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Teach a Californian about rain gear

Old 04-14-14, 10:57 PM
  #1  
teacherlady
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Teach a Californian about rain gear

I'm a short fat woman, and have trouble finding cycling rain gear. Any rain pants I've found are way, way too long. I've tried a cape, but don't like wearing one in a cross wind. Though I rode 2600 miles last summer, and have done several short trips closer to home, I've managed to avoid riding in sustained rains. So far, a weather resistant jacket and cycling tights have been enough: they haven't kept me dry (nothing will when I'm riding; I sweat!) but they've done a decent job at keeping warm sweat dampness separate from mixing with the cold rain dampness, and I've mostly been comfortable enough the few times I've had to ride in rain.

However, I am planning a month of cycling in the UK this summer, and I imagine I'll find myself cycling in sustained cool rain. Will tights and a water-resistant wind breaker and a fleece cap under my helmet be enough to keep me warm? Would rain chaps be worth the weight? A helmet cover?

Can I assume that if I need it I'll be able to find it locally? Remember, I'm fat -- about a size 18 or 20 US, well beyond the standard sizes for athletic clothing.

(As a reference to how much heat I put out: If the temp is under about 62, I'll put on knee warmers and sleeves unless I'm doing a long climb. If it's under about 55, I'll add a merino shirt and switch to leg warmers. If it's under about 50, I wear fleece tights and a merino shirt.)

Thank you!
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Old 04-14-14, 11:35 PM
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Yes, you're doing it correctly now. You'll be fine. Your clothing choices are perfect IME. My usual wet touring setup is a short-sleeve Craft undershirt, short sleeve jersey, arm warmers, water-resistant wind jacket (Voler Jet Hi Viz), wind vest, shorts, leg warmers, wool socks, light waterproof booties (Sugoi Resistor), light long finger gloves. This works down to around 45° and raining and is a versatile rig for changable weather. I don't like to wear anything that won't fit in a jersey pocket.
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Old 04-14-14, 11:52 PM
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Good evening, I suspect you will get numerous conflicting opinions here, but here is my experience. I once had a goretex rain jacket that worked well, but after a while, and despite following washing instructions et al, it just became less effective as a rain jacket and became more muggy inside in the rain. As I had to get a new jacket, I followed some suggestions on this forum and got a Showers Pass brand rain jacket that uses waterproof material but relies heavily on well designed vents, underarm zips to get good airflow going through. I find it pretty good overall for not being muggy inside as the vents really do work well. It is a bit bulky, although they have other models that use lighter material but I was reluctant to spend 75 or 100 more than the one I got.

You then of course get into the situation when its raining when it is warm, and debating whether to use rain gear or not. There are loads of super light, snazzy "breathable" material, or lightweight waterproof ones with mesh and such, but tend to appear not very sturdy (and some frightfully expensive).
As you say you put out heat a lot, I'd lean to ones that have very good airflow. I'm a thin guy who doesn't sweat much but certainly appreciate stuff like adjustable Velcro cuffs, under arm zip vents and a good vent on the back, to aid and tailor the air moving through the jacket depending on the temperature.
There are some people on here from Seattle etc and have way more rain riding days than we do here, so may have a better perspective vis a vis the UK experience, ie not overly hot yet often wet.

For rain pants I use, and have used in the past, quasi gore tex type stuff, which has worked well. I have waterproof rain booties that I find indispensable along with my rain pants going over the top of booties so my shoes don't get soaked. (Takes a long time to dry out shoes in my experience) Others just let their feet get wet with wool socks, but I'm not keen on that (got sick once after wet shoes for a few days on a long ago trip in France with coolish a at her, pre rain booties).

Depending on outside temps and how hard you have to work and therefore sweat, there are times where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't, when it comes to wearing rain gear. Other factors are whether you will be sleeping in a warm room that night, or camping. If camping I'm more inclined to use rain gear, but again the air temp comes into play. As you mention, wool tops and such are great for light rain at times, as you won't feel chilled and can dry out reasonably well on you when it stops. I'm a big fan of wool socks that's for sure.

