For many cyclists, the chance of rain is an all-too-likely occurrence, so having the best waterproof cycling jacket to hand is essential when the weather takes a turn for the worse. A waterproof layer allows you to head out of the door with confidence that you can continue cycling no matter what the weather decides to do.
While the best winter cycling jackets might offer more material for greater warmth and a more aerodynamic cut, this can often be bulky and they will eventually fail to keep the rain out when the heavens really decide to open.
Developments in materials have meant that a resilient waterproof layer is now small enough to be stuffed in a jersey pocket for emergencies or when not in use, meaning they're useful year-round, rather than just for your winter cycling endeavours.
A good waterproof layer will not only keep you dry but also create an effective barrier from wind chill. In wet conditions, the effects are multiplied and while you may ride through a storm without getting cold, the resulting cooling effect of wet clothing will quickly reduce body temperature which can cause issues even on short rides.
Best waterproof cycling jackets
DHB Aeron Tempo Waterproof 2 Jacket
Waterproof and lightweight, DHB yet again show price point needn’t limit performance
Pockets: 1 | Colours: 4 | Fit: Performance | Price: £100.00 / $127.40 / AU$189.90
The DHB Aeron Tempo punches above its price point by boasting an impressive 30,000mm waterproof rating. This is balanced with a good level of breathability which is bolstered by underarm vents that help reduce heat and moisture build-up while riding.
The jacket offers a nice amount of stretch and has an unrestrictive performance fit with a generous drop tail to protect from wheel-spray. Waist and cuffs are elasticated plus the collar is fleece-lined, stopping any unpleasant drafts. A large rear pocket with a storm flap gives some storage and features reflective detailing.
Gore C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Jacket
The ultimate wet weather jacket from the biggest name in waterproof cycling jackets
Pockets: 1 | Colours: 2 | Fit: Form fit | Price: £250.00 / $299.99
If you are wondering why 1985, well that's a tribute to when Gore released the first revolutionary Gore-Tex jacket and a reminder they have been at the top of the outdoor jacket game for a long time.
Gore’s Shakedry technology is their most advanced material yet and has quickly become the gold standard for wet weather activities. Shakedry uses a single layer of Gore-Tex technical membrane which forces water to bead and roll off whilst allowing any humidity on the inside to escape. As the water doesn’t soak into the jacket there is no chilling effect, making this a great windproof layer even in wet weather. Constructed from a single layer of Shakedry membrane paired with a thin liner, the resulting jacket is very light and packs away easily.
Gore has specced the C5 Shakedry 1985 with a reinforced two-way zipper and an ergonomically shaped collar with adjustable velcro for a perfect fit. The back features reflective detailing and a small rear zipped pocket that doubles as a storage sack for the jacket to fold away into.
Castelli Idro Pro 2 Jacket
Brilliant waterproofing with a ready-to-race fit
Pockets: 2 | Colours: 1 | Fit: Race fit | Price: £340.00 / $399.99 / AU$649.00
Castelli saw the potential of Gore’s new Shakedry material and licensed it so they can produce a jacket of their own from the now legendary wet-weather material. The Idro Pro 2 takes the stripped-back material and pairs it with stretchy Gore panels on the wrists, elbows, shoulders and side panels to not only make it easy to get on and off, but also to retain the race-ready aerodynamic cut.
While the stretch panels add a small amount of bulk over a pure Shakedry jacket, it can still very easily be packed into a pocket, meaning it can be carried on every ride, just in case.
There are also two pockets built into the back so that you don't need to let the rain in every time you want to fetch your phone / snacks, and the rear features a dropped tail to keep your backside happy too.
Endura Pro SL Shell II Jacket
Endura have combined their excellent ExoShell40 waterproof material with some smart design features
Pockets: 1 plus jersey pocket access zip | Colours: 3 | Fit: Slim | Price: £164.00 / $224.99
Formerly used by Movistar, the Endura Pro SL Shell II jacket is made from Endura’s ExoShell40 material which achieves some impressive figures for waterproofness and breathability.
Endura has constructed the Pro SL Shell II using multi-panelling with strategically positioned stretch panels to create a pre-shaped close fit. There is a small external gel pocket and a right-hand vertical zip that gives full access to items stored to jersey pockets. Detailing includes a raised collar to add extra neck protection and reflective panels to keep you visible.
Assos Equipe RS Rain Jacket
The Assos Equipe RS brings a durable and feature-packed alternative to Shakedry
Pockets: Access to jersey pockets | Colours: 2 | Fit: Race | Price: £265.00 / $349.00 / AU$507.00
While other brands are jumping on the Shakedry train, Assos has chosen to develop its own materials to use for the premium Equipe RS jacket. Schloss Tex is a 3-layer construction made up of a DWR (durable water repellent) layer that protects the inner hydrophobic membrane.
