Living in the land of (nearly) eternal clouds it’s very tough to determine on which days it’s going to be rainning, which days it’s going to be sunny, and which days it’s going to be both. The safe assumption is usually the third option, especially in spring in Oregon. Our region is known for rain, but weather is not that simple. On just one spring day you can have rain, snow, sun, sleet, and then more rain, and then more sun, and sometimes some hail. The unpredictability of it all means that cyclists must be prepared for a variety of weather conditions.
Many cyclists in my area will choose to wear fully water-proof shoes, jacket, and pants even on mostly sunny days if the weather calls for a chance of rain. Wearing all that gear can be preferable to carrying it around; full rain gear can be very bulky when its packed in a backpack or pannier. Even if you chose to carry it all round, a full layer of water-proof gear is over-kill when you’re only dealing with all but the heaviest downpours.
The Rainmates bike chaps are prefect for anyone who cycles regularly in anything but the sunniest, entirely rain-free weather. The chaps consist of an upper portion, roughly resembling the front panel of a pair of shorts, and two lower leg sections that can be snapped on or off when needed. There are clips to hold them in place around your waist and thighs, along with velcro straps to hold the lower portions in place. Thoughtfully, the velcro straps are tipped with reflective material, increasing your visibility when riding in darker conditions (for example: when it’s raining).
My first ride with the Rainmates was on an extremely windy and rainy day (even for Oregon), and I was riding with them for close to an hour. After that long of a ride, with wind and rain coming at me from all directions, some rain did drip down onto my pants around the edges of the chaps. In every other situation I’ve used them since (including some still very rain days) they’ve held up beautifully and kept my pants perfectly dry. In all but maybe one or two of the rides I can recall over the past year, I’m sure the Rainmates would have been more than sufficient.
Rainmates also come with a small, water-proof carrying case. This has come in very handy – both to house the Rainmates before I ride, and after when they’re damp and I don’t want get everything else in my backpack wet.
Considering they’re a mere $50 USD – about the same as a mediocre pair of full rain pants, but also more useful than those sort of pants in 90% of my rides – I’ve very glad I have the Rainmates and really wish I had found them sooner.