Review: Hincapie Elemental Rain Pant

Thursday, 5 January 2012

I wore rain pants the other day. This is not the opening line of a joke, similar to “I shot a moose” but instead it feels like a guilty admission as I’d never have imagined wearing these after years of riding with lycra-based clothing. In my mind leg warmers or bibtights are used in winter and nothing else exists.

However if these hadn’t been on my radar before they’ve been useful and allowed me to ride when I might otherwise have stayed indoors.

As background I mentioned a quest for a rain jacket that didn’t flap in the wind and Hincapie Sports were reading and sent me a box of items to review. There was hand-wringing over how to review these items and if it’s proved harder than I thought, it’s been an interesting mental exercise too. Having reviewed a jacket, time for the rain pants.

Product description
These are designed to go on top of your leggings to provide an extra barrier to the rain, much as you’d wear a rain jacket. They are black with an elastic waistband and drawstring and zips to close on the ankles where there is also elastication and silicone leg grippers. There is reflective piping by the zips and the Hincapie logo on the front is reflective too. They sell for $79.99.

First time
Putting them on for the first time felt strange, as if I was wearing a rain-proof zoot suit because of the room around the thighs and the zip that makes them snug towards the ankles. That’s to exaggerate but only because I’d become so used to tight clothing on the legs that some loose fabric felt strange at first.

The start of the first ride was equally strange, there’s a slight rustling of the fabric during the pedal stroke and the material doesn’t stretch much in the vertical sense between the waistband and ankle zips. But five minutes into my ride I forgot about them, only it was cold and wet outside and I was warm and dry inside.

In simple terms these are polyester trousers with a rainproof coating applied, the kind that makes water bobble on top and drip off. They’re light and despite being loose, cut to the shape of your legs. I used a Small and it was a close fit, these were not flapping during the ride.

On the road these work effectively. Zip the closings on top of overshoes and use a jacket over the top and any rain below the waist runs off. They are not 100% waterproof, if you splash through puddles then dampness gets inside but during a rainy ride you should stay dry inside and above all, a lot warmer.

Folds up to fit in your pocket

Longer term I’ve only ridden in heavy rain with these about ten times and the waterproof coating is fine but how long it will hold up is another matter, particularly where road spray sends up grit to the rear. Similarly repeated washing can get to the coating but for now things look like new. You can also remove them and fold them into a tennis-ball sized bundle to fit in a jacket pocket – see the photo above –  although you’ll have to stop to take them off. And if they are warm, I don’t know how they’d feel over shorts if you were to ride during a summer downpour, they’re fine for winter but I’ll have to wait months to try this.

Summary
As someone who had never used anything like this the transition from “these are weird” when you pull them on for the first time to “hey I’m warm and dry” out on the road is the best surprise. These are low on style but big on function and if you’re image concious everyone else will be indoors whilst you’re on the road. Indeed that’s the best thing with these rain pants, you can ride for some time in the rain when you might not have lasted so long or even better, go for a ride on a day when you might have stayed indoors.

Rider Council January 5, 2012 at 11:00 pm

When you say ‘ride’, do you mean like, training? Or are we talking about going out for a spin casually around the town? If they are not waterproof then what is the point? Anyone who goes out to ride, train that is, in the rain for more than 10 minutes knows you will get wet no matter what you wear. It’s not about staying dry, its about staying warm and a good pair of tights and a wind jacket will do the trick unless its freezing rain. Hands, feet and the head are what really need to be protected and more than 3 hours you risk getting sick. This product is for a commuter, a ‘bicyclist’ not a ‘cyclist’.

The Inner Ring January 5, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Rider Council: they are waterproof, just not 100%, so I’d not take them on a wet MTB ride with river crossings and expect a total barrier to any moisture. But with these I’ve ridden in heavy rain, sleet and snow and stayed dry, or as dry as you can expect. They allow a lengthy ride in the rain when legwarmers would be wet and the rider cold to the bone. Like you perhaps I took a look and mentally labelled these for commuting… but they were effective for training.

Rider Council January 6, 2012 at 12:11 am

Dry as you can expect is not dry. You also need to cool off and if you are heating up under bagging polyester pants like these you will get wet regardless. For those who do train in the rain experience will tell you that nothing works, you get wet and you just deal with it. If they work they we can expect to see the pro’s using them come March and April in Belgium.

The Inner Ring January 6, 2012 at 7:59 am

Again when I saw dry I mean it’s satisfactory. If you wear a rain jacket you still get wet over time as water drips in via the neck and cuffs, thing of these as a rain jacket for the legs. You wouldn’t use these in the rain because of the size, they flap a tiny bit and you can’t remove whilst riding at speed like you can a jacket.

inopinatus January 6, 2012 at 8:14 am

@Rider Council – experience tells me to wear merino wool, which stays warm when wet. This makes for excellent technical clothing. Praise to those technical sheep! They sure know how to keep snug.

The Inner Ring January 6, 2012 at 8:23 am

You need oil too to copy the sheep in full effect, they have an oil wax secreted by their skin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanolin.

Fortunately this is an old trick amongst cyclists and soigneurs, on a wet day you rub baby oil which is often derived from lanolin on to the legs and importantly, the lower back around the kidneys. Then get dressed. This offers an extra barrier to the rain.

