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Yanto Barker: How to wear rain jackets

Cyclist magazine
23 Feb 2017

Ex-pro and all-round style guru Yanto Barker gives his view on the right way to dress for wet weather

I once told Kristian House to pull his socks up.

He looked at me like I was mad, and he was probably right to – I wasn’t even on his team back then – but I just couldn’t bite my tongue. He had this little ruffle just at the top of the cuff where it wasn’t straight. Improperly worn kit is just annoying.

Rain jackets are an excellent example. Let’s start with the basics. Because traditional rain jackets rarely use a stretchy fabric, you need to pick one that will fit over fully laden jersey pockets without making you look like a cling-filmed camel.

But if it’s too big you’ll end up with a ride soundtrack like a flapping spinnaker, plus you’ll never get warm – you need to be able to trap a thin layer of air if a rain jacket is going to insulate you properly. 

Gabba-style jerseys help in the fit department as they are stretchy, but often you need to be generating heat for them to heat you back, much like a wetsuit.

As a result, they’re often better suited to high-intensity rides or races. Even then you still might need more thermal insulation.

Cold comfort

True story: at the Tour of Poland we did a 250km stage, it was 7°C and it rained the entire way. By the time we arrived at the finishing circuit
it was absolute hell.

Then on the last lap Peter Kennaugh jumps off his bike and runs into the Team Sky bus and grabs his pre-warmed jacket.

Of the 190 riders who started the stage, 90 didn’t finish due to the cold, but needless to say Kennaugh was all right. 

Style is another important area – and with rain capes (as the pros call them) it’s as much about not wearing them as wearing them.

Just because you’re getting soaked, doesn’t mean you should accept mismatched colour combinations.

If in doubt there are plenty of black jackets out there. But just because you’ve taken your jacket off, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t still be a concern. 

A real no-no for me is a rain jacket not stashed in the middle pocket. Symmetry is key, and since jackets are quite bulky a side-stashed one will cut an unsightly bulge and have your jersey twisting round your midriff like a 90s teenager.

Then after that, tuck it in! Getting sprayed from the rider in front’s wheel is one thing, but being simultaneously slapped in the face by their flailing jacket arm is too much to bear.

I’ve tucked jackets into pockets for other riders before. If it’s a teammate you don’t want them to lose their jacket, but otherwise I just don’t like looking at it. Style always matters.

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