eBent Recumbent Cycling

A Bent Look at Self Contained Touring

Raingear for Self Contained Recumbent Touring

with 13 comments

patagonia_dragonfly.jpg patagonia_houdini_pants.jpg

Patagonia Dragonfly Jacket and Houdini Pants

Let’s start with an understanding that you can’t keep dry while riding a bicycle in the rain. Rain Gear keeps your warm and relatively comfortable not dry. The problem is that anything that will keep the rain out will also keep the moisture from your body in.

Yes, expensive GoreTex and other similar material helps if the weather is cool and your aren’t riding too hard or too long. But if you ride in the summer, you can expect to be wet so the question is “How to be most comfortable?”. Often a bigger question when touring is “What do I do after I get off the bike and it is still raining?”.


Note: I like Patagonia Gear but don’t like the price. See Patagonia Outlet Post for information on how to get great deals on Patagonia Gear.

I have never had good luck with Jackets and Raingear from Nashbar or Performance, they just don’t sell gear that is comfortable, light enough and good enough for self contained touring.

I know this Post may start to sound like a Patagonia ad, but I find their jackets very good, not the best, but the best available at a good price if you use my tip.

Let’s start with what to do while riding.

1. If it is warm and you think it is just a shower, the best answer may be do nothing. If you feel comfortable and are wearing a poly jersey and Lycra or nylon shorts, this may just be a refreshing break in your day. But once you start to feel cool, it is time for action.

2. If it is warm (above 75) but raining hard enough to make me feel cool, I go to my light weight rain gear. For me, that is a Patagonia Dragonfly Jacket or Pullover (Houdini has replaced the Dragonfly) and Houdini pants. These are super light weight garments that keep you dry and warm except in a deluge. These are also my wind gear. They pack very small and are very light. I just stick them in a plastic sandwich bag and keep them handy while cycling.


Patagonia R .5 and Hind Munich Pants

3. For cool mornings (under 70) or cooler days when it is misty or light rain, I wear breathable clothing that is not hygroscopic. My favorite gear is a Patagonia R .5 Pullover and Hind Munich Pants (see Hot Buys). The Hind Munich Pants are not bicycling tights they have a looser fit more like ski pants. Both are very breathable and much more comfortable to wear while cycling than any waterproof gear. The surprising thing about these garments is that you don’t get wet in the rain unless it is raining hard and you still have a cool breeze on your body to keep you comfortable. These are also my cool morning or cool weather off bike wear while touring. These garment feel good to wear and look good enough (at least by my standards) to wear almost anywhere you go on a bike tour. This is my most comfortable rain gear and what I try to wear if it isn’t hot or pouring.


Patagonia Specter Jacket and Rain Shadow Pants

4. If it is pouring, get off of the road. This is a safety issue. This is the time to show patience and good judgment. However, if I have to ride, I wear a Patagonia Specter Jacket or Pullover. This is Patagonia’s lightest fully waterproof and supposedly breathable jacket. It does the job in a downpour. I try to stay with the Hind Munich Pants but if I am getting cold, I switch to Patagonia Rain Shadow Pants often over the Hind Pants.

The Specter Jacket and Rain Shadow Pants are also my off the bike rain gear. This is what I wear walking to Dinner in the rain or around camp.

5. We have not talked about the feet yet. I bike in sandals and my feet get cold if wet. I usually carry a pair of cycling socks and a pair of Smartwool socks, these take care of me on and off the bike in rain and cold. When we cycled through Newfoundland and Labrador, I added a pair of Seal Skinz socks to my gear.

6. How about head and hands? I usually just wear cycling gloves and the cap I always wear under my helmet. The cap keeps rain water from dripping down on to my face from my helmet and makes riding in the rain a lot more comfortable. I do have warmer gloves that I use in the winter but my hands don’t usually get cold while cycling.

Off the bike in rain, you are colder and need more protection, so the Specter Jacket or Pullover and the Rain Shadow Pants are just the thing.

To summarize, here’s what I carry for rain gear while touring:

1. Dragonfly jacket or pullover

2. Houdini Pants

3. R .5 Pullover

4. Hind Munich Pants

5. Specter Jacket or Pullover

6. Rain Shadow Pants

I know this sounds like a lot but it works for me and most of the items are multiuse, on and off the bike. All of these items also pack very small and are very light so they aren’t a burden to carry.

My philosophy is that getting soaked is bad enough while cycling; don’t also get cold.


Written by Roland

June 22, 2006 at 7:24 am

13 Responses

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  1. Good tips as usual, Roland. With your Northwest Tour rapidly approaching, you might want to check out an Oregon company about which I have heard good things: J&G (Jackson & Gibbens) Cyclewear ( http://www.bicycleclothing.com/index.html). If any company knows rain, it’s a cyclist-owned company in the Northwest.

