Choosing the right cycling clothing to ride during the winter is definitely not an easy task.
Wear one layer too many and you'll risk being too warm, especially when the pace gets hard and you can't stop to undress.
One layer too less, you might be too cold.
If you're planning to buy a good winter cycling jacket, there are a few things you'll need to consider, such as:
Breathability, Waterproofing and Windproofing.
There are many winter jackets that meet all the 3 important criterias I mentioned above. It's a matter of finding the right one that suits all your needs.
Here are the top 10 winter cycling jackets to consider.
Best Winter Jackets for Commuting
1. Arsuxeo Softshell Jacket
Arsuxeo delivers a fine softshell jacket that is both windproof and waterproof for those cold mornings when even the thought of rolling out makes you wince.
Cozy thermal fleece feels nice against the skin and the also rolls up easily or can be quickly tied around your waist when you get where you're going and are all warmed up.
The inner fleece lining also makes for a breathable material that stretches with your movements, maximizing comfort while out on the road.
2. Inbike Softshell Jacket
Featuring a wind and water resistant outer shell, this jacket has a inner soft, fleece layer that is meant to keep your core temperature regulated without while keeping the rain out.
Due to a high permeability film applied to the jacket's surface, water and wind stay out while you moisture buildup inside of the jacket is mitigated by improved breathability.
The jacket's polar fleece is smooth, warm, and effectively ventilates air. Use the roomy back pocket for storage and prop the collars up to keep the wind off your neck.
3. Baleaf Softshell Jacket
The Baleaf softshell jacket sports great looks at an even better price.
With an ultra-comfy and soft fleece-lined interior, your body heat stays put while the high-cut double layer collar keeps the chill away from your neck.
When it comes to retaining warmth, it's the little details that count like full-length zips for regulating temperature, internal draft flaps along the zipper and large pockets with garage seals around the zipper ends.
All of these details add up to a magnificently warm jacket that also provides wind and water resistance.
4. Altura Podium Elite Thermo Shield
Whereas other manufacturers are content to use existing weather-resistance tech, Altura has gone a step further by developing its own.
The Altura Shield technology provides superior wind and rain protection without compromising on breathability which is perfect for hard riding days in foul weather. To keep wind resistance at a high, Altura employs Ergofit 3D patterning technology to keep the garment perfectly in place while you're in the riding position.
Two rear-zip pockets lock down your belongings and, incredibly, all of this comes in a 170-gram package. When you're through with the ride or the weather heats up, pack this jacket up and keep moving.
Best Value for Money Winter Cycling Jackets
1. Castelli Perfetto
Castelli's Perfetto is everything you want in a value for money winter cycling jacket. For years, pro cyclists across various world tour teams would throw on an unmarked black jacket during the year's hardest races in the worst conditions.
Internet forums everywhere alighted with discussion about who the possible manufacturer of the jacket was until one day it came to light that Castelli made the top-secret garment.
The Castelli Perfetto is extremely windproof, very waterproof, reasonably insulated and breathable, and lightweight. Using Gore Windstopper X-Lite Plus fabric, the Castelli Perfetto jacket stops wind in its tracks while sacrificing very little in terms of weight.
2. Gore Bike Wear C3 Active Jacket
Just after sunrise, you take a peek outside at the weather you're going to have to deal with on your commute to work. It's pouring cats and dogs, and it's cold to boot. What's a cyclist to do?
The short answer is to throw on a Gore C3 Active Jacket and just be done with it.
Featuring a fully-waterproof outer shell, the Gore-Tex fabric used here is for when you're through playing games with the weather and just need something that works.
A long back keeps you protected from splashes coming up from the rear wheel and along with being completely waterproof, this jacket is also windproof and breathable.
3. Pearl Izumi PRO Pursuit Jacket
Pearl Izumi has a long and illustrious history of making in-demand gear for cyclists globally. It's not only amateurs who demand their for their winter gears, but also several pro cycling teams are outfitted by the company as well such as BMC Racing previously.
Using 3 different softshell layer panels to combine for great wind and water protection in vital locations, the Pro Pursuit winter jacket delivers a high-performing garment that's perfect for riders in training looking for a breathable way to put down the miles.
Just because you're going uncomfortably hard on the climbs doesn't mean you need to be uncomfortable in your jacket, and that's why this winter jacket delivers a next-to-skin feel to keep you comfortable while you're in the hurtbox.
4. Endura Pro SL Thermal Jacket
Designed specifically for riders in training, the Endura Pro SL Thermal Windproof jacket is perfect as an insulation garment that offers light water resistance while keeping those cold winds off your skin.
To maximize fit, Endura used a high-stretch, windproof fabric with a soft thermal lining to ensure you're just as comfortable at mile 7 as you are at mile 70. A high cut, double layer collar goes nearly up to the chin to keep your neck warm and extended cuffs integrate seamlessly with your favorite gloves.
And, as you'd expect from a performance piece as high quality as this, reflective trim is used throughout to ensure your safety in the low-light hours and on cloudy days.
Best Performance Winter Cycling Jackets
1. Castelli Alpha ROS
The Castelli Alpha ROS is in class of its own. Castelli developed a patented engineering method specifically for use in the Alpha ROS, called Rain or Shine engineering.
If you guessed that Rain or Shine engineering means you can wear this jacket any time, during any conditions, then you're right on the money. Featuring a Gore Windstopper 150 fabric, the Alpha ROS is supremely windproof, perfectly insulated, while maintaining a high degree of waterproofness, breathability and still being lightweight.
The Castelli Alpha ROS isn't just for the nastiest weather days. It also works great on mild winter days, making it your winter-time do-everything jacket.
