Waterproof Trousers

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Posts: 517
Joined: 26 Mar 2018, 1:35pm

Waterproof Trousers

Postby iandusud » 12 Oct 2020, 1:23pm

My wife and I have decided to go car-less. We both use our solo bikes to commute, we ride our tandem together and in a bid to reduce car usage I built a cargo bike last year to do our family shopping. Our car has died and as we rarely use it we have decided to try going car-less. This raises a number of challenges which we aim to find solutions to. However in this instance I would like advice about waterproof trousers. I have been cycling regularly for over 40 years and in that time my adopted method for dealing with wet weather has been to use a good jacket to keep my core warm and dry and not to worry about the legs either wearing cycling shorts or tights depending on temperature. This means changing when I get to work which is not a problem or just riding with wet legs on leisure rides which has never troubled me. However as I am now using my bike for more general use, where I might have jumped in the car if it was raining heavily I will now be using a bike. It is nice to be able to ride in normal clothes and not have to change and in dry weather I usually wear a pair of lightweight walking trousers for such journeys, either with the legs rolled up or tucked into my socks. This means that I'm attending a meeting I look like a normal person! (Others might not agree). The problem arises when it's raining. I've never liked cycling in overtrousers which is why I adopted the above method years ago. So are there suitable waterproof trousers that would meet the criteria of being suitable for cycling in and looking normal enough for everyday wear? I've looked at Rohan's website and seen their Dry Frontier trousers but at £125 they're going to have to earn their keep. So what do others do?

Cheers, Ian

Posts: 506
Joined: 6 Jun 2016, 9:50pm
Location: North Wales

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby rotavator » 12 Oct 2020, 2:01pm

Is it possible to get changed before the meetings? If so, I would put posh trousers etc in a dry bag and put them in a pannier or rucksack etc. and get changed before the meeting.

If not, then you need to look for waterproof overtrousers but even then you will probably want to take them off before sitting down for a long meeting. You can also get water repellant trousers e.g. by Rab which work for a while but they tend to lose their repellancy with time but they still dry quickly. They might be OK for drizzle or a shower but not a prolonged downpour.

User avatar
Posts: 3954
Joined: 23 Apr 2007, 11:07pm
Location: Suffolk

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby NUKe » 12 Oct 2020, 2:22pm

The problem for any trousers for commuting apart from having to sit in wet trousers, or something that will make sweat if fully water proof is road dirt that get thrown up even with Mudguards, so even if you find the magic material that is both breathable light and waterproof. you will find commuting in the rain a filthy business. So either wear waterproof trousers on the wet days or change when you get there.
that said if you can get away with a little bit of grime there are a few of the MTB trousers that might fit the bill but they are similar price to Rohans.

Posts: 60
Joined: 21 Aug 2020, 7:01pm
Location: Stockport

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby GeekDadZoid » 12 Oct 2020, 2:26pm

I haven't been riding for very long but spent the majority of last 20 years spending 25-30 mins walking to the train station as part of my commute in all weathers. I found the best tactic is to find something that dries quickly.

I currently have a brilliant pair of walking trousers from go outdoors

https://www.gooutdoors.co.uk/15902724/n ... r-15902724

They dry very quickly and they are now my favourite cycling trousers when I feel the need to arrive both ready and in long trousers. You millage may vary on if they are smart enough, but they are great.

Posts: 9535
Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 12:31am
Location: Derby

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby PH » 12 Oct 2020, 2:31pm

Well done for giving being carless a go, doesn't work for everyone, but it's worked better for me than I expected.
I haven't found the perfect solution to dry and smart, depending on the circumstance I've settled for one or the other. here's what I use and have tried along the way.
Rainlegs - at one time popular with Audax riders, like chaps for cycling, the intention being to keep most of the rain of the upper legs where it mostly falls. I didn't get on with them, didn't like the fitting and found them uncomfortable, but they otherwise do as advertised.
M&S cycling chinos (Discontinued but similar available) - A bit of stretch and fairly water repellent but not waterproof. Once they'd become sodden they were worse to ride in than jeans, they have some fans on here, I think I ended up giving mine away to one of them.
Rohan Troggings - more of a jogging trouser than smart, may or may not be suitable for your meetings. These will see off a light shower, then get wet but nor cold or uncomfortable. I'm frequently amazed at how quickly they dry. I was out all last Tue and got wet and dry half a dozen times and hardly noticed the difference.
Showers Pass Skyline trousers - These are reserved for long winter days when I expect to be wet, not suitable for much off the bike. A mix of fabrics to keep the majority of the water off without overheating. These paired with waterproof socks make me enjoy riding in the rain.
Waterproof shorts over normal trousers - Like with Rainlegs I didn't find this a comfortable combination, though the fit was a bit better.
Waterproof overtrousers - Twice I've tried these, cheap and expensive, OK for half an hour, then unbearably sweaty even if taking it easy.

