This very detailed post compares 7 of the best waterproof cycling jackets, including men’s cycling jackets and women’s jackets. We start with a chart comparing the best waterproof cycling jackets, then we have reviews of each jacket, plus videos, and we wrap it all up with a lot of useful information about cycling jackets, including how waterproofness and breathability work, and the difference between fleece, softshell, and hardshell jackets.
Chart Comparing 7 of the Best Waterproof Cycling Jackets for Men and Women
|Designed for maximum breathability for performance cycling.|
Usually around $270, but click here for Current Beet Price on Amazon
|Originally designed for elite athletes, but now loved by commuters and athletic cyclists of all levels||This is absolutely the gold standard of cycling jackets, with state-of-the-art workmanship, quality materials, and every possible detail a cyclist needs to stay warm and dry in extreme weather conditions||Nylon and eVent rip-stop fabric|
|Perfect balance of breathability and waterproofness. Usually available at a bargain price of around $135. Please click here to check Current Price on Amazon.||Serious women cyclists and bike commuters||The gold standard in women's cycling jackets; this one will keep you warm and dry! Comes in a range of sizes, from XS to XXL (chest 53"). 3M Scotchlite reflective material all round. Hood can be worn under or over your helmet||2.5 layers of premium waterproof Artex (Showers Pass’s proprietary waterproof-breathable membrane)|
|Water and windproof, while still breathable. |
Best Price: Often under $100. Check out the latest price on Amazon here.
|People who want their cycling jacket to double up as a stylish jacket off the bike as well||Hip length to keep you dry even when extended forward over the handlebars, generous size, plenty of pockets, adjustable hood, very lightweight||TEXAPORE ECOSPHERE 2L: 100% recycled, waterproof, windproof and very breathable outer fabric (water column rating: 20,000 mm*, MVTR: > 15,000 g/m²/24h**) (testing method: * JIS L 1092 ; ** JIS L 1099 B-1)” JIS = Japanese Industrial Standard|
|Great breathability - some users say it has the highest breathability of all Gore jackets.|
Best Price on Amazon Right Now: Price not available.
|Bike commuters||This cycling jacket is extremely highly rated for breathability and waterproof-ness. It is also roomy enough to put a layer or two underneath||100% polyamide, Gore-tex membrane, shell inside: 100% polyester|
|Great balance of breathability and waterproofness. Usually available for around $270. Please click here to check Current Price on Amazon.||Originally designed for elite athletes, but now loved by women bike commuters and leisure cyclists of all abilities||State-of-the-art workmanship, quality materials, and every possible detail a cyclist needs to stay warm and dry in extreme weather conditions. 6 venting options to keep you cool!||3 layers of nylon and eVent rip-stop fabric|
|Great breathability. Usually under $150. Please click here for the current best price on Amazon.||Serious road cyclists and competitive cyclists||Snug fit except on arms, lightweight, transparent to show your team colors, snug collar, reflective strip on back||Fully seam taped Artex Hardshell 2.5 layer waterproof-breathable fabric|
|Medium breathability. Price is often less than $50. Please click here to check the Current Price on Amazon Right Now.||Bike commuters and pedestrians who want to be very visible||Comfort fit, extra high visibility with reflective strips all over, bright colors, light-up triangle on back, large pockets front and back, bright yellow color||Polyester and cotton; mesh lining|
No. 1: Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Waterproof Cycling Jacket
This jacket is the top of the line in Showers Pass cycling jackets and rates no. 1 on our list of best waterproof cycling jackets for the simple reason that it has it all. The quality of the materials and the meticulous construction, plus the careful attention to every possible detail, put this jacket firmly at no. 1 on our list. First off, it has three layers of eVent rip stop fabric, which gives exceptional breathability, waterproofness, and durability. The tail is especially long to ensure a dry lower back and butt. And the arms are especially long so you never end up with exposed wrists. Of course, you can also cinch the cuffs closed. Note that at the time of publishing, this jacket is on sale at this link (only some sizes). This hardly ever happens, and will not last long.
