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
- 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
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