User avatar
Posts: 3589
Joined: 9 May 2007, 1:06pm
Location: Live & work in Briz'l

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby simonineaston » 12 Oct 2020, 2:49pm

So are there suitable waterproof trousers that would meet the criteria of being suitable for cycling in and looking normal enough for everyday wear?
Sort answer - no. Or at least, I've not found them. All the trousers that have promised to look like 'normal' trousers and keep me dry, haven't delivered, inc. some of the less expensive offerings from Rohan, ie their water-resistant Bags.
So I've faced 2 options: a) wearing trousers that don't look 'normal, but do deliver on performance, or b) make the removal / getting into a pair of overtrousers as painless as possible. There's a third option, which you'll be aware of already, of course and that's wear trousers that are showerproof but that dry swiftly, eg any tough poly-cotton activity trousers does this quite well. I can recommend for example Fjallraven, which although priced new to cause alarm to the guardian of the family budget, do pop up on fleabay at much reduced prices. They're well-made, some with reinforced seat, water-resistant (with the option to wax them, too *) and dry swiftly if necessary...Such garments now form the core of my cycling wardrobe.
* I haven't tried this yet, but it could be the nearest we get to a normal trouser that has an element of effective water resistance...
Paramo's cycling-suitable trousers work well as a garment you wear as opposed to an over-garment. Their wet-weather performance is good to excellent, however they don't look like 'normal' trousers, at all. Folks either like the Paramo experience or they don't... again, they crop up on fleabay via their seconds shop at slightly reduced prices.
Apart from the above, you're looking for an over-trouser, with a high degree of access, ie full-length & easy-to-use zips, to make the inconvenient fact that you'll be taking them off / putting them back on again as painless as possible. This makes the garment potentially cycle-unfriendly - too much flap - so you also looking for a) a method of tightening the fit, so they don't get caught up in the machine, and b) as a frequent user, you're also looking for a reinforced seat and c) either long-life or else low price... or preferably both! If you find any with that combination of features, please give me a shout! :-)
I have to say that my friends are fairly used to me turning up in a full water-proof suit, twixt October and April and while I'll remove my jacket, the favoured combination of lightweight 'real' trousers and medium-weight (usually Altura) over-trousers tends to stay put if I'm in a pub or bar... or at least back when such activities were possible...
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Posts: 1686
Joined: 7 Jul 2017, 10:37am

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby slowster » 12 Oct 2020, 3:48pm

For a six mile commute I used full goretex overtrousers when it rained. You don't like cycling in overtrousers, but nor does anyone else: they are just likely to be the least worst option when it rains heavily and you have no choice but to ride.

I suggest you use some of the money you are saving from getting rid of the car on the best overtrousers you can find, e.g. maybe the Showers Pass Refuge overtrousers.

I would also suggest being very particular about trousers. I disagree with the suggestion of poly-cotton trousers: they dry fairly quickly but not quickly enough in a work context. I suggest you get trousers that are completely synthetic and the fabric of which absorbs as little water as possible, and in different weights/thicknesses to give you suitable choices for warm and cold weather.

For example Craghoppers' Pro Trousers might be suitable for milder temperatures, and can usually be bought for a lot less than RRP, albeit that they need to be seen as a fairly cheap and cheerful product. For cooler conditions I've read favourable comments about the Keela Roadrunner Trousers, which were developed for the emergency services. More expensive, but probably smarter looking off the bike, are Rapha's Technical Trousers.

Obviously what will work best for you is going to depend upon your particular circumstances,e.g. the distance, how smart you need to look at work, whether you can carry a change of clothes and the facilities to dry items (even something as simple as using the hand dryer in a WC to quick dry trousers).

Posts: 29719
Joined: 9 Jan 2007, 2:44pm

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby thirdcrank » 12 Oct 2020, 3:56pm

iandusud wrote:.... This means changing when I get to work which is not a problem ...

I'd say, "Stick with that." You have plenty of experience so you know the problems but you seem to have added the extra demands of all-weather cycling and hope to discover something that will cope with that and save having to get changed at work. In the lingo: too many boxes to tick.

Well done for managing without a car, not something I achieved but I did commute all year round on rotating shifts, only resorting to the car very occasionally. With the money you are saving you can treat yourself to any cycling togs you like but no amount of money will buy something meeting all your criteria.