The Showers Pass Elite 2.1 features a big back pocket and a breast pocket, both with excellent quality waterproof zips. The main zip tucks away at the neck so it doesn’t irritate your neck! The breast pocket has an audio port for the cord of your cell phone. This video shows you all the features of the jacket:
An extra special feature is the moisture-wicking comfort lining on the inside of the neck, which can really help you to feel warm and cozy on a cold bike ride. Plus, you can cinch the neck with a pull cord to make sure no air gets in. The neck has concealed attachments for a waterproof hood (available separately).
How this Jacket Keeps You Cool
One of the main problems with cycling jackets is that once you start cycling, you rapidly heat up. This cycling jacket tackles that problem with an impressive SEVEN vent options to let in air: two pit vents, two cuff vents, a two-way zipper and back vent. The two-way zipper means you can unzip the jacket from the top or the bottom to let cooling air get to your chest or stomach, as needed. Finally, there is 3M reflective trim all around the jacket to make you more visible. And it’s available in red, black, yellow, blue, and turquoise
This is a simply outstanding cycling jacket – well worth the price for those who can afford it. No wonder it is a top choice with everyone from bike commuters to pro cycling teams to kayakers to skiers to motorcyclists. It fits small, so order a size larger than usual.
This jacket does an excellent job of precisely what premium waterproof cycling jackets are supposed to do – it keeps rainwater out, while letting your sweat and body heat escape. This means you can stay dry, while at the same time maintaining a comfortable core temperature. The jacket is made from 2.5 layers of premium waterproof Artex (Showers Pass’s proprietary waterproof-breathable membrane). It is manufactured with Clean Color technology (which uses Bluesign System approved dyes to keep harmful chemicals out of the manufacturing process).
Attention to Detail to Keep You Dry
Attention to detail ensures a jacket that will keep you dry: all of the seams are taped and sealed; the zippers are water-resistant; and the hood can be worn below or over your cycling helmet. It’s designed to be breathable, with a cross-core ventilation zipper just below the arms to help with temperature regulation. This cycling jacket is a really great combination of waterproofness and exceptional breathability – which is a very hard combination to create. Read more at the end of this post about those two crucial features.
Extra features that seal the deal on this women’s cycling jacket inlcude the all-round, subtle 3M Scotchlite reflective material that ensure maximum visibility. And this jacket comes in a wide range of sizes, from extra small right up to XXL (53” chest). Add in front pockets to warm your hands, and this one is a real winner! Oh, and it’s lightweight and super packable, so you can carry it with you at all times. When wearing it, you can tailor the extra-long sleeves with adjustable, cinchable cuffs to fit exactly, whether you are riding with your arms stretched out or not.
We are always on the lookout for good quality cycling clothing that also multi-purpose. We like to be able to use our bikes to run errands, while wearing comfortable clothing. And we don’t always want to look like we are riding in the Tour de France!
In our research we came across the Jack Wolfskin brand, and were so impressed by the customer reviews that we decided to try them.
Jack Wolfskin jackets are made of 100% polyester Texapore Ecosphere, which is PFC-free and made from recycled material to reduce environment impact. The jacket is water and windproof, while being breathable.
I have a Cape Point Jacket (on the right in the picture above). This is a hip length jacket, which is ideal for cycling because you can extend your body over your handlebars without the jacket riding up your back.
The jacket is generously proportioned to allow you to wear layers beneath, making it very adaptable for all seasons. It has large front pockets and an inner sleeve to store your cell phone. If you want to tighten up the fit, there is a draw cord you can pull from the inside of each pocket which will pull in the waist. Finally there is a hood – essential for cycling – which is adjustable, with a snap closing on the back. The jacket is very lightweight, so it can be easily stored in a backpack or pannier until you need it, without taking up much of your valuable space.
Maggie has the JWP Shell (shown on the left above). This is also a hip length coat, making it ideal for cycling. The fabric is light, soft and stretchy – and is totally comfortable, while still being stylish. The construction is tapered but generous to allow layering underneath, again making it adaptable for all seasons. Another nice feature is that the left hand pocket can be inverted and the whole jacket then fits into it, creating an integrated stow pouch for convenience while travelling. There is also a hood, which is adjustable with a drawstring cord.
