The best women’s waterproof cycling jacket will help you ride for longer and keep you dry, whatever the weather throws at you. After all, as Alfred Wainwright said, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing.
Waterproof cycling jackets come in two distinct guises. The first is the insulating kind you can wear all day when the weather’s at its worst. Pairing it with the best women’s cycling jerseys, best women’s base layers and best women’s cycling gloves should keep you toasty and dry in the depths of winter. The second is the packable kind that you only pull out for brief showers before stuffing back into your jersey pocket when the weather is unpredictable. Both have their merits and deserve a space in your cycling wardrobe. It’s all about finding the sweet spot between staying dry and cool at the same time.
For years, ‘waterproof’ equated to ‘boil in the bag’, meaning that while the rain stayed on the outside, the build-up of sweat beneath its impenetrable layers left you soaked through anyway. Thankfully waterproofing has come a long way since then, and while some cheaper garments still suffer from this, there’s a plethora of excellent kit that breathes.
Choosing the best women’s waterproof cycling jacket out of all the options available can be overwhelming. With various aspects coming into the equation — fabric, cut and aerodynamics, for example — it’s easy to be bogged down by a mountain of choices.
Thankfully, Cyclingnews is here to help make that choice a lot easier. We’ve listed our favourite women’s waterproof cycling jackets for all occasions and budgets. Read on for those, or jump ahead if you want to learn more about how to choose a women’s waterproof cycling jacket.
Best women’s waterproof cycling jackets
This loose-fitting and brightly coloured waterproof jacket from Endura is ideal for any urban cyclists wanting to stay visible on city streets, as well as road cyclists who want something with a loose fit. Despite its somewhat bulky appearance in comparison to other jackets on this list, the Endura Women’s Xtract Jacket II is made to be lightweight and packable, folding down to a size that makes it easy to stash away in a rear jersey pocket, though it also comes with its own stuff-sack, again making it a suitable option for urban commuters.
The 2.5-layer waterproof fabric is combined with sealed seams to keep the water out, and is waterproof to 5,000mm while also being fully breathable. Add to that a soft microfibre collar panel and elasticated cuffs and hem, and if your main priority is comfort, this is a good option for you. Meanwhile, the bright colour options and reflective trims will help you stay seen when it gets dark.
If we had to nit-pick, we’d say the zippered pocket at the rear, while useful, is placed at an angle that can make it a bit tricky to get to while on the go.
Another great option for commuters and urban cyclists, Altura’s Nightvision Storm waterproof jacket is designed to keep you dry and visible when the sun goes down. The sleeves and side panels are covered with reflective dots that not only light you up like a Christmas tree when it’s dark out, but also pass for a stylish pattern in the daytime. You could quite happily walk around town in this jacket without it screaming ‘cyclist’ at the people around you (unless you opt for the hi-vis yellow colourway, of course).
Fully waterproof taped seams ensure that the majority of the rain stays out, while ventilation ports on the back and underarms help to shed heat and let your skin breathe. The fleece-lined collar and relaxed fit make it a highly comfortable jacket for most occasions, while the ample zippered pockets — two hand pockets, one chest pocket and one rear pocket — let you store all your essentials within easy reach.
At this price point, it offers exceptional value for money, though we would say that if you’re likely to be riding in persistent, heavy rain all day, you may want to spend a little more, as this jacket will reach its waterproofing limit.
Rapha is a much-loved brand among road cyclists and it comes with a very distinctive aesthetic. The second iteration of its Women’s Core Rain Jacket retains that look with the signature armband and contrast Rapha logos on the front and rear.
Building on the success of the original Core Rain Jacket, this one comes with a redesigned elasticated cord around the hem, which now sits lower in order to provide a secure fit and prevent any unwanted flapping in the wind. Meanwhile the off-set YKK AquaGuard zipper keeps the rain out and doesn’t irritate your chin when done up.
Weighing 124g in a size small, it packs down easily and can be stored in a jersey pocket to be whipped out when you’re caught in a shower. It features reflective detailing on the sleeves and rear to help you stay visible in low lighting, and also has six laser-cut vents under the arms to allow heat to escape.
If you’re looking for a lightweight and packable waterproof layer that won’t ruin your look for the day, this could be the one. The only downside is that there aren’t any pockets, so if you end up wearing it for long periods of time, you may find it inconvenient when trying to reach for snacks.
If you’re likely to be spending a lot of time riding in the rain, you need to invest in something super waterproof. The Giro Chrono Expert jacket combines a lightweight 2.5-layer laminated fabric with Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coating, resulting in a respectable 15,000mm waterproof rating. It’s also rated to be 15,000g/m² breathable as well, so you don’t need to worry about boiling in the bag.
The jacket is cut to be slim-fitting, so it’s worth sizing up if you plan to wear several layers beneath it, though thanks to the stretchy fabric it moves with your body and doesn’t restrict movement on the bike. The only issue with the design is that the rear hem isn’t dropped as much as you’d expect on a waterproof jacket, so the splash and tyre spray coverage is fairly minimal. This jacket would be better suited paired with water-resistant shorts or tights so you don’t end up with a soaked undercarriage.
Wiggle’s own-brand dhb is well known for its well thought-out cycling kit and this Aeron Tempo FLT jacket is no exception. It features the brand’s Flashlight Technology, which consists of lots of cross-shaped reflective elements to ensure you light up like nobody’s business when cycling at night. The series of crosses form a pretty pattern in strategic places: across the chest, the rear, and at the end of the sleeves for when you’re indicating a turn.
There’s a very sizeable tail drop for excellent tyre and road splash protection, while the sleeve cuffs are elasticated on the underside for a precise fit, and elongated at the top to provide extra coverage for your hands. The 2.5L waterproof fabric with taped seams, high collar and two-way YKK AquaGuard Vislon zip ensure that the rain stays firmly away.