Posts: 517
Joined: 26 Mar 2018, 1:35pm

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby iandusud » 12 Oct 2020, 4:40pm

Thank you all for your input and the benefit of your experience. My standard casual wear on the bike are these from Mountain Warehouse
https://www.mountainwarehouse.com/trek- ... k%20beige/
I find them comfortable enough for cycling moderate distances and they dry quickly which means that they'll cope with a light shower and not leave you in wet trousers all day.
From your comments it looks like I might have to face my prejudice and look into overtrousers. It's probably fair to say that I'm not looking for something that will cope with highly energetic levels of effort. If I'm wearing normal clothes I don't want to arrive hot and sweaty so am perfectly happy to moderate my effort and speed bearing in mind that I'm only talking about up to 5 miles. Above that and it's full cycling kit and a change of clothes.

Cheers, Ian

Posts: 118
Joined: 5 Feb 2008, 3:27pm

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby RobC » 12 Oct 2020, 6:31pm

If you want to be as ‘normal’ as possible in your attire, then firstly you need to use a bike that is as practical as possible, with an upright riding position, full length mudguards, and a front mudflap that pretty much scrapes along the ground. You will be travelling at a sedate pace, but I’ve found such compromises acceptable in that I cycle more slowly, build up less of a sweat, and arrive at work feeling like I’ve just had a brisk walk instead. Therefore no need for a shower or change of clothes due to exuberance.

Armed with this practicality in terms of bicycle and mindset you can then jump headfirst into the joys of cycle capes. A good one (As long as you have mudguards and very long mudflaps) will keep you bone dry in all but the most torrential or downpours, and since you will now also be in the mindset of cruising along instead of rushing, you will not care about the extra wind resistance half as much.

Getting a cape was a game changer for me- a whole new world of riding a bike opened up to me, and now I never even consider what I’m wearing when going out the door: which is the epitome of utility cycling.

My friends consider me a cape evangelist somewhat mockingly. They’re half right perhaps, but I’m 100% dry when it rains :lol:
Last edited by RobC on 12 Oct 2020, 11:00pm, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 517
Joined: 26 Mar 2018, 1:35pm

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby iandusud » 12 Oct 2020, 6:57pm

Hi Rob, I have been wondering about getting a cape. In my early days I was a big fan of them and always carried one. My daily bike is a 17" wheeled Moulton which has a front mudflap that virtually scrapes the ground and keeps me very clean. The other bike I regularly use for short journeys is the cargo bike which is also very clean in the rain. I have also recently talked my wife into using a cape and bought her a Caradice one. So I think I might give that a go. I will have to rethink light mountings as I have my front light on the bars and the rear light high up on the seat post.

User avatar
Posts: 3589
Joined: 9 May 2007, 1:06pm
Location: Live & work in Briz'l

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby simonineaston » 12 Oct 2020, 8:23pm

I might give a cape a go! I have one I bought for a fancy-dress Moulton event a few years back, but have never used it in earnest. I guess the major plus is you simply dress as normal and then when it threatens a down-pour, whip out the cape and pop it on. ...now where did I put it??
ttfn, Simon in Easton
(currently enjoying a Moulton TSR & a nano Brompton...)

Posts: 412
Joined: 9 Jun 2014, 1:26pm
Location: The glorious West Midlands

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby JakobW » 12 Oct 2020, 9:56pm

I was going to suggest a cape as well; I used to do a ~4 mile each way (flattish) commute on a roadster (so very upright and with full mudguards) in civvies and a rain cape, and that worked fine. If it was really chucking it down my lower legs might get a bit wet - this may have been because I'm tall enough rain could sneak under the cape - but, even cycling daily year-round, this was a pretty rare event. Carradice used to do waxed cotton spat/gaiter things that would cover shoes and lower legs when wearing a cape, but I never got round to getting a pair, and they seem to have discontinued them.

Posts: 793
Joined: 17 Jan 2011, 1:07pm

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby Stradageek » 13 Oct 2020, 8:28am

We're mostly car-less and the system we use is:

Light rain/short wet journeys - polyester/walking trousers that will dry in a jiffy
Heavier rain - cheap Aldi waterproof trousers
Torrential rain - wait for it to stop, though when I cycled to school and had no choice I remember that a cape and sou wester did keep me totally dry

It is also pertinent that Midlands or SE UK softies will only get wet 20 or so times a year - how many days a year does it rain all day and you have to go out?

Posts: 1872
Joined: 26 Mar 2009, 9:49am

Re: Waterproof Trousers

Postby ANTONISH » 13 Oct 2020, 9:41am

I have a Rotrax cape but I only use it for touring - I find it difficult to signal and manoeuvre safely in UK traffic - in my youth I would happily ride for hours in one (with a Sou'wester).
I've used rainlegs and they are fairly effective but I don't like the straps.
My solution for audax events was to buy some waterproof trousers and cut the legs off a couple of inches below the knee - IME they are better than rainlegs.