No. 4: Gore Bike Wear Power Gore-Tex Active Jacket
This jacket is rated no. 3 on our list of best waterproof cycling jackets due to the rave reviews it gets from customers, who love it. They rate it extremely highly for breathability and waterproof-ness. It is also roomy enough to put a layer or two underneath. This cycling jacket is part of Gore Bike Wear’s Power series, which they designed to keep the year-round cyclist dry. It can be comfortably worn with the inner mesh layer right next to the skin. And it’s available in slim-fit or roomy, which I really like. Roomy would give you space for layers – or just to be more comfy, if (like me) you don’t happen to enjoy going around looking like a sausage that could explode at any second.
This jacket is neither very heavy nor very light – it’s somewhat of an in-the-middle-weight jacket, with a high level of waterproofness. If you want to make just one jacket work for you all year around, this could be the one.
This video sums up the best features of this Gore Bike Wear jacket for you:
The Showers Pass Women’s Elite 2.1 jacket has been the gold standard in women’s waterproof cycling jackets for a long time. Our no. 2 choice is now competing for this position, but this jacket continues to be an outstanding choice.
In fact, Showers Pass sees this jacket as their gold standard waterproof and windproof cycling jacket, and with good reason. Its very high quality has made it their bestselling cycling jacket for years. Three layers of high-tech nylon and eVent rip-stop fabrics keep the rain out, while the quality of the construction and materials ensure that it is also breathable. The breathability of this cycling jacket is enhanced by no less than 6 venting options to keep you cool (2 core vents, 2 cuff vents, front zipper and back vent). The seams are fully taped to keep out wind and water, while the front zipper has a new Aqua Guard Vislon water resistant zipper with a Storm Flap.
Practical Details: Pockets, Sleeves, and Visibility!
Practical details are not forgotten! There is a large back pocket for your stuff, and a chest pocket with an audio port for your smart phone. Plus, extra-long sleeves with cinchable cuffs to keep your wrists dry. Add in 360 degrees of reflective trim for maximum visibility, and you have a jacket that many people love. Showers Pass note that “this jacket was designed with long distance randonneurs and roadies in mind, but has become a favorite training jacket of professional cyclists such as the Katusha Pro Russian Cycling team, every day commuters, Kayakers, and Cross-country Skiers.”
Washing Instructions for this Cycling Jacket
Note that this jacket is machine washable, but you should not use fabric softener. Also, it does not ship with a hood, but the Showers Pass hood is available separately. This is a trim-fitting jacket, and it is probably safest to buy one size up.
No. 6: The Showers Pass Pro Tech ST Cycling Jacket
This is a lightweight, clear race cape. Out of Portland, Oregon, where they know about rain! It offers a whole range of features for a very affordable price, including: decent venting, fully taped seams, good length, reflective strip on the rear, stylish looks (off center zip), and a nice collar with a soft fleece material that keeps your neck snug.
The sleeves are a little wide, so they may flap a bit in the wind. Also this jacket is only partially breathable, so you could get warm while wearing it. The main application for this waterproof cycling jacket would be to keep it in a pannier for a sudden downpour. At 156 g it’s reasonably packable – it would be a tight fit in a jersey pocket, but you could easily throw it in a pannier and forget about it until you need it.
I would not make this my main jacket for commuting in the rain – but I would be very happy to find it in my pannier in a sudden downpour! Note that this jacket is hand-washable only – a major drawback compared to Gore-Tex jackets.
|Buy it now! Find the best price for Showers Pass Pro Tech Cycling Jacket|
No. 7: Proviz Nightrider Cycling Jacket
This jacket makes it onto the list of best waterproof cycling jackets due to its extraordinary visibility and bargain price point (usually around $100, currently on sale at $45 at this link.) No one will fail to see you when you are wearing this high visibility jacket. It even has a removable hi-viz triangle on the back. You can replace the triangle with an even more high-viz triangle, their award-wining Proviz Triviz Red (Red Dot Design Award Winner 2013), which is basically a flashing triangular light for the back of your jacket (or your backpack).
This cheerful jackets comes in men’s and women’s fit, and in a lot of bright colors. It sports large pockets, reflective piping, patches, zippers and lettering. It is not recommended for cycling in very hot weather. But its fleecy collar makes it your friend in cool weather! This jacket was ranked no. 1 high visibility jacket by Road.cc.
