on a commute of the length you are considering unless you just loaf along at an unreasonably low speed. A change of clothes is a must and a place to hang your wet gear so it can be dry by the time you are heading home will be a nice plus.

H
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Old 05-16-11, 10:32 AM   #3
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2 years ago I got the J&G waterproof breathable jacket, pants and helmet cover. Have been very pleased. @ 200.00 for the collection it was pricey, but worth every dime IMHO. That being said the Showers Pass products seem to be the gold standard all over BF. Touring, utility, commuting, etc. My experience w/a poncho wasn't good. My rt commute is 40 mi. They're probably good for quick trips and short, urban commutes.

Btw, keep a golf visor handy for the downpour and get full coverage fenders for the up-spray. The combo will keep your goggles/glasses dry. I've got some rubber gloves I use for when it's really raining, but they make my hands sweat and stink. Ultimately, nothing works 100%. One just needs to stay as dry as possible and change into work clothes upon arrival. Rain's a PITA no matter how you slice it, but the substantial health benefits far outweigh any discomfort.
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Old 05-16-11, 10:46 AM   #4
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I have the cape from J&G and got it in February for my birthday. I have found it to be quite useful. Even when it was cold but wasn't raining it helped by blocking the wind, but that also means it is a parachute when the wind is coming at you. I only have an 8 mile round trip with a couple of pretty good hills both ways. Sometimes you have to futz around with the poncho to get it situated just right. It's not much of a problem on my ride, but I'd think you'd get tired of it on one that is longer. I will add that I also got the breathable helmet cover and that really helped when it was cold, too. Just using that and no other head cover, my head stayed warm, but didn't sweat too bad. I will vouch for the quality of the J&G stuff though. It seems to be well made. I liked the fact it is made in the US.
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Old 05-16-11, 11:07 AM   #5
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Cycling rain capes are cone shaped, poncho's are a big square with a hood in the middle.

Campmor sells a Rain cape with a hood, not a bad thing to pack in the just in case kit.

+1 ... mudguards keep wheel-spray from below from wetting you, (with road grime), then.
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Old 05-16-11, 11:32 AM   #6
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I bought a cycling-specific poncho on ebay for $20 including shipping from China. It was made for a company in Germany. It is absolutely awesome. After years of sweathing in "breatable" cycleing jacketrs, I'm never going back. Of course, capes only work if you have fenders and a mud flap, and in a really serious downpour some kind of rubber shoe cover is probably a good idea.
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Old 05-16-11, 11:47 AM   #7
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I've got the campmor rain cape. At $35 it's not a bad investment for emergencies (I keep it in my commuting bag at all times), but it's a bit too short for my 6'3 (doesn't reach all the way to my hoods - to be fair I've got a 140 mm stem and the hoods as far out front as they can go), and it doesn't play well with a backpack, but it does the job in a pinch. When I put the hood up (under my helmet) and it's over 45-50 degrees I'm going to be very wet inside from sweat. Hood down, it's not so bad. I'm still wanting to know how to get it to play better with my (waterproof) backpack, but have been considering getting good pants/vented jacket for when I leave the house and it's already raining.
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Old 05-16-11, 12:12 PM   #8
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I can't tell you what's best since I drive to work in downpours these days, but I can tell you what's good enough. A couple of years I had a short commute with no car and this worked for me.

A regular rain poncho can work, BUT you have to modify it a little else it will flap, balloon up, and dribble water down the collar. All you need is sticky back velcro from Home Depot. Cut matching strips or squares about an inch wide. Sit on the bike in riding position, wearing the loosely fitting poncho and put a couple of strips on the poncho back flap on your sides: under the arms and near your belt. While you're in position have someone velcro mate strips on the front flap while snugging it up around you. I also do one for the collar, pulled around my neck (not too tightly). Rubber bands or elastic for the sleeve parts. Just wear your helmet over the hood. It works, and shouldn't cost you more that $10 or so.
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Old 05-16-11, 12:15 PM   #9
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Btw, keep a golf visor handy for the downpour
Ditto this, or baseball cap under the helmet.
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Old 05-16-11, 12:54 PM   #10
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I bought my "monkey king" rain cape from E-bay and love it. Used to have a model from Campmor, but it started leaking and was no good.

The rain cape keeps you bone dry from your waist up, minimum. It does better than that when there's no wind. THe hood fits under my helmet, so my head is dry. It is vinyl, like a Coleman poncho, but given all the open air under it, you just don't sweat. It feels great.


That said, if it is windy, the rain will get your legs and shoes wet. I biked home in a downpour last month, with the wind coming at me at about 30 mph, and my shoes, pants and even my underwear got soaked. But...I was my upper body was warm and fine.

