This post brought to you by courtesy of our awesome tour guide, Sierra!
Here in the Willamette Valley, having a good set of rain gear is essential regardless of the way you might commute. That being said, good, water-proof gear is even more of a necessity if you get around by bike for most of your transit. There have been a number of times that I have left the house with no rain gear, thinking that the grey clouds wouldn’t be malignant that day, only to arrive at my destination completely soaked.
Usually the “Portland rain” that people talk about is actually just a very light, all-day mist that might render itself slightly inconvenient if you let it. This season, however, we’ve typically seen one day with constant, pouring rain with a string of very dry, sunny days in between. On the one day where it would be pouring, I would often arrive at Cycle PDX with my pants completely soaked through… and it would take them hours to dry. I decided that it was time to pick up a pair of rain pants to alleviate the feeling of wet, cold legs. So, I put the Thunderlight Pants by Red Ledge to the test.
The pants that I chose were the most affordable of the Red Ledge bunch, which is what really attracted me to them. I wasn’t looking for anything lavish, I saw “water-proof” and “$40.00” and I was sold. Despite their very low price, these pants function wonderfully, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the features of the Thunderlight Pants.
First of all, these pants are extremely lightweight and pack down tremendously. If I want them to, they’ll pack down small enough to fit into the back pocket of my jersey, my jacket, or my jeans. All Red Ledge products come with a small draw-cord bag to store pants or jackets, making it even easier to pack them down. So far, these are so lightweight that I keep them in my commuter pack and haven’t been caught in the rain without them.
Another detail of the Thunderlights that I appreciate is the fabric that Red Ledge chose is very breathable, something I wasn’t expecting to find in a $40 pair of pants. Unlike most affordable rain gear I’ve tried, I have never arrived at my destinations feeling too hot or sweaty with these pants. I have only arrived with my jeans feeling perfectly dry and comfortable. These pants are unisex and I took to wearing the size small.
If there is one thing that I really don’t like while riding a bike, it is storing items in the front pockets of my pants. I’ve always found the placement of pockets on both rain jackets and pants inconvenient for biking, but this is not at all the case with the Thunderlights. These have one zippered back-pocket and it is in the perfect spot for riding. The lightweight feeling of these pants can be partially attributed to their lack of front and cargo pockets, so I appreciate that Red Ledge skipped the extras and allowed the pants to be a truly featherweight shell.
The Thunderlights have a tapered leg with adjustable snaps at the ankle, also making them great for cyclists. If it weren’t for the provided snaps, the leg of these pants would easily get caught in my chainring and be completed destroyed, so this is a great detail for cyclists. My one complaint is that the snaps are extremely difficult to unfasten, and for this reason I wish that Red Ledge had gone with velcro instead.
My one real complaint is that, because I am 5’2” and these pants are meant to accommodate a variety of heights, I’ve had to wear them well above my natural waistline(see Figure 3). If you are of an average height, this wouldn’t be an issue for you. But, if you’re petite like me, it is something to consider. One other aspect of these pants that I find troublesome is the waistband gets twisted very easily, so I am constantly having to straighten out the elastic(sometimes in vain). That being said, the Thunderlights are still an absolutely wonderful value, and I recommend them to anyone that is perturbed by soaking wet jeans.
These Red Ledge Thunderlight Pants are available in our shop, along with a variety of rain jackets by the same company. I haven’t had the opportunity to try the jackets out yet, but if they are anything like the pants, I believe the two would make a wonderful pair.
Blog post by our tour-guide, Sierra.