Rain booties also are handy to stop road splash from soaking your shoes if no rain but road still wet. I've used MEC reasonably priced rain booties for well over 15 years (about 30 bucks tops, not as light as others that cost 3x more but hey, they work.)
I'm sure you'll get lots of good suggestions here, a good start to begin looking at stores to see how they fit on you.
Cheers

Last edited by djb; 04-15-14 at 06:59 AM. Reason: clearing up muddled writing
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Old 04-15-14, 03:32 AM
  #4  
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I too get very warm and can't wear a hat when cycling even in winter. I'd suggest these for your legs as they weigh almost nothing, will nor cause overheating and pack extremely small.
Rainlegs Black Waterproof Leg Protector: Amazon.co.uk: Sports & Outdoors

I know a lot about rain living as I do in Scotland.
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Old 04-15-14, 07:08 AM
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ps, will add that if it is rather cool or cold, the old "shower cap over the helmet" trick works as well as the purpose built helmet rain caps, although are a bit more fragile but can fold up very small so I keep one in my rain jacket pocket. Again, using these things come down to air temp and how long you think you'll be out in the rain, if its worth putting on or if it is just too warm to use.

As you say, it may be tricky finding rain gear that fits you well, I know I have seen jackets in a photo, then tried them on in real life and some have been so bulky and/or the material so heavy, they didnt appeal. Same with rain pants, some are super heavy and wide, the ones I found made by North Face are of a much lighter material than some and the cut wasnt super wide also--but here all these factors will be different for you with a different body shape.

I guess you will just have to visit a bunch of bike stores and try on things, and perhaps think of getting rain pants hemmed shorter which might be tricky if there is a velcro setup at the bottom to tighten up the cuff, especially important on the chain side. My previous rain pants ended up getting chainring teeth holes in there on the inside over the years and always needed an elastic to keep them out of the chain. The new ones do have velcro built in which is a nice feature that is very practical.
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Old 04-15-14, 07:48 AM
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Shower's Pass here.

For you, I'd worry less about cycle-specific gear and more about breathability and packability. There are many other sports besides cycling that require these characteristics. They'll look more appropriate off the bike too. REI's site shows many reasonably priced rain jackets for women up to size 3X. Event fabric or another modern equivalent would be ideal. One can modify these by adding waterproof pit zips etc. Not a big deal to do mods if one thinks they are necessary. A hood, worn underneath a helmet, obviates the need for a cover.

Ditto for rain pants. Add waterproof zippers for the outside legs and Velcro closures to keep flapping pant legs out of your chain ring.

If one's shoes are relatively water resistant to begin with one might want to consider gaitors rather than booties. They are longer lasting, easier to get on an off, and cheaper.

A pair of dishwashing gloves over cycling gloves is a cheap and efficient solution to wet hands.

Temperatures don't have to be anywhere near freezing before wet and wind combine for hypothermia. One's personal insulation, combined with physical exertion, will result in sweat and no miracle fabric or clothing design will stop it. Help, yes, but never stop it. So, one also needs to address hypothermia.

Layers. Start with a synthetic base layer (top and/or bottoms), then a synthetic shirt, then a synthetic insulated garment. Start off riding cold and then peel off layers as you feel yourself warming up. As long as you stay dry, cold is your friend. Synthetic garments allow one to stay warm even if (when?) one fails to keep dry. (Silk and wool work too, but I'd stick with the lower cost, superior durability, and faster drying properties of a synthetic.)

There are lots of satisfactory options when one considers non-cycling apparel.
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Old 04-15-14, 08:51 AM
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As for fit... if you find something you like but is otherwise too long, don't be afraid to take it to a local tailor. THis thought never crossed my mind, and then a friend told me she had her arm warmers altered to fit better, and i was like -whoa, all those vests I have that don't fit me, I can have them fixed!

as to rain pants and rain gear - unlike others here, for me if I am in SUSTAINED rain, especially days in a row, I need real rain gear. Light / water-resistant/non-waterproof gear is ok for me for a few hours, but if it's day after day, I need a hard shell.... ok, actually, i'll just be miserable and want to quit my trip, I would never go anywhere in the wet season.
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Old 04-15-14, 09:12 AM
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+1 on the Rainlegs suggestion. I saw a pair in use last month on a long rainy ride. Fortunately for me in my tights, it wasn't too cool and my tights dried before the temperature dropped. The guy with the rainlegs kept his legs dry-ish and warm - no worries about hypothermia because of wet legs chilling in wind. All you have to do then is open enough vents on your jacket to keep from getting too soaked with sweat.
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Old 04-15-14, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
as to rain pants and rain gear - unlike others here, for me if I am in SUSTAINED rain, especially days in a row, I need real rain gear. Light / water-resistant/non-waterproof gear is ok for me for a few hours, but if it's day after day, I need a hard shell.... ok, actually, i'll just be miserable and want to quit my trip, I would never go anywhere in the wet season.
thats my take on it as well, especially the last bit, about being miserable. I've been fairly lucky on my various trips, but of course a big part of that is going in the right season.
I really dont like riding in the rain, being from the east here we can get rain in the summer, but usually not for days and days, and especially summer storms come and go, hence my instincts to get under cover and wait for a clearing-this usually works well with our climate in summer.

re the UK, teacherlady- I have family living in the UK and I think its fair to say that you'll probably find that in typical English fashion, you will get all kinds of weather in one day sometimes, with quickly changing conditions. As always it can be a hit and miss thing for how much rain, and of course where in the UK you are for a given day. Basically its a big crap shoot in the UK in the summer, but being prepared is the only way to go.
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Old 04-15-14, 11:22 AM
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A sign "Alterations" may be in the window of some of your neighbors windows,

they would take in the shortening the cuff of the rainpants that fit otherwise.