Rider Council January 6, 2012 at 10:59 am

@inopinatus. yes, and not only that, skin tight clothing is better. With baggy clothing @90 rpm + you will only get wet underneath which is even worse with the trapped air cooling you down, not to mention the chaffing around the crotch area. These panths are for postmen on the west coast of Ireland, bike messengers in NYC and the commuter on a Dahon. It’s not really clear from the review what kind of rider they are intended for but I assume from the text, cyclists who ride to build condition i.e train in rain. Sorry but in that case this review needs a review. If you are dedicated enough to want to ride in the rain you need any other product that looks more like this below not the golf trousers above.

http://blog.castelli-cycling.com/2010/11/26/castelli-wet-gear-part-2/

The Inner Ring January 6, 2012 at 11:11 am

Rider Council: that’s my point although maybe badly expressed above. You take a look at these and think “they’re for transport, not sport”. I thought just the same as you until I reluctantly tried these… and was surprised.

inopinatus January 6, 2012 at 11:51 am

I have to add on the basis of the review I still don’t understand if they are for me. Similarly to @Rider Council above, I’d hope to see that they’d been tried in a two+ hour over-threshold training ride in a continuous shower at five degrees celsius. Can I suggest that a review of technical clothing should command an equally technical review with quite specific detail of the test objective and the parameters (in this case: route, intensity, conditions, duration)? Remember that with The Inner Ring being purposefully anonymous, we don’t know your personal perspective -whether you’re an elite Kermesse-riding hardman, Pat McQuaid revealing his sensitive side, an Irish postman, or a retired Polish soigneur. As a result, a context-limited set of personal reactions (as seen above) is difficult to interpret usefully.

I have the impression – apologies if I’m wrong – that you’re still feeling your way on the how and why of product reviewing so please take this as constructive feedback for the future.

Note: the problem with most waterproofing garments isn’t that they keep the rain out, it’s that they keep the sweat in. (also the potential for chafing, and the aerodynamics or lack thereof).

Rider Council January 6, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Apologies if I seem to be hogging this post but I completely agree with @inopinatus. The fact that you are anonymous does not help when you are taking on to review a product. A review in my opinion should be done by an ex-pro cyclists or a panel of ex-pro cyclists who have ridden many hours in heat, snow and rain. I’m not convinced at all by what you are saying but perhaps people with less experience may. So having said that you are EXCELLENT when it comes to investigating the politics of cycling among many other topics but I would prefer you test a little better before you commit to review or leave it to someone else. You reviewed a ‘rain jacket’ by Hincapie as well that really was not a solution either. Hincapie is a great company but yet these are the answers regardless, so review every one out there. You have a big following now and I’ve said it before here you can’t remain anonymous when you are in a position to influence the opinion of others. Everyone man, woman, organisation and company needs to be transparent with the current changes going on in cycling and dare I say it, that includes you.

Chris January 6, 2012 at 2:22 pm

@Rider Council
Geeze mate, lay off. You registered your disagreement a while back, but four posts is getting a bit stalkerish.
As far as I can see from your posts, you haven’t tried them. Inrng has. He said he was skeptical and gave them a try and is somewhat convinced they work as intended.
You’re being pretty demanding of a free service, which is what he is to you, be it for info or entertainment.
Your quote: “You reviewed a ‘rain jacket’ by Hincapie as well that really was not a solution either. Hincapie is a great company but yet these are the answers regardless, so review every one out there” is a demand that Inrng tests every rain jacket there is. WTF? Unrealistic much? What paid journalist does that? Every jacket?
This is a review of this pair of pants. That was a review of that jacket. They are not buyer’s guides to specific waterproof training gear. If you want that, go pay for your info. As for reviews only being done by ex pros… Well, that is just stupid.
This is not a raving review. It says they kept him dry. It says he went out and stayed dryer than he would normally. Quote: “you can ride for some time in the rain when you might not have lasted so long or even better, go for a ride on a day when you might have stayed indoors.”
If you want more info than that (@inopinatus) google the things and research like the rest of us.

The Inner Ring January 6, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Easy guys! I appreciate Chris’s support but hear Rider Council too. See the link to the “about” section up top regarding identity. Note the whole thing started after I was discussing the energy wasted wearing a rain jacket in a race (and not the postal delivery route).

I promised to review the Hincapie gear… so I will. Like I said it’s been an interesting exercise – I’d never have used these pants for starts. But I’ll probably stick to book reviews rather than clothing and gear. I turned down the loan of a team-issue bike earlier this week just because I probably couldn’t do the review the way I wanted it.

karsten January 6, 2012 at 2:44 pm

nice review @inrng – it reads as if it were a friend telling you he’s got a new bit for his bike and then it’s down to you to decide if you want one.

However, no need to show off your large banana.

ali January 9, 2012 at 1:57 pm

I always thought that the point of a review is to tell of a personal experience( which is covered by inrng), otherwise it would be an advert for Hincapie. well done inrng , in today’s press its hard to keep all happy.

PS: amazed by inrng patience. I would have told RC to ff by now .

Neil January 14, 2012 at 12:43 am

I wonder if anyone has any comments on the Assos stuff which arrived heavily advertised in my mail with the biggest piece of print I’ve seen.

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