The best cycling jacket will keep the nasty heavy rain out, will keep you feeling warm on your commute into work and allow your skin to breathe so you won’t be dripping with sweat. But how do you know which one to buy? What should you look for? Is there any difference between a £50 and a £150 cycling jacket? All these questions will be answered here.
What to look for in a cycling jacket
A lot of people just think “why don’t I just pickup any old waterproof jacket?” There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, it’s perfectly fine and will no doubt work out cheaper. However, if you do cycle often then you are better off with a jacket designed for cycling. The instant difference you will notice with cycling jackets is that they are cut with a longer back to accommodate for forward leaning. Also they feel more comfortable and allow a full range of movement. Here some of the things you should look for when buying a waterproof cycling jacket.
- Light vs. heavy – In my personal experience it is better to have a lighter waterproof cycling jacket rather than a heavier one. The reason being that you soon warm up from the exercise and it is better to have the option to add layers than be stuck with a heavy jacket that makes you sweat. Also it is easier to fold away.
- Neck – a high neck is better to protect from wind and rain
- Waterproof zip – one of the main places water gets in, so look for a jacket that has a flap to keep it out
- Sleeves – these should go right down to your wrists when you’re in cycling position
- Reflective material – anything that helps you be seen by others is useful so pick a jacket that has at least some reflective material
- Hood – when cycling in London or any city cycling a hood can create dangerous blind spots. However if out and about on a trail then it can be useful for keeping you dry.
- Breathability and water resistant – often people buy cycling jackets