Given how useful a rain jacket can be in a British summer, it’s absolutely vital for surviving autumn and, later, winter.
Basically, the rain jacket is your line of defence if you’re out for a ride and the weather turns. We’ve been through what constitutes a good rain jacket before, but there are a few things that bear repeating.
First is breathability. The early rain jackets – or capes, if you prefer – were, quite literally, about as breathable as plastic bags. Great at stopping water, but terrible if you had any hopes of not ending up like a bag of microwave vegetables after half an hour of hard riding while wearing the thing.
These days things are a little better but a bad rain jacket can still provide a sweaty experience. Vents are important, generally found in areas like under the arms where they can channel air through but let in the minimum amount of water possible. That’s the trouble with vents and rain, it’s difficult to design anything that will let in the former and keep out the latter, so strategic placement is important.
Another favourite is the rear vent with a flap/cover. This helps to release warm air and keep up airflow through the jacket, therefore keeping you cool.
It’s also worth taking a moment to think about packability. This, as you’ve probably guessed, is how small you can fold the jacket to stylishly store it in your jersey pocket. Or, how easy it is to cram into said pocket.
The vast majority of jacket will be windproof, and so act as a useful barrier to keep out a chilly breeze, but there’s more variability when it comes to waterproofing. Some jackets, and often those designed to pack into a jersey pocket, will be billed as water resistant, and so fine to keeping out light rain or the odd shower, but not much more. Others will be all-singing waterproof jackets designed for the worst conditions. Ideally you’d have both a windproof/water resistant jacket and a fully waterproof number in your wardrobe, so you’re covered for changeable day and when it’s tipping down, otherwise it’s a case of deciding how much protection you need.
As ever, there are a whole load of different prices for jackets. You can grab yourself one for as little as £20, or all the way up to the best part of £300 if you want something super fancy like Castelli’s new Tempesta jacket.
While we’re on the subject of rain protection, the water resistant jersey has come to the fore in recent years. The Castelli Gabba kick-started the trend, but now there’s a range of options which seek to provide rain protection in a breathable, race-cut jersey, from the likes of Sportful, Vermarc, Endura, Santini and more. On days when you don’t need full protection, a weatherproof jersey is a smart option to bridge the gap.