How Choose Best Waterproof Cycling Jacket

Wondering how to choose the best waterproof cycling jacket?
Let us help you make the right choice for your type of cycling.

As leaders in technical cycling outerwear we offer a variety of waterproof cycling jackets utilizing different fabrics, different fit styles, and with different intended uses. The price range you see among waterproof jackets does not just relate to the level of waterproofness. It also relates to breathability; and special features like vents, zippers, adjustable cuffs, pockets and reflective trims.

This guide is designed to help you choose the best type of cycling jacket for your type of riding. If you overheat easily or plan on riding all day in the rain, a 3-layer jacket might be best for you. If you are only commuting short distances under 7 miles, our entry level 2.5-layer jackets might be best for you. If you do many long training rides but don't like to wear a jacket when it's not raining, our lightweight and packable 2.5-Layer Double Century RTX Jacket could be your best match. All of our jackets feature a DWR (durable water repellant) finish that allows rain to bead and roll off the jacket, and prevents wetting out of the face fabric. Hardshell garments are best for fully waterproof protection while our Softshell garments provide warmth and unlike many of our competitors, we only describe out jackets as waterproof if they (1) have a waterproof membrane, (2) have a DWR finish, and (3) are completely seam sealed.

3-Layer Fabrics

3-layer fabrics con­sist of a waterproof mem­brane bonded between a face fab­ric and a liner fab­ric. In addition to being the most durable construction, 3-Layer waterproof fabrics are usually the most breathable and comfortable against the skin. The lining protects the waterproof membrane, so the membrane can be finer, with more pores that allow body heat to pass through – reducing the buildup of condensation – while blocking rain from the outside. That inner lining also wicks moisture, and lifts the waterproof membrane off the skin, reducing the “clammy” feel that is typical of lower priced waterproof fabrics. 3-layer hardshells are usu­ally more expensive than 2 or 2.5-Layer shells, but offer a better solution for people that ride long distances in the rain or tend to overheat easily.

Shop the Best 3-Layer Waterproof Breathable Cycling Jackets

Shop the Better 3-Layer Waterproof Breathable Cycling Jackets

Shop the Good 3-Layer Waterproof Breathable Cycling Jackets

Our softshell jackets including the Rogue Hoodie, Portland Jacket and Amsterdam Jacket are made with 3-layer waterproof fabrics but they are not seam sealed, so we do not market them waterproof. They should keep you dry for short rides in heavy rain and longer rides in light rain. Over time you may see the unsealed seams start to let water through. We have designed all our jackets to minimize seams in critical areas prone to heavy rain.

2.5-Layer Fabric

2.5-layer shells are made of a face fab­ric bonded to a waterproof mem­brane, with a raised printed pattern on the inside (the “half layer”) that helps pro­tect the mem­brane from abra­sion, body oils and other damage. 2.5-Layer waterproof fabrics offer the benefits of being lighter weight and more packable, but they are typically not as durable or breathable as their 3-layer counterparts. 2.5-layer shells are a good option for people looking for a lightweight packable jacket – a good choice for long distance riding in the "best" category, or shorter commutes under about 7 miles in the "better" category.

Shop the Best 2.5-Layer Waterproof Breathable Cycling Jackets

  • Men's Double Century RTX Jacket
  • Women's Double Century RTX Jacket
  • Men's Metro Jacket

Shop the Better 2.5-Layer Waterproof Breathable Cycling Jackets

2-Layer Fabric

2-layer shells consist of a face fabric and waterproof membrane bonded together. Some 2-layer jackets feature a drop lining. This protects the membrane and increases comfort, but make the jacket considerably heavier than a 3-layer jacket of the same performance. Without a drop lining, 2-layer fabrics are very easily degraded by abrasion and body oils. To combat this the membrane can be made thicker, but that leads to dramatically reduced breathability. For these reasons, we don’t generally use 2-layer fabrics in our jackets. Our Clear Pro Tech ST jacket is the one exception, because it uses a unique 2-layer fabric construction with no face fabric. The two layers are the waterproof membrane (on the outside), and a thin tricot lining that lifts the membrane off your skin. The Pro Tech ST is our lightest weight jacket, but also our least breathable.

Our Storm Pant is made with a traditional 2-layer waterproof fabric. It is not as durable or as breathable as our 3-layer waterproof rain pants, but it does pack down small and keep you dry in an emergency.

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Ratings Scale Explained

Breathable Scale

1 STAR fabrics rate at least 1,000g/m2/day. Great for pre-race warm-ups or unexpected cloud bursts, but not recommended for long fast paced rides or warmer conditions.

2 STAR fabrics rate at least 5,000g/m2/day. This provides some moisture vapor transfer, but if you’re riding hard enough to sweat, especially in cold and rainy conditions, you will probably see some condensation on the inside of the garment.

3 STAR fabrics rate at least 10,000g/m2/day, and the garments have some venting capability. Most people can stay comfortable in these garments, especially if they take advantage of venting capabilities like pit or core vents, 2-way front zippers, or open cuffs.

4 STAR fabrics rate at least 10,000g/m2/day, might have wicking linings, and the garments have multiple venting options. Wicking linings aid in the efficiency of moisture vapor transfer, and provide a drier next-to-skin feel. Venting options like pit or core vents, 2-way front zippers, or open cuffs allow you to adjust airflow.

5 STAR, Industry leading breathability here. At least 15,000g/m2/day, wicking linings, and multiple venting options. For high output activities in varying conditions, this is the way to go!

Waterproof Scale

1 STAR garments will at least be treated with a Durable Water Repellant (DWR) finish and/or have a tight weave and design that will provide some water repellency. Great for short rides in light/intermittent precipitation.

2 STAR garments will use fabrics rated 3,000mm-10,000mm or even higher, but might have strategic panels of non-waterproof fabric, or unsealed seams. Generally designed to be waterproof in the areas where you’re most likely to get hit by raindrops and road spray, but not designed to keep you completely dry in a downpour.

3 STAR garments use only fabrics rated at least 10,000mm, but might not be entirely seam sealed. These will keep you dry in most conditions, but you might see localized areas of leakage in extended downpours.

4 STAR garments will use only fabrics rated 3,000-15,000mm, and have taped or welded seams. Bring on the rain, snow, wind, sleet, hail, drizzle, fog, and mud. If all your vents, zippers, cuffs and collar are sealed, these garments should keep the elements out for most rides.

5 STAR garments will have fabrics rated at least 15,000mm, and have taped or welded seams. If you’re going to be out in nasty weather for extended periods of time, these are the garments for you! Just make sure to seal all your vents, zippers, cuffs and collar before stepping out into a downpour.

Need more info about how our garments fit?

We design our cycling jackets with long sleeves to accommodate reach while in a road bike cycling position. We offer a range of fit styles for different riding types. Full fitting jackets are designed with the ability to fit bulky street clothes underneath. Regular fitting garments are designed to fit a few warm cycling layers underneath. Trim fitting garments are designed to be worn with 1-2 trim fitting layers and some garments may feature some type of stretch material. Our sizing is closer to US sizing than Euro sizing.

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If you still can't decide which jacket is right for you give us a call! We are happy to help!

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