Jackets

Best Waterproof Ponchos for Cycling (Top 5 Rain Capes)

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We live in a country where it rains around 50% of the time. Love it or hate it, if we only cycled in fair weather, we’d be limited to cycling for around 195 days of the year.

And they do say there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. An old cliché, but true. There‘s no reason why we can’t cycle for work and pleasure, all year round, just because of the Gulf Stream.

But the problem with rain is that there’s always the issue of what to wear. Rain doesn’t always equal cold. And even when it is cold, you’re likely to heat up as you ride. With the wrong clothing, you can end up feeling like a ‘boil in the bag’. Not a good look (or feeling).

So, imagine wearing something light, breathable, totally rainproof and suitable for cold and warm weather alike. That’s where the waterproof poncho comes in. Also known as a rain cape, this is a loose-fitting piece of waterproof fabric with a hood that protects most of your body from the rain.

In this article, we’ll discuss the pros and the cons of this unique item. We’ll also look at the best ones to keep you dry and comfortable on those rainy journeys.

  1. Bike-ready and Waterproof

    Cleverhood Urbanaut Rain Cape

    Well-suited for traveling or commuting.

  2. Waterproof Fabric

    The People’s Poncho 3.0

    Keeps you dry at all times

  3. Lightweight Raincoat

    Freiesoldaten Unisex Waterproof Cycling Rain Poncho

    Made of high quality waterproof material, lightweight, breathable,durable and easy clean

  4. Waterproof and Wind repellent

    VAUDE Poncho Covero II

    Made from environmentally friendly, bluesign® certified primary material can be put on in a flash to protect you from the elements.

  5. Waterproof breathable fabric

    SaphiRose PONCHO

    Each poncho is a piece of complete cloth sewn together with the hood part to prevent leaking.

Is a Poncho Good for Cycling?

If it’s a poncho that’s made for cycling, and providing your journey is fairly moderate, then yes it is. Some ponchos will offer more comfort with extra features, but they generally give greater protection from the rain. However, in extreme conditions with high winds, this is not always the case.

Ponchos offer more ventilation simply by their loose design, and if it is cold, they can go over any layers you’re wearing without restricting your movements.

There are a huge number of excellent waterproof cycling jackets out there, but it’s worth considering the poncho for its sheer flexibility.

Waterproof Ponchos: Pros + Cons

Opting for a poncho definitely has many advantages. But of course, depending on the kind of cycling you’re doing, it may not always be the right garment for you.

Whether you’re looking to stay dry while commuting, or simply don’t want your leisure ride ruined by the rain, we’ve listed the pros and cons to help you decide whether the poncho is a good investment for you.

Pros

  • They’re easy to put on. Simply slip them over your head in a matter of seconds. Ideal if you’re caught in a sudden shower.
  • More rain protection. The poncho covers your thighs, keeping (most of) your legs dry. If you opt for a longer one that covers your handlebars, your hands and arms will stay dry too (providing there’s a way of attaching it to you or the bike).
  • Lightweight and easy to pack away. Weighing less than many rain jackets, they’re much less cumbersome to carry.
  • Good ventilation. The loose fit lets the air flow and prevents overheating. Cheap. An effective poncho will often be cheaper than an effective rain jacket (though not always).
  • They’re versatile. Ponchos can double as a sheet to sit on, a very small tent…or almost anything you want, if you’re creative.

Cons

  • They’re not great for extreme weather. The baggy fit means they flap in the wind. Apart from being irritating, if it’s very windy it’s likely that rain will be blown underneath and you’ll be soaked. You might also feel like you’re going to take off.
  • Not good for covering backpacks. More specifically, the poncho will cover the backpack but allow lots of rain in. You’ll get very wet, and probably very angry.
  • Inappropriate for off-road cycling. The loose-fitting material can catch on branches or any other obstacles you encounter.
  • Inappropriate for off-road cycling. The loose-fitting material can catch on branches or any other obstacles you encounter.
  • You won’t win any fashion awards. Although with some pretty stylish options out there (some of which we’ve listed below), you might well argue with this.

