Dealing with the rain

I don’t mind riding in the rain–so long as I’m heading for a long stop at an indoor location where I can dry out while my bike is parked in a covered location. However, last weekend, we rode 30 minutes to Ballard both Saturday and Sunday to hang out outside for the day. Saturday was the Ballard Bikes to School Kick-Off Event for which 40 kids braved the weather for bike rodeo, helmet fits, snacks, bike repairs, and more.

Ballard Bikes to School Kick-Off Event

Then Sunday I ran a Family Bike Expo booth all day at the Sustainable Ballard Festival. Again, an impressive number of people braved the crappy weather.

But our regular rainy rides these days are for rushed school dropoffs and I’m finding the kid rainsuit and rain pants we used last year aren’t the most convenient of solutions.

When my trailer was stolen a few weeks ago, the thief also got my old snowboard jacket I used to wrap around my four-year old in the Yepp seat. Now we’re using my husband’s old snowboard jacket which isn’t quite as water resistant as mine, but it’s bigger so it covers his legs even better (Side note: I didn’t even know there was a difference between water resistant and waterproof before moving to Seattle). Coming home on Saturday the kids felt the rain coming in through their helmet vents and I discovered their jacket hoods partially fit over their helmets. Somewhat helpful, but when I got home, I ordered them waterproof Helmetcovers. If you don’t need waterproof, there are some cute designs.

Hoods halfway on helmets

The snowboard jacket keeps my little one’s legs dry so I don’t need to deal with his rain pants, but the front kid doesn’t stay quite as dry. The last two days I’ve tied my water resistant jacket around his waist to make a rain apron. It works well! But his jacket is also only water resistant so he’s got quite a damp jacket by the time we get to school. I think a kid-sized poncho–something long enough to cover his legs, but short enough so I don’t worry about it tangling in my chain–would be ideal.

Makeshift rain apron

As for our stuff, my first grader’s backpack fits perfectly inside a festive Ikea insulated picnic bag:

Picnic bag as backpack pack

And our smaller stuff goes in 99-cent Trader Joe’s shopping bags:

Reusable shopping bag as purse holder

I still need to work on my gear as well. I like my Rainlegs for single rides, but they’re not great for 20-minute ride to preschool + walking around preschool for a few minutes + 20-minute ride to elementary school. But their comfort versus rain paints makes them good enough. Of course they were no help when I slipped going down the wet steps this morning and landed sitting down. If that happens often I’ll have to rethink rain pants. I’ve been using my husband’s rain jacket that needs a hit of Nikwax to get it waterproof again. I’d like a rain jacket of my own some day. My friend loves her Seattle-designed Hub and Bespoke Women’s Riding Coat and there’s also the Seattle Iva Jean Rain Cape. Not that it has to be local–I see a lot of Showers Pass Portland Jackets out and about. And another friend has us ogling fancy Danish rain jackets.

I’m having footwear problems, too. I had some cheap rain boots, but they weren’t very comfortable so I got rid of them. But my leather boots have been wet since Saturday…though I keep putting them back on. However, I ordered a MaxxDry Boot|Shoe|Glove Dryer. I can’t wait for it to arrive!

Do you have a favorite piece of gear for rainy days? Or dream product?

Glove addendum
I forgot to mention gloves! Possibly because I lost one of my gloves on Sunday :/
The rear kid is good in non-waterproof mittens under his straitjacket.
The front kid has Bar Mitts on his stoker bars that have made a huge difference for him. Sometimes he wears gloves under them, too.
I haven’t figured out a good glove solution for myself. I tend to ride around with three pairs of gloves because they either soak through from the rain or get sweaty on the inside (I’m assuming my gloves–now glove–that say WATERPROOF on the outside are getting wet on the inside from sweat?) so I wear one set for the preschool run, another set for the elementary school run, and a third set if I’m going somewhere else afterwards. Not very efficient. I hadn’t considered Bar Mitts for myself, but maybe that would work best.

Bike seats addendum
I also neglected the rig! I had a great system with the old mamabike–small Ikea bag for the front seat and large Ikea bag for the rear seat and my saddle. And those two bags held our stuff while riding.

