June 25, 2011
Just because we're moving into summer doesn't mean that you're in the clear as far as rain is concerned. Getting soaked is one thing, but getting yourself and all of your gear drenched can really dampen your mood. Fortunately, staying dry doesn't require a ton of additional gear that will fill up your panniers/trailers when the sun is out. Here's a quick rundown on some solid rain gear for your body and equipment.
Rain Jacket: This can be as pricey or as inexpensive as you like, but the nice thing about summer storms is that you generally don't have to worry about a lot of insulation or heavy duty fabrics, as long as you stay dry. The Shower's Pass Club Pro jacket is a great summer rain jacket with a lot of features to keep you from overheating, such as a back vent and pit zips. The color itself provides good visibility, but just to make sure, they've added a lot of reflective material to help you stand out in heavy overcast conditions. If you're on a budget, I'm a big fan of the simple clear vinyl cape, such as the Performance Clear Rain Jacket for $20. It isn't fancy, but it gets the job done.
Rain Pants: I always remember rain pants at the last minute, and I'm always happy to have them. There are few things worse than riding in a wet chamois. I've been a huge fan of the Showers Pass Storm Pants, which pack down very well. They also have angled Velcro straps at the ankle mid-calf, which ensures that they won't get caught in any moving parts on the bike.
Panniers: If you don't have waterproof panniers, Arkel makes some great rain covers that stand up to a lot of abuse. You can pack them away when the rain isn't coming down, or leave them attached at all times to make yourself a little more visible. One great feature is the outside mesh pocket, which you can toss your rain jacket and pants into to dry out when the storm passes. They also cinch down pretty well for a tight, uniform fit.
Trailers: Dry bags are a really good option for trailers, and if you have a BOB trailer, you may already be covered with their optional cargo bag. With water resistant trailers, such as the Burly Nomad, you may be able to get away with simply tossing select gear in garbage or grocery bags.
This should keep you in pretty good shape for those unexpected storms. Still, my favorite maneuver is to find some good company, grab a hot beverage, and wait it out.
Photos by Josh Tack.
TOURING GEAR AND TIPS is written by Joshua Tack of Adventure Cycling's member services department. It appears weekly, highlighting technical aspects of bicycle touring and advice to help better prepare you for the journey ahead.