Since testing a rain cape from the Center for Appropriate Transport for issue #22, I’ve become a convert. I love wearing a cape when it’s pouring, staying comfy and dry underneath but not feeling like I’m encased in a plastic bag. It’s like wearing an umbrella, but less cumbersome.
The $239 Cleverhood is another U.S.-made option that is stylish yet durable. It’s made of waterproof polyester with sealed seams and Uretek waterproof zippers. The length is a generous 37 inches from shoulder seam to hem, enough to keep my upper legs dry, and it’s voluminous enough to cover a big backpack. Velcro tabs at the sides snug it down to keep from flapping too much. The fabric isn’t too crinkly or stiff and reliably kept the rain out even in deluge conditions. Its most clever feature is the arm slits with magnetic closures—I can just pop a hand or two out when needed, then retreat back inside and the holes close up.
I was skeptical that rain would stay out of these slits, but their covering flaps were effective. Thumb loops keep the front secured over your hands. Nice extras include a small chest pocket and a light loop on the back. My only complaint is that I wished the inside of the collar had some fleece to cover its pokey-ness.
The cape’s hood has a big brim that was like a porch roof for my face, keeping rain off while allowing good peripheral vision. Although Cleverhood says the hood fits under helmets, I suspect their target users are not so fanatical about helmet use, because the hood certainly works better without one—it’s a lot of fabric to stuff under there, and it didn’t quite fit over top. Still, I was able to make it work well enough with careful arrangement.
The version I tested has the “Electric Houndstooth” color option with reflective thread woven through the plaid pattern, a really cool feature. There are seven other color choices to match or clash as you see fit.
Somehow rain capes have a bike dork reputation, but the Cleverhood is rainwear that looks sophisticated enough for the big city, and works well enough to replace other rain gear in your closet.