Waterproof Cycling Jacket

Riding in the rain? We show you what to look for in a waterproof commuter jacket

Everyone knows the feeling; you're cycling along happily and the heavens open, leaving you soaking!

The best cycling jacket will keep heavy rain out, keep you warm on your commute into work and allow your skin to breathe so you won't be dripping with sweat. This is a tall order from a jacket but with modern fabric and technical cuts, it is possible.

What to look for in a cycling jacket

What's wrong with a cheap non-cycle-specific jacket? Well, nothing. But it will lack many of the features which make cycle-specific jackets so user friendly. Cycling jackets are cut with a longer back and sleeves to accommodate for riding position. Here some of the things you should look for when buying a waterproof cycling jacket.

  • Fabrics - Many companies have proprietary fabrics which all claim to be best. Usually you get what you pay for and more expensive jackets are lighter, more breathable and have increased water resistance.
  • Light vs. heavy - It is better to have a lighter waterproof cycling jacket. Lighter jackets are less restrictive and more breathable. Layers can be added underneath for warmth if need be. Light jackets are better for folding into compact spaces, and as the jacket may spend months in your bag (hopefully!), this is a serious consideration.
  • Breathability and water resistance - no jacket is as breathable as naked skin. Usually the more water resistant a jacket is, the less breathable it is - it's not a perfect world and you can't have both! Naturally, breathability increases with price, and high-end jackets are extremely good.
  • Neck - a high neck is better to protect you from wind and rain; you can always unzip in summer for increased airflow.
  • Hood - when cycling on road a hood can create dangerous blind spots, so it's best to steer clear.
  • Sleeves - these should go right down to your wrists when in a riding position. More expensive jackets have Velcro closure on cuffs to prevent water entry.
  • Waterproof zip - one of the main places water gets in is through zips so a seam-welded zip is great for preventing water ingress. Seam-welding is an expensive feature, so if on a budget, look for a jacket that at least has a flap to cover zips.
  • Reflective material - Visibility is very important so embrace anything that helps you to be seen.

As a general rule the more you spend the less you have to trade off between features.

Our pick of waterproof cycling jackets

These jackets come highly recommended in reviews and are popular choices. They are all waterproof, highly breathable and come with reflective hi-visibility strips (so they are available on the Government's cycle to work scheme).

Altura Night Vision Evo - Red (also available in hi-vis yellow and black) - £99.99

The Nightvision is constructed with soft-touch waterproof fabric, which looks great. There are two zip-able vents on the sides and one on the back. However they don't extend up past the armpit onto the sleeve like on higher priced jackets. It comes with an LED flashing lightstick, which attaches to the back of the jacket with a mini carabineer and Velcro patch.

Endura Luminite – Yellow (also available in black and olive) - £84.99

The Endura Luminite jacket is £15 less expensive than the Nightvision, but shares many of the same features. This jacket has a slightly less matte finish than the Nightvision and the reflective strips are more of a light grey colour, but you could still wear it in a social situation.

The reflective strips on the Luminite jacket are less abundant, but possibly even brighter than those on the Nightvision!

Altura Night Vision Flite Jacket – Red (also in yellow) - £79.99

Extremely lightweight (just 140g for a medium) and breathable, this waterproof shell jacket has loads of reflective trim and a tiny pack size. Altura even include a stuff sack for storage and a small LED lightstick with Velcro mount for superior visibility.

Altura Attack X Jacket - Blue (also available in orange) - £179.99

This is definitely one of the ultimate cycle specific jackets. It's not cheap, but the level of fit and features is phenomenal.

  • React Extreme fabric: Waterproof, durable and highly breathable
  • Breathable in excess of 30,000g/m2/24hr
  • Offset front zip with magnetic closures
  • Front, rear and internal pockets
  • Long pit / back vents with 2 way zips
  • Critical reinforced print panels
  • Dark reflective trim

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