You’re probably thinking to yourself, “I took up cycling to work as a way of keeping fit and hopefully, save a bit of money by not commuting every day so why is this all so expensive?”. Great question!
Unfortunately commuting to work in winter can be quite expensive initially for people who are starting out as you collect your gear that will get you through winter. Like anything, the more you pay, the better you get and this is especially relevant for waterproof cycling jackets.
We recommend the Altura Black Nevis Iii Cycling Waterproof Jacket (S, Black) which is available on Amazon for from $85.29.
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What to Consider when Buying a Waterproof Cycling Jacket
Before we start looking at cycling jacket, there’s a few things to cover off to help work out what type of waterproof cycling jacket is for you. We suggest considering:
- Will you be carrying the bag all the time? Or will it be more of an emergency jacket which you will always have stashed away in your bag?
- Where do you live? Are you somewhere with a higher than average rain fall? Or are you somewhere it barely rains?
- How much are you willing to invest? Do you see yourself commuting to work forever? If so, it might make more sense to invest and buy right the first time.
Things to consider when buying a waterproof cycling jacket
Waterproofing is a controversial area where most jackets on the market argue they are ‘waterproof’ even that cheap raincoat on Alibaba selling for $10. But how breathable are they exactly?
Generally from experience, cheaper waterproof jackets are like wearing a rubber layer strapped around you where moisture can’t escape and air can’t enter. For this reason, you become a sweaty mess especially when exercising.
We recommend working out exactly what it is what you want from a waterproof jacket. Do you want to be protected from a light drizzle or heavy rain? Generally the more rain you are looking to protect yourself from = higher price tag.
You’re probably wondering, how do we actually measure whether a waterproof jacket is as good as manufacturers say it is?
The effectiveness of waterproofing is measured in 000’s of millimetres with the higher meaning the better. True waterproof jackets have a level of 10,000 millimetres while any less means the jacket is likely more of a shower proof jacket.
What exactly is a millimetre rain measurement? Good question. Think how your weather reader will report on how much rain has been in an area the previous day on the news. This is how a jacket is measured using the same technique of a 3” diameter tube capturing water. As the tube fills, the level is measured in millimetres. For example, the tube would need to take more than 10,000 millimetres of rain fall for it to begin leaking through some of the jackets on the market.
As previously discussed, breathability is important if you want to avoid being a sweaty mess at the end of your ride.
Generally there will be a trade off between breathability and waterproofing when buying a jacket. You can have the most waterproof jacket on the market but it’s likely the breathability won’t be amazing.
We suggest looking for a waterproof jacket that gives you the option of making it more breathable when needed. For example, some jackets on the market come with zippers near your arm pits which allow you to open them when needed.
Also weigh up the conditions you will be riding in when thinking breathability. It might make sense to have a jacket with poor breathability but good rain proofing in cold winters climates where you have greater chances of rain vs someone who lives in Australia where winter can be warmer.
When purchasing a cycling waterproof jacket, it’s important to put your normal bias towards certain style to the side for a moment and prioritise visibility.
Many jackets come with high visibility and reflective stripes on the jacket to help with creating more visibility at night time. Try to avoid jackets of dark colour (black) if you’re riding at night time frequently.
Layering is something that’s personal preference with some people preferring a looser fitter jacket which will allow them to wear layers underneath while others prefer a snug fit which makes wearing layers difficult.
Either way if layering is your thing, look for a jacket that has enough room for you to be wear layers underneath.
Like anything cycling related, don’t be in a rush to buy a waterproof cycling jacket and wait for sales to come through with end of season stock. If the country you live in is just about to go into winter, why not look at the countries that are just finishing winter for some great sales? You might end up paying a bit in postage but it might mean for good prices.
Best Entry Level Jacket
Altura ALT NEVIS3
Waterproof jackets shouldn’t have to break the bank and so for this reason, we think the Altura Alt Nevis3 is a great entry level jacket for any cyclist commuter.
Coming in with great waterproofing and breathability make this bound to keep you warm and at a good temperature in harsh winters.
The Altura Alt Nevis3 includes reflective markings, vents to further keep you cool and front and rear pockets for storage. WIth a range of colour options, you’re bound to find something that suits your tastes.
Best Mid-Range Jacket
Endura Gridlock 2
Let’s start with the nerdy first - the Endura Gridlock 2 is able to withstand 1,000 millimetres of rain (remember, the higher the better when it comes to water proofing).
The Enduradu Gridlock 2 has been designed with ventilation and comfort in mind thanks to the internal mesh lining which looks to wick sweat away. Additionally, the jacket includes zippers near the arm pit areas which allow you to add ventilation if things start to get a bit steamy.
As most of us cycle in winter, it’s important to have a jacket that has good visibility and fortunately the Endurance has reflective stripes on the front, back and arms of the jacket which helps keep you visibility on the road.
Best Jacket with Built-in Light
Altura Night Vision Commuter
The big brother model to the Altura Nevis previously reviewed, the Altura Night Vision Commuter comes with improved breathability (15,000), internal mesh liner to keep sweat at bay and water repellent zips to help keep water out.
One thing we really rated about the Altura Night Vision Commuter is the integrated LED light n the back of the jacket which helps improve your visibility on the road. Luckily, the light can be easily turned on/off, removed or batteries replaced if you need to wash the jacket.
Best Expensive Jacket
Gore Bike WEAR Men's Rescue
Gore are known for their expensive and quality made cycling related products. The Gore Bike Wear Rescue Jacket is no exception with Gore marketing the jacket as completely waterproof and breathable. Big call...!
Gore claim the jacket is completely waterproof thanks to the fabric pores on the jacket being 20,000 smaller than a drop of rain which makes it difficult for rain to penetrate the jacket.
The Gore Rescue Jacket is lightweight to the point that you are able to easily store it in your back pocket making it handy for when you simply don’t need it on your commute to work.
While the Gore fetches a hefty price tag, we’d recommend it for it’s long it’s its and being able to help keep you dry in the harsh elements.
Best Lightweight Rain Jacket
Castelli Emergency Rain Jacket
Castelli have created this light weight waterproof and windproof jacket option for those of us that have limited carrying capacity on our commute.
The Castello Emergency Rain Jacket is capable of folding down into half a jersey pocket which works perfect for those days when you're not sure what the weather is doing but don't want to take the gamble.
With the jacket coming with a 10,000 millimetre rating, you know this jacket is going to withstand a decent amount of rain before it begins sneaking through.
The Castelli Emergency Rain Jacket is more of a tighter fitting jacket which might make wearing layers hard unless you're prepared to size up.