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The Best $25 Rain Suit? I’ve Got a Contender

November 21, 2016

I bought it as a joke. And then last week the skies ripped open. Right when I needed to ride home.

Rivers of water rushed down the bike lane. Darkness surrounded me. Traffic sprayed me.

I rode, upstream, through flooded bike lanes and treacherously wet and low-visibility conditions.

Bright is life, especially when you're biking through darkness and torrential rain. Photo: Courtesy of Mutual Industries
Mutual IndustriesBright is life, especially when you’re biking through darkness and torrential rain. (Cone and flag not included.) 

But I was wearing my freshly purchased Mutual 14511 3 Piece PVC/High Visibility Polyester ANSI Class 3 Rain Suit, which cost me all of $25.43 on Amazon as part of a work-related Halloween costume. And I stayed dry and warm and highly visible on my hour-long ride through dumping rain and temps in the low to mid-40s. 

Now an outfit made out of PVC falls into the category of 100-percent waterproof, 100-percent non-breathable. Which means that if you’re active in warm (or even mild) conditions, it essentially becomes a swampy sweat box on the inside. But for cool to cold to sopping wet conditions, or for times when you’re doing more standing than moving in the rain, non-breathable rain gear works generally fine.

Even better, the bottoms of this outfit are actually bibs, which are one of my favorite genres of cold-weather protection. I’m also a huge proponent of high-visibility clothing for cyclists—and this outfit is day-glow bright with multiple thick reflective stripes (a huge plus on my dark and dangerous ride home alongside traffic in the rain).

Sure the cheap plastic buckles on the bibs won’t last. And the full rain suit weighs something like 4 pounds. And the bibs are way too short for anybody over 6 feet (the cuffs dangled more than 6 inches above my ankles as I rode). And there’s no zipper on the jacket (it uses snaps instead). And the outfit still smells like it’s off-gassing PVC. And it’s not something you’d want to wear or use regularly, especially in active or abrasive conditions, because I’m sure it will start to come apart with use.

But for the price, and the visibility, and the occasional use in full-on torrential rain, I have no doubt at this point that I will easily get $25 worth of value out of it.

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Matt Heid

Equipped blogger Matt Heid is AMC's gear guru: He loves gear and he loves using it in the field. While researching several guidebooks, including AMC's Best Backpacking in New England, he has hiked thousands of miles across New England, California, and Alaska, among other wilderness destinations. He also cycles, climbs, and surfs.