Today’s question is about waterproof garments for riding and commuting in bad weather, especially at this time of year when darkness falls early…

Hi Coach Levi. I’m a father of two and an English teacher living in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan. I commute in the evenings by bicycle. I’m curious if you could recommend a reputable American company that produces very visible, waterproof and durable rainwear? I look forward to hearing from you.

Wet Willie

Hi Willie,

Thanks for the email. You’re actually not the first English teacher from Japan that has written in! Perhaps my website is popular there?

Anyway… I can’t give you all the answers to this question, because:

  1. I’m usually out training or racing rather than commuting, so I don’t mind wearing lighter weight clothing and getting soaked.
  2. I simply can’t keep up to date on every cycling clothing option that comes out every year.

But I’ll start by saying that as far as I know, no one beats Gore Tex when it comes to combining superb waterproof qualities and breathability. And that’s a big reason why a cycling jacket made with Gore Tex is typically going to cost $200-400.

Jackets with eVent fabric are supposed to be nice, too, with some people liking them more than Gore Tex. I have never worn eVent or seen it in action, but one of the products with it is this REI Shuksan jacket. It’s a hiking jacket but it might give you some ideas. (Last I checked, REI isn’t offering any bike jackets with eVent technology.)

showers pass double century jacket

The one company that I never forget when it comes to rain wear is Showers Pass. They make quite a few jackets, and the one I always read about is their mid-priced Double Century jacket. This $175 jacket (available at REI) is a super light and packable shell designed for long miles in the saddle. The emphasis is on being ultra-light, waterproof, and breathable.

And it comes in lime green (pictured,) my personal favorite rainwear color!

If you’re more concerned with staying dry, consider the Showers Pass Elite jacket. This $249 jacket uses eVent and Elite 3-Layer rip stop fabrics, body-mapped to maximize breathability and waterproof/windproof protection. They consider it “the gold standard” in rain jackets!

Showers Pass is based in Portland, Oregon. Considering the wet conditions in the Pacific Northwest, they should know what they’re doing! (You can order online or through a bike shop, and I see they have one dealer listed in Japan.)

They also make waterproof pants and waterproof socks! The socks are $35 and the pants range from $65 up to $225.

showers pass elite jacket

Aside from those pointers, I’m not sure of any jackets that are extremely popular and well-regarded. Assos is probably a good example of being reputable, but they’re not an American company.

For further reading I suggest turning to the masses at RoadBikeReview in their jackets and vest review section. (Spoiler alert: Showers Pass jackets are some of the top-rated.)

Lastly, the good news is that most every waterproof cycling jacket today is going to be available in a high visibility color and will include reflective stripes somewhere.

Pictured to the left is the aforementioned Showers Pass Elite jacket in gold. You can see the reflective strips along the back and arms.

Hope that helps you find something good, and hopefully you’re doing alright over there!

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