Home Bike Stuff Rain Capes: Cleverhood vs People’s Poncho

Rain Capes: Cleverhood vs People’s Poncho

by bromptoning
Heather in Cleverhood’s Electric Blue Zipster,
Pier in The People’s Poncho Hardy Navy 2.0

This is not an advertisement; our little blog is not sponsored by rain capes. We just think everyone—whether you’re cycling to work or cycling across the world—should be equipped with this handy, compact piece of rain gear. We explained why in the post 6 Benefits of Cycling in a Rain Cape. Now we’ll tell you about the rain capes we have, Cleverhood and The People’s Poncho, and outline the pros and cons of each.

But first, how did we end up with these two brands? Well, in 2017 when we decided we needed rain capes for our trip to the Netherlands, the only stores in Toronto that carried rain capes were Urbane Cyclist and The Spacing Store. Of course, we could have ordered rain capes of dubious quality from Amazon, but we wanted to try them on. 

Urbane was selling the Brooks rain cape, but we didn’t like it, so we headed to The Spacing Store to try on the Cleverhoods. (Note: Urbane now sells AGU rain ponchos that look pretty good, but we haven’t tried those yet.) 

The Spacing Store has all three Cleverhood rain capes: the classic Cleverhood, the CleverZipster, and the Cleverlite.

The classic Cleverhood is the most expensive and features magnetic armholes, so you don’t have to lift the cape up to use your hands (which would be handy when locking your bike), and velcro trim tabs at the sides to keep the cape from being too billowy when you’re just walking around, and a zippered pocket. But the downside for us is that the classic Cleverhood is twice as heavy as the CleverZipster or Cleverlite. Since we would be traveling, weight was a priority, so we chose between the lighter capes.

The Cleverlite is the cheapest option. There’s no zipper to get the hood tight to your chin, but it still has thumbs loops and is waterproof like the Zipster. I didn’t think no zipper would be a deal breaker, but it was. Without that zipper, the Cleverlite’s hood doesn’t fit as well under a helmet, and the hood would certainly blow right off without a helmet on. So we chose the mid-range option, the CleverZipster!

This is a photo of me being so happy to use my new rain cape on a ride from Amsterdam to Leiden

Rain capes are THE BEST!

After it stopped raining, I strapped my CleverZipster to my Brompton back rack (I didn’t want to put the wet cape inside my bag), but somewhere around Zandvoort it fell off! I didn’t notice until we got all the way to Leiden. We made some calls to places we’d been, but no one found it. Nooooo! A brand new two hundred dollar rain cape, gone! 

So when we got back to Canada, I looked into a cheaper option than the Cleverhood and found The People’s Poncho. We could only order it online, and even with shipping, it was half as much as  a CleverZipster. 

And now, we can compare the two…


CLEVERHOOD – ZIPSTER PEOPLE’S PONCHO 2.0
Hood Yes, perfectly designed not to obstruct a cyclist’s peripheral vision, and fit under a helmet. Yes, but it doesn’t fit well under a helmet, nor over a helmet, and can obstruct peripheral vision.
Handlebar Attachment Thumb loops to keep cape over handlebars. Straps to hook over handlebars.
Material Waterproof (15K mm), breathable poly fabric TPU waterproof coating (12K mm), Japanese polyester
Waistband No Yes
Reflectors Reflective thread sewn in a grid-pattern all over entire cape. Reflective strips on the front and back, and on the poncho piping.
Pocket No Yes
Weight 249 grams (0.55lbs) 460 grams (1lb)
Size S/M/L ONE-SIZE
Price $169 USD $84 USD

The People’s Poncho – Pros & Cons

Let’s start with the Pros! 

Price – The People’s Poncho is half the price of the CleverZipster.

People’s Poncho handlebar strap

Handlebar Attachment – The wide straps are easier to find and attach to your handlebars than the CleverZipster’s thumb loops.

Waistband – This keeps the cape from flying up behind you. Very useful. 

Pocket – A handy pocket to store things.

Now the Cons…

Weight – It’s twice as heavy as the CleverZipster.

Size – The People’s Poncho only comes in one-size, which is probably great if you’re medium sized, but Pier and I are both on the short side, so it kind of looks like a dress on both of us. On me (Heather) it actually hits below my knees! Besides just being too big, if we’re not riding our Bromptons and are riding our bikes with big 700c wheels, the cape hangs down and gets caught in the front wheel. 

