Ask RideApart: Wet Weather Gear

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Ask RideApart Wet Weather Gear

It’s a fact of life. If you’re going to ride a motorcycle you are going to get rained on and you are going to get wet. So what should you look for when choosing gear that is not too bulky, that fits well and doesn’t leak?

Question:

My first ride was this weekend on the CB500X. There is still snow on the ground where I was, but the weather was warm and I needed the ride! It was fantastic. Thanks for the advice almost a year ago!

Any advice on decent rain gear that doesn’t balloon up and fits over my riding jacket? One piece or two-piece?

Again, many many thanks.

Tyler S.

Answer:

Hi Tyler

Thanks for the question. There’s no real or right answer to this as it all depends on the budget you have, the style you’re looking for and what works for you. The most important thing is that whatever you choose, keeps you dry, is easy to put on and take off and doesn’t impede your riding.
There are some things to bear in mind when looking for a motorcycle rain suit. The fit should be loose so it fits easily over your regular riding gear. (An exception is wet weather gear made for wearing over race leathers. This has to be as tight as possible so that the high speeds don’t cause it to balloon up or add drag.)
Sleeves on rain jackets and the legs of rain pants should cover your wrists and ankles when in the riding position. This helps prevent rainwater from getting in between your gloves and jacket cuffs and the area between boots and the pant hems. The back of a wet weather suit is also elongated to protect the waist area. Most importantly, none of it should be binding in a way that will interfere with controlling your motorcycle. But it also shouldn’t be too loose and flapping around in the wind and rain when you ride.

Most wet weather riding gear is designed to be very easy to put on and take off. Bear in mind when looking for a new rain suit that sizing is typically slightly larger so the gear fits over your every day riding apparel. The idea is to pull off the road and change into or out of rain gear quickly. Whatever you decide on, the important thing is to try it on and check that it works for you. Ideally, if you can do this on a bike so much the better as you’ll get a much better idea of it’s going to work for you.

Tour Master Elite Series 2 Rain Suit
The Tour Master Elite Series II One-Piece Rainsuit is a good place to start. It’s rugged, well made and should last you a good long time. At $109 it’s not going to break the bank either. The Elite features a polyurethane-backed heavy-duty nylon shell with sealed seam construction, a collar-to-fly-length main zipper with dual wind flap and Velcro closure, an “Aqua-Barrier” under-the-helmet hood to help prevent rain water getting into the collar area (it can be stowed away in a hidden collar pocket), and there’s polyester mesh lining to help with air circulation.

There are also a chest map pockets with waterproof zippers, plus there’s a thigh pocket for additional storage. Underarm grommets help with airflow, along with the ‘Scoop Vent System’, which helps the suit breathe. Scotchlite reflective piping and Tour Master’s signature reflective triangles help increase nighttime visibility. It also has elastic cuffs with Velcro closure at sleeves and pant legs that help keep things tight and a hanging loop is built into the collar for post-ride air-drying.

Rev'It Pacific H20 Rain Suit

Or for a few bucks more, there’s the Rev’It Pacific H2O Rain Suit at $119.99, which we at RideApart like a lot. It folds away when not in use and can be easily stored on a bike if you’ve got bags. Like the Elite, the H2O is a one-piece shell suit that’s been designed to be worn over your existing protective gear. It features an internal waistband, so any rainwater that pools in your lap won’t get in. The waterproof exterior is what Rev’It calls ‘power nylon’ and the inside of the suit features full taped seams with the full length zipper covered by a rain gutter to prevent water getting in.

You also get reflective paneling on the shoulders and lower legs, a micro-fleece liner at the collar and a storage pocket on the left leg. Comes in either black or black/high viz and according to Rev’It is small enough to be folded up and kept in a top case or backpack for when the heavens open and it begins to rain.

If you’re still insistent on having the flexibility of separate jacket and pant combination take a look at the Motopart Aero-Tex Rain Jacket at $169. We’ve recommended this gear before as it has a lot of features for the price.

Aero-Tex Rain Jacket

Using Gore-Tex and other man made breathable materials, the Aero-Tex’s seams are double stitched and sealed from the inside and there are heavy-duty YKK zippers, as well as double flap, Velcro rain gutters to keep the water out. This jacket can also be customized to fit you perfectly, and the Velcro adjustments at the collar, base, and hem all help tailor the fit for specific weather conditions. There’s also a micro-fleece lining and reflective piping and you get a huge range of colors to choose from.

