What’s the difference between ‘Waterproof’ and ‘Water Resistant’ Cycling Jackets?
A waterproof jacket is an essential piece of cycling kit, but what’s the difference between waterproof and water resistant and which is the best option for your cycling style?
Shopping for the right cycling jacket is just as challenging as accepting the fact that Summer is over and Winter is here because there are so many technical terms and different names for things. If you’re a larger cyclist trying to find an appropriate cycling jacket can be even harder and can come with some additional things to consider.
Although it sounds (almost) the same, a Waterproof or Water Resistant jacket is two different things and both have advantages and disadvantages.
Here’s our breakdown of the features and functionality of both, to help you decide.
For a jacket to be classed as waterproof, it must:
- be made from waterproof shell fabric
- have waterproof bonded seams
- ideally have a waterproof zipper
- ideally have a high neck/storm collar to keep the rain from seeping in
Waterproof jackets are versatile bits of kit and are often made from lightweight fabrics so they can pack into a pocket for when they are needed, so they’re a perfect item to carry with you all year round.
- Waterproof means that no rainwater can get into the jacket (other than down the neck hole) so if you’re caught in a downpour, you’ll stay dry underneath
- Because the fabrics are often wind and waterproof, they will also keep the wind out and that will help you stay warm if it’s a very blustery day
- Good for commuting or occasional use in case of rain
- Often packable, waterproof jackets are a great get you out of trouble item to carry with you and will keep the wind off you as well
- The main issue with waterproof jackets is that they can get hot because the moisture and heat that builds up inside the jacket can’t escape through the seams. Even with the best breathable, waterproof fabrics, there is a limit to how quickly moisture and heat can be ‘pushed’ through the jacket
- If you run hot, as many of our larger cyclists do, a waterproof jacket may leave you overheating and feeling clammy and wet from sweat
- With that in mind, you need to layer carefully and this can take a few attempts to get right
- Whilst a waterproof jacket is a vital piece of kit to have in your cycling wardrobe, it might not be the best option if you are looking for one allround jacket as you may struggle to regulate your body temperature across a wide range of weather conditions
- Waterproof jackets which have a brushed or thermal lining can be particularly difficult to regulate your body temperature
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A water-resistant cycling jacket uses waterproof fabrics, however, it doesn’t have waterproof seams and some panels of the jacket may use non waterproof fabrics, such as the side panels and the underarms to achieve a better fit and more comfort in riding position. The FLAB Wind and Water resistant jacket is an example of this where we use Lycra or Super
Roubaix on the side panels to achieve a better fit.
Because of your body shape in the cycling position, it’s not essential for these panels to be waterproof and there a big benefits to using other fabrics.
A Wind and water resistant jacket is often a go-to cycling jacket and can be worn on cooler dry days, drizzly days and for changeable conditions when you may face a shower or two later.
- This is a good alternative to a fully waterproof cycling jacket, particularly for larger cyclists who run hot
- Using wind and waterproof fabrics these jackets will keep most of the rain off and keep the wind out which will help you to stay warm
- Offer excellent breathability and will regulate your body temperature effectively because the hot air and moisture can more easily escape the jacket through the seams and non-waterproof panels
- These jackets tend to be more versatile because you can layer up and down for various weather conditions. They are particularly good for larger cyclists if you run hot as they give lots of layering options
- Wind and waterproof jackets come in a variety of fabric weights
- Lightweight jackets are ideal for Spring and Autumn and cool Summer days and will pack up into your back pocket, making them a great option for changeable weather or as an extra layer at the cafe stop
- Heavier weight water resistant jackets such as our Tor have a thermal inner which gives extra warmth and makes them suitable for colder weather
- Although these jackets will keep much of the rain off, they are not waterproof so in severe rain conditions, you might get wet patches where rain has ‘seeped’ into the jacket – e.g. on the shoulders or around the zip
Shop our Wind and Water Resistant jackets
Shop our TOR jackets