Whether you’re in the market for a pair of sleeves to protect your arms from the sun or arm warmers to make those frigid rides more comfortable, shopping for this piece of clothing can sometimes be complicated.
There are so many options today that the buying process is overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’ve done some work to help you make the best possible purchase.
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In addition to sharing some of our favorite cycling arm warmers, we’re also breaking down some of its technical aspects.
- Sleeves vs warmers. What’s the difference? Which ones do you need?
- Fabric material. Learn how the different materials impact your cycling sleeves.
- Grippers. Yes, you need them. We’ll explain why.
If you’re ready, then let’s get started.
Here are 8 of the best arm warmers for cycling.
Castelli UPF 50+ Light Arm Sleeves
Whether you’re knocking out miles on a crisp morning, or trying to stay cool while doing a climb on a hot summer day, the Castelli UPF 50+ Light arm sleeves serve both purposes.
The leading cycling brand from Italy certainly delivered on these arm sleeves. They perform really well against protecting your arms from harmful UV rays thanks to its polyester base.
Perhaps more importantly, they’re built to stay in place using a minimal seam construction. The silicon grippers do a great job at preventing your jersey sleeves from riding up as well.
The fact that these are great in hot and cold-weather conditions is the real selling point of these Castelli arm sleeves. With these, you can officially say goodbye to sunscreen.
Mavic Cosmic UV Sleeves
If you’re not a fan of sunscreen, but need a solution to keep your arms from burning on those long rides, Mavic Cosmic UV sleeves are an affordable option that provides great protection.
These sleeves offer UV protection of 30 UPF, which is adequate to prevent sunburns.
In addition to that protection, we really like the moisture-wicking technology built into these sleeves. While new cyclists may not realize the benefit of arm sleeves in the summer, these Mavic sleeves do a great job at evaporating sweat off your arms, which can make you feel cooler and prevent irritation.
These Mavic arm sleeves aren’t designed for cold-weather rides. You likely will want something a little warmer that can help cut down on the wind.
Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves
Sunburn-protecting sleeves that slip on quite easily, the Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves is another affordable option you should consider for those sunny, warm-weather rides.
Pearl Izumi engineered these sleeves with special fabric that provides a highly effective skin-cooling effect by wicking away your perspiration, allowing you to ride longer.
Of course, these are designed to protect your arms from sunburns. It offers UV protection up to UPF 50, and that’s when the fabric is stretched. For cyclists with smaller arms, you can probably expect slightly higher protection.
A nice little bonus of these Pearl Izumi sleeves is the reflective elements, which help immensely with night-time riding. Make sure to measure your arms for perfect sizing. Some cyclists suggest sizing down for a snugger fit.
Sugoi Arm Coolers
How about cycling arm sleeves that use your perspiration to cool you down? That’s what the Sugoi Arm Coolers promise and it actually works quite well.
These sleeves are designed for those hot summer rides. It uses a special Icefill material that actually cools your arms down, making the ride more enjoyable. They come in various colors. Some cyclists have suggested the white color is best at keeping your arms cool.
The Sugoi arm coolers also do a great job at protecting your arm against the sun. They’re rated at UPF 50+, perfect for long rides with consistent sun exposure. The sizing of these sleeves runs small, so you may consider ordering a size up.
Shimano S-Phyre Arm Warmer
When it’s not quite jacket weather, but certainly not warm enough to just wear a jersey, the Shimano S-Phyre arm warmer is a great pair of sleeves that finds the perfect in-between.
We imagine riders using these sleeves for early fall season rides, where temperatures could be in the mid-40s at the beginning, but climb over 60ºF near the end. Shimano delivered on a versatile arm warmer that will keep you comfortable across the entire ride.
In terms of fit, these Shimano arm warmers include great silicone grips that help them stay on your arms without pinching your skin. The synthetic material used in these sleeves offers plenty of stretch and flexibility, so your arms shouldn’t feel too confined.
Giordana Super Roubaix Arm Warmers
Perfect for those rides between 40ºF and 60ºF, the Giordana Super Roubaix arm warmers keep your arms warm through it all.
In fact, it’s common for cyclists who live in slightly milder climates to use these arm warmers along with a vest and their favorite short-sleeve jersey when things get cold; no winter jacket required!
We really like the Super Roubaix fabric. It feels softer than other arm warmers, which is great for all-day comfort. The durability is also impressive. Some cyclists have reported getting up from crashes and seeing no damage to the fabric. So, expect these to last several seasons.