For an additional $99.00 you can also buy the Aero-Tex wet weather pants that go with this jacket. These pants feature a couple of storage pockets on each thigh and an elastic waistband that sits under the jacket. They are made in the same waterproof material as the Aero-Tex jacket and for around $260 for jacket and pants they’re not going to break the bank. However, remember this is a two-piece suit and may not be quite as waterproof as a one-piece. It also doesn’t have any armor and while Aero-Tex suggests that this combination is well ventilated enough you can wear it when it has stopped raining you’ll still need your every day protective gear with armor underneath.

Hope this helps Tyler.

Anyone else got some good suggestions on rain gear and what to look for?

  • William Connor

    I highly recommend buying gear that is waterproof so you don’t have to deal with carrying more stuff. Minimizing extras makes it easier and more likely you will actually take it with you.

    • daveinva

      I’m actually of the opposite opinion. While I have waterproof armored gear for my winter riding, once the weather is nice I prefer to wear leather, and in summer, mesh. The former demands separate rain gear, while the latter is much improved by it (sure, many manufacturers include integrated waterproof liners, but water-logged mesh is a PITA).

      I’ve never had trouble finding room to stow a set of Frogg Toggs, and I can get them on in less than a minute underneath an overpass, no big whup.

      • Davidabl2

        Easier to pack the two halves in limited space than one big suit.

  • Jacob Glide

    Thanks for this timely article. RA seems to like the Rev’it suit (and the reviews seem to support it, as well). I didn’t know about the Tour Master suit until just now, but that hood feature seems pretty killer. How important is that feature if you’re already using a full face helmet? Is the extended collar on the Rev’it suit enough?

    • Piglet2010

      I have both a Tour Master 2-piece and a Rev’it Pacific, and the Rev’it is considerably better quality. Fortunately, I was wearing the Tour Master when I crashed at the track in the rain. Both have kept me dry in heavy rain, albeit on bikes with front fairings and windshields.

  • Davidabl2

    How about these folks in Oregon: http://www.froggtoggsraingear.com/Motorcycle.shtm ?
    It should be noted that any decent rainwear will also help you survive&thrive unexpectedly cold weather, since it’s a windproof outer layer.

    • Phil Mills

      Seconded. Their bike-oriented gear is also available in hi-vis yellow/green with plenty of reflective piping on it. That is the sort of obnoxious look you want to be sporting in the rain where everybody’s dealing with reduced visibility. The jacket’s got a hidden hood on it that fits perfectly under a helmet to seal up the gap in the back.

      I prefer separate pants/jacket since it lets me decide what I’m really needing – early mornings in the mountains get chilly, so I’ll often just put on the pants as a wind-liner since my riding jacket is warm down to pretty stupid temperatures. Or if it’s just raining lightly but I’ll be out in it for a while, my regular jacket is water-proof enough, but a layer over my decidedly NOT waterproof pants is appreciated.

      • Davidabl2

        As the saying goes “Great minds think alike” ..I always add “And so do ours” :-)

  • it_weenie

    I try to use water proof gear when possible. I have a one piece rain suit that I can put on under my gear if I need it. It’s packs very small and takes up very little space in my bag. If my normal gear won’t keep me dry, I put this on under my gear as a last ditch effort, but if I’m reaching for it, it’s nearly a monsoon.

    EDIT: I bought it as a daily deal at one of the online sites for $30. I’ve had to wear it twice.

  • appliance5000

    Will there ever be motorcycle reviews again? Maybe an in depth historical series about famous motorcycles? Just some grist for the endless void that is my internet life?

    • http://www.rideapart.com/ Nolan Zandi

      yes there will be

      • Justin McClintock

        Can it pretty please be about the Britten V1000? Because honestly, I’ll never get enough of that thing!

  • HoldenL

    The answer is always:
    Roadcrafter, or
    Roadcrafter Light, or
    Roadcrafter Ultralight.

    • Piglet2010

      I disagree – Aerostich just introduced the new R-3 riding suit.

      http://www.aerostich.com/suits/one-piece-suits/r-3

      • Nemosufu Namecheck

        That is an awesome suit – If wish they made one with built in heat zones. Maybe next year. Gerbings just came out with a heated protective jacket and pants. I’d love to buy a heated stich though.

  • Fava d’Aronne

    My suggestion is that whatever he buys, he needs to understand that NO MATTER how much he pays for his gear, if the rain is strong enough and goes on for long enough, it will get through. Guaranteed. Rain suits are to rain what locks are to thieves: at some point the water (the thieves) will break in.

