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Cycling in the rain. That’s when your choice of attire really matter.
Get it wrong, and you’ll rock up at your destination as a mess. Soggy trousers. Soggy feet. Soggy head. Soggy everything.
If you want to stay dry when you’re riding, you essentially face two options:
- Wear water-resistant clothes (great for shorter rides in light rain)
- Create a waterproof cocoon with waterproof overshoes, overtrousers and a rain jacket (a necessary evil in extreme downpours)
Finding truly waterproof trousers that look and feel good is an almost impossible task. There are some great water resistant trousers for commuting (which I covered in detail here), but they’re not completely impenetrable. So if it gets extreme, you’ll need to opt for waterproof overtrousers.
But with jackets, there’s a bit more scope. There are some genuinely good-looking truly waterproof bike jackets out there that are even breathable.
And I checked out the wordy Helly Hansen Ride Hooded Cycling Rain Jacket to see if it was one of them.
Helly Hansen Men's Ride Hooden Cycling Rain Jacket
The Helly Hansen Men’s Ride Hooded Cycling Rain Jacket is a high-performance jacket designed for wet weather cycling. It features waterproof and breathable fabric, adjustable cuffs and hem, and reflective accents for visibility. The hood is also adjustable and can fit over a helmet.
- Reflective features
- Adjustable cuffs and hood
- Hood can’t be clipped in place
Helly Hansen Cycling Rain Jacket
Now, first things first… this is a nice-looking jacket – especially for a hardshell rain jacket.
It’s a simple design, but unlike other waterproof jackets, it has a nice straight fit and contours the body well.
It’s available in black (as pictured), plus “Sweet Lime” (bright yellow), if you like to be very visible.
There’s everything you’d expect from a cycling rain jacket: adjustable cuffs, a slightly dropped back to shelter your rear and several pockets.
One thing that also surprised me is that this jacket also features reflective detailing. Surprising in the way that when I was writing this review initially – I made a comment that it’s a shame that there is no reflectivity. However, after taking a flash photo of this jacket – I discovered that this isn’t the case. On the contrary, all the white text and icons on the black jacket (the grey features on the yellow version) are actually reflective. In normal daylight, you’d never think this is the case, so I’d say that’s a big win for this jacket as other “reflective jackets” start gleaming in any indoor light, which can look a bit silly in casual settings.
This Helly Hansen jacket weighs in at just 480 grams, so there’s no doubt that it’s lightweight. But it’s also extremely breathable. This isn’t one of those jackets that keeps the rain out but feels like a sauna on the inside, it’s lightweight and well-ventilated. I’d go as far to say that it’s the ideal spring/summer jacket, especially if you’re worried about rain.
The other great thing I like about this jacket is that it can also be rolled up to be extremely compact, which means you can pop it in a bag without taking up much space.
Hooded Cycling Jacket
Notably, this is a hooded jacket – which can be somewhat of a controversial topic amongst the cycling community.
Why? Because hoods aren’t aerodynamic. And I don’t mean like marginal gains and Lycra aerodynamic – having a loose hood while facing a headwind can be like having a parachute behind you – and parachutes, by design, are made to slow you down.
However, if I’m caught in a downpour, I’d prefer it if my head stays dry as well as my body.
The good thing with the Helly Hansen hood is that it fits well around the head – not leaving too much unnecessary space, but not acting like an extra piece of skin on your head either.
When you’re riding with the hood up, it does a good job of staying in place. It’s also got a lot adjustable chords around the head and neck so you can make it even more secure if you like, while the hood has an almost “cap” over the forehead, providing you with a welcome bit of extra coverage for your face. All of these touches ensure that the hood won’t be slowing you down while you’re riding in the rain.
When you’re riding with the hood down, it’s not quite as practical. In normal conditions it’s fine and doesn’t get in the way, but when I’m facing a particularly strong headwind, it doesn’t create a bit of a parachute effect. My inelegant solution to this was to shove the hood down inside the jacket at the back of the neck.
I’m no clothing designer, but I do wonder if a smarter solution couldn’t be found to prevent this problem – perhaps just a couple of simple buttons which you could use to keep the hood in place when it’s not in use.
There are two deep hand pockets on this jackets, which have button seals. I was a bit surprised that buttons were used rather than zips, but after wearing it about, I think it was a good decision from the Helly Hansen team. The pockets are well-protected and have these kind of flaps on the inside which helps to keep water out while keep the contents in, with the buttons just providing a final level of protection. Have buttons rather than zips makes it more comfortable to pop your hands inside.
If you want a more secure pocket, there’s also a zipped pocket on the chest which is big enough for a phone.
Helly Hansen Hooded Rain Jacket Summary
All-in-all, I’m a big fan of this jacket. I’ve had several other waterproof jackets before, but rarely do I actually want to wear them unless I’m expecting rain. This one, on the otherhand, still looks like a really nice jacket that I’m happy to wear in a range of social settings, while also being extremely comfortable and breathable to wear. For me, I’m find it to be an ideal jacket for spring – but it would also be great for rainy summer days.
Obviously, Helly Hansen gear isn’t cheap and this jacket is no different as it will set you back a solid £160. But if you want one really good rain jacket that actually looks good, then I’d really recommend Helly Hansen’s Ride Hooded Rain Jacket.