I have a Bike Cap from Dutch Bike Co for my seat, but no system for the kids at the moment. If they were in rain pants, it wouldn’t be such a big deal, but it’s not so nice to head back out to a wet bike in regular pants. And since the straitjacket jacket and apron jacket are just water resistant, they’re not adequate to leave over the seats while we’re away. The Ikea bags don’t fit as well on this bike (and I think one may have disappeared in the stolen trailer) so I’m still working on this, too.

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13 thoughts on “Dealing with the rain

    • Ooh, baseball caps under helmets sounds great! I experimented with clear face visors last year, but my younger son wasn’t into it. You should get yourself a nice sturdy rain cape :)

  1. My dream rain bike wear is a lovely bright pattern that is long enough to cover my back side & has many pockets. The Hub & Bespoke is BLACK!?! I want to be seen on my bicycle! I want to have motorists slowing down and gazing at my jacket, soothed by its beauty. The Showers Pass are too short and not very pretty. Maybe the two manufacturers can get blended up with a splash of Boden and produce my dream?

    • Have you had a chance to look at the Danish jackets in Alyssa’s link below? They’re beautiful! I’m trying to decided if I’d get caught up on my saddle with such a long jacket–I think it’s not a problem for most people, but I have certain pants and skirts I get hung up with.

      • Longer jackets seem better for me – help avoid having my pockets catch on my seat. I have had some close calls with dumping the family out as I try to re-mount only to get stuck mid way. When I remember, I hoist my pocket top up as I wait at the light. Very sexy, I am sure. I do like the Danefae jackets and would never have found them, thanks Alyssa! None of the pattern options quite captures my heart enough to open my wallet, but I am bookmarking the link…

  2. Madi, I think you were nice to say ogling, rather than “obsessively studying, planning and now trying to get other to join her cult”! (Molly, similar funky pattern to Boden, but more rain proof – http://shop.danefae.dk/women/rain-jackets.html)
    Our three year old wears ski goggles and some work weight rain pants with suspenders and easy expandable waist for riding. The big kid just outgrew home made oilcloth pants, so I need to come up with something else. My rainskirt needs improvement and my jacket’s too short. Maybe rainskirts 2.0 for adults and kid?
    Has anybody tried big artsmocks on kids for riding?

    • Those are great, Becky! I didn’t think it looked like a hazmat suit before, but I do now–heh heh. It seems like all the one-piece suits stop at size 5 (MEC Newt Suit, Tuffo Muddy Buddy)–I wish they went bigger!

  3. We’re in Colorado & rain isn’t as much of a deal as cold. I use the kids snowboard/ski helmets for warmth on their ears/head w/out the need for hats. We use layering w/ fleece jackets & a water proof North Face shell jacket for them. Not so bulky & can peel off layers as the weather warms up. I might use snow boots for them when it’s wet. Then they can change at school. I think I saw a whole bike cover on Surly’s website (or on Xtracycle’s). We just got the Big Dummy & we all love it! The ride is so smooth. What do you do when your kids shoes are filthy or wet so it doesn’t get all over the bags? Also, do you have a pad on your dummydeck that is waterproof?

    • Yay Big Dummy, Kristin! I’d have to work on my on-time performance to have time for rain- or snowsuit removal before the bell :) When they’re (hopefully) at the same school as one another next year, that’ll be easier. My bags are pretty dirty to begin with from all the rocks and sticks collected and transported daily, but the Yepp seat foot rests keep the 4yo’s feet from adding to the mess and for the 6yo I have bar end foot pegs on the v-racks that keep his feet up and away…and he also likes to put his feet up on the part of the frame right in front of the FlightDeck. My friends made me a waterproof seat pad–covered in oilcloth. I usually wipe it dry with a sleeve…but then I have a wet sleeve to add to my sloshy-boot misery.

  4. In some of the holiday catalogs that have appeared in my mailbox lately, they’ve had “Tyvek ponchos” for sale for $50, which begged the question for me of whether you could do something similar with Tyvek material from Home Depot. From Googling, it seems like there are lots of people who’ve tried it and it could work, as long as you seal any seams (See: http://gossamergear.com/wp/tips/tip-of-the-week-make-a-hooded-tyvek-rain-jacket-and-chaps-for-under-10

    • That looks great, Melissa! Report back if you make something. I love the pictures in that tutorial! I’m getting a hand-me-down kid rain poncho tomorrow–hoping it’s big enough to go over the whole seated kid.

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