So, among my Christmas haul this year I got some Georgia in Dublin Leggits, which are combined waterproof gaiters and overshoes for the stylish female cyclist in your life or, failing that, me. I’ve never been particularly stylish but I do like to cycle as much as possible in my ordinary clothes partly because I’ve drunk the cycle chic cool aid, but mainly because I’m a) too tight to buy specific cycling clothing (it has a way of adding many pounds onto the price) and b) I’m usually cycling to somewhere and want to be able to get off the bike and walk around looking at least vaguely normal, adjusted for your own specific value of normal. Leggits (or as I believe they are supposed to be called, ‘Leggits!’) are a bit of a halfway house – they’re cycling specific (especially in as much as they cost how much!?) but they enable you to wear otherwise non-bikey clothes – or shoes in this case. The idea is that you step out in your stylish high-heeled shoes and skinny jeans, strap on your Leggits (sorry, Leggits!) and pedal off, laughing in the face of rain, road spray, puddles, weather gods and – who knows – marauding buzzards. Once at your destination you whip them off and stride off, still looking stylish. Or at least not damp from the knees down.
Anyway, today it was one of those days when the rain appeared to be just hanging in the air, preparatory to chucking it down later, so I took the chance to try them out. Putting them on, it became clear that, however good they might look with skinny jeans, when teamed with a pair of outdoorsy walking trousers with side pockets they do make it look distressingly as if you’re wearing plus fours. Fortunately, in my case, all I wanted to be able to do is visit the papershop or Bigtown without people pointing or laughing, and that sets quite a low bar, fashionwise – especially as round here, people do actually wear plus fours, often teamed with Queen of the South socks – so they passed the first test. They also fitted reasonably well around my chunky calves, although given they are a size large I would have been distressed if they had not. They were pretty easy to cycle in and not noticeably sweaty and importantly for waterproof things they don’t make a horrible rustling noise.
But do they work? Well, once I’d got on the road the Weather Gods stepped in to make sure that they got a really thorough test. By the time I got to Papershop village I was completely drenched (this renders moot the whole ‘stylish’ question, by the way. When you’ve cycled 5.5 miles to get a paper in the rain when you could have just as easily driven, people think you’re insane no matter what you’re wearing) and by the time I got home I was more drenched, particularly my thighs (which was fair enough as the Leggits aren’t designed to cover them). On peeling the Leggits off, I found the they had only partially worked. My feet were dry enough, which is a bonus in itself as anyone who’s cycled in wet socks can tell you, but my legs from the knees down were pretty soggy, which might have been through wicking from my trousers or it might have been from the rain getting through (in comparison the Apocalypse-proof jacket had kept my upper half almost completely dry apart from a tiny patch at the front). Obviously, if I’m to actually stay dry on the bike in the rain, I’d need to combine these with a Rain Wrap (which I do quite fancy actually) or waterproof trousers (which I don’t). Or combine them with not going out until it stops, which is looking like an increasingly less practical option these days.
So in short – for cycling down to the shop, if I’m honest, my wellies probably do as well and are considerably less faff but for trips to Bigtown I’ll probably go with the Leggits if I can’t avoid the rain altogether, combined with either a spare pair of trousers to change into or the dreaded rain trousers. Their main benefit is thus likely to be eliminating having to sit around in wet shoes and socks. And as they’re light and fold up nice and small, they’ll definitely be going in my pannier bags for use in emergencies, at least once they’ve dried off from today…
Anyway, as I was pedalling back through the drenching rain it did strike me that there was an opportunity here. We discovered a while back (when my parents’ solar garden light stopped working) that there’s a difference between ‘waterproof’ – i.e. can withstand a bit of light rain once in a while – and ‘really waterproof’ (or, as we call it, ‘waterproof in Scotland’) – i.e. can withstand having buckets of water repeatedly emptied over it 24 hours a day (it turns out most garden lights are only the former). If anyone’s developing some rain gear and wants to know if it’s actually ‘waterproof in Scotland’ then they should send it up here and between me and the weather gods and the ride down for the paper, we’ll find out for once and for all.
If you’d like a proper review of the Leggits, there’s one here