Poncho vs Rain Jacket

PonchoRain Jacket
Loose fit means more ventilationCloser fit means less ventilation
Usually lighter in weightUsually heavier in weight
More limited in size (often one-size)Range of different sizes
More likely to get tornMade with stronger, more durable material
Rain protection includes lower half of bodyNo rain protection for the legs
Easy to fold away and carryMore cumbersome to carry
More wind resistanceLess wind resistance
Not effective in extreme weather conditionsMore effective in extreme weather conditions
Less pockets and personal storage spaceMore pockets and personal storage space
Better for shorter trips/lower speed/urban cyclingSuitable for all types of cycling

What Size Poncho Do I Need?

Essentially, you need a size that fits you. If you go for a ‘one-size’ poncho, choose something with adjustable fitting features. If you have a particularly small or large frame, you might be better off choosing a brand with different size options.

What you need to avoid is a poncho so huge (on you) that it catches in your spokes, or so small (on you) that it doesn’t even keep your bum dry.

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Best Cycling Rain Capes [Top 5]

1. Cleverhood Urbanaut Rain Cape

  • US Flag $279

Prices are approximate

  • Weight: 220g

Highly waterproof and breathable

Fully seam-sealed

A stylish, all-weather rain cape with all-over reflectivity

  • Recycled polyester fabric
  • Highly waterproof and breathable
  • Scotchlite reflective threading woven throughout the fabric
  • Waterproof YKK Uretek zippers
  • Magnetic closures for the armholes
  • Elastic thumb loops to keep the cape secure when riding
  • Inner belt loop
  • Velcro trim tabs on the sides to brace the cape in the wind
  • Hood designed to fit under a helmet and to give optimal peripheral vision
  • Fully seam-sealed

Cleverhood was actually one of the first ever products Discerning Cyclist reviewed (way back in 2012!), but it remains one of the best rain capes around for cyclists.

Available in three sizes, short, regular and tall, the Cleverhood Classic is a high visibility rain cape that you can be sure will fit. It’s also fairly lightweight at 410 g.

There are three to choose from – Classic Electric HoundstoothClassic Electric Gingham and Classic Electric Glen. All are made from sustainable fabric – a perfect complement to your eco-friendly choice of travel.

Each has a stylish pattern with interwoven reflective thread, creating a bright high-viz grid that will ensure you are seen in dark and wet conditions.

This really is a superior garment, which is reflected in the price. Not only does it offer exceptional quality, but you’ll look great, too.

The elite cycling poncho.

Comes at a price, but you’ll be getting the ultimate rain protection, plus you won’t be missed in poor visibility with reflective threading throughout.

2. The People’s Poncho 3.0

  • EU Flag €76

Prices are approximate

  • Dimensions: B 130 x 97 cm L (without hood)

Water-resistant front pouch with zip

Adjustable hood with peak, and stretch panel for head movement

A high spec poncho with a range of features

  • One size
  • Water-resistant front pouch with zip
  • Adjustable hood with peak, and stretch panel for head movement
  • Elasticated neck and back toggles for custom fit
  • Poppers on both sides to create sleeves
  • Handlebar straps to keep legs covered
  • Waistband to prevent flapping
  • Bag with carry strap for ease of transport

Available in one size, this poncho comes with a number of useful features to ensure flexibility and a more comfortable ride.

There are five colours to choose from, including ‘camouflage’ and ‘fisherman’s yellow’, giving you that all-important high visibility option.

The three-layered design consists of a TPU coating, durable polyester and Tricot Knit, making it fully waterproof, robust and breathable. It weighs 460 g and offers a custom fit (which is useful given the one-size option).

The reflective strips on the front and back, along with reflective piping round the edges, increase visibility (and safety).

A stylish poncho that comes with a handy storage bag so that you can easily bring it with you if you suspect the weather is about to change for the worst.