2. Rapha Classic Winter Jacket
Rapha spent over a decade developing the Classic winter jacket, taking everything they'd learned from previous attempts and iterations and rolling them all into what amounts to this jacket.
It's everything you want a cycling jacket to be, windproof, waterproof, breathable, and warm, without compromising in any direction.
How they achieved such a feat doesn't matter as much as the fact that they've done it, and now riders everywhere can layer up in style.
1. Hardshell vs. Softshell Jackets
The first point to consider when you're gearing up to make a winter jacket purchase is the level of packable portability you'll need out of your clothing.
Some cyclists enjoy the ease of being able to take a jacket off, roll it up, and stuff it in the back pocket or under the back of the jersey when the sun comes out and warms everything up.
If that sounds like you, then you'd probably prefer a soft shell jacket.
Soft shell jackets are more wind and waterproof than your typical long-sleeve jerseys while also giving better warmth as well. The nice thing about a softshell is that when you feel it has done the job, you can stow it away without much thought.
On the other hand, winter weather gets rough in your area and you don't foresee much need for modularity when it comes to your cold-weather layers, then a hardshell jacket will be more up your alley.
Hardshell jackets are often made with Goretex or other weather-impermeable materials that, while warm and weather-proof, don't pack up very easily.
PRO TIP : Use softshell jackets when the weather could get ugly but there's a decent chance of fair weather as well, and hardshell jackets when it just looks plain grim outside.
2. Breathability Ratings
When considering the breathability of your jacket, think first of the types of efforts you'll be making while wearing it.
Is it a piece of gear meant for keeping you warm out on training efforts?
Well, if you're doing Zone 5 efforts up your local hill, odds are you'll be plenty warm after the first few intervals and won't need much in the way of a winter jacket.
Perhaps you're just looking for a warm and dry way to commute to and from work or on cruiser rides around local roads. In that case, breathability won't be a major concern in your jacket selection criteria.
The more weather-proof a winter jacket is, the less breathable it will be.
Fabrics like Gore-Tex are incredible for keeping you dry and toasty, but quite poor when it comes to keeping airflow going.
Consider that in order for a jacket to have windproof qualities, the permeability and venting of the jacket will be minimal.
PRO TIP : If you're looking to do higher intensity efforts, keep your jacket light and vented. If you're riding at an easy pace and don't produce much sweat while out, then feel free to layer on the warmth.
3. Waterproof Ratings
Winter cycling jackets are all, to some degree or another, waterproof.
What good would a winter jacket that didn't shed water be, anyhow?
As the waterproof value of your jacket rises, its breathability will decrease, so that is something to consider. However, if you live in a region that sees plenty of rain, breathability will come in second to staying dry.
One major point to watch out for when selecting a jacket is the difference between a jacket being waterproof vs water-resistant.
While the difference in wording may be subtle, the reality is not. Water-resistant jackets typically have a light DWR (Durable Water Resistant) coating that won't keep you dry in a true downpour.
The DWR coating is what you'll typically find on softshell jackets and are meant to keep light rain and showers at bay, but not much more.
True waterproof jackets will be storm-worthy barriers against the rain regardless of how hard it comes down. Waterproof rating is measured by placing the fabric under a 1" x 1" tube.
A 10,000mm rating fabric would only start leaking water once the tube is filled up to 10,000mm (10 meters), 20,000mm for 20 meters and so on.
According to industry standards, here are the waterproof ratings explained.
PRO TIP : Check the waterproof rating of your jacket before purchasing and make sure it's at least 15,000mm.
Nothing cuts cyclists down faster than cold wind, and no feature in a jacket will be as valuable to you as windproof-ness.
To this extent, you'll want to ensure a good and proper fit for your jacket.
Otherwise, the windproof rating of your jacket will lessen and you'll feel the chill sooner.
Sizing can be vary across different brands or sometimes within the same brand itself.
Use the size chart as a starting point, then look up the user reviews where you'll find a lot of information about sizing especially if there are people have similar height and weight to you.
More importantly, keep in mind that you'll be wearing at least one base layer underneath the winter jacket when you're riding. Sometimes, you'll even need a second layer, which is usually your regular cycling jersey.
And then the winter jacket as the outer layer.
PRO TIP : You might want to go one size up if you're wearing multiple layers beneath the winter jacket.
6. Extra Features
Since the jacket will be your outermost layer and will be meant to keep bad weather as far away from you as possible, don't favor jackets that have rear pockets.
If you absent-mindedly place a phone or some other valuable that can be damaged in rain or adverse conditions, you'll be unpleasantly surprised after coming out of a deluge.
Instead, look for taped seams for waterproof efficiency, vents for adding breathability, a high neck to keep the chill off of your neck, and reflective elements for visibility on grey days are all much more important features that you'll be happy to have.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What's the best way to dress up for winter cycling?
It depends on how cold the winter gets at your location and how much the temperature varies during the ride.
Generally, here's what I do:
2. What's the lowest temperature can I go with these jackets?
Winter cycling jackets are meant to be worn together with a base layer under it. With this combination, you can go as low as 23F/-5C to 14F/-10C.
Bear in mind that your body will generate heat as you ride, so you might feel slightly cold at the start. You'll be all warm and toasty after about 15 minutes into the reide.
3. How do I wash the jacket?
The very first thing you should do is to read the washing instructions, usually located on the inner parts. Although the general washing instructions are similar, some jackets have specific washing needs. So be aware of that.
Read More : How to Care for Your Cycling Kits
Here are a few key pointers you want to keep in mind.