I woke up this morning and was extremely disappointed to hear rain outside my window. While I like the rain, I don’t particularly like riding in it, and was not looking forward to my 35 min. commute from Jamaica Plain to work in the North End.
Part of the reason I don’t like riding in the rain is my gear, which is almost non-existent! My bike is pretty set, it has full fenders, but I’m a bit less prepared. Sure I have a raincoat, and for the winter/fall I have some water/windproof gloves, but beyond that I normally put on a baseball cap so I can see and bring a spare change of clothes, wrapped in a plastic bag inside my not-waterproof bag of course. It works, but with my seat wrapped in a plastic bag I end up looking a little closer to the bag-lady end of the spectrum than I’d prefer on these days.
Amazingly I didn’t end up too wet by the time I arrived at work, and with my raincoat and gloves I was fairly comfy. But, soon after I parked my bike the rain increased and reminded me of what is to come; days of wind and rain, showing up to work soaking wet, and chilled to the bone! As I dashed in I made a resolution: it’s time for actual rain gear, I am a bike commuter after all.
I’ve been tossing around the idea of a waterproof bag for a while now, but I want to make sure I’m investing in something that is going to last, and I’m going to like, for years to come. So, I talked to Jim, one of the guys who works in the shop, about bags throughout the day. He talked me through my different options, Axiom’s Monsoon panniers vs. Osprey backpacks vs. Chrome messenger bags; waterproof or water-resistant and I was able to start thinking more critically about what features my perfect bag will have.
Despite the superior quality of Chrome’s vinyl-lined bags, I have ruled out messenger bags since I prefer the stability of dual straps. Chrome does have a couple different backpacks that we carry, from the Soyuz laptop bag to the huge Sherman backpack, but it is such a different look from my well-loved 8-year-old Jansport I don’t think I’m ready to take the plunge.
I considered panniers as not having to carry all my groceries on my back is rather appealing, and Jim highly reviewed the Axiom Monsoon and Civia panniers. However panniers would require putting a rack onto my bike, adding functionality but perhaps weighing it down. Another option is the Ortlieb Rain Cover, offered in a high-visibility yellow, and even including a spot for my rear light to attach to!
I’m going to keep researching my choices and figuring out exactly what I want in a bag or raincover, but in my future is definitely some shiny new gear! Maybe rain pants will be next?