Like all other outdoor sports, cycling exposes you to the elements. This might not be so bad during the months when it’s fun to go on long rides without having to worry about the weather, but if you’re going to be riding through all seasons, then you need to prepare for the possibility of rainfall.
Some riders, especially amateur ones, often make the mistake of riding with jackets that aren’t manufactured specifically for the sport. This is only passable of you’ve never ridden in a men’s or women’s cycling jacket. They have specific design features such as zippable, waterproof pockets where you can keep keys and other essentials, high collars that protect your neck from wind chill, as well as a ‘drop tail’ at the back that protects your posterior from the spray that’s usually thrown up by the rear wheel.
Rainproof shells – these are characterized by their thin and light fabrics, offering protecting against light showers only. They are mostly intended to be used as a last resort in the event of an unexpected change in the weather. One advantage is that since they are made of thin material, they can fold into really small bundles, thus making it more convenient to carry one along on your rides.
Due to the lack of serious insulation features, they are best for summer use, though you can also wear one along with warmer mid and base layers in autumn and spring.
Soft Shells – the options you’ll find in this category are going to be windproof and water resistant. They usually have a smooth face fabric and a fleece inner that’ll be great at keeping you warmer than rainproof shells but still not quite as warm as fully waterproof cycling jackets.
If you get one of the quality options here on Bike Chaser and make sure that it fits loosely enough for you to wear enough underlayers, you’ll have gotten an excellent general-purpose cycling top that you can wear on its own or with a variety of base or shell clothing to cater for any weather condition you might go riding in.
Waterproofs – if you’ll be riding in extreme winter conditions, or if you just want to get something from the premium end of the range, your best bet is to go with a fully winter cycling jacket.
They are intended to be worn as an outer layer and have several features that provide complete protection against the elements. One of those is an external membrane that is referred to as a Durable Water Repellency layer (DWR). It keeps out all moisture but still allows a reasonable amount of breathability, keeping you comfortable by allowing your sweat to be wicked away.
Don’t focus solely on the waterproof rating alone when buying cycling jackets for winter though; other cycling clothing features like high, fleece-lined collars, properly-fitting cuffs and zips, storm flaps and laser-cut, thermally welded seams will also play very important roles in keeping water from entering into your clothing.