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 in doors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.