Dressing in layers is not a new concept for most bikepackers. But picking the right layers is still tricky. Those choices change based on the season, the region and the person. No matter who you are or where you are though, quality rain gear is always important. Rainwear can be used for wet conditions as well as cold and windy weather. As part of a sleep system, you can use it as a vapor barrier.
My go-to rain jacket and rain pants are from Mont Bell. They fit me well, weigh very little and deliver good bang for the buck. Figuring out how to keep your hands and feet dry is a bit tougher. For the most part I used plastic bags on my feet. They weigh nothing, are essentially free, and take up no space in my shoes. Hands are another story.
Waterproof gloves aren't hard to find. Whether you look at winter cycling gear or at your local hardware store, you can find something that will work. Many Tour Divide racers go with dishwashing gloves. They are a great value and offer good grip. But they can be a bit fragile, tearing after repeated use. As a sometimes motorcycle rider, I looked to Aerostich, a fantastic U.S. company that makes rider apparel. I recently purchased a pair of $47 Short-Gauntlet Triple Digit Raincovers, size medium, in orange.
Simply put, they're perfect. Not too light, certainly not heavy (76 grams for the pair) and offer a nice construction. I ordered the smallest size offered, medium, and they leave lots of room for liner gloves inside. Bear in mind that they're designed to go over padded/armored motorcycle gloves. Aerostich also offers a longer gauntlet version, but this seems like a bit of overkill for bikepacking. I added a few stripes of silicone to increase grip on the bar and brake levers.
I haven't had a chance to use them in sopping wet conditions, but if they're anything like other Aerostich products, they'll be fantastic. They're also handy for cold mornings. With Defeet wool long-finger gloves, I'll be able to go near freezing with few worries. I could also throw a chemical heat pack inside if the going is especially cold. I even like the bright orange color. It makes them easier to find inside a frame or other bikepacking bag.