Don’t let rain, sleet or a chilly wind send you reaching for the car keys or jumping on the bus – a pair of waterproof pants combined with a decent weather-beating jacket will keep you riding whatever is thrown at you.
Whether you are looking for a hardwearing pair you can rely on day after day through the winter, or some you can keep rolled up in a bag for when a shower catches you out, you’ll find something suitable here.
When making your selection, look out for features suited to your own needs. If riding at night, reflective patches will make you more noticeable, and if you have bigger feet then look out for ankle zips that make them much easier to pull on over shoes. Some have extra ventilation so you can stay comfortable in the warmer months, while others are designed to look like everyday trousers.
We have tried to find trousers at a range of prices to suit both occasional and everyday riders. There are pairs you can take along if going cycle touring, and others to have rolled up in a jacket pocket if you don’t want to get wet on a Sunday spin in the local hills.
Our testing took us out in all weathers – from rain and snow through to freezing gales – we also made shorter trips around town in the drizzle to try out pairs that look more like normal trousers. We’ve tugged at zips and seams and even turned the garden hose on some of them to see just how well they keep the damp at bay.
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This is a great pair and at a great price too. The heavier waterproof and breathable fabric keeps winter downpours at bay, while the large reflective areas – especially at the back of the calf – shine brightly in car headlights. There are long 30cm zips to make it easier to get them over shoes, and little Velcro-type tabs at the ankles that allow you to tighten to stop the fabric touching your chain. Our only complaint is that the tab is on the inside of the leg, rather than the outside where it would be easier to adjust while riding. That’s a minor quibble on what’s otherwise an excellent bit of kit.
Showers Pass refuge
If you’re the kind of rider who refuses to bow down before Mother Nature – whatever she throws at you – then this is the pair for you. They were the best performers in our test and are loaded with great features – only the price stops them getting our best buy. If you do splash out on a pair you won’t be disappointed. The three-layer waterproof and breathable fabric with its fully weatherproofed zips keep you dry, while there’s a reinforced panel at the seat to stop the material wearing.
We love the addition of zipped vents on the legs for a bit of extra airflow when it’s wet but warm. There’s also a zipped pocket on the back of one thigh where it’s easier to access. Long reflective ankle zips make them super easy to get on and off, and you can buy a pair of braces to go with them for extra comfort.
Vulpine rain trousers
We love these – mainly because they don’t look like waterproofs. They’re a pair you can ride to the office or the pub… although the forest green pair we tried might raise a few eyebrows. They look just like jeans and the only giveaway that they are for designed for cycling is the little loop and buttons on the drive-side ankle. They let you tighten the leg and keep it away from your oily chain. For extra visibility you can roll up the leg to show off the hidden reflective strips.
We were surprised by how well they kept rain and drizzle out. For the ultimate test we ran them under a tap, but even that couldn’t beat their defences. Nice little extras include a hidden zipped valuables pocket plus a carabiner to keep your keys safe. Buy them for shorter journeys where you don’t want to risk having to sit around all day with wet legs.
Endura urban luminite
There are some great features on this well thought-out pair – from the big, eye-catching reflective patches through to the fold down hems that will help keep rain off your footwear. When they’re not needed they are kept in place with pop fasteners. To make it super-easy to get them on and off there are long zips up the calves, while a slightly reinforced seat section means they shouldn’t be damaged by your saddle.
If looking after the environment is a priority for you, you’ll be pleased to hear the water-repellent fabric uses no toxic PFCs – and Endura has pledged to plant at least a million trees this year to offset its carbon output.
Gore-Tex GTX paclite
This pair doesn’t scream cycling, so we’d be tempted to take them along on gentle country walks too to get our money’s worth out of them. They’re so light you won’t notice them in your rucksack or riding bag, yet they are guaranteed to keep the water out.
Gore has gone for a less baggy look than a lot of its rivals, but we were still able to wear them quite comfortably over jeans. There’s a little zipped pocket at the back for any essentials, and if you want extra visibility you can also buy them in a version with big attention-grabbing high-vis sections at the back of the lower legs.
Too cool for the baggy look? These could be what you’re seeking. They look like workwear but have features that will come into their own when cruising through the streets on your fixie.
The fabric is water resistant rather than fully waterproof – so best suited to showers and drizzle rather than monsoon conditions. It’s also got a four-way stretch that makes it much easier getting on and off your bike. To prevent you losing your cash and keys while pedalling there’s a small zip-up pocket as well as the usual trouser pocket. Instead of having to pull a sock over your trousers to stop it getting caught on the chain you just roll up the leg, showing off a little reflective seam in the process.
There are little gaitors built into the legs of this practical pair. The “nightvision” in the name refers to Altura’s reflective print pattern that catches the light nicely as you pedal. They have taped seams to make sure no rain gets through, and they pack down nice and small for carrying in your bag or pocket. Our tester commuted in an earlier version of these for two years and they never let him down – even in some torrential storms.
Another fairly cheap but very effective pair. There’s no long list of features with these – no pockets, vents or ankle zips, just Velcro-type straps to cinch down the ends of the legs to stop them catching your chain, plus broad reflective bands on each calf. The waterproof fabric is heavier duty than in many pairs, with taped seams to keep the rain out, but that lack of ventilation means they are probably best suited to colder winter and autumn weather so you don’t end up hot and sweaty at the end of your journey.
Okay, stop sniggering at the name – this is a decent budget pair that comes with a two-year guarantee. Taped seams help to keep rain out, and there is a mesh liner to keep air moving around inside and stop you getting sweaty. Those reflective chevrons at the ankles do a great job of alerting drivers to your presence on dark evenings, while there are fold down hems to make them easier to get on over shoes or trainers.
Dhb flashlight overtrousers
Need a pair you can roll up, leave in your bike bag or pannier and just whip out when the weather catches you napping? Have a look at these. They are Teflon coated with simple Velcro-type reflective ankle adjusters. The fabric kept the wind and rain out but it’s fairly thin so we don’t think they would last too long if being used every day – keep them as an emergency pair if you’re more of a fair weather rider. More stock is expected soon.
The verdict: Men’s waterproof cycling trousers
If you are looking for the ultimate waterproof trousers then the offerings from Showers Pass and Gore will serve you very well indeed – you’ll have to spend big to get that extra level of protection. Our best buy from Proviz offers excellent performance but at a very affordable price. If you want to stay stylish, have a look at the Vulpines.
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