I started commuting full-time last summer, so I'm currently enjoying the heat after having experienced my first Pacific Northwest winter of fully-submerged cycling - and while I certainly did survive with the gear I had, it wasn't as comfortable as I think it could have been. Now, in the height of summer, I'm already starting to dread the gathering storms of the coming fall. I want to head this off at the pass by making a good plan for the gear I'll need now so I can come into the rainy season feeling prepared, and possibly hit some off-season sale prices.
I've got the bike set up reasonably well for the weather, with proper fenders and such; I ride a 90s steel road bike with a cheap-o Campy 9-speed group, but it performs well enough for my requirements in the off-season. I ride 21km each way, with a moderate amount of climbing (~100m) mostly in short sharp pitches. I tend to ride reasonably hard, so I tend to get fairly hot and sweaty; minimizing that effect with the rain gear would be ideal, but isn't a requirement. I do have facilities to shower and change upon arrival.
I've already concluded that I want an exterior layer that only focuses on waterproofing, not insulation, that I can layer wool underneath - the temperature during the rainy season here can range anywhere from 18C down to 5C or even less, so I want to be able to adjust the insulation as required. If that's a bad choice, I'm interested in hearing opinions on it, but otherwise, I'd like your recommendations for specifically waterproof (not necessarily insulated) clothing of the following classes:
I wore a middle-of-range MEC rain jacket last season, which was completely uninsulated and still boiled me in my own juices. Seams also started to fail in the backpack-strap area by midseason. This year I've got a frame bag for the bike, so no backpack will be required, which should hopefully minimize wear; but it'd still be nice to wear something that might last more than one year. A secondary goal would be something that didn't end up like the inside of a sous-vide cooking bag (tepid, wet, odd-smelling) after forty-five minutes of use.
Last season I had fairly cheap MEC rain pants, and the waterproofing in the saddle region wore away very quickly, followed shortly by deteriorating seams. I wore them the whole season, but got progressively moister as the winter wore on. This year I want something that won't leak at the seams, that'll hold up in the saddle area, and as a bonus it would be nice if they weren't the baggiest thing on God's green earth - the bike's heavy and slow enough as it is, feeling like I'm flying a spinnaker in the wind doesn't help.
Waterproof Cycling Shoes
This is the big one for me. I wore my very cheap SPD shoes under Pearl Izumi neoprene covers last season, and the result was execrable. First off, the covers were a nightmare to fit - it was a wrestling match every single time, despite having picked out the absolute largest size. Apparently, from reviews I've read, this too-small-fit issue is common with almost all shoe covers. I wear 42 shoes - what the heck do the really big-footed people do? Anyway, this year, with gritted teeth, I am prepared to spend what it takes to have dry feet, and have concluded from basic research that a fully-waterproofed SPD shoe or boot is probably the way to go. I've looked at offerings from Shimano and Mavic, which have reviewed reasonably well and seem to come in around the $150 mark; I'm deeply curious to hear your opinions on the subject.
Last season I went through a number of glove choices, including ostensibly waterproof bike gloves, kayaking/paddling gloves, and gore-tex work gloves; none of them kept me dry, and none of them survived the daily grind of bar and shifter interaction. This year, I hope the cycle-commuting fairy will bring me a pair of gloves that are actually waterproof, and don't disintegrate into a wispy heap of neoprene flakes and formed rubber chips. Again, I'm very much interested in what you've used in the past that's worked well for you.
For the purposes of unfettered brainstorming, let's pretend for the moment that money is no object. Given that I'm cycle commuting in lieu of driving and parking, and am thereby saving around a thousand or so dollars a year, I'm prepared to invest where it counts if it means I'll be happy to continue riding and not be tempted by that warm, dry-looking car.
Thanks in advance for any advice you can offer!