    I know your trip will start soon so may I wish you a safe journey and always a good tailwind.


    June 22, 2006 at 11:01 am

  2. I am starting to feel like there is a lot to do and not much time. Our family get together is down on Cape Cod this weekend and I have to ship my bike out on Monday.

    Most of our ride will be in the dry lands of eastern Washington, Oregon, and Idaho so I am not that worried about rain. Newfoundland and Labrador that was a different story. Here on the New Hampshire coast it rains one day in three during the summer.

    The gear you recommended looks good. My only comment is that I’m not too crazy about CoolMax Jerseys generally because they just don’t feel cool to me. They tend to feel like a plastic bag. but I have seen a few that were pretty good. I tent to wear thin poly jerseys when it is hot.

    As you also know, I like deals and my $5.97 jersey and $20 Patagonia Rain Gear is hard to beat.

    Thanks for the comments … Roland


    June 22, 2006 at 11:51 am

  3. Patagonia makes good stuff. Another good rain suit is the Marmot line called PreCip. It is the most breathable that I have found.



    June 26, 2006 at 8:54 am

  4. Derek,

    I like Marmot a lot. My 60/40 is a Marmot and the best I’ve ever owned.

    The Precip looks like an excellent deal list at half the price of the Specter and it has pit zips. I can’t say I like it better because I’ve never tried one on and I always worry about the comfort while biking.

    The Marmot Precip is definitely a Hot Buy. It is on sale for about $54 on Amazon now at


    Thanks for the Tip …. Roland


    June 26, 2006 at 9:12 am

  5. Any idea what the replacement for the R5 is in the Patagonia line?

    Regarding the pull overs: Do you find them annoying compared to designs with full length zippers?

    Relating to the previous question: I found that riding a recumbent, my lap can begin to pool water, so waterproofing is very important there, including waterproofed zippers. It looks like the current Specter design doesn’t have pockets in the lap, so it might be a good match for a recumbent in that regard.

    I have had two Marmot Precip jackets myself, and can vouch for their comfort and waterproofing. However, Precip is not hugely durable– mine wore out in two three years. Also, check the zippers! My current Precip jacket didn’t have waterproofed zippers, so on a ‘bent, I get wet through the zippers in the less than 10 minutes.

    Before I found your page, I built my own line it here:

    Cycling in the Rain:


    Mark Stosberg

    January 1, 2007 at 11:28 pm

  6. I have to say I find pullovers much more comfortable than jackets with full length zippers. Plus, they have a big advantage in the rain, the water that pools in your lap doesn’t leak through the zipper.

    I talk about Patagonia a lot not because I think they are the only choice but because I get the best prices on their gear at the outlet store in Freeport, Maine . I have a Marmot 60/40 and it is a great jacket but I just haven’t ‘t found great prices on Marmot gear even at Campmor.


    January 2, 2007 at 11:12 am

  7. […] use these pants more than any others I have ever worn. They even pack fairly well, incredible. See Rain Gear for Recumbent Cycling, these are the same […]

  8. […] Also see, Rain Gear for Recumbent Cycling  […]

  9. “Let’s start with an understanding that you can’t keep dry while riding a bicycle in the rain.”

    Not quite true – if you wear a cape (which drapes over the handlebars) on a traditional bicycle then you’ll stay dry, while the moisture from your body can escape as normal. I speak from experience.


    June 13, 2008 at 10:11 am

  10. Tom, the physics are against you staying dry. When the humidity is high as it often is when it is raining and you are riding at normal effort most folks are going to be wet. Restricting air flow just makes it harder for that moisture to go anywhere.

    I have ridden with a cape in days of old. My opinion is that capes work for commuters on diamond frames if the ride is short, the intensity is low, it isn’t raining too hard and the wind isn’t blowing too hard. However, for self contained touring on a recumbent, the area of discussion for this site, I don’t think they have any value.

    If a cape works for you that is great. However, I tell recumbent riders to stay away from them. Capes have an unfortunate tendency to become sails and don’t protect you from water coming up from the road.


    June 20, 2008 at 7:48 am

  11. […] Check out the 8 panel shorts with no pad for $29 at J & G Cylcewear.  This vendor was recommended by Longfellow a reader and great contributor in Raingear for Self Contained Recumbent Touring. […]

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    April 7, 2013 at 9:34 am

  13. […] at the Ebent Recumbent Cycling blog also has a page about cycling rain gear. He recommends three different sets of rain gear depending on […]

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