There’s a nip in the air, the pumpkin spice enthusiasts are out to play, and we have officially entered the autumnal season. In other words, it is time to start assembling everything you need to continue cycling through the cooler months. Although some decide to park their bike for the winter (depending on where you live, winter cycling may be a pretty daunting task!), if you do want to join the hardcore ranks of those who ride all year—you best be prepared.
Be it rain or snow; it pays to have the right gear to help keep you dry, comfortable, and warm enough to cycle safely. If you’re new to the challenge of all-weather riding, though, you’ll be glad to know that gear has come a long way, and if you don’t mind shelling out a bit of cash, you can brave the temperature drop in comfort.
Of course, you’re going to need to suit up from head to toe to truly enjoy the fun that can be had pedalling through precipitation but for now, we are going to focus on keeping those legs protected from the wind and wetness. Below you’ll find some of the top features to look for and a selection of our favourite waterproof cycling trousers and tights.
Some things to keep in mind when shopping for below-the-waist cycling protection:
You might be used to form-fitting gear when you ride but keep in mind that you’re going to want to choose waterproof trousers for total rain protection and water-resistant tights for rides where you don’t mind getting a bit damp. To really keep the rain out requires waterproof fabrics and sealed seams, which is simply incompatible with the stretch needed for tights.
If you’re commuting, touring, or mountain biking—waterproof cycling trousers might be a better option than tights. Their looser fit makes them more comfortable, and they can be worn over casual clothing.
Make sure you’re visible! Riding in cooler weather tends to go hand in hand with less light, so ensure you’ve got plenty of reflective patches to increase your visibility in the dark and on gloomier days.
Looking for something that can handle a bit of rain without requiring a change of clothes? Trousers and jeans made from water-repellent cotton are an unexpectedly effective alternative that looks normal off the bike.
REI Co-op Cycles Junction Rain Pants
With ripstop technology, these waterproof pants are perfect for pulling over bib tights for a wet or muddy training session—and are equally suited to ensure you arrive at the destination of your commute looking spiffy. The fully seam-sealed 2.5-layer construction will keep out wind up to 60 mph, and elastic ankles zip open for easy on and off over cycling shoes. A zippered rear pocket means essentials stay dry and close at hand, and there are plenty of reflective details to help you be seen in low light. They are also made from bluesign®-approved materials, so you can feel good about doing your part to protect the health of the environment and the workers who made them.
Gore Wear C5 GORE-TEX Active Trail Pant
These reliable pants are totally waterproof, not only repelling rainwater but mud, snow, and whatever else the elements throw your way. You can also expect an exceptional level of durability and can rely on this garment to see you through more than a few spills with tearing. The grippers on the elastic waistband hold the pants in place, and the hems are just narrow enough to avoid being caught in the chainring. Indeed, they are not the cheapest option out there but if you’re a rider looking for durability and longevity, you can count on these to keep you safe and comfortable in all sorts of weather. They are also very lightweight, making for easy packing when heading out for an extended adventure.
Cube Blackline Rain Pants
These pants offer a quick-drying and hard-wearing technical fabric that is super waterproof. They also have all the features you’d expect from a pant in this price range, including taped seams, a pocket with zipper, reflective elements, high breathability, adjustable trouser leg width and a comfortable elastic waistband. That being said, these are not intended to act as your standalone protection against those truly chilly days. Think of them as overtrousers – a waterproof outer layer – especially if you’re going to be wearing them on a longer and colder ride.
Endura Pro SL Bib Tights
An indisputably solid buy, these tights are windproof, fit superbly, and the pad comes in three widths, so you have a little customisation to work with. They are made of breathable fabric with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish front and seat panels. In the words of the makers themselves, these have been “designed for the hardcore roadie who rides all winter long, whatever the weather. The updated Pro SL Bibtights have benefited from rigorous on-bike testing, resulting in a premium tight that keeps your legs warm, the wind at bay and prevents spray from the road from soaking.”
Pearl Izumi Pursuit Hybrid Cycling Bib Tights
The latest version of Pearl Izumi’s Pursuit Hybrid winter bib tights is made from top-quality material. The lightweight ELITE AmFIB® Softshell provides superior wind and water protection in key exposure areas. There is also thermal Fleece fabric with water shedding PI DRY® technology on the back of the legs and around the hip area. They’re super-stretchy and flexible, too, so you can use them during demanding training sessions. There is a lot to feel good about here.
Rapha Women’s Pro Team Winter Tights
These tights are indeed worthy of the pros but know off the top that they have a corresponding price tag. If you don’t mind shelling out for excellent quality, though, these are certainly a good buy. As well as being made with a rugged but lightweight three-layer fabric—including windproof and water-repellent panels at the front and Thermoroubaix fabric at the back—the broad stretch straps are designed to sit around the outside of the bust. Best of all? A heavy-duty magnetic clasp at the back allows for pee stops without having to strip off (love that!).
As you can see, there is no need to let fear of the wind and cold keep you from venturing out this autumn and winter. So figure out what qualities you want in a waterproof tight or trousers, and go get yourself outfitted for some wet and wild riding!