Waterproof Jackets – Quick Guide
Topmark’s guide to Waterproof Cycling Jackets
It’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, the mercury’s falling and invariably we will be getting caught out in the rain more often that we’ve become accustomed to during our wonderful, balmy (LOL) Lake District summer. The good news, is that there’s no need to stop cycling. As someone famously said, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing”.
Your first line of defence is a good waterproof jacket. There are a few different things to consider when choosing one…
Fabric: “Hardshell” jackets are usually a lamination of an external water repellent layer, a waterproof layer and a breathable layer. “Softshell” is, as it’s name suggests, soft material, often with a DWR (Durable Water Repellent) coating. The latter is usually more breathable, the former more waterproof.
Fit: The fit of a jacket is very important and we would definitely recommend visiting your friendly local bike store and trying plenty on. We are all different shapes and sizes and some brands may well fit you better than others. Fit tends to vary, depending on discipline, for example a commuting jacket will be looser fitting to enable it to be worn over your work clothes; a race cape will be very close fitting so not to cause drag. Road biased jackets are also longer tailed, suited to a more aggressive riding position.
Waterproofness: Manufacturers typically describe the waterproofness of fabrics using mm. In the case of a 10k or 10,000 mm fabric, if you put a square tube with inner dimensions of 1” x 1” over a piece of said fabric, you could fill it with water to a height of 10,000 mm (32.8 feet) before water would begin to leak through. The higher the number, the more waterproof the fabric. Typically, the cheap, discount store jackets are less waterproof than would be desired!
Breathability: This is normally expressed in terms of how many grams (g) of water vapour can pass through a square meter (m2) of the fabric from the inside to the outside in a 24 hour period. In the case of a 20k (20,000 g) fabric, this would be 20,000 grams. The larger the number, the more breathable the fabric. Not so much of an issue on a short commute, but if you break a sweat while riding, make sure to buy a decent garment with high breathability. Cheapo jackets tend to make you feel like a human boil-in-the-bag!
Final thoughts: Visit us to try on as many jackets as you like and don’t be embarrassed to ask our advice. We are stockists of Ale, Endura, Madison, Pearl Izumi and Chapeau. All offer great products so we’re sure to fix you up 🙂