Waterproof cycling trousers are notoriously hard to get right: worn as a shell layer over your normal trousers, they’re either too baggy and get caught in your chain while you pedal, or they’re too fitted and cut into your legs when you’re pedaling.
But if you’re cycling in the UK – in any season – there will come a day when you need a pair, either to save your office clothes on the commute or to convince you to head out in the first place.
We tested these trousers on some very wet winter rides, on a combination of day-long rides and shorter trips to the shops, and on both a hybrid style bike suited to commuting and a sleeker road bike. All of these trousers are designed to be worn over another layer: we tested them with lycra and jeans.
Read more: 8 best cycling socks for all weather
Because there isn’t a lot of variety in style, price is the main consideration when you’re buying waterproof cycling trousers: if you only ride occasionally, or you won’t be forced to ride in bad weather, you can get by with a cheaper, less breathable pair, whose waterproofing will see you through a medium-length ride.
If you ride a lot and commute in any weather, it’s worth splashing out on a pricier pair. The improvement in breathability and flex is worth it.
If you ride in the evening or at night, consider a pair with more reflective details, like Proviz. If your pedals sit close to the bike then look for a pair with velcro ankle-fasteners. These bind the trousers to your ankle, which prevents them from catching in the chain and ripping or – worst case scenario – unseating you.
From climbing trousers with plenty of flex to dependable overtrousers you can wear over your leggings, these are the best waterproof trousers for cycling.
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Montane women’s dynamo waterproof pants
Designed for mountaineering, these breathable, waterproof over-trousers have a huge amount of stretch built in around the knees – this is intended for clambering, but translates beautifully to cycling. The fabric is waterproof, breathable and a nice texture to touch, but the real achievement here is the legs: a studded cuff means you can fasten the trousers tightly at your ankle, and the velcro strap at the calf means you can keep the fabric tight there. The leg-length zip (behind a storm shield) also means you can slip them on and off over your shoes with ease.
Jack Wolfskin rainy day pants
Velcro cinches around the ankles and a flexible but taut waistband made these some of the best cycling overtrousers we tried, even though they’re strictly designed for walking. That ankle fastening also means you can secure them slightly higher up your leg, which we found leaves a bit more give around the knee for when you’re pedaling.
We tested these in cool, rainy weather, and found the Texapore, Jack Wolfskin’s go-to waterproof material, perfectly breathable and completely waterproof. They pack down into a small drawstring bag, included, which stows easily in a pocket, pannier, or office draw.
Hump spark women’s trousers
Hump is known for its ultra-reflective bike kit, and that expertise shows here: the big reflective chevrons on the back and front make these ideal for rainy night-time cycling. Two Velcro fasteners around the ankle mean you can keep the fabric close to your shoes, and there’s even a zippered waterproof pocket – a much-overlooked feature that saves you having to undress on your doorstep when you need to reach your keys. Our reviewer liked the fabric, which felt softer and less “bin bag-like” than some.
Keela rainlife 5000 trousers
It’s difficult to make a pair of waterproof overtrousers stylish, but Keela has come pretty close with this walking trouser-style pair. The outer is almost fabric-like to touch, with a soft and comfortable lining. Instead of pockets, it has two sealable openings where your pockets would be, giving you easy access to the pockets underneath. There isn’t a velcro strap around the ankle, but we found the combination of fastener and storm flap over the zip kept the fabric away from our drivetrain.
Fjällräven high coast hydratic trousers
The kind of hi-tech overtrousers you see people wearing in Scandi-noir, this comfortable and stylish pair was designed with seriously bad weather in mind. Completely waterproof but still very breathable, three-quarter length zips make it easy to access your pockets, shoes or – if it clears up – provide some ventilation. The Velcro cinches at the ankle and just over the calves keep the fabric taut where it matters, and have little reflective flashes – great placement for when you’re pedaling at night. Expensive, but very high quality.
Proviz reflect 360 womens waterproof trousers
Proviz makes our all-time favourite reflective cycling jacket, a borderline miraculous, 360-degree reflective shell layer that makes you exceptionally visible. The trousers aren’t made out of all-reflective fabric, but they have it where it counts: large flashes on the calves, around the knees and on the thighs mean you’re visible from all sides of the bike.
A hook and loop elastic fastener around the ankle makes it easy to cinch in the fabric and keep it well away from the chain, and a velcro back pocket is perfect for anything you might need to grab in a hurry – like keys or a mask.
Endura humvee waterproof trousers
Large reflective flashes and an internal leg gaiter make this redesign of Altura’s classic overtrousers a brilliant option for commuting. The relaxed fit, two pockets and secure leg fastening make them easy to slip on over your work clothes. They’re also very breathable, so you can wear them on your ride into work without worrying about building up a sweat, and pack down to a pocket-size that means they’re convenient to carry for weather emergencies.
Decathlon 100 city cycling rain overtrousers
Given that all but the most expensive overtrousers are still unavoidably built for function over style, a cheaper pair will do the trick when it comes to keeping you dry in a shower. This pair comes with brilliant features like a shoe cover, reflective and hi-visibility stripes.
The shoe cover means that the fabric is taut around your lower leg, but if you find the leg still flaps close to your drivetrain you can secure it with a band easily. Not quite as breathable or as waterproof as some of the more expensive trousers, they will see you through a commute-length downpour with ease, and pack down to a small, stashable bundle.
Altura nightvision outrider
Large reflective flashes and an internal leg gaiter make this redesign of Altura’s classic overtrousers a brilliant option for commuting. The relaxed fit, two pockets and secure leg fastening make them easy to slip on over your work clothes. They’re also very breathable, so you can wear them on your ride into work without worrying about building up a sweat, and pack down to a pocket size that means they’re convenient to carry for weather emergencies.
The verdict: Women’s waterproof trousers for cycling
With their flexible, climbing-ready fit and adaptable fasteners around the legs and ankle, Montane’s mountain trousers made cycling in the rain a breeze. Proviz’s reflective trousers are a great pick for a nighttime ride.
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