For the price, you can’t pass up on these Giordana arm warmers if you need protection during the colder months.
Castelli Thermoflex 2 Arm Warmer
The Castelli Thermoflex 2 arm warmer protects your arms from the cold by using its Thermoflex fleece fabric liner and an innovative exterior that does a great job with wind resistance.
Flat-lock seams combined with a silicone gripper elastic cuff helps keep these arm warmers in place throughout the length of a long ride.
The fleece fabric does a great job at insulating your arms. It’s also super-stretch, which adds to the comfort level of these arm warmers.
These Castelli arm warmers are perfect for late fall and early spring rides where the temperatures range from the low 40ºF to about 60ºF. You won’t want to wear these in temperatures any warmer as your arms would likely start to sweat.
Gore Wear Windstopper Arm Warmers
It comes at a more premium price, but the Gore Wear Windstopper Arm Warmers certainly protect your arms during those cold-weather rides.
The real selling point of these arm warmers is the windproof membrane, which does an incredible job at cutting down on wind to keep your arms warm.
But it’s the comfort that will make you happy you spent a little extra than similar products. The synthetic material in these warmers are super-stretch and comfortable. The flatlock seam essentially prevents any chance of chafing. And elastic cuffs on the top and bottom keep the sleeves in place.
If you cycle in a windy region, you’ll want the Gore Wear windstopper arm warmers in your cold season gear bag.
Cycling Arm Warmers Buyer’s Guide
Before pulling the trigger on some protection for your arms, make sure you understand the ins and outs of arm warmers.
Use this guide to help you along the way.
Arm Sleeves vs Arm Warmers
You’ll notice two main differences in the products above. About half of them are arm sleeves, while the other half is made up of arm warmers.
So, what’s the difference?
Arm sleeves, like the Castelli UPF 50+ Light Arm Sleeves, are primarily used for protection from the sun and wicking away moisture. These types of sleeves are popular because a lot of cyclists don’t care for sunscreen on their arms.
Sunscreen can drip off the arms onto the hands and become quite messy. Arm sleeves can protect against sunburns, even on those all-day rides.
Arm warmers do exactly what they sound like: keep your arms nice and toasty warm during those chilly rides in late fall and early spring.
They tend to be lined with some kind of insulating fleece, as you would find in the Castelli Thermoflex 2 Arm Warmer, which allows you to ride comfortably in temperatures in the low 40s.
Other arm warmers, like the Shimano S-Phyre Arm Warmer, are designed to keep your arms comfortable while riding in 40ºF weather up to 60ºF, making it a great option for those rides that fall in between seasons.
Arm warmers and arm sleeves are cheap enough that you could realistically buy sleeves for spring and summer riding, and then warmers for fall and winter.
Size and Fit
Finding the correct size in your arm warmer or sleeve is critical to being able to comfortably use them on rides. If the sleeve is too big, it’ll roll down. If it’s too small, you’ll have limited mobility with your arms.
You want to make sure the sleeve fits nicely between the elbow and the shoulder.
We recommend you follow each manufacturer’s sizing guidelines. If your measurements are in between sizes, always go with the smaller size.
Sometimes, though, sizing by manufacturers isn’t the most accurate. The Sugoi Arm Coolers, for instance, run a little small, so it’s recommended you order a size up.
In terms of arm warmers, you’re going to find a blend of fleece-lined lycra and nylon. These materials are great at keeping your arms insulated and warm.
In terms of arm sleeves, you’ll find lighter materials, like polyester. The Pearl Izumi Sun Sleeves are a mix of polyester and elastane but include some special proprietary fabric blends, like In-R-Cool and Ice-Fill technologies, which gives off a cooling effect and better manages perspiration.
Other materials, like the synthetic materials found in the Gore Wear Windstopper Arm Warmers, are designed for blocking the wind on blustery rides.
Finally, you’re going to see some technical specs about grippers across arm warmers and arm sleeves.
Some brands, like Castelli, like to put the grippers on the inside to grip on the skin. Others, like the Shimano S-Phyre arm warmers puts the grip on the outside in order to grip the sleeves of your jersey.
These grippers tend to be made out of silicone, which is a tacky material that won’t tug at your skin. So, it comes down to personal preference whether you want the grips on your skin or on your jersey.