The only rain trousers you’ll ever need for hiking or cycling

Game Changers: As a cyclist, nothing beats a good pair of rain trousers. These are the best I’ve found

We are the laggards of Europe when it comes to rain gear. You can always tell a tourist by her smart weatherproof jacket. There is an unwritten rule that if you live in Ireland, the owning of rain wear is an admission of weakness. We march into sideways squalls with flimsy umbrellas and gritted teeth. Or we take the car.

If plans are executed, this year should mark the arrival of the best cycling infrastructure we’ve ever had. This will hopefully bring a wave of new active travel. Many more school runs and work commutes will be done by bike instead of private cars. It will be a shift that can benefit everyone. When drivers become walkers and cyclists, it frees up space for reliable and comfortable public transport, and people who really need to drive or be driven. Towns and cities that have been designed around the throughput of cars can be reimagined as places where walking and cycling or just ambling are the best (and most fun) ways to get around.

As a fair- and foul-weather cyclist, I have learned the damp way that there is one piece of kit that is transformational on a bike. A rain jacket is good, but nothing beats a good pair of rain trousers. And (for a change) I’m going to recommend a brand. The Danish company Rains makes the best rain trousers I’ve come across. We’ve tried many in our house. There’s a one-size-fits-all pair bought in a hiking shop. They feel like clambering into two sleeping bags, serviceable but bulky. There’s the pair from the French shop with luminous bottoms and shoe covers that make you look like a border guard, but have all the allure of sliding your legs into heavy weight plastic bags. In warmer weather, your lower half feels like it’s been in a hot yoga class, and not in a good way.

The Rains trousers are silkier and snazzier. They’re still plastic – polyester and polyurethane – but they don’t feel like leftover silage sheeting. This year’s models are all single colour, zipped at the bottoms and drawstrung at the top for ease of getting on and off. There are slinky two-tone versions chic enough to make you look Italian-level rain-ready. I bought a black pair with a reflective stripe down the legs. They are superpower gear that gives you the ability to navigate a rain shower and arrive bone dry. Starting at €70, they’re far from bargain basement, but a lot cheaper than the mountaineering versions. And they will conquer the summit of rainy day cycling, turning your bike into a mode of transport with the ability to keep you as dry as a car. And with a ding of your bike bell, your cycling game will be forever changed.

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary

Catherine Cleary, a contributor to The Irish Times, is a founder of Pocket Forests