Essential wet weather clothing and gear

No one really likes riding in the rain. Riding in the mud, now that’s another thing, but there’s few people that will readily admit to happily venturing out onto the trails when the rain is coming down like stair rods.

However, with Britain enjoying the unique climate it does, it’s inevitable that you’re going to have to ride in the rain on more than a few occasions. Even in the summer.

But it’s not all bad; some of our best rides have been during such conditions. With a few careful kit choices, riding in the rain needn’t be the unpleasant experience you might expect it to be.

So here are some of our recommendations for kit that will help you enjoy any ride in the rain. Even if it’s only by a small margin, that’s enough in our books to make it worthy of consideration. Perhaps we’ve missed something out or you don’t agree with some of our suggestions, if so let us know in the talkback box below.

Waterproof jacket

An absolute essential, and yes an obvious one to go on this list. But there are jackets and then there are good jackets. A jacket shouldn’t be an area to skimp on, after spending the best part of a couple of grand on a mountain bike; you really should invest in a decent jacket.

One that boasts high levels of water resistance and high breathability are a must, and extra features like pockets and vents push the price up, but don’t let them stray you away from investing in a jacket made from decent fabrics.

Mudguards

We’ll be the first to admit that we’re challenged by the aesthetics of fitting mudguards to our pride and joy, but having experienced just how nice it is to ride without that continuous spray of water up your back and bum and flicked up from the front wheel into the face, mudguards just can’t be beaten when it’s really horrible out there. There’s plenty of choice and many are lot more stylish than 10 years ago.

Waterproof socks

When we first discovered the absolute joy of wearing waterproof socks, it literally changed our view on riding in the wet. Get some, you won’t regret it. I’ve been wearing the same pair for nearly all my winter riding and the socks are always the first item of winter clobber that comes out of the depths of the wardrobe at this time of year.

Gloves

Once you loose the feeling in your hands on a cold or wet (or both) ride there’s no getting the warmth back in them quickly without seeking refuge in a warm cosy café with a large mug of hot chocolate. Waterproof gloves, usually with some sort of membrane inside the fabric, will keep the worst of the rain from turning your hands into shrivelled prunes.

Clear glasses

As contact lenses wearers, there’s nothing more painful than getting mud splattered in the eye when slamming through a deep puddle. Even without contact lenses, it’s a good idea to stop all that mud, rain and grit from getting anywhere near your eyes (you’ve only got the one pair after all) so a pair of inexpensive sunglasses with clear lenses – or yellow for low light riding – are a really useful bit of kit to remember on your next ride.

Headwear

A woolly hat or beanie underneath your helmet acts as a good defence against all that cold air that your wind tunnel designed lid does so well to channel across your scalp – all well and good when it’s hot but in the winter that’s not really what you want. A thin hat, ear warmer band or Buff is a must (even if you have a good head of hair).

What’s your essential wet weather gear? Let us know in the comments box below.

  1. Nigel H

    My last few rides have involved using my Mavic winter under helmet cap and I love it. Sits comfortably under my helmet and keeps my head warm – and actually dry too, as it has some water resistance. Better than cold/wet ears & head, when there’s little hair to help in that department !!

    Likewise with my Seal Skinz socks, although anyone with tips on how to prevent water running down your leg & down in to the socks … much appreciated !

    Gore Windstopper gloves have worked a treat too. Although not waterproof, I’ve had no issues with cold fingers, despite them getting damp.

    Nig

  2. Phill Lecount

    My last ride was last weekend 110mile 2 day ride in heavy rain high winds and oh so much mud. i have seal skin gloves worked well first day left to dry over night didnt last long secound day, however hands remained warm. seal skin socks on the other hand cannot take prolonged wet weather got through 2 pairs secound day resorted to bags in my shoes. i think that over shoes would work better

    i have a mavic skull cap too its really good. another thing i was soaked trough with seat so im really looking for a breathable jacket which is truley breathable

  3. Craig Harris

    With waterproof socks, avoid the shortest ones as you’ll have the problem Nigel mentions with water running into them, but the mid-length and long socks don’t seem to suffer from this problem.

    As for jackets, pit-zips are essential as no waterproof fabric is breathable enough … always try jackets on with enough layers underneath, so many don’t have stretchy arms and thus restrict movement on bike.

    For proper rainy days I’ve got an Altura waterproof cover which goes over my helmet and makes a huge difference, keeping my hair dry keeps my head much warmer too :)

    I also have some waterproof shorts, but they are thin and don’t have pockets so I tend to wear them under normal riding shorts. It would be great if someone would start making some waterproof all-mountain/downhill shorts.

  4. jim hope

    I agree with the kit list above and one other item I’ve added to my wet weather wardrobe is a pair of water proof over shorts made from cutting down an old pair of light weight over trousers I had. Great for keeping your bum warm and dry and saves the grief from the missus when you need to wash your kit.

  5. Peter Green

    Just to comment on long sealskinz socks, they too do let the water in, from leg after this years Cornwall Tor anyway ?

  6. Dani k

    I find on a wet day if I wear a body warmer gilet windstoper and a thin waterproof in at just the right temp. Would advise people to pack a 2nd pair of gloves on a wet ride. If you can’t afford expensive shorts etc I know people who have used duct tape on the inside of their shorts to stop the dressed wet bum. I do enjoy riding in all weather conditions. I get a better spence of achievement if I ride my usual mountain route in the rain as the ride is twice as hard.
    (the Humungus fungus riding club in Cwmbran)

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