Arm and leg warmers are possibly one of the most useful inventions known to cyclists. Perhaps that is an exaggeration – the bike might take precedence, but they are in the top 10. I mentioned these lovely little pieces of gear recently in a piece about kit for autumn rides – but these deserve a post all of their own.
Simple tubes of material might not seem like anything special – but considering we live in a country where the weather changes its mind quicker than a hormonal teenager, they’re pretty useful.
Arm and leg warmers can be rolled down and removed when you’re warm, stuffed into a jersey pocket, and reapplied when you get to a cafe stop or start to feel the chill again. Though leg warmers can’t usually be easily removed mid ride, arm warmers can be rolled down as and when – for example half way up the hill you love to hate.
For such a simple invention – there is a lot of choice out there. In fact, I found 77 pairs of leg and arm warmers on Evans Cycles and 69 on Wiggle – ranging from £8.49 (Pearl Izumi Thermo Arm Warmers) to £73.99 (Assos Leg Warmer S7). So which ones are the best?
The Castelli Set – Good for: keeping the rain off
Castelli designed these with ‘Nanoflex’ material. They claim this keeps you warm in dry conditions in the same way their ‘Thermoflex’ technology does, but it is also water resistant. Light yet warm and with great gripping, it’s easy to see why there are so many positive reviews.
The accompanying Nanoflex Knee Warmers got 4.5/5 on both sites too. At £34.99 (or £35 at Wiggle – and £50 for the longer leg warmers) these are starting to become a more considered, expensive purchase. However, Castelli themselves claim these to be: “The most effective thing Castelli have ever made for keeping you comfortable in all conditions.”
The Gore Set – Good for: Visibility and easily removable
Another set to get good reviews was the Gore Ozon arm and leg warmers. These got between 4.5 and 5/5 on both sites.
The arm warmers are £26.99 (save 10%) on Wiggle at the moment and 14 reviews average at 4.7/5. Wiggle reviewers pointed out the brightness as a key benefit. In white, black, and yellow – the latter option is great for ensuring you are visible. They also offer UV protection, which might be worth bearing in mind in warmer temperatures.
Reviewers had great things to say: “I chose the Hi-Vis yellow / green option and it has reduced the amount of close vehicles a bit, being great!!” and “I forgot I was wearing them until I got home. I guess that’s just about the best review this type of product can get” were two positive remarks.
An important consideration in arm and leg warmers is the elastic on the top – poor quality versions will slip down, which is incredibly annoying. Reviews stated this wasn’t the case with the Gore option, and the thick band evident in the image implies you would be safe with these.
The Gore Ozon leg warmers are £35.99 on Wiggle, with 20 reviews giving 4.5/5. Similar to the arm warmers, these have UV properties but are only available in black. A handy zip on the bottom means you can slip them over shoes if you need to.
One review stated: “I used these leg warmers for a wet and windy 100 mile ride in Suffolk last Sunday and found them excellent. They fitted perfectly and stayed in place. I like the idea of the zips so that you can remove the warmers without taking off the shoes.”
The DHB Vaeon Set – Good for: Value for money
For a less expensive option, Wiggle’s own brand DHB arm and leg warmers both got 4/5, based on over 100 reviews each. These come in red, blue and black. The arm warmers are only £11.24, but it’s worth noting many positive comments were around value, and a few made statements along the lines of: “They are great for early/late summer where temps in the morning are around 10 to 15. Anything cooler than that and I would want warmer more wind proof arm warmers.”
The leg warmers, at £14.39 – again value came up frequently in comments, and a glance at the first few statements revealed: “Warmers are OK but stitching has come undone on one seam after first wash” and “lightweight but it keeps on slipping”. So it looks like these are good for a cheaper option, but might need replacing soon.
These are just a few of the options out there. Have you found a fail-safe arm, leg or knee warmer you recommend?
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.