    I am confident that some of the new materials currently developed (nano materials?) may change this, but this is where we are at right now.

    • Justin McClintock

      Indeed. If I know for certain it’s going to rain that day, I take the only rain suit I know that’ll keep my dry all the way to work and back….my car.

  • Nemosufu Namecheck

    Lots of good info in here so I’ll just add that rain gear like cold weather gear has to be put on with strategy. You can buy awesome gear but if you put yourself together wrong it won’t matter one way or the other. Do do quick test with all of your rain gear on a chilly morning. If you can feel breeze, that is where water is going to come in.

    Pay attention to
    - Gloves: make sure they overlap the jacket, or have some rain covers that do.
    - Neck: you are looking for a seal here that hopefully extends a little into your helmet. Scarves can wick water right into your expensive gear so if you usually wear one think about that
    - Boots: Getting your boots waterproof is usually pretty easy, but socks can wick water into your boots and pants. One riding suit I have works best tucked into my boots, the other one works best pulled over the top.

    I am a big fan of froggtoggs, roadcrafter, and BMW Rallye III, but there is so much good gear our there now.

  • somebody_aight

    The Rev’ It suit has a really crappy zipper. My zipper broke off after 3 uses. Had to take it to the alterations shop to have a better zipper installed. I’ve noticed that Rev’It’s more affordable
    stuff tends to be really poorly made.

  • hunkyleepickle

    Great article…..great at depressing me. Its been raining for weeks straight here in the pacific northwest, oh lovely spring. Good rain gear is a must here, but the expectation that one will occasionally get a little damp in spots is also required i think.

  • Piglet2010

    If I had no gear and was buying something for riding extended distances in the rain, this would be the choice: http://www.aerostich.com/suits/one-piece-suits/r-3-light

    Not buying one only because I have a Roadcrafter Light with many years of wear left in it.

  • Brian Reynolds

    Dudes. That Tourmaster Elite one piece was the worst piece of rain gear I’ve ever purchased. First and only time I ever donned the thing it leaked all over the place.

  • Daniel

    If I can find some Polartec Neoshell cheap enough,I will get a one peice suit custom made.No more sweaty sauna nylon bag for me…the humidity in the Northeast requires fabrics that breathe and Neoshell is suppose to be better than Gore-tex in that regard.

  • PJ Hawk

    Start a leasing company for Aerostitch, Klim, etc…

  • Ben Paraan

    Military issue Goretex parka and overpants work very well for me. The zippers, velcro and generous sizing allow very fast donning and quick adjustments. Goretex keeps you dry and prevent the swampy feeling. There is a huge zipper from the elbow to the armpit that can allow a lot of air to vent and then go out the big vent in the back of the parka. Just throw it over your jacket (works awesome with mesh jackets in the warmer months). Worked well when I had a H-D Dyna SuperGlide, and works well with my BMW K1600 GTL.

  • eddi

    I’m with the waterproof gear folks. That said in summer, if the weather looks unpromising, I do stow a Tourmaster 2 piece rainsuit. Worn over a mesh outfit.

  • Jonny

    I bought a cheap, plasticy $30 two piece suit for a 3-day fall trip last year because a) I didn’t have much room after the girlfriends helmet and jacket were packed and b) there was only a 30% chance of rain the first day. You know how that works, right. After a sudden, unexpected temp drop, I rode through 4 hours of 40-55° temps and pouring rain/lightning on the way out. Thanks AccuWeather! Anyways, the cheapo jacketpants worked great. Made it easy to pull over at a gas station and throw the set on over my gear. No leaks! Since its so easy to roll up and cram in a tail bag or backpack, its now my go to for commuting, golfing, camping, etc. That high dollar textile jacket and matching pants never left my closet last year. Just saying. I want to say it was a Tourmaster, but I could be wrong. Its in my golf bag right now!

  • Kevin

    I just rode with the Rev’it suit through two days of cold and rain, and it did its job. A few points though: there is no port to pass a cable for heated gear so keep that in mind. I did get cold even though I was dry (it was in the low 50′s). Also it may not fit if you have a belly. As someone else noted, the zipper did stick on me several times, once very thoroughly and it took a lot of effort to unstick. Finally, the hi-viz yellow is so damn bright that I actually got comments on it as I traveled around. One of my riding buddies said I looked like a Minion.