in actionIt’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.

12 thoughts on “Rainlegs”

  • Jonathan Maus

    Very nice Todd. Thanks for sharing this. It’s my kind of gear. minimal and functional..and I agree..black would be great…these look a bit like cowboy chaps;-)

  • Mike

    Is there someone in the US selling these? They look interesting.

    If you find good footwear, I’d like to hear about it. I’ve just returned Pearl Izumi AmFibs. They were only mildly water resistant, my feet were moist after 20 minutes of a steady rain, and they started ripping along the bottom seam after 100 miles of usage. I was told by the LBS that I’m not supposed to walk in them. I walked in my house to the bike in the garage, and up three flights of stairs to the office. I can’t see that being outside of spec. Highly unrecommended.

  • Todd

    Nobody to my knowledge is selling them here. I asked about dealer terms when I ordered mine, and got no response. I think Jim should import ‘em.

  • mac

    This is regarding Mike’s question about footwear. . .

    I’ve only come up with two ways of dealing with feet on rainy days. A) put up with the wet feet–admittedly a bit of a compromise, and B) Waterproof socks with Teva type sandals. I’ve been using Rocky brand Goretex socks over whatever amount of wool is weather appropriate. I’ve considered trying the Sealskinz socks, too, but I’m afriad they’ll be too sweaty and stinky.

    I, too would be interested to know if anyone has come up with anything better.

  • Maria


    I used to be a messenger and the wet foot thing is unbearable when you’re talkin 8-9 hours.

    What worked best then and now (for my commute) is wool sox, covered by Seal Skins, under
    leather bike shoes. These are my winter shoes so they’re bigger to accommodate the layers.

    I’ve worn the same pair of Seal Skins for almost 5 years now and they’re in surprisingly
    good shape. They don’t get too sweaty or stinky. I wash them weekly, spray with Revivex and
    toss ‘em in the dryer with my GoreTex rainsuit and both the sox and suit are good as new.

    Happy Riding!

  • Joel

    i’ve been hearing great things about the seal skins, though what I’ve just discovered and had good success with keeping my feet dry are the Burley shoe covers. Can be seen at the Burley website – www.burley.com/products/raingear

    I think they’re designed for toe clips but I just cut a hole in the bottom for cleats. My feet have only gotten wet in water over 10″.

  • Ray

    I love the design of the Rainlegs, and have had mine for a few months.
    They work quite well on my sometimes rainy 6-mile commute.

    However, the crotch panel waterproofing delaminated very quickly due to flexing of the fabric. It is peeling off and now makes for a lovely bladder-control “look” on rainy days.
    Rainlegs UK will replace them but, this is a serious flaw.
    It essentially makes them disposable clothing.
    If you ride upright, like the Dutch, they should be fine.

    Unfortunately, the waxed cotton chaps I’ve seen don’t have any crotch panel, so they would be worse.

    Please tell me if your pair suffer the same fate.

  • Caroline

    I sewed myself a little set of these & tried them the other day. Mind they were made of tacky camoflage nylon ripstop, but they were just a prototype to get a feel for if they’d would work or not. I thought I would feel a lot of annoying pulling and tugging, but nope – they’re OK! After a very wet commute ride, only my ankles were wet. I like the idea of putting these on over my jeans instead of my Burley geekery, and they’re more tuck-away-able.

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