One other piece of advise that I started doing--I leave my cape at work. If it's raining heavily i won't come in on my bike anyhow. If it's lightly raining, my water resistant jacket will do, if I take my shortcut 5 mile route. The most important thing for me, to make sure I get my minimum 3 rides in per week (not easy in Cleveland, given the rain/snow) is not to worry about the weather going home. It could change and besides, I can change pants/shoes when I get home. The cape at work gives me piece of mind, knowing that I'll be warm and dry, waist up, at least, for my ride home.
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Old 05-16-11, 01:04 PM   #11
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I say get two cheaper shells. I have a Field & Stream jacket if it is really pouring and a wind breaker that works if it is a mist or very light rain.
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Old 05-17-11, 09:21 AM   #12
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For me it's all about the ventilation. Huge pitzips (like wrist to waist) and a back flap. If you have that, the rest can be 1/4" thick neoprene. (but I do like the very thin but still windproof fabric of the showers pass coats)
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Old 05-17-11, 10:05 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by formicaman View Post
I bought a cycling-specific poncho on ebay for $20 including shipping from China. It was made for a company in Germany. It is absolutely awesome. After years of sweathing in "breatable" cycleing jacketrs, I'm never going back. Of course, capes only work if you have fenders and a mud flap, and in a really serious downpour some kind of rubber shoe cover is probably a good idea.
-1
I've found the absolute opposite to be true for me.
After sweating buckets inside the J&G rain jacket, I've been extremely happy with my Showers Pass Elite 2.0.
I do feel that bike specific design is very important, namely for ventilation and for cut. Breathable fabrics alone cannot deal with the volume of moisture, and the SP jacket has a vent across the back of the coat that allows moist air out while keeping rain out.

I've used my jacket as my outer layer from 50-something degree (F) rainstorms to around zero F dry or snowy. I love it, and will not go back to a cheapie non-breathable coat.
A pancho/rain cape might offer more breathability than a conventional jacket design, but I hate riding with those things - way to bulky and awkward for my taste. I prefer to stay as trim and efficient as possible, even in the rain and snow.
I might consider one for a short (less than 2 miles) ride on an upright Dutch bike, perhaps.
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Old 05-17-11, 10:29 AM   #14
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The caped back on my rain jacket helps a lot, look for that feature..
I got a too large Burly pants and jacket at the time of the demise
thru bankruptcy of the Co Op.

20 years ago, Burly made a nice Rain cape , too ,
and some cool leggings , and shoe covers..

covered top of shoe and front of shins, to just over the knee.

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-17-11 at 10:33 AM.
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Old 05-17-11, 10:33 AM   #15
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Personally, I would go with the J&G jacket over the Showers Pass Club. If you could step up to the Showers Pass Touring or Elite I think it's worth it.

Capes are an interesting option if you are comfortable with them. I've never used one. the main complaint I've heard is they catch a lot of wind slowing you down. If you are comfortable with that it's probably a good money saving option.
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Old 05-17-11, 10:34 AM   #16
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(but I do like the very thin but still windproof fabric of the showers pass coats)
me 2, but they're fragile
mine has barely made it through one season and its falling apart...
im sure REI would take it for a return, but thats a ****** move
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Old 05-17-11, 10:55 AM   #17
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I would highly recommend that you give Lou Fox (foxwear) a call and tell him that you are considering an eVap Wet Spring & Fall Jacket (http://foxwear.net/products_jackets.html). He will explain the pros and cons of the fabrics and can make customized recommendations based on your riding preferences. I have been very happy with this jacket - kept me dry on my rainy commute in this morning. It is always a delicate balance between waterproof/water resistant/breathable and each person's choices are somewhat unique in this regard. To be fair, if it is a torrential downpour, the eVap will not keep you dry, but you can still wear it underneath a regular J&G waterproof rain jacket for those occasions. In my case, the eVap works for 98% of the rain that I encounter. Lou is a biker and knows how to make the perfect biking jacket. If you go with Lou, he will make a jacket that fits you perfectly.
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Old 05-17-11, 03:24 PM   #18
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I have been rocking the J & G jacket for about 2-1/2 years now. I use it year round in temps from -22F to ~ +50F. I am very happy with it. Of course, in the lower temps proper baselayers and insulation layers are worn. When I need to replace it, I will get another one.

The jacket is usually used with RainMates (kind of like chaps) the construction quality of the RainMates isn't very good, but they do work, in all but the heaviest rains. I have some full coverage rain pants that I use in heavy rain. I have a pair of tube type rain chaps that I don't use because the RainMates are easier to use than the chaps.

