Columbia Outer Wear for Bike Commuting
Having lived in Portland, Oregon I have some experience riding in wet weather. Rain in Portland is most frequently a light drizzle where the air is permeated a good portion of the year in a blanket of grey clouds and moisture. Now that I live along the Gulf Coast of Texas when it rains it's usually more of a torrential down pour with considerably warmer air temperatures than found in Oregon.
In Oregon I would commute on cold rainy days in a wool sweater from Nautica that stayed dry on the inside as it has good wicking properties, so that I rarely needed anything more than that for rides which included some pretty intense hill climbing. I still have that old sweater as it performed exceptionally well when commuting in Colorado with a lightweight nylon shell over it.
This year while looking at my cycling apparel that had been packed away I found a ten year old bike jacket from Craft. I hardly ever wear this jacket in Texas as it isn't necessary except during the winter when it cools down a bit and have been using a Columbia waterproof shell instead for the heavier rains. Obviously, cycling apparel needs vary between warmer to colder or wet to drier climates. There is no shortage of quality bike jackets on the market and having a good rain jacket is quite affordable these days. Some of my best and favorite clothing has been found at thrift stores. Including products from Nautica, Columbia and others. It's also fun to find things you wouldn't find shopping online. As small businesses owners we promote and appreciate the "shop local" idea. However we also find that researching products and making purchases based on that research makes shopping online very convenient. That's how I learned of Atsko Sport Wash. If you're someone who enjoys shopping for thrift store treasures treat the fabric to a dose of Atsko Sport Wash for restoring its' waterproof qualities.
Having experience with daily bike commuting in a few different climates, each with their own sort of "extreme" I have learned that knowing how to effectively layer provides the most versatility. This is important for bike touring where one's travels may encounter unpredictable weather conditions.
It isn't just sentimentality as to why I like Columbia Sportswear products so much, it's mostly because the stuff performs as described. When shopping for the best performing wet weather outer wear I look for Omni Tech Waterproof, Breathable Fully Seam Sealed. There's a lot of grey area between waterproof and water resistant these days and when something waterproof breathes like a garbage bag resulting in moisture staying trapped from perspiration it's worthless. Rather than have me go on and on describing all the various forms of layering for different climates I have provided a link with photo below to one of the folks who knows this topic best.
- Omni-Tech waterproof/breathable fully seam sealed
Here is another item recommended to us from Red Ledge. Free Rein Parka with zippered under arm vents, wicking interior fabric with water proof exterior available for both men and women. A very good quality jacket for bike touring or commuting.