In terms of numbers, the dhb Aeron Tempo FLT jacket has the most boastworthy. Its waterproof rating is 30,000mm, while its breathability is claimed to be 25,000g/m2, making this one of the most waterproof and breathable jackets on our list. What’s more, its mid-range price tag makes it slightly more affordable for many people.
For the ultimate in pack-it-in-your-pocket-and-forget-about-it waterproof rain jackets, Gore’s C7 Gore-Tex Shakedry jacket is hands-down one of the best options out there. Claimed to weigh just 95g and packing down to a very respectable size, you won’t ever hesitate to stuff it in your jersey pocket before setting out on a ride. Even in the most unpredictable weather, you can very quickly whip it out, zip it up and shake the rain off when it comes time to put it away again.
Not only is it completely waterproof, it’s also windproof and extremely breathable, as well as robust enough to withstand the test of time. For anyone deterred by noisy, flapping waterproof jackets, you’ll be glad to hear that the C7 Shakedry jacket is cut to give a modern and aerodynamic fit with elongated sleeves and a dropped tail for splash coverage. The cut is described as ‘sportive feminine’ and should suit most female riders, however due to the fact that the material isn’t overly stretchy, ladies with super curvy parts may find it unforgiving. Sizing tends to come up snug as it is, so if you’re unsure, size-up.
The ‘RoS’ in the name stands for ‘rain or shine’, meaning that this waterproof layer from Castelli is designed to see you through most inclement weather, including during those awkward between-season stints where everything is unpredictable.
The two-layer construction of the jacket — literally meaning it has an outer barrier and inner insulated layer which are fastened independently of each other — means that the Castelli Alpha Ros 2 will keep you warm in pretty much any weather, and allow you to regulate your body temperature by unzipping the outer layer if you overheat.
Constructed with Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper fabric, you can be sure that not only will this jacket protect you from rain and windchill, but it’ll breathe as well. There are ventilation points at the back to help the heat escape, while three main pockets alongside a zippered one will keep your belongings stashed away securely.
The Alpha RoS 2 jacket is designed to be worn for long periods of time on the bike, and is made with stretch fabrics and what Castelli calls ‘advanced patterning’ to create a slim fit that should stay put throughout your ride. The only quibble we have is the fact that the neck and shoulder area may feel a little baggy for some.
Velocio is fast becoming known as a premium cycling clothing brand with strong ethics and sustainable practices. Its products are often made using at least some recycled materials, and they’re made to last a long time. Another thing that’s unique to Velocio is the fact that it designs all its garment patterns in-house, rather than buying standard ones off the shelf, which is common practice in the industry. This means the brand has full control over sizing, fit, and design, and overhauling older models means actually making significant changes where they’re needed. So while the price tag may be eye-watering to some, you get a lot of quality for your money.
In terms of this Ultralight Rain Jacket, you can feel the quality as soon as you touch it. Constructed from eVent DV Storm fabric, the jacket is ultralight, fully waterproof and windproof, and highly breathable. Fully taped seams keep the jacket watertight, the elastic cuffs make it easy to slip off and on, layer under or over gloves, and pull over fitness watches which have a tendency to get caught. The drop hem at the rear provides ample coverage to protect against tyre spray, while the reflective detailing helps you stay visible in low light. At the back there’s a flap to let you access your jersey pockets, while inside at the front is a zippered pocket. If we had to criticise anything, it’s that the placement of the inner pocket at the front and side means that if you carry anything that isn’t a credit card — keys, for example — you end up with a bit of an awkward bulge that spoils the otherwise very smooth and sleek aesthetic of the jacket.
How to choose a women’s waterproof cycling jacket
Look for a waterproof cycling jacket that is constructed from a multi-layer laminate, with taped seams and waterproof zips to stop water from penetrating. The multiple layers will usually consist of a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) coated outer fabric that protects a hydrophobic (waterproof) membrane beneath, and is usually finished with an interior liner for comfort.
Some manufacturers like Gore Wear have developed a membrane resilient enough that the outer layer is no longer needed, which leads to a reduction in overall weight. However there are disadvantages, as these membranes are relatively fragile, so it’s recommended to avoid wearing a backpack, which could cause abrasions to the fabric.
In terms of how waterproof a jacket is, look for its waterproof rating. Waterproof jackets will have a rating of 1,500mm as a bare minimum. However if you’re looking for something reliable in prolonged heavy rain, then look for ratings of 10,000mm and above.
As we alluded to above, packable waterproof layers used to suffer breathability issues, soaking you in your own sweat while it keeps the rain out. Thankfully technology has greatly improved since then, particularly with the development of breathable hydrophobic materials. This means jackets can now wick moisture away from within while keeping out the rain more effectively.
Hydrophobic membranes are covered in pores, which forces water to bead on the surface so they don’t soak through. Meanwhile the vapour from perspiration inside can still escape.
Moisture and temperature management is an important factor to consider when buying a waterproof jackets. The best thing you can do is opt for one with strategically-placed vents, which offer additional airflow. You’ll usually find them under the arms, or under storm flaps on the back of the jacket.
Depending on your personal preferences and requirements, it’s worth considering what extra features you might need, as these details will often increase the cost and reduce the jacket’s packability.
For example, do you need pockets? They’re useful for keeping items close, rather than digging around under layers. Manufacturers tend to get around this by providing zipped access or well-placed vents to help you access your jersey pockets underneath.
Some packable jackets will come with their own integrated storage pouches, which makes packing and storing them a lot neater, as well as protecting them from damage. Other details, like elasticated openings, draw-cords and a fleece lining may be added around the wrist cuffs, hems and collars. These help to reduce drafts, hold the material in place, and feel comfortable against the skin.