This bright jacket would also be ideal for nighttime walks, or simply crossing the road on a dark night. And it is often really cheap!
All about How to Choose the Best Waterproof Cycling Jacket
It’s a good idea to start out by understanding that a waterproof cycling jacket is what is called a hardshell jacket.
Chart Showing the 3 Different Kinds of Cycling Jackets
|Waterproof?||Not at all||Usually water resistant, due to a DWR coating on the exterior. Not waterproof||Aims to be completely waterproof, using a hard shell - such as a woven fabric with a laminate coating, such as Gore-Tex|
|Breathable?||Extremely breathable||Much more breathable than hardshell jackets, but less breathable than fleece jackets||Very limited breathability, because keeping out water has the obvious side effect of keeping water IN. Quality hardshell jackets strive to incorporate SOME breathability, by using the advanced micro pore technology developed by Gore-Tex to allow water vapor molecules to escape|
|Windproof||No||These vary from a little bit windproof to completely windproof. Some have a woven face to increase windproofness. And Gore uses WINDSTOPPER, a laminate that is sandwiched together with other textile layers to create a single fabric that is windproof but breathable||Yes, they are especially designed with laminate and sealed seams to exclude wind completely|
|Do they make a noise?||No||These are usually quieter than hardshells, as they are softer||These jackets can make a noise as you move, due to the hard materials|
|Texture||These are the softest jackets||These are the second softest jackets||These are the least soft. Nothing soft and cozy about these jackets, as they strive to exclude the elements|
|Packable||Quite thick, not designed to pack away in a pannier||Not as thin as hardshell jackets, as they include a fleecy layer. Harder to pack than hardshells||The thinnest, as they have no fleecy layers, so they pack well into a pannier|
Related Content: Best WINDproof Cycling Jackets
What Kind of Fabric is the Best for a Waterproof Cycling Jacket?
The fabric is the most important aspect to think about. Bear in mind that it is easy to make a waterproof fabric – for example, a trash bag is waterproof. However, you would not want to wear a trash bag! Quite apart from the fact that it would not look good and would not have sleeves – it also does not BREATHE.
A Good Cycling Jacket should be Breathable AND Waterproof
The clever trick that great waterproof cycling jackets get right is this: they stop the rain from coming IN, while letting the water vapor produced by your sweat OUT. So they are breathable AND waterproof. This is pretty sophisticated, if you think about it, because rain and sweat are almost the same thing – variations of water (H2O). Manufacturers achieve this by putting tiny pores in the fabric. Water vapor can pass out of them, because water vapor molecules are not bound together, so individual tiny molecules can pass through the tiny pores. However, water molecules are bound together and therefore bigger, so rain water cannot get in.
Gore-Tex Technology for Waterproof Cycling Jackets
The W. L. Gore Corporation pioneered this breathable AND waterproof technology for outdoor clothing way back in 1978, with their popular laminate technology. They called their new fabric Gore-Tex. Since then, a lot of other name brands have arrived on the market, such as eVent, Polartec and many generics. But Gore-Tex is like Hoover – they are so associated with the brand that many people refer to the entire breathable AND waterproof category as Gore-Tex. Gore-Tex still make great products (and are my personal favorites), but they certainly NOT the only company that makes great breathable AND waterproof clothing.
All About Gore-Tex Fabrics
GORE-TEX® fabrics are nylon and polyester face fabric, laminated with a GORE-TEX® membrane. They come in a range of grades, including GORE-TEX® Pro, GORE-TEX® Active, and regular GORE-TEX®. Active Shell is a newer Gore-Tex membrane, designed to be very breathable, waterproof, windproof, and lightweight. The company also offers soft shell fabric and a super light fabric called Paclite®. Their Paclite jacket is the best lightweight waterproof cycling jacket I have ever tried, but it is not very breathable. It has largely been replaced now by one of Gore-Tex’s newest offerings, the Gore Bike Wear Oxygen 2.0 Jacket. This is made of Active Shell fabric and is more breathable than the Paclite.
Fun fact: Gore-Tex fabrics have over 1.4 billion micro-pores per square centimetre!
