A waterproof jacket is your first line of defence against bad weather, a barrier not just to rain but cold wind.
Make sure any rain jacket you buy is described as waterproof, not showerproof or water resistant. Otherwise it will soon soak through in sustained rain. Look for sealed seams too, as well as reflective detailing so you stand out at night. While all cycling jackets are to some extent breathable, mild days or hard hills will see you sweating; look for vents and zips if you’re the kind of cyclist who often gets hot. You can get a basic waterproof jacket for around £50, a good one with better breathability and rain protection for £100, and a top-quality, fully-featured one for around £150. Here’s a cross-section.
FWE Kennington Stashable Waterproof Jacket
As the name implies, this own-brand jacket from Evans Cycles packs down small enough to fit in a pocket so is easy to carry in case of rain. Yet it’s waterproof and breathable, with taped seams and waterproof zips. There’s even a removable hood, which should fit under a helmet, and some reflective strips on the arms, back, and hood. Sizes XS-XL, in red or yellow. This is the women’s version; there’s also a men’s version.
Cyclescheme price: £41.25*
dhb Flashlight Waterproof Jacket
There’s a waterproof dhb jacket for £10 less than this, but the Flashlight (reduced from £90) is a better bet for commuting because it’s plastered with reflective details for nighttime conspicuity. It’s waterproof, with taped seams and a dropped tail for lower-back coverage. There are pockets in the chest and back, and a snug, fleece-lined collar. Sizes XS-XXL, in fluro yellow, red/black, and black/blue. Women’s version available.
Cyclescheme price: £45*
Altura Women’s Night Vision Evo 3 Waterproof Jacket
The Night Vision name comes from the abundant reflective sections, which appear grey in the picture. There’s also a flashing LED rear light integrated into the outside of the rear pocket. The Altura Shield Evo fabric is impressively waterproof but not plasticky to the touch so can comfortably be worn over short sleeves. Vents under the arms and across the back help prevent overheating. Sizes 8-18, in black, pink, or yellow. Men’s version available.
Cyclescheme price: £74.99*
Madison Stellar Waterproof Jacket
It’s not star-bright, but its reflective strips are visible from any angle, and there’s a clip for a rear light on the back. The dropped tail keeps your back covered on the bike, yet there are magnets to hold it tucked up like a casual jacket off the bike. It’s waterproof, of course, with taped seams. There’s the usual arrangement of a large rear pocket and a chest pocket. Sizes S-XL, in black, hi-viz yellow, or chilli red. Women’s version available.
Cyclescheme price: £74.99*
Endura Pro SL Shell Jacket
Aimed more at sports cyclists than urban ones, with an athletic, non-flappy cut that works best over bike gear, this lightweight, slightly stretchy jacket would also suit road bike commuters. It’s exceptionally breathable and very waterproof, so you can ride hard in the rain without boiling. The rear zip gives access to your cycling jersey pockets underneath, and there’s a small external pocket for energy gels etc. Sizes S-XL, in navy, hi-viz green, or black. Women’s version available.
Cyclescheme price: £123.74*
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