While pack size and beading levels might not compete with Gore’s material, Schloss Tex does offer more durability as well as some stretch to aid fit. By using body-mapping, Assos has created a closer fitting jacket, improving aerodynamics without restricting movement.
Taking the Equipe RS on and off is easy thanks to the elasticated cuffs and good-sized 2-way waterproof zipper. On the rear are two vents that double as access to your jersey pockets.
Shakedry performance paired with the voguish styling of Rapha
Pockets: 0 | Colours: 1 | Fit: Race | Price: £220.00 / $295.00 / AU$385.00
Not one to miss a trick, Rapha has joined the Gore-Tex Shakedry crowd with its Pro Team Lightweight jacket. Unmistakably Rapha by design, the Pro Team features the classic white armband and pro team strip styling.
Despite the Shakedry membrane having little in the way of stretching qualities, Rapha has achieved a comfortable race fit. The half elasticated cuffs are designed to play well with all of the best winter cycling gloves and a raised collar features a sweat-wicking lining. A two-way waterproof AquaGuard zip has a reinforced zip guard to protect your bib shorts. Inside is a small mesh pocket that the jacket can be stuffed into for storage.
Altura Firestorm Jacket
Subtle by day, visible by night. The Altura Firestorm is a great jacket for winter riding and commuting
Pockets: 1 | Colours: 4 | Fit: Semi-fitted | Price: £79.99 / €100.00
Altura has thought about the conditions that are frequently experienced during winter training rides and commuting. By adding all-over reflective detailing, the Firestorm should give superb 360-degree visibility to keep you safe and visible when the light fades and the weather turns gloomy.
The Firestorm is waterproof with taped seams and features a semi-fitted design that finishes low on the front of the hips. Shaped cuffs are a nice touch as is the rear pocket which the jacket can pack into when not in use.
For when the rain pours but the racing continues
Pockets: 0 | Colours: 2 | Fit: Race | Price: £270.00 / $350.00
It's named after one of the most iconic mountain passes in the world and for good reason, the Stelvio is one of the best waterproof cycling jackets when the weather takes a turn for the worse but the racing continues.
This jacket was designed in conjunction with the Tinkoff team in all manner of bad weather, and it's still the jacket that Peter Sagan reaches for today. This is thanks in part due to its breathability rating, which at 50,000g/m2/24hrs, is one of the best on the market.
The Polyamide/Polyester hybrid material is DWR coated to keep the water on the outside, and as a result, has been given a waterproof rating of 20,000mm. This isn't quite as high as some of the competition, but if you want a great waterproof cycling jacket that'll keep you cool during hard efforts in downpour conditions, then look no further.
What to look for when choosing the best waterproof cycling jacket?
Most of the best waterproof cycling jackets are constructed from a multi-layer laminate, featuring taped seams and waterproof zips to stop water ingress. The multiple layers usually consist of a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coated face fabric which protects a hydrophobic membrane underneath and is finished with a liner for comfort. Some manufacturers such as Gore have been able to develop a resilient membrane that no longer requires the outer layer.
Using a single layer improves waterproofness as there is no outer layer to become saturated while significantly reducing weight and pack size. There are disadvantages as these membranes are still relatively fragile and its recommended to avoid abrasions (by wearing a backpack for example).
Jackets will often have a waterproof rating, this is measured by placing a 1”x1” tube over the material and filling it with water. The rating is based on the height of the water before it starts leaking through the material. To be considered waterproof a jacket must achieve a rating of at least 1,500mm, however, for reliable protection in prolonged rain look for ratings of 10,000mm and above.
In the past, packable waterproof layers might have kept the rain out but would suffer breathability issues resulting in you being soaked in your own sweat instead. Technology has greatly improved and with the development of breathable hydrophobic materials, jackets can wick away moisture from within while keeping out rain more effectively.
The hydrophobic membranes are covered in pores, by forcing the water to bead on the face of the materials they don’t soak through while the vapour from perspiration inside can still escape.
Moisture and temperature management can be further improved with strategically placed vents to offer some additional airflow. These will usually be positioned under the arms or under storm flaps on the rear of the jacket.
While some waterproof cycling jackets are simply a shell designed to pack away as small as possible, others will have added features built-in. It’s worth considering what extra features you need, as these details will often increase cost and reduce packability.
Pockets are useful for keeping items close to hand rather than needing to dig around under layers to find jersey pockets. Manufacturers get around this by using zipped access or well-placed vents to make jersey pockets accessible. Some jackets will come with integrated storage pouches making packing and storing the jacket when it isn’t worn neater and providing protection from damage. Elasticated openings, drawcords and fleece lining are added around the wrist cuffs, hems and collars to reduce drafts, hold the material in place and increase comfort against the skin.
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