Are you after the best waterproof trousers for cycling?
Then you are most definitely in the right place!
If you're in a hurry Altura's Nightvision Waterproof Trousers take the win. They're reflective and tough as nails, what more could you want?
Here's my review of these bad boys.
The Best Waterproof Trousers For Cycling
Fully and reliably waterproof
- Relatively affordable
- Serious reflectivity - a huge plus
- Some report a fit's that too baggy even for overtrousers, particuarly at the cuff
- The tabs at the cuff don't offer the best cinching ability, leading some to need ankle straps
Summary: Altura is a leading UK name in cycling apparel. The Night Vision line is designed to place visibility elements where they’re most effective, and their waterproof garments are very popular in the UK, a great testing ground for protective gear.
The Night Vision Overtrouser is made for commutes in the rain, and they're a popular choice among UK riders.
They're well-made, reliably waterproof overtrouser that offers decent affordability, fantastic visibility and easy deployment when rain threatens your commute. However, a finicky ankle closure and perhaps an excess of material may bother some
All in all these are a solid choice with great protection and even better visibility, with some drawbacks to the fit.
Why Should You Get Some Waterproof Trousers?
Rain happens. If you commute by bike, you can:
a) Skip the bike on rainy days, and be bummed about it;
b) Take off work whenever it rains and see how that goes;
c) Be prepared for any conditions and enjoy the ride even when it’s wet out.
Rain trousers, done right, are a simple solution. They are light enough to carry around with you in a backpack and you can easily whip them on at the sight of rain.
For a good pair make sure that they fit comfortably over clothes without getting caught in the chain. They should open and close at the ankle so you can throw them on quickly when rain hits. And, critically important: they should include a strong reflective element, keeping you visible in rainy conditions.
Other Choices You Should Consider
Altura's waterproof trousers are nice, but there are other possibilities out there that are worth considering.
The Transit Pants, made by Showers Pass, offer zippers and an effective cinching strap at the cuff- but come at a much higher price at about $120 (at the time of writing).
The Gore Bike Wear Element Active trousers are the gold standard:
the Gore-Tex membrane hits the high mark for waterproofing with some breathability.
There are multiple waterproof pockets, a very effective zipper and strap system for the cuffs and good reflectivity.
However, these are again a big jump in price at around $175 (at the time of writing).
The Altura's Are Made For A Purpose
Altura's pants are optimized for the commuter. They’re easy to slip on, offer great waterproofing and are highly visible.
They’re for steady-paced utilitarian transport cycling. Breathability isn’t high and the fit isn’t exactly aerodynamic- these wouldn’t be the pants to throw on for a fast-paced recreational ride with precipitation.
They’re probably not the best for those in warmer rainy climates - I likely wouldn’t throw these on in SE Asia (where I am now).
How Waterproof Are They?
In short, they do what it says on the tin, keeping your legs dry in pretty much any precipitation without much fuss. The seemingly simple overtrouser has some design challenges to overcome and the Night Vision model isn’t perfect, but it offers a good overall solution.
Here’s what's often noticed.
Brief showers in cool early-spring weather is when a chilly rain can really make a ride uncomfortable. The Night Vision trousers hold up perfectly here, keeping people dry, warding off the chill. Pair them with some gloves and you'll be sorted.
The Altura's don’t experience any undue rain invasion at the waistband or down the cuffs into the shoes.
As spring warms up, and rain has remained fairly common, there's a chance to test these in a steady, fairly heavy rain in warmer weather. This is where some tradeoffs start to become more apparent.
The rain stays off, but breathability is a bit of a relative term. As with just about any rain trousers, you’re sacrificing some here, and I think the highly-advanced materials at the higher end of the price spectrum perform quite a bit better here.
With the admittedly affordable Altura trousers, they very quickly heat up, and I’m not sure if people would prefer just wearing shorts and get rained on instead of arriving at their destination a sweaty mess.
What's The Fit Like?
In terms of fit, these are definitely on the roomy side. They'd be quite baggy on a slim guy. Though the commute is no place to spin high cadences and high speeds, you'll likely feel like a bit of a snail with these wind blocks on.
The cuffs are tough to adjust to a point where they’re snug and comfortably keeping the leg out of the drivetrain’s way. Personally I don’t mind throwing an ankle strap on and I like the extra reflective bit, but other users may be annoyed by this.
A Little Reflectivity Goes A Long Way
If you find yourself on a rainy ride at night, you'll appreciate the detailed reflectivity. A large logo down the backs of the calves, plus large striping on the sides and front, gave peace of mind. The trousers reflect glaring bright in strategic spots when met by headlights, so these trousers get huge marks for that.
If you'd like some tips on how to cycle safely in the rain then check out the video below by the guys from the Global Cycling Network
Satisfied Customers, With Caveats
The general opinion of the Nightvisions is as follows -
They’re effective at keeping rain out, they’re a big-time visibility aid and they’re well-priced.
The baggy fit is mentioned by a number of online purchasers, as were varying degrees of frustration with the cuffs. Although a simple solution to this is to use ankle straps, or some users advise ordering a size down.
Solid Choice At The Right Price
Altura’s products are well-made and their reputation is strong.
The Nightvision Overtrousers featured here, quite simply, do their job. They keep you dry and keep you seen on rainy commutes, and they do it at a wallet-friendly price point.
They’re the best waterproof trousers for cycling and well worth stashing in your pannier for deployment whenever wet weather strikes.