Types of Waterproof Fabrics
There is a range of waterproof fabrics, with a range of levels of waterproofness. Most of them have two or three layers:
Outer layer: This layer is called the “face fabric” – and is usually nylon or polyester. This outer layer is not waterproof, but it is usually treated with a durable water repellant (DWR) to bead water. This is a great thing to see on your sleeves as you are riding – rain falls on you, but then it beads together into big lumps, which do not penetrate the fabric. You can even brush the lumps off. You can see the beading effect in the photo of a Showers Pass Men’s Elite 2.1 Waterproof jacket below.
Note that over time the DWR layer starts to wear off, but it can be rejuvenated by simply running the jacket through your washing machine. If it wears off completely, you can even spray on a fresh layer of DWR. For example, try Nikwax TX Direct Waterproofing.
Middle layer: A coated or laminated membrane – which is usually Teflon or Polyurethane. This is where the magic happens: this membrane can breathe, but at the same time it is waterproof, thanks to microscopic holes. So it keeps the rain in and lets your sweat out!
Inner layer: Some fabrics also have a tri-coat mesh bonded to the inner surface. This mesh helps to remove the moisture, so that the jacket is much less likely to cling to your arms.
These are the layers.
Most cycling jackets use a variety of combinations of the above layers. From all this, you can start to appreciate why good waterproof cycling jackets are not cheap!
Degrees of Waterproofness in Waterproof Cycling Jackets
Read the product description carefully when buying a waterproof cycling jacket. The manufacturer should tell you how waterproof it is. Basically, there are three levels:
Waterproof: made from a waterproof fabric and has taped seams (you can also turn the jacket inside out to check that the seams are taped over).
Water resistant: suitable only for light, short showers, as it is not made from a waterproof fabric and does not have taped seams.
Water repellent: has been given a hydrophobic treatment to reduce the amount of water the fabric will absorb.
Note: All of our top-rated best waterproof cycling jackets in this post are waterproof (and windproof).
Neck of your Waterproof Cycling Jacket
Always look for a cycling jacket with a high neck! There are many major blood vessels in your neck, and exposing these to cold and rain will chill you rapidly.
Dropped tails on Waterproof Cycling Jackets
Cycling is unique in that cyclists will often be crouched way forward, especially if we are riding road bikes. The problem with that is that if you are wearing a regular length jacket, your lower back and butt will be exposed to the rain. Cycling jackets compensate for this by having dropped tails – they are longer at the back, so that they are always covering you adequately.
These can occasionally be a problem – I have had the tail of my cycling jacket snag under my saddle, almost causing me to fall when I attempted to stop and dismount. Some manufacturers get around this by having a stowable drop tail. This is a good compromise – you get to use the dropped tail only when you actually need it.
Apart from that, a draw cord around the bottom will enable you to pull it nice and snug, so that it cannot snag under your saddle.
Long Sleeves and Cuffs on Waterproof Cycling Jackets
If you are stretched out on your bike, your sleeves could easily ride up and expose your wrists. This could cause you to get very cold very quickly. To compensate for this, most cycling jackets have extra-long sleeves. Of course, you don’t want the sleeves covering your fingers, so look for a jacket that has elasticated or adjustable openings at the end of the sleeves. Personally I like Velcro cuffs the best, as they are quick and easy to adjust. You want to be able to cinch them over your gloves, so that no part of your skin is exposed.
Check this feature on the jacket you plan to buy, because if this aspect is tricky or time-consuming, you are going to be irritated every time you put your jacket on or take it off.
Zip quality of Waterproof Cycling Jackets
Look for a jacket with a high quality zip, and preferably also a large tag. Struggling to find your zip tag with gloves on, while cycling, can be extremely annoying. As with other kinds of jackets, high quality zips tend to come with the more pricy, good quality jackets. I once bought a regular (non-cycling) jacket at a “bargain” price, and I do still wear it – but every time I am standing in the bitter cold, bent over and battling to get the zip to engage, I curse myself for not having spent the extra money for decent quality.
Also, some jackets offer windproof zips, and others offer waterproof zips. Obviously, a waterproof zip will keep more water out.
Extra Ventilation for Waterproof Cycling Jackets
There is one thing that is certain on a bike – you will be warmer 10 minutes after you start cycling than when you start! So you might start off feeling very comfortable, and then feel unbearably hot once you have been riding for a while. Some jackets offer additional ventilation options to let more heat escape. Most common are zips that you can open under the armpits or on the sleeve.
