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.
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.