What to wear while biking in the rain? Although Belgium has a reputation as a rainy country, a bicycle rider will not have to bike in rain as much as you would think. Of all the km cycled in a year, it will rain for about eight and a half percent. Don’t just take my word for it, I found this info on the webpage of Belgium’s best known (flemish) weatherman: Frank Deboosere
So, even though it might not rain as much as you think it, I do feel like it starts to rain just when I have to leave the house. And I bike e-v-e-r-y-where with my Babboe cargo bike. The school runs, groceries, appointments. So I find it incredibly important to be properly dressed. No fashion show here, no! If I am warm and dry, I don’t mind the rain. Even the torrential kind.
So here I will share with you what I wear on rainy days while out and about with my Babboe e-curve cargo bike. Interested in buying a cargobike/bakfiets? Read my review of mine here!
A raincoat is a tricky thing when cycling. Once you cycle your body will warm up and sweat. Especially in relatively warm rainy periods, wearing a raincoat often causes you to sweat more than the rain could ever make you wet- yes, even in so-called “breathable” textiles.
At such times you should therefore think more about how warm / too warm you are going to be rather than how dry/wet you are going to be. Feel free to wear only a t-shirt (and no sweater) under your raincoat.
A quality raincoat is breathable and rainproof, preferably slightly longer down the back to protect your rear from splashing moisture, and with ‘ventilation holes’ under the armpits.
You can obviously go cycling with any kind of rain jacket, but I recommend paying close attention to the fit as well. Make sure it’s cut to your body (not a garbage bag), even with a sweater on underneath. And that the fabric is comfortable and light, and compact enough to tuck away when it’s not raining.
The even more “professional” (read: more expensive) jackets are also windproof, which can do good on a cold winter day but is often too warm for the rest of the year.
This is especially true of the plastic jackets (the K-Way), just about the best guarantee of you sweating. One hundred percent water and windproof, but also ideal for building a sweat lodge underneath.
A rain poncho is fine, even if it’s just a plastic thingy. You are really dry under your raincoat tent, and your excess body heat can disappear underneath. A disadvantage is that a poncho will also want to prove itself as a parachute on a windy day, which will make cycling extra difficult.
I always have one with me just in case it unexpectedly begins to rain.
The jacket is probably where I spent most of my money, even though it was on sale. But it’s the best one that I have had, ever, and I’ve been cycling for many years now.
Basically the same story as for the jacket: make sure you don’t get too hot underneath. While rain pants can be made of plastic or coated nylon, modern waterproof materials are commonly used, including waterproof-breathable fabric such as Gore-Tex.
You will sweat in plastic pants, but not in Gore-Tex. But I have never really sweated with the plastic ones. I need to just remember to wear it over pants instead of over leggings, stockings, or just bare legs, as it can become really cold on your legs during the winter months.
So there is not much wrong with cheap plastic rain pants. Make sure there are zippers on the legs, long enough to pull the rain pants easily over your shoes and pants, making it easier to pull over your shoes/boots.
Probably my cheapest purchase.
If you like to have a rain cap on your jacket, it is best to take one that fits snugly. A loose cap tends to ‘catch the wind’ rather quickly when cycling. I personally prefer a rainproof cycling cap, because my ears and a full field of vision remain free. A cap also keeps raindrops out of your eyes. I don’t mind the rain, but really do not like it pounding in my face.
Wet socks remain wet socks, but socks made of merino wool (the pleasant counterpart of goat’s wool) or synthetic fabric are much more comfortable when wet. Also when they’re dry, by the way. You have waterproof socks – available in the better sports store – or in case of emergency, plastic bags over/under your socks (although in that case, you will quickly have sweaty feet).
Wear shoes with grip, so they don’t shoot off wet pedals. You can wear waterproof shoes (even rubber boots, if you make sure that no water can enter from above), or overshoes: a kind of waterproof socks for over your shoes, again available in better sports stores.
I love wearing my doc Martens, but it takes me longer to put on than my cute rain boots with horses on them 😀
I don’t mind the rain on my hands while biking during warm(ish) weather, but when it’s cold and wet…or just darn cold, /I find it essential to have a pair of winter gloves on. You have all sorts of gloves, but the best that works for me was pretty cheap (hey, I’m a single mom!), bought in a local discount store. They are padded, rainproof, and have rubber grips on them. I’m not sure if they would stay waterproof all day during heavy rain, but they work for my daily rides to school and such. You can always pay the extra if you do very long treks at a time.
When we leave for school at around 8 am, it is still very dark out (January) and my son has swimming and karate lessons in the evenings, so it’s incredibly important for us to be visible to other road users.
Unfortunately, the front lights of my cargo bike fell off at the beginning. I bought a new pair, but they fell off too. One of the downsides of my cargo bike I’m afraid. So to be seen in the dark I wear a LED hiking headlight and I also wear a reflective vest. My son, even though he is sitting in the cargo bike, also wears a reflective vest.
So this is how I protect myself from the crazy rain. It took me years to find the right gear and combination, but I’m all set now. The only thing missing is a good, waterproof bike bag. It has to be one that can fit on my Babboe bakfiets as the battery is at the back, so not all bags fit.
I’m open to suggestions!
- Preferably cute 😀
So hit me with your favourite bike bags.