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Rain Gear Opinions

Old 11-01-09, 04:25 PM
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Rain Gear Opinions

Hello All:

I'm looking for opinions about rain gear. I've been a commuter on and off for ~ 25 years, currently 200+ days/year on a short (~4 mile) urban ride in Lexington KY. Oddly though, in all the years I've been riding, I don't feel that I've ever had a really cool weather rain gear solution.

My current commute is short enough that I'd rather not do a wardrobe change at work, on longer commutes I'd pack a change and ride in cycling gear, and if things got a bit wet it was no big deal. Here I'd rather trying and ride in my grown-up clothes.

I got through last fall and winter in gear that I had picked up at MEC when I was living in Vancouver BC. It was some single layer membrane stuff that was good for the first year, and, given that I was changing at work, OK for a few years, but now it's just about useless. I've tried re-applying the DWR coating and reactivating the membrane by running through a hot dryer, but it's time to replace.

I tried a cape (a budget item from Campmor, made by, I think, Log House Designs) I went the cheap route because, well, I'm cheap, and I was curious but not willing to commit serious cash. I think the cape is conceptually fine until the weather turns colder, but the execution of this particular number is rather poor. The seams were unsealed, and I decided not to wast time sealing them as the fabric wetted through in a twenty minute ride in the first serious rain I encountered. A better-made cape might work in the late spring and early fall, I've not abandoned the idea, but, for the fall and winter I think a jacket and pants makes more sense. Also, I like the idea of a jacket that can do double-duty as a windshell.

So, to (slowly) get to the point, I'm looking for opinions on specific manufacturers.

Hunting around I've come across the following intriguing possibilities:

In the woven and membrane category

Showers Pass (Specifically the "Touring")
Bellwether (Aqua No)

In the non-woven membrane category

Frogg Toggs (probably the Tekk Toad)
O2 Rainwear( cycling)

and, because I'm something of a retro-grouch, some coated nylon
from the folks at J&G

Frankly, I'm a bit suspicious of membrane stuff in general. I think the breathable thing is over-rated if you are exerting yourself at all, I suspect that big pit zips and back vents help more than the fiber.

I've also seen some comments on the 'net that the Dripore stuff doesn't hold up well to day in day out use. While the stuff is reasonably priced, I hate the thought of adding to the waste stream by replacing every year or two.

I've had wildly varying experience with coated nylon. Some I've owned in the past has been very good, some very bad (see my current cape for example). I like J&G's story, if I can find a locally made (this side of any large body of water, presumably not made by prison labor with total disregard for worker health or environmental considerations) product that does the job, I'd far rather buy it than something else, but I'd like to here from people who have had actual experience with the products.

Thanks for reading this long and rather rambling missive, I look forward to any advice or opinion that anyone would care to share.
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Old 11-01-09, 06:12 PM
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I have a new without tags pair of Showers pass W/B pants I've been trying to sell if interested PM me. They are black size medium and they are not the e-vent fabric. Never worn I tried them on and they didn't fit. The waist runs a bit small and the length ran a bit long but its my fault I'm a 29 in inseam so I really shouldn't buy mail order at all.
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Old 11-01-09, 06:18 PM
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The cheap O2 rainwear (the duck suit) would probably be perfect for you. I use cheap pants and nicer O2 jacket, and they certainly don't heat me up too much for my 6 mile round trip ride. I got the nicer jacket because I use it more often (a general jacket for fall and spring), so the added visibility and breath ability is nice for longer rides.
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Old 11-01-09, 08:09 PM
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Nice to see a fellow KY commuter! It's been a rainy one this fall in Louisville and I'm interested to see what people recommend!
Old 11-02-09, 08:37 AM
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I just picked up a Showers Pass touring jacket. I haven't had it out in the rain yet, but I can give you mu initial impression. I'm 6',1" with a 36" sleeve and a 46" chest. I usually wear at least a large size jacket, but I tried on a large at the store and got lost in it., I bought a medium and still have lots of room for layers underneath.

It's a heavier weight jacket than I anticipated, and I'm a little concerned that it might be overkill for commuting in North Texas, but I also got it for touring in the Rockies and some Northern states, so it should be the berries for that.
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Old 11-02-09, 08:56 AM
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I, too, tried the Campmor rain cape and also got wet. It leaks.

