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 pack down smaller than a jacket or pair of trousers, so are great for just keeping in your bag incase the weather changes while you are out.
Out on the ride, 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. In town, arm warmers are a great extra layer to protect your extremities on those cold morning and evening rides.
Here is an updated guide to some of the best out there.
dhb Aeron Rain Defence – Good for: keeping the rain off
We have a set of the dhb arm and leg warmers and have used the arm warmers for a few rides. They are great at keeping the wind off as well as light rain. The water repellent function would be most useful outside of the winter I think. For those of you who wear t-shirts and shorts regardless of weather, but occasionally want extra precipitation protection then these would be great.
The arm warmers are £18.50 and are comfortable under a jacket for extra warmth, and would be great on their own in all but the warmest of summer showers. The fabric is quite smooth with only the stretch panel having a fleece backing, so they are comfortable even if you do get sweaty or it’s really tipping it down.
The leg warmers, at £22.50, are pretty comfortable, although that will depend partly on leg shape, as with all leg warmers. They are the same smooth material as the arm warmers and have a good amount of flex so they never feel restrictive. They could be great under some Gore-Tex shorts for city riding during the week or mountain biking at the weekend. The main draw back of them is the lack of an ankle zip, meaning you have to put them on before your shoes. However, this does mean that the ankle is very comfortable – I often find the zips on the bottom of leggings, for example, are quite scratchy and irritating.
The elastic on the arm and leg warmers is the same. Both have a 1 inch strip with a tacky area on the inside and outside to provide extra grip to stop them slipping down or your top/shorts riding up. The arm warmers work great, but the leg warmers tended to roll over a little. This might be due to my leg shape of course. It might also be due to the unisex nature of these products not being as good on small women as on regular sized men!
The Gore Set – Good for: Visibility
Another set to get good reviews was the Gore Visibility arm and leg warmers. These got between 4.5 and 5/5 on both sites.
The arm warmers are £27.21 at the moment and have good reviews. They are thermal, so more of a spring, winter and autumn option for morning and evening commutes where a jacket isn’t necessary but some worth and high-vis on the arms is.
An important consideration in arm and leg warmers is the elastic on the top – poor quality versions will slip down, which is incredibly annoying. The elastic on these Gore warmers should be a thick enough band that mean you will be safe with these.
The Gore Visibility leg warmers are £35.97. Similar to the arm warmers, these are bright yellow with reflective highlights, meaning your legs are sure to stand out from a crowd! As with the dhb rain defence, these have no zip on the bottom, so you will need to put them on before your shoes. Not such a problem if you are gearing up for a single journey such as a commute.
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.”
Rapha – good for easy on and off
Rapha of course make some exceptional high end kit. I have had their arm warmers for a while now and they are really very comfortable and at £30, not bank breaking. Mine have little elastic tabs at the top which help with pulling them up. It is a small feature like this that makes them just a little bit more useable than basic fleece warmers.
The leg warmers have zips at the bottom, so should you be after a pair that you can put on over shoes, these are a good choice. They are a little pricier than the other options at £50, but are certainly more versatile to put on and take off.
They are definitely warmer than some of the other options, and that is pretty much all they offer. They do cut a little wind but not as much as the dhb set.
Svelt arm warmers – the jazzy option
If you just want some arm warmers and you want them to be funky then Svelt is the brand for you. At £20 they are a good price and come in a range of excellent patterns and are unisex, so men and women can be equally snazzy. They are a fleece backed fabric so provide some good warmth, without being too toasty for late spring. We found them to be a little less stretchy than others, so if you are unsure of the size you need, it might be worth sizing up.
There are tons more options out there, but these are the ones we have enjoyed using in the past and have features of particular use to a person riding a bike in London. They are the kind of item that you might be sceptical about at first, but after a few uses in odd weather, you wonder how you ever lived without them!
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.