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Buyer's guide: best waterproof cycling jackets

Cyclist magazine
1 Sep 2021

Sneer at dark clouds and guffaw in the face of thunder with these waterproof cycling jackets

No one wants to be the bozo plucked from the hillside by mountain rescue having gone out without the right gear. While this might not be such a risk on the daily commute, if the forecast is moody, setting off without a proper waterproof cycling jacket either on or somewhere about your person is almost as silly.

Styles and how to choose...

When choosing a waterproof cycling jacket for yourself, the first two things to consider are your budget and what you’ll be using it for.

A racing cape, for example, with its aero design and lightweight fabric offers a different set of pros and cons to a jacket that’s designed for chilly everyday commutes.

Some jackets are packable, meaning they can be hidden in a jersey pocket until needed. Some are heavier shells, which will need to stay on for the whole ride, while commuter jackets can sometimes come with linings and bulkier features like pockets and velcro cuffs.

It’s also worth considering what they’re made off. Cheap waterproofs may keep some rain out, but they’ll also keep sweat in as their fabrics the fabric’s breathability.

Here are our faves...

The best waterproof cycling jackets

1. Best money-no-object waterproof cycling Jacket: Sportful Aqua Pro Jacket

Buy now from Wiggle for £221

Designed to keep the Bora-Hansgrohe team from going soggy, this jacket comes with Gore-Tex’s famous ‘keeps you dry’ guarantee. Cut with racing in mind; it uses a unique stretchy Gore-Tex fabric around the shoulders and elbows to allow greater articulation and a slimline fit. Letting you get onto the drops without feeling restricted, it should remain tight even as you sit more upright.

Resulting in a jacket that will protect from the rain without snagging on the wind; excellent breathability means that, despite its packable size, you shouldn’t be taking it on and off too often. When you do, Camlock zips on the wrists and a waterproof YKK main zipper make this as easy a task as possible.

Of course, all this comes at a price, and a premium one at that. With a recommended retail price of £340, this is a serious jacket.

Buy now from Wiggle for £221

2. Best waterproof commuter cycling jacket: Altura Nightvision Thunderstorm 

Buy now from Tredz for £79.99

Aimed at commuters, despite looking like a regular jacket, the Nightvision Thunderstorm zings like a firework when car lights catch its reflective panels. Running down the arms for safer signalling, these hi-vis areas also extend over the tail and hood to provide excellent 360-degree visibility. 

Unlike previous versions, this latest Nightvision jacket uses an upgraded single layer fabric. Less bulky, but still impressively waterproof, taped seams and storm flaps behind the main rubberised zip mean it’ll keep the wind out too. 

Above its fleece-lined collar is a removable hood that’s designed to fit under a helmet if needed, while adjustable cords at the hem and collar and Velcro straps at the cuffs also help seal out the elements. Robust and moderately breathable by itself, its ability to regulate your temperature is also boosted by vents under the armpits

As befits a practical jacket, there’s plenty of onboard storage space, with an ample rear pocket, two hip pockets plus a pocket over the left breast, all secured by zips and protected by waterproof flaps.

Built for city streets, the cut is quite relaxed. Meaning it looks pretty normal off the bike, it’ll also work well of the bike too.

Read our full review here

Buy now from Tredz for £79.99

3. Best leave-it-on-all-day cycling jacket: Le Col Pro Rain Jacket

Buy now from Le Col for £240

A solid feeling yet somehow flexible jacket. Le Col’s Pro Rain Jacket is made from a three-ply stretch fabric. Still leaving it small enough to stuff into a jersey pocket, with taped seams and fully waterproof construction, it nevertheless promises to seal out the worst of the weather.

Besides the fabric itself, the jackets high collar and tight cuffs on the sleeves also help lock out the rain. Switch down onto the drops and its elastic fabric should move with you, while a long tail at the back aims to stave off a soggy bottom.

Available in a bright orange that stays just on the tasteful side of high-vis there’s also a plain black version. Stylish and not overly burdened with logos or other superfluous details, those which you do find are reflective to boost safety in low light.