The under-the-arm-pits zips are surprisingly effective, so I really like waterproof cycling jackets that have these. Of course, you are going to pay more for options like this.
Insulation of Waterproof Cycling Jackets
Waterproof jackets tend to focus on keeping water out, rather than keeping you warm. They can be quite lightweight, like the Showers Pass Pro Tech ST.
If you don’t get much rain during the winter where you live, but it does get bitterly cold, then you should focus on a jacket that is designed for maximum insulation, rather than complete waterproofness. These are now being manufactured with pockets of padded insulation, much like ski jackets.
There are jackets that are very warm and also completely waterproof and breathable. However, they are hugely expensive. This post is focused on jackets that are designed for maximum waterproofness. These are waterproof cycling jackets that can be stowed in your pannier all year around, ready to be put on over your cycling jersey if you are suddenly caught in a downpour. Ideally it should be breathable, so you do not get too hot when wearing it in the summer.
Try Having Two Different Jackets
Alternatively, you can have a heavier weight but still reasonably waterproof cycling jacket for the winter, and a totally waterproof and windproof, super light shell that you carry around during the summer, fall and spring. That’s the way I do it – I find it impossible to use the same jacket all year around, as the temperature change is too great. I have a Gore Countdown jacket for the winter and a Gore Oxygen for the warmer seasons.
This post is focused on jackets that are waterproof, yet reasonably light and packable. If you are using one of them in extremely cold conditions, you have the option of putting very warm layers underneath, of course. Ideally you should have three layers – a wicking layer (such as merino wool or Under Armour) next to your skin, a warm layer (such as a fleece cycling jersey) over that, and then your totally waterproof cycling jacket over top.
Related Content: How to Dress for Winter Cycling
Sizing and Fit of Cycling Jackets
Because you are likely to have at least one and possibly two layers underneath your waterproof cycling jacket, it is a good idea to go for a more relaxed fit. Of course, most cycling clothes tend to be quite form fitting, but cycling jackets sometimes come with a more relaxed fit. The product description usually gives a good idea of what to expect. For example, the Castelli Confronto jacket is clearly aimed at a more form-fitting, slim cut for fast cycling.
Do you Need a Women Specific Cycling Jacket?
Good question! Most of the men’s jackets featured here offer a women’s version, but some don’t. According to Mrs. Average Joe Cyclist, most women do just as well with the men’s version. However, if you are especially curvy and like a snugly form-fitting jacket, then you might want to opt for a women-specific jacket. For example, the most form-fitting jacket in our top 6 is the Castelli Confronto. This one also comes in a really good-looking women-specific design.
Pockets in Cycling Jackets
It’s very useful to have pockets on your outer layer, so consider this aspect when deciding on which waterproof cycling jacket to buy.
Color of Waterproof Cycling Jackets
This jacket will always be your outermost layer, so it is a good safety feature if it is a bright color, and even better when it has some reflective elements. You are going to be wearing it in the rain, when visibility is reduced for you and other road users, so it only makes sense to be easily visible, rather than wearing a black jacket. Bear in mind that you can sometimes get a good deal on a cycling jacket by buying an odd color that is not selling well (fuschia pink for example), or a size that is not selling (such as XXL – which is sometimes a lot smaller than you might think).
There you have it – everything you need to know about how to buy a really great waterproof cycling jacket. Make your choice based on the climate where you live, and your cycling needs. If you are lucky, you may be able to get away with just one jacket – possibly the Gore Bike Wear Men’s Oxygen 2.0. More likely, you will need a warmer jacket, such as the Gore Bike Wear Men’s Fusion or the Castelli Confronto, combined with something super light, such as the Gore Bike Wear Men’s Oxygen 2.0 or the Showers Pass Pro Tech.
Every one of these jackets will keep you dry, last for years, and help you to enjoy your cycling in cozy comfort!
Related Content: Best Waterproof Cycling Gear for Men and Women
Need More Choices in Cycling Gear?
Check out the links below to some of our most popular posts about essential cycling gear. Clicking on any of the slides below will take you to the post you want. Otherwise, the post continues with more useful information after the slide show!
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