But ..


Further up the pacific coast , when the sky Really open's up, heavy winter squalls off the Ocean .. I own rain Cape for Cycling.


Going to England? they make these , there Pro-route cycle cape

at the bottom of the page is a helmet cover and spats to cover the top of your shoes and lower legs ..

mudguards will keep the spray off the wheels from wetting you from underneath ..

being a tent with your arms underneath a open underside allows good ventilation..

Last edited by fietsbob; 04-15-14 at 11:27 AM.
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Old 04-15-14, 04:54 PM
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I would post this question in the Clyde forum too. It's another friendly forum with good info. Also check out Aerotech for large sizes.
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Old 04-15-14, 05:54 PM
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I saw this companies website and their rain gear, extra large sizes mentioned, but haven't seen any of their stuff first hand so can't speak for build quality , fit etc. Might be worth checking out.

Waterproof Jackets from People Who Really Know Waterproof Jackets!
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Old 04-15-14, 06:28 PM
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Curious ... "made in Oregon" but the contact address is Prescott AZ
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Old 04-16-14, 06:19 AM
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I agree you're doing everything right and you understand well what you've run into so far. I seldom use rain pants, but I carry a very light pair with for the occasional heavy drenching sustained cold rain, and much less occasional mountain snow shower or long cold wet pass descent. Mine is a MYOG (make your own gear) pair made by a friend out of silnylon fabric. It weighs 3 oz and packs the size of a fist. Pants are relatively easy to make, my friend tells me, though I'm a complete klutz with a sewing machine.
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Old 04-16-14, 08:51 PM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
I saw this companies website and their rain gear, extra large sizes mentioned, but haven't seen any of their stuff first hand so can't speak for build quality , fit etc. Might be worth checking out.

Waterproof Jackets from People Who Really Know Waterproof Jackets!
I saved that link. Thanks!
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Old 04-16-14, 08:55 PM
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I use a cheap plastic rain jacket under the belief you get wet from either the inside with sweat or outside from rain. IMO expensive fabrics are not worth it, though they do look nicer. I ride a lot in rain, such as today.
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Old 04-17-14, 07:18 AM
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thought I'd add that with rain pants, the ones with a velcro thingee on the bottom that allow you to make it less bulky near the chain area really does work for that, and also some of them are designed to open up more at the bottom when you release the velcro--this makes it so much easier to quickly take off or put on the pants with your shoes on--for me this is a big big plus-- for when it starts to rain suddenly and you want to get stuff on really fast, plus in weather where it can rain on and off (like in the UK) where you probably will be doing the cha-cha-cha with "rain gear on, rain gear off" sort of thing.

also to put cost and stuff into perspective, rain pants tend to last for ages with me. I dont have to wear them that much, so they dont get constant use/wear (especially if you can keep them out of the chain--those cheap little yellow reflective velcro pant straps can be good for this if a rain pant is still too baggy on the right side)
so even spending more on a good set of rain pants will last me probably 10 years and more, plus I have them to use car camping or whatever.

so just to say that spending a bit more for ones that have the wider opening on bottom and built in velcro cincher is worth it in my opinion.
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Old 05-01-14, 02:46 PM
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I have been cycle commuting for a couple months and am very happy with my RainLegs in light or intermittent rain. Because they only cover the tops of the legs, they breathe well (as well as whatever you are wearing under them). I was between sizes, so I went one up and was not sorry. The straps that hug them to you are fairly adjustable.

I have rain pants, too. I think I have used them once. I reach for the RainLegs all the time. I used them as wind block for my wretched-cold thighs in the deep of winter. I am heading to cool Nordic areas for an autumn tour, and will bring both the rainlegs and my full rain pants.

I did find a US distributor. Rainlegs

Other bottoms that I considered (but have not tried) are all rain skirts, because of the potential for both excellent coverage and ventillation:

Expensive: SportSkirts | Emergent Designs
Less Expensive: RAIN KILT

These are two of many rain skirts out there.