CleverZipster over People’s Poncho

Hood – Even though The People’s Poncho claims that the hood fits a bike helmet, as you can see in the photo below, it doesn’t. And the hood doesn’t fit easily under a bike helmet either. Plus, I have to fiddle with it so it doesn’t block my peripheral vision.

That hood definitely does NOT fit my bike helmet.

Material – The People’s Poncho started out waterproof, with water beading off the fabric, but now not so much. Maybe this is because its waterproofness relies on a TPU coating and now that coating is wearing off?

Two hours cycling and Pier’s coat is wet under The People’s Poncho.

CleverZipster – Pros & Cons

The Cons…

It’s expensive, there’s no waistband and no pocket, and the thumb loops aren’t as easy as The People’s Poncho’s handlebar straps.

The Pros…

It’s lighter, comes in multiple sizes, and is more waterproof and reflective. But the biggest advantage to the Cleverhood is in its name—the hood! It fits well under a bike helmet, and the brim is big and sturdy enough to keep even torrential rain from stabbing your eyeballs, and the sides of the hood never block your vision. 

And The Winner Is… ?

For both of us, it’s the Cleverhood! Though for slightly different reasons.

For me (Heather), it’s the hood. Despite the fact that I find the thumb loops finicky (I actually prefer to wiggle the loops onto my handlebars so that I can still use my hands to signal) and there’s no waistband (I sit on the Cleverhood to keep it from flapping around)… 

I love the Cleverhood’s hood! My face is soaked from the cheeks down, but my eyes are dry thanks to that hood.

Pier, on the other hand, rarely bothers to wear the hood part of his rain cape. So why does he like the Cleverhood better? Because it’s shorter (the one-size People’s Poncho hangs longer than he’d like) and lighter (it takes up less space when traveling).    

So I bought a new CleverZipster. Now we each have a Cleverhood and keep the People’s Poncho as a backup.

In Conclusion

Rain capes rock! Though we prefer the Cleverhood, maybe you’re tall and don’t care about the hood and want to save some money, so The People’s Poncho would suit you fine. There’s also a company called Happy Rainy Days out of Amsterdam. Their rain capes are available at stores in Europe, but not here in Canada. When we’re back across the pond, I definitely want to check them out. 

Anybody out there have a favourite brand of rain cape? Or have you heard of other companies making rain capes that you want to check out? Most importantly, if you don’t have a rain cape, are you going to get one?

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3 comments

Sebastian August 30, 2020 - 3:19 pm

Thanks to this blogpost i heard of Cleverhood. They have now the “Rover” for around 100$ and i had bought one with the optional belt/waistband. Very good quality. I love it. 🙂

Greetings from Germany

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bromptoning September 9, 2020 - 8:33 am

Amazing! We’re getting two Rovers in mid-September. Can’t wait to try them out and write a follow-up review. 🙂

Reply
bromptoning November 11, 2019 - 2:12 pm

A reader, Lynda, emailed a reply to our blog that included a couple good points, and she agreed to let us share it here in a comment:

Hi Bromptoningers- Thanks for your really comprehensive review of rain capes. I used one (MEC) several years ago but found the windage was an issue and I often ended up with a pool of water in the depression between me and the handle bars. I ended up switching to using the Torrential rain jacket from Patagonia (helmet fits on top of hood, and I found a rain skirt from https://www.georgiaindublin.com/product/the-rainwrap/. This has worked well because it’s quick to put on, it keeps my butt dry when I get on/off my seat and it folds small. I’ve added rain shoe covers from MEC and made some gaiters to cover the gap between bottom of the skirt and top of the shoe covers.
Thanks for your great articles and stories! Cheers, Lynda

It’s true that rain capes can catch the wind and gather water near the handlebars. That’s one of the reasons I attach the thumb loops directly to the handlebars so my hands are free underneath for signalling or knocking that pool of water away. But also, RAIN SKIRTS! Thanks for reminding me about those! I’ve checked out Georgia In Dublin online and their rain skirts look like an excellent solution to pair with a rain coat you love. They also sell rain booties called “Leggits” that I want too. https://www.georgiaindublin.com/product/leggits-waterproof-overshoes/

Thanks for your comments, Lynda, and next time I run into you in Toronto, I want to check out your rain skirt! 😀

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