3. Freiesoldaten Waterproof Cycling Rain Poncho

  • UK Flag £29
  • EU Flag €33

Prices are approximate

Size: One Size

Snap fastener on the back to adjust the size

Two long reflector strips on the front and back

A durable rain poncho at a great price

  • High quality, durable waterproof fabric, lightweight, breathable and easy clean
  • Clear panel at the front that allows for full visibility
  • Snap fastener on the back to adjust the size
  • Adjustable drawstring under the neck
  • Easy to fold, with carry bag included
  • Two long reflector strips on the front and back
  • Waterproof fabric at stitching port to prevent water entry
  • Hidden cuff to prevent rain entering whether your hand is in or out

Highly affordable, this poncho boasts a number of clever and useful features along with a two-tone design – blue and grey or yellow and grey, with reflective strips on the front and back offering greater visibility.

Made of lightweight, easy clean and breathable material and with a convenient front zipped pocket, this is an excellent option for commuters who want a quality poncho that ‘does the job’ without breaking the bank.

Coming in one size, it does have adjustment options. And with thoughtful features such as the clear panel for visibility and hidden cuff, this poncho certainly has a lot going for it.

4. VAUDE Poncho Covero II

  • UK Flag £50
  • EU Flag €45

Prices are approximate

  • Length (medium): 96 cm

Inner elasticated stomach strap

Reflective elements on the front and back

An eco-friendly, lightweight poncho with a classic style

  • Length (medium) 96 cm
  • Two side arm slots
  • Inner elasticated stomach strap
  • Material: Water repellent Eco Finish without harmful PFCs
  • Front pocket for storage
  • Reflective elements on the front and back
  • Hand loops to hook around your handlebars
  • Adjustable, tailored hood

With five sizes to choose from, ranging from small to XX large, there’s no doubt about this poncho being the right fit. It’s also super-light, weighing a mere 295 g.

Available in three colours, including ‘Indian red’ and the (very visible) ‘lemon’, there’s also no doubt that you’ll be seen in murky conditions.

VAUDE value their ethical commitment and are transparent about where the garments are made. They use environmentally-friendly, sustainable materials that are made in fair-production facilities.

Handy features such as an inner elastic stomach strap and adjustable hood with clear panels on either side, only add to the appeal.

5. SaphiRose PONCHO

  • UK Flag £29
  • EU Flag €29

Prices are approximate

  • Material: polyester

Adjustable hood with drawstring

Sleeves with button to reduce flapping

An affordable multi-function poncho

  • Material: polyester (breathable, durable and highly waterproof)
  • Large front pocket with zipper
  • Adjustable hood with drawstring
  • Sleeves with button to reduce flapping
  • Matching carry pouch for easy storage

The SaphiRose boasts itself as a ‘3-in-1 multi-function’ poncho. Not only is it a waterproof cloak, but it can also be used as an awning cloth or a tent ground sheet mat. Ideal for those wet camping trips.

It’s available in an impressive ten colours, the brightest being ‘orange’. And the ‘universe’ colour option cannot be ignored – unique, strange and frankly, inspired.

The cheapest of our picks, this one-size poncho measures 22.2 x 14.6 x 6.4 cm. With its simple, solid design and multi uses, it offers good value for money. At a lightweight 340 g, it does the job, and much more besides…

All of these ponchos offer reflectivity (in varying degrees), and this is an absolute no-brainer. Most rain jackets will be reflective or have reflective parts, and why shouldn’t we ask the same of a poncho? After all, if it’s raining, even in the daylight, conditions are likely to be darker.

Ponchos are undeniably useful in terms of ease and weight, but they’re certainly not the only way you can keep dry. Even with the adjustments and straps on offer, there is going to be some flapping around.

And if, ultimately, you just can’t bear the billowy design of a rain cape, there are plenty of lightweight jackets on the market, along with a range of good waterproof cycling trousers. The choice is yours.

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