Buy now from Le Col for £240

4. Best budget packable cycling jacket: Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline race cape II

Buy now from Endura for £79.99

A simple throw-over jacket that can easily be tucked in a pocket or secreted about your bike is a cycling staple.

This race cape from Endura is a great example of the genre. It scores highly thanks to its decently breathable ExoShell20ST fabric. Promising breathability of 20,000 gm/m2/24hrs, it’s streets ahead of some cheap boil-in-the-bag alternatives, although still a way behind wonder-jackets like the Gore Shakedry.

However, at a third of the price, it’s good value. An uncommon degree of stretch to the material along with a racing cut keeps everything looking trim, while its see-through styling won’t obscure your race number if you’re competing.

Something every cyclist should own, the Endura FS260-Pro Adrenaline race cape makes a solid pitch for being the throw-over cape in your wardrobe.

Buy now from Endura for £79.99

5. Best leave it on all day cycling jacket: Gore Wear C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry

Buy now from Gore for £300

When the winter weather really kicks in a softshell jacket isn’t going to work. That’s when you’re going to need to splash out on a top-quality rainproof jacket.

Lots of jackets purport to be waterproof but in our experience they’re more showerproof, often leaking at the cuffs, zips or seams. Flatout the best packable jacket you can buy.

Almost unbelievably breathable and super waterproof, this Gore jacket is small enough to carry, yet comfortable enough to wear all day. Made using a single waterproof membrane that doubles as an outer layer as well as a super-thin polyamide inner shell, this substantially cuts down on weight and bulk.

The result is a jacket that folds down extremely small, perhaps half of a big rear pocket, and weighs only 120g.

Read our review: Gore Wear C7 Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket

Buy now from Gore for £300

6. Most versatile waterproof cycling jacket: Katusha Light Rain jacket

Buy now from Rapha for £230

Unlike most of the other slinky racing rainproofs listed here, Rapha’s robust-looking Hooded Rain Jacket is better suited to commuting, bikepacking, or even hiking. Key to this trait are its non-removable hood, conventional hip pockets and low-key styling. Backed by a tough, waterproof fabric and a cut that’s more roomy than racy, it’s the sort of thing you’ll for reach anytime it rains - whether you’re cycling or on foot. 

However, despite casual looks the jacket still benefits from excellent breathability, meaning you shouldn’t overheat when using it for more athletic riding. In the same vein, turn-up cuffs that expose hi-vis pink detailing, a similarly reflective drop-tail, and the ability to stow the hood within the collar all ensure you don’t miss out when on the bike. 

This, along with its cool, muted colouring, is likely to make it a hit with adventure cyclists along with those that like to emulate their aesthetic while pootling to the office. Of course, being Rapha the cost isn’t insignificant. At the same time, the versatile Hooded Rain Jacket represents good value when compared with similar items.

You can read our full review of the Rapha Hooded Rain Jacket II here 

Buy now from Rapha for £230

7. Best waterproof storm shell jacket: Dhb Tempo FLT 

Buy now from Wiggle for £135 

Made of tough waterproof fabric with taped seams, this jacket promises a serious waterproof rating of 30,000mm paired with breathability that clocks in at 25,000g/m2. That means you’ll need to be very deep under the water or running exceptionally hot before it taps out.

A bit too bulky to pack down into a jersey pocket, the flipside is improved weather resistance. Indeed its waterproofing properties are unimpeachable, with rain unable to get any grip on the outer shell, nor finding any way through the seams, elasticated cuffs and hem or the storm-flap behind the full-length zip at the front.

At the back, a generous dropped tail provides plenty of protection against wheel-spray. Covered in reflective printing, just above this, you’ll find a large single rear pocket with a zip and its own storm flap to prevent water ingress.

Slivers of reflective detailing on the chest and at the ends of the arms also help with visibility. Fairly slim in its cut and unyielding in both its construction and performance, for the price, we reckon this offers exceptional value.

Buy now from Wiggle for £135

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