Rain Gear or Waterproof Riding Gear?
Let’s be honest, if you ride a motorcycle at some point, you have been or will be caught in the rain. In the Pacific Northwest, it is so likely to rain that many people have specific sets of gear just for riding in the rain. Some people ride year-round and prefer the waterproof riding gear, while others prefer a set of rain gear to keep them dry. So, what is the difference between the two?
Rain Gear is typically defined as a waterproof barrier that goes over your protective motorcycle gear to keep you dry. It is typically made from PVC, Rubber, or Nylon, but special kinds of materials like Gore-Tex can also be found in higher end garments.
Motorcycle rain gear is different than the typical rain gear you would get from say Walmart, because it is subjected to much higher stresses when riding a motorcycle than what someone running can put them through. We have heard over the years just how poorly the sets picked up from Walmart performed on their trips.
Rain gear is typically found as individual garments like Rain Jackets, Rain Pants, 1 Piece Rain Suits, or 2 Piece Rain Suits, and while glove and boot covers can also be found, most people prefer to buy waterproof gloves and waterproof boots instead of the covers out of convenience.
So, check out our large selection of Motorcycle Rain Gear!
Waterproof Riding Gear is designed for crash protection first and water proofing second. They are most frequently made from textiles and are easily identified because of the rubber covered fabric of the zipper, and flaps covering the most common ways for water to enter the garment. Waterproof garments will usually have a waterproof coating on the non-abrasion side of the fabric outer shell, or a waterproof, windproof removable liner.
On garments such as gloves or boots that are waterproof, it is usually a mid-membrane layer that is waterproof. So, if you have waterproof gloves use caution when pulling your hands out, because you can break the stitch that holds the fingers in place.
If you own leathers the simple and easy way to go is with Rain Gear, because it will keep your leathers dry allowing you to ride more since you wouldn’t be waiting for your leathers to dry. The other option would be to buy a new set or riding gear specifically for the rain.
In a pinch you could stop by almost anywhere and get a garbage bag, but that will leave your arms and legs exposed to getting wet. Where a one-piece rain suit will keep almost your entire body dry, although it sometimes isn’t the easiest thing to take with you or put on when on the road. Most commonly people will either buy a two-piece rain suit or, a rain jacket and rain pants separately. That is because they take less space to pack and are easier to put on if you get caught unexpectedly.
Imagine you’re on your motorcycle. The sky is overcast and gray. The road is black asphalt. It’s raining and the road wash is spraying a few feet off the road. And you know if something goes wrong, it will be hard to see you. Imagine it is at night, and you end up off the road away from the bike and you are unconscious… Did you remember to pick up raingear with hi-visibility features?
We have all heard stories of someone who got cold riding and put on their rain gear to stay warm, and there are a few stories of those who got soaked because their rain gear didn’t breathe and they sweated. On occasion you hear the stories of people who removed their rain gear all together, because they were getting too hot.
Now ventilation seems counter intuitive on rain or waterproof gear, but it can be life saver in hot climates. Picture this... it’s 85 degrees out your over an hour away from your home, and a storm just cut your path off. You can see the rain as the storm moves across the sky directly between you and home. You know if you don’t wear your rain or waterproof gear you are going to get soaked, but you also know if you do, you will either sweat or open some vents to be comfortable… I hope you chose rain or waterproof gear with venting.
If you are like many people, this isn’t even a consideration until it happens to you. You just bought brand new rain or waterproof gear and it gets just a little to close to those hot surfaces and the next thing you know you have a hole. Well, some rain and waterproof gear has built in or a patch you can put on that is a heat resistant panel. These panels have saved a lot of riders from holey rain or weather gear.
Some materials do not have very much grip when on a motorcycle seat, and this can cause a very uncomfortable ride. Imagine you are going out for a day ride, and you are hoping to avoid the weather, but it catches you. You are pulled over under an overpass putting on your rain or weather gear for the first time, and everything seems just fine… That is until you come to that first corner, and you start to slide to the outside of the seat.
Don’t worry, because you thought about that ahead of time and chose rain or waterproof gear that has grip to it, so you won’t slide around.
Some people want to be comfortable, so they go with a big size, others want it to have almost no movement when they are wearing it. Well think about these two scenarios. Scenario one you buy your rain or waterproof gear too big, now it’s flapping in the wind like a sail and putting tension on the seams where they can fail and let water in. Scenario two, you buy your rain or waterproof gear to fit snugly, but the first time you go to get on the bike, as you kick your leg over, you hear a seam fail.
Both of those scenarios can be avoided by buying the right fit. Most people tend to prefer a fit that is just loose enough that they can get on the bike without putting tension on the seams, and snug enough that it doesn’t blow much in the wind.
Is there anything I can do as an alternative to buying rain or waterproof gear? Yes, you can. There are plenty of waterproof sprays and seals on the market. They act as a waterproof barrier that can be worn away quickly but are a great alternative if you take short trips or are a fair-weather rider. You can check out a selection of Water Treatments here! or you can read our article Rain Gear Essentials here!