It’s rained something like 28 of the last 30 days in Portland. The extended forecast is “brief periods of diminished precipitation between fronts until Spring.” This is apparently a lot wetter than usual even for Portland. Anyway, since most days I ride 20 miles with my toddler son to and from pre-school, regardless of the conditions, I’ve gotten to re-think the whole raingear question again, and I’ve come across a new product I’m pretty sure I like. They’re called Rainlegs. Paired with a good rain jacket, they keep you dry where you most need to be, with a minimum of bulk and without restricting your motion.
Compared with impermeable pants, well, they don’t trap your sweat at all. Even so-called breathable rainpants don’t breath well enough to keep you from getting soaked in your own sweat if you ride with any intensity. They’re also considerably less bulky than full rainpants; you roll them up as a belt when not in use. It’s true that they don’t cover your lower legs, but your lower legs get wet much more slowly than your uppers anyway, and it’s simply not as bothersome to have your shins wet as your quads and knees. Wearing woolen long underwear and nylon overpants with these and riding 20-30 minutes in pouring rain, I’ve hardly felt moist, though the nylon outer layer of my lower legs have been saturated (as have been my socks, but I’m working on that). The fabric covering your lower legs of normal pants doesn’t tend to cling to and chill your skin the way it does over your quads and knees on a bike.
My previous favorite arrangement was a rain cape with knee-length spats. While this breathes well, it’s no good in high winds or at high speeds (such as Stokemonkey enables), and the cape can be cumbersome draped over the bars, flopping over bar-mounted headlights and preventing you from sitting more upright than usual without compromising the protection. I never managed to get the spats to stay knee-high, so my knees tended to chill — not good. The Rainlegs have a bit of insulating padding right over the knees, which is especially nice.
I wish they were black. It would be particularly nice if they were integrated into a rain jacket.