Gear Review – ZPacks Custom Rain Pants

by Andy Amick on February 13, 2012

in Bikepacking, Cycling, Gear

Women have capris

Men have man-pris

Crazy nutty cyclists have rain-pris.

Do people really wear this stuff?  Rainpris, wool, rain jacket and cycling cap

Oh yeah, I really do wear this stuff - much to the "delight" of my wife.

Why would you want rain-pris?

1. When cycling in in the rain, your shoes and socks will get wet even if you have full length rain pants.  So go with a shorter length which will make them lighter and useful in a wider range of temperatures.

2. Air flow – The capri length pants don’t cover the entire leg and they can be left open at the bottom for a little extra air flow.  The pants don’t breathe but any extra air flow is helpful.

3.  Fashion – This is a stretch, a big stretch, but who cares about fashion.  Ask my wife, I’m the epitome of bad fashion when I ride, but I always come home with a smile after a ride.

 

How do you get rain-pris?

Rain-pris are not something that you can go buy at any retailer.  Heck, I think I just made up the term rain-pri.  The pris come custom made from Joe at ZPacks.  Recently, Joe has added clothing options to his product line in addition to the packs and shelters that he has been offering for years.

Joe at ZPacks was very helpful.  His willingness to make the rain-pris has been mentioned before.  We emailed several ideas back and forth and had come up with the basic plan for the pris.  I had asked for reinforcement in the butt area to make sure legs moving against the seat would not wear out the material.  Just before Joe started, he sent me the following email asking about the reinforcement.

 

I am starting on your pants today.

You mentioned wanting the butt area reinforced.  I was considering doing a heavier weight cuben material for the upper half, and thinner for the legs.   However it would be alot easier to just stick with one weight for the whole thing.

I have 1.43 oz/sqyd cuben that is stronger, in white, blue or drab:

http://www.zpacks.com/large_image.shtml?materials/drab_blue_white_l.jpg

I also have 1 oz, or .74 oz/sqyd in black only. Or .thin 51 oz in white, blue, or drab.

So what do you think?  Make the whole pants in 1.43 oz (pick a color)? or do the legs thinner?Thanks,

Joe

 

My decision was to go with the heavier material especially since the weight difference was only 0.5 oz.  I like lightweight gear, but when we’re talking about a half ounce on rain-pris that were already much lighter than my rain pants, I’ll choose the heavier more durable option every time.

Closeup of zipper added by ZPacks to make the cycling rain pants more functional

 

Joe sewed the pants very quickly and they showed up a few days later.   The rain-pris shipped with a nice added feature of a zipper in the front to make them easier to get on and off.  This was something that Joe added as he was sewing the pris.  Customer service like this is yet another example of why I prefer to support the small companies and why you won’t see me in Wal-Mart – ever.

 

Specs

Material – 1.43 oz/sqyd cuben fiber with all seams taped

Cord-lock closure for ZPacks custom cycling rain pants

Weight – 2.6oz

Inseam – 20″

Fit – about the same length as knee warmers or knicker length cycling shorts.  When riding, the legs slide up to just below knee level, but the knee is fully covered.  The rain-pris have elastic with a cordlock at the waist and on each leg.

 

How do they work?

Design and performance are exactly as expected.  This is a good thing, especially since I dreamed up the idea and spec’d it out.  The rain-pris prevent rain from soaking your cycling clothes and you stay warm in the process.

 

Even though the pris are lightweight, the cuben fiber material is durable enough for cycling.  I’m very glad that I went with the heavier and thicker cuben rather than trying to save a few grams of weight.  They still need to be put through a long term test to confirm that the material will hold up to having the seat rub against the pants with each pedal stroke.
ZPacks - quality backpacking and bikepacking gear

They do not breathe, but what rain pants do?  Rain pants are sealed to not let outside elements in.  This also means that inside elements (sweat, condensation) do not get out.  There are some high tech fabrics and pants, but I’m not sure that they would breathe very well when cycling.  Your legs are generating so much heat, no material is going to prevent you from sweating.  (If you want to try breathable materials, ZPacks offers breathable cuben fiber rain jackets or you could make your own rain-pris.  The drawback to breathable cuben fiber is the cost being much much higher.)

 

After a ride in the rain-pris, there will be sweat.  There just isn’t a way around this.  The good news is that sweating and staying warm is better than being soaked and freezing from the rain or snow.  The rain-pris function much like a vapor barrier trapping the warmth against your body instead of letting it evaporate to the outside and chill you.

 

There is only one minor change I would make to the rain-pris and that is to lengthen them by 1-2″ on the legs.  The pris were made to my exact request, but after riding in them, a little more coverage when pedaling would be nice.  The current pair completely covers my knees, but not by much.

 

Pros:

Packed size of ZPacks custom cycling rain pants fits in the palm of your handCompletely custom and made to my exact specs.  I knew I wanted something very different that was not available anywhere else.

Fully waterproof

Super lightweight and pack down to a very small size.  A great option for bikepacking where space is at a premium.

Supporting a small manufacturer that delivers excellent quality and customer service.  If you can’t already tell, this is a huge part of my gear choices.

Multi-purpose – the pris can be used for rain and for cold weather riding.  When worn with knickers or knee warmers, you can be comfortable in temps well below freezing.

 

Cons:

My pants had the cord locks on the inside of the legs instead of the outside.  This isn’t an issue but it would be better on the outside so there is no chance of chain interference.  I mentioned this to Joe and he will put it on the outside for future pants.

Cost – not a negative, but something to be aware of.  If you want anything made out of cuben fiber, it’s gonna cost you.  The price is comparable to other high end rain pants, but those other pants are either not fully waterproof or not as light as 2.5 oz.

Again, not a negative, but be aware that the cuben fiber is crinkly and loud when you first get it.  When walking or riding, the rain-pris will make some noise.  After a few rides, the cuben will soften up a bit and you won’t sound like a walking Sun Chips bag.

 

Overall Rating

5 star rating for Zpacks custom cycling rain pants

 

 

5 stars – The rain-pris are exactly what I was looking for.  Any time a product does that, it has to receive 5 stars.

 

I would happily contact Joe for other custom projects.  He now offers breathable cuben fiber rain jackets that look like the would be good for cycling.  I’m not quite ready to spend that much since I currently have a working rain jacket.  My bikepacking shelter is a ZPacks Hexamid and I have been very pleased with is function and quality.

 

If you value high quality products and high quality customer service, you should check out the products at ZPacks.

About Andy Amick
A little bit nutty in general, a lotta bit nutty about bikes. Each of his boys received a bike helmet for their first birthday and the three of them have been biking together ever since.

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  • Ski pants are something else that could be considered for capri length (or “knickers” if you look at really old pics of skiers) and that WPB cuben looks excellent for that.

    • Yes, knicker length is the perfect length for cycling rain pants. The WPB cuben would work even better than regular cuben, but the cost is quite a bit more for pants that don’t get too much use here in Colorado.

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