I also have a vintage cycling rain cape that I purchased in '80 or '81. The biggest issue with the rain cape is that it catches the wind like a giant sail. I only use it in the really heavy downpour type rain, over the J & G jacket and with the rain pants. I have been playing with the idea of getting the Rivendell Splats for my feet.
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Old 05-17-11, 06:06 PM   #19
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I bought the Showers Pass last spring. It doesn't really seem to breathe at all- I've worn it as a shell on cold days when I'm not working up a sweat at all, and I have to turn it inside out all day to get it dry from the condensation. I think most "waterproof breathable" fabrics are like that, though- they're either one or the other. I guess my point is, you can find other options for $100. It doesn't seem to be very sturdy, either- I've fallen wearing it once, and had to tape up a 3" tear in the sleeve (I know it's not ballistic material, but...). The vents are nice, and I like the bright color on a rainly day.
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Old 05-17-11, 06:14 PM   #20
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me 2, but they're fragile
mine has barely made it through one season and its falling apart...
im sure REI would take it for a return, but thats a ****** move

I heard the SP (elite?) was based on the Burley Rock Point which remains my favorite raincoat but the fact is I'm not comfortable w/ a blue coat when I could have a hi-viz color. But, my Burley is years and years old and is showing no wear unlike my SP which ... well, I've got one season (and the raincoat season is really long here), and while I expect two even w/ the current wear, I feel like I can only hope for a 3rd or more and that's not a great feeling for the price.
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Old 05-17-11, 11:58 PM   #21
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dmcalloway, I live in an area where we supposedly have 300 days of sunshine, of course it rains and snows while the sun is shinning so I think that is where the get their numbers, (see stage 1 tour of california) anyway, I believe firmly in a couple of brands. 1. Columbia, you can hit some outlet stores (great outdoor clothing co., REI, Sierra Trading Post online) ect and find their stuff pretty inexpensive. I have a great rain jacket with pit vents and hood with visor that is warm and waterproof but breathable and I think I paid 35.00 for it. Their warranty is unmatched. Anything goes wrong send it back and they fix it.
Pearl Izumi, is awesome in riding gear, just bought a waterproof jacket with hood for 75.00 clearance and it was great. Also, REI and Columbia make great rain pants, I wear all winter even when the temps drop to teens.
Though White Sierra? has easier entry and more breathable waterproof pants.
Just remember this...to keep them waterproof DONT USE FABRIC SOFTENER!!! oops made that mistake and now I have useless gear. Good luck
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Old 05-18-11, 11:58 AM   #22
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If it's hot out and raining,I use my skin.
Same here. anything over 65-70F and I dispense with using any rain gear.

From 30 degrees F to 55-60F my rain gear serves its purpose very well. Below 30F it becomes the outer "shell" to break the wind.
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Old 05-18-11, 12:04 PM   #23
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I use Campmor stuff,About $60.00 for a jacket and pants.Works fine.If it's hot out and raining,I use my skin.
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Old 05-18-11, 12:20 PM   #24
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<----Lives in a rain forrest.

Since it rains here so often and because the rain never comes on particular way, (day long drizzle, mist, spitting, showers, torrents, buckets or whatever, it can chuck it down for what seems continually and weeks at a time here) I have better assortment of wet weather gear than anything else, really. Most of my stuff comes from MEC, a local co-op similar to REI.

In no particular order:
Axiom Stormfront rain coat Pretty expensive at $240 CDN (got it for $149) can be found for less right now if you can find it. Discontinued. Roomy, comfortalbe, lots of pockets, waterproof, good venting, not very breathable. I reserve it for winter riding.
MEC Secteur classic $149.00 comfortable much, much, much, much more breathable than the Axiom. Great venting, lots of pockets but tiny zipper pulls on the lower side hand pockets. Waterproof? Hells yeah! I love this jacket so far and I'm sure it'll be a good three season rain jacket.
MEC Derecho pants I have an older version of these. Roomy, waterproof, breathable, good solid rain pants for downpours.
MEC Drencher gloves inexpensive, waterproof, breathable. Again, a good bit of kit for downpours.
MEC shoe covers Inexpensive, waterproof and all around quality bit of kit.
RainLegs Upper leg covers and, after the MEC coat, probably my most used bit of rain gear. Light weight, good coverage, waterproof, perfect for the lighter rain and sporadic showers we most often get here. Great to pack along anytime it looks like it might rain.
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Old 05-18-11, 01:57 PM   #25
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I have a nice cycling specific, breathable rain jacket... BUT it seems to me, a jacket is only needed if it is mid 50's to below. Otherwise, just let that rain cool you down! Trying to find that jacket that will perform flawlessly at 70 degrees in a monsoon is a pretty tall order.
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