As for tops, I am also a big fan of merino. I went to REI and got a waterproof jacket with zippers under the arms for ventilation. I have loved it in winter and spring weather and will take it on my autumn trip. (Not sure of it's functionality for summer.)

Have a great trip!

Dagmar

Last edited by Dagmar; 05-01-14 at 03:05 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-01-14, 03:44 PM
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here you go good on and off the bike .
senz° / the fashion design umbrella
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Old 05-01-14, 04:04 PM
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seems the rain skirt is just short of the skirt to go around the edge of the Kayak cockpit to keep the boat from taking on water
and so the eskimo roll is not a kayak sinking. ..

FWIW, I Own this .. https://www.rivbike.com/product-p/ar1.htm

stay perfectly dry underneath , though rain trousers help when the rain is not coming straight down,
Or I'm moving thru it.

Mudguards on the bike are essential .

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-02-14 at 11:59 AM.
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Old 05-02-14, 08:08 AM
  #21  
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teacherlady, don't know if you are still checking in here...

had a thought last night, if ever you have to get some rain pants or whatever tailored, you could use seam sealer for sealing tent stitching, its sold in an easy to apply bottle (some have sponge stuff on the tube top so you can cleanly just rub it along seams) and this would solve any sewing/alterations issues if you resized stuff that is simply too long for you, but would retain seam waterproofness.
(putting in on seams on the inside of clothing would also be unobstrusive)

here is an example, although I imagine there are loads and loads of tent seam sealer options out there.

Gear Aid Silnet Silicone Seam Sealer - Mountain Equipment Co-op. Free Shipping Available

ps, roads in the UK are on the narrow side, so I would highly recommend using a mirror. I'm keen on my helmet mounted Take-a-Look model, with the added advantage of being able to be switched easily to the right side for countries like the UK where you'll be on the other side of the road.

Take-A-Look Mirror | TravellingTwo: Bicycle Touring Around The World

also, check out this Brit cycling organization, and their cycling route map etc. Haven't used it myself, but intend to in future for travelling by bike in the UK

Map | Sustrans

cheers
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Old 05-02-14, 11:44 AM
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I lob rain gear tops into three categories.

1. Rain Proof - Gore-tex and clones low breath ability
2. Rain resistant - some sort of Nylon with bonded membrane. Tends to have high breath ability. DO NOT DRYER DRY
3. Fast dry - Zero rain shedding but it drys fast

Rain Gear bottoms

1. Rain Proof - Gore-tex and clones
2. Warm when wet - Gets wet but keeps you warm
3. Fast dry

Now, what to bring? A huge no to full rain proof bottoms. It is just not cold enough during a UK summer to require these. Iceland yes, tierra del fuego yes, UK no.

How about a full on gore-tex jacket? You may use it you may not. Is it worth lugging around for the 6 hours of use?

I happened to tour during the 3'rd rainiest UK july on record and I used my stupid expensive Archterex jacket three times while on the bike. It was nice to have but honestly not to terribly useful.

Pro-tip: If you go to Scotland read up on MIDGES!!
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Old 05-22-14, 03:46 PM
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Thanks for the advice! I bought some rain legs. We actually had a late season rain, and I got to try them, and I think that, in combination with fenders, they'll be just what I need for cool but not cold weather rain. I won't stay dry, but they'll protect my biggest unprotected surface from wind, and they'll keep warm sweat from mixing with cold rain. If they don't work, I'll figure something else out on the road.

I leave in less than ten days. I'm getting excited!
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Old 05-22-14, 04:02 PM
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Glad you checked back in, If you are so inclined, pop in when you are back and mention a bit how it went, routes, weather and all that.
Cheers, and try to remember to look the other way when crossing streets etc.
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Old 05-29-14, 08:07 PM
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If things get seriously wet, which is sadly one of my largest bits of experience, the best way to go is a truly waterproof jacket. Your legs will stay warm if you are pedaling away, but your upper body needs some help. Without waterproofing on your upper half, you can get very cold in extended rain, especially if your layers are keeping all the moisture on your skin.

The other great technique is to put your hood up, but underneath your helmet in the pouring rain. This can really save you in the torrential rain.

Lucky for you, Britain does not get the heavy rains that you can find in the Mid-Atlantic and New England (the regions where I have suffered most).

The last worry is the prevalence of flat tires in the rain. Nails and glass that normally touch your tire and then fall off end up sticking to your tire thanks to the polarity of water and then it ends up pounding into your tire with each revolution. If one or two revolution doesn't do the trick, 200 definitely works... Buy some ParkTool Super Patches for those tough days.

Good luck!
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