So I went and bought a vinyl rain cape from e-bay, from a vendor called the Monkey King. They still sell them there, but there prices have increase quite a bit. I think I paid $30, they're $50 now.

No leaks and it's a better design. Definitely more protection in the front than the Campmor. Like the Campmor, it's usefulness declines as the wind picks up. Still, I keep it in my bike bag all the time.
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Old 11-02-09, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by mslanh01 View Post
Nice to see a fellow KY commuter! It's been a rainy one this fall in Louisville and I'm interested to see what people recommend!

And now there are three.
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Old 11-02-09, 11:29 AM
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Add Craft to your list. The Craft cycling rain jacket is less expensive than Showers Pass. I doubt if it is as breathable as the high-end SP Elite jacket, but it is probably comparable to the Touring and Double Century jackets. What I like about Craft gear is that it is well-made and fits well without a lot of extra fabric to flap around in the wind. The Craft jacket is also available in neon yellow, which is a great safety feature for commuters. My Craft jacket is best for temperatures below 50 F, but is bearable in the 50-60 range. Above 60 and it would probably be too warm for most people. The only design flaw in my view are the elasticized cuffs, which don't allow for arm ventilation like the jackets with velcro cuffs made by SP and J&G.
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Old 11-02-09, 11:55 AM
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You simply cannot go wrong with the J&G stuff.
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Old 11-02-09, 12:23 PM
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I have the J&G coated nylon rain jacket and it has held up well over the last two years. Doesn't rain much in Boulder but when it does I have yet to get wet with this jacket. I also use it for cold weather commuting since it doesn't 'breathe'. I like the simple design (no pockets), pit zips (necessary to prevent condensation), and generous cut (you can layer like crazy with it). Well worth the $35.00 I paid for it on closeout.
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Old 11-02-09, 03:00 PM
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It all depends on what you want out of your rain gear. I just want my rain gear to keep me dry and warm enough not to become hypothermic or get frost-bite. I plan on getting a little wet from either sweat or rain, and always take a change-of-clothes in rainy weather.

For jackets, I have a rain resistant polyester riding jacket (more for keeping warm than dry, actually), and an over-sized Gore Tex parka shell. The parka shell really keeps me dry, and I can throw the hood under my helmet if it gets really nasty. I control ventilation by opening and closing the front zipper. Like I said, I plan on changing clothes anyway for commuting.

For pants, I prefer mesh-lined riding pants. I've had good luck with a pair of those Illumilite pants that I got for Christmas a few years ago. They keep me dry and feel good next to the skin, but they are a bit warm sometimes. I usually only wear them when it is below 45 degrees F and raining, and also above my regular tights when it is below 25 degrees F.

I would probably get more serious riding gear if I was touring, or had a really long commute. How does the J&G stuff feel after an entire day in the saddle in cool-wet rain and sleet?

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Old 11-02-09, 03:34 PM
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I am planning on getting this jacket:

I am planning to get these for my legs:

I also have nylon pants from X mart, I am planning to use the rainmates with the nylon pants in downpour conditions. Anything less, one or the other should be fine.
I am currently using the cheap O2 jacket, Don't like, which is why I am drooling over the G&J jacket.

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Old 11-02-09, 05:48 PM
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People in the PNW swear by Showers Pass pretty emphatically. If I were to go for a full rain suit, and I could afford it, I'd get their stuff.

Remember though: if you want to ride in your regular work clothes and have a rain suit over that, you're going to need to ride slow, like less than 10 mph, or you'll just end up soaking your clothes through with sweat.

I tried that approach for my 3.5 mile commute, and couldn't stand it. I'd rather go like hell and then change at work.
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Old 11-02-09, 05:49 PM
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Word of warning. I bought the J&G shoe covers. And they are not waterproof. I settled on the Showers Pass heavy-duty shoe covers. They're expensive. But worth it. You can fit almost any kind of shoe in these. They look to be high quality as far as duration counts. We'll see.
...My thoughts on Rain Gear. If your going to be riding 200 days a year. You'd be wise to get the best rain gear you can. To make that ride much more comfortable. I ride 365 days. And no matter the weather. I try to stay as comfortable as I can. I get my clothes when they're on sale. I have a Showers Pass Century that I use year round. In the winter I use Sporthill as a baselayer to keep me nice and toasty. They're not cheap either. But by doing 'searches'. I found their stuff at less than 50% off. Their XC pants are top of the line.

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