Water conducts body heat much, much faster than air of the same temperature. You already know this: stand around on a 32º F (0º C) day and you’ll be a little chilly; fall into lake water that temperature and your life is in danger. Motorcyclists have an additional problem: wind chill. The faster you move, the colder the wind will feel, even if you’re dry. With the right gear the battle’s half won. Here are the basics that you’ll need to stay warm and dry.
HELMET Make it a full-face model. Riding through rain in an open-face helmet is like getting sandblasted. To keep the faceshield from fogging, open the vents, use an anti-fog treatment on the shield, or ride with the shield cracked open.
OVERBOOTS Leather boots alone can do a good job for short rainstorms. Zip-up boots are the best (laces are leak points), the taller the better. Plenty of boots offer Gore-Tex liners to keep water out. For real downpours, thin, stretchy rubber overboots are best—they’re compact and easy to carry, 100-percent waterproof, and provide a good grip on wet pavement.
RAINSUIT One-piece designs are convenient and offer fewer places for water to get in. Two-piece designs often fit better, but the pants-jacket junction is a weak point. Favorite solution? A two-piece suit with bib pants that come up high on the chest, held up by suspender straps. Get a suit big enough to fit over your other gear—rainsuits themselves don’t offer enough abrasion protection.
GLOVES Pro tip: keep water out by overlapping your gloves and sleeves. Still, even the best waterproof gloves don’t hold up well to the demands of motorcycle riding. Augment them by wearing surgical gloves underneath, or covering them in nylon shells (for snowboarding or mountaineering). For light rain and shorter rides, motocross gloves are great.