Three years ago we bought our first rain capes – two Cleverhood Zipsters – and they’ve been an essential part of our cycling gear ever since. If you don’t know why rain capes are so great, read this post: 6 Benefits of Cycling in a Rain Cape. We’ve also tried the bike-friendly People’s Poncho and compared it to the Cleverhood Zipster (click here for the Poncho vs Cleverhood post). So when Cleverhood contacted us this summer to say they had a new rain cape that addressed the shortcomings of the Zipster and did we want to try it out, we said, “Yes, please!”
(Disclaimer: Cleverhood sent us the Rovers for free, but we’re not being paid for this review and opinions expressed are our own.)
And since we bought a new video camera, we made our first video review! For those who still prefer to read reviews (like Heather), scroll down for the written version after the video…
Cleverhood Rover – The Upgrades!
This is a much-needed upgrade. Without a belt, the rain cape can get caught in the wind and fly up over your head, which is pretty dangerous when riding a bicycle in city traffic. I dealt with this while wearing my Zipster by sitting on the cape, but since Pier usually wears a backpack under his Zipster, he couldn’t sit on the cape and it was always flapping up and exposing his backpack and butt to the rain. That doesn’t happen with the Rover!
The belt is very adjustable. If Pier is wearing his backpack, it’s easy to make the belt a bit bigger to accommodate the pack. And the same belt can be adjusted to a small size for me. Whereas with the People’s Poncho, the belt didn’t adjust small enough which meant it was quite loose on me and still flapped a lot.
Also, the belt is optional! There’s a low-profile belt loop inside the cape that you won’t even notice if you don’t want to use it. If people are using the Rover for walking their dog or just don’t want a belt, they don’t need to put one on the cape. Or if you already have a belt you can use, you don’t have to buy a new belt and can simply use the one you have.
The new thumb loops are twice as big! This was a surprise upgrade that I didn’t know was coming, and it’s my favourite!
Two benefits to bigger loops are:
1) Easy to Find — Often I’m putting on my rain cape in a sudden downpour, as fast as possible so I don’t get wet, but finding the tiny loops on the Zipster, especially with gloves on, proved to be difficult. The Rover’s loops are twice as big (more like hand loops than thumb loops) and that makes them much easier to find.
2) Fit on Handlebars — I like to put the loops on my handlebars so that my hands are free to signal turns in the city. The Zipster’s small loops were a tight squeeze, and I had to fully stop riding to wiggle them onto my handlebars, but the Rover’s loops fit easy and attach fast.
The hood has always been Cleverhood’s selling point (in Heather’s opinion; Pier rarely uses the hood). Even though it was already excellent, Cleverhood improved the Rover’s hood two ways:
1) Longer Peak – The Zipster’s peak is 74mm long, and the Rover’s peak is 82mm long. That’s almost a centimetre (1/3 inch) longer, and it definitely keeps even more rain off your face!
2) 3 Adjustable Toggles – The Zipster had just one toggle at the back, but the Rover has two more at the sides so you can get the perfect fit. I find this not as important when wearing a helmet, but if not wearing a helmet, the extra toggles help keep the hood perfectly in place.
The Zipster came in two sizes (S/M and M/L), but the Rover comes in three sizes (Short, Regular and Tall) so the fit is more precise. Short is for people under 5’5”, Regular is for 5’5” to 6’2”, and Tall is for 6’2” and above. I’m 5’4’ so I got the Short size, but I tried on Pier’s Regular for comparison:
As you can see in the photo above, the bottom of the Short Rover hits just above my knees, and exactly at my wrists. The Regular Rover hits below my knees and covers my wrists. At 5’4″, I prefer the Short fit, but if you’re right in the middle of the height divide (5’5″) and aren’t sure which size to get, now you have an idea of how much smaller the Short is versus the Regular.
The Short Rover looks to be the same size as the Zipster S/M.
Like the Zipster, the Rover is made from breathable poly fabric, but the Rover feels softer, so it must be a slightly different polyester. Plus, the Rover is coated with a PVC-free Durable Water Repellent and has a breathable waterproof membrane on the inside, so it’s a bit more waterproof than the Zipster.
The Rover is also a bit lighter – 220 grams compared to the Zipster’s 249 grams.
More colours to choose from! The Rover comes in six colours (red, green, blue, pink, yellow and black), whereas the Zipster only came in blue or grey.
The Rover is more affordable than the Zipster. A Zipster retailed at $169USD, but a Rover is only $99USD.
Surprise Benefit – Rain Runoff
For some reason, the Rover doesn’t collect water in the dip between your body and the handlebars as much as the Zipster did. I suspect this is because the bigger loops make that space less taunt across the handlebars, so the water can drain off more easily.
Minor Cape Cons
One thing the Rover lacks that the Zipster had is the reflective thread grid, though perhaps removing that keeps the cost down. If you get a bright colour, like Heather’s yellow, this isn’t an issue. But the black cape with just the reflective logo is less visible than the grey Zipster with the reflective grid. However, Cleverhood’s Classic Rain Cape still has reflective thread.
Even with the belt, the back of the cape still flaps and can expose your butt to the rain, but this will happen with all capes. I have seen someone with a cape that had strips that tie to the back of the seat or backrack, maybe? But I wouldn’t want to be tied in. If it’s extremely windy, the Rover is plenty long enough that you can sit on it, just like I sit on the Zipster. But if you’re not sitting on it, the belt will keep the Rover from flipping up over your head.
An extra bonus is that the new Rovers are BLUESIGN compliant and 5% of sales will be donated to the Cleverhood Fund, which supports organizations that are working to make cities more livable, bikeable and walkable. Nice!
If you want a rain cape, a Cleverhood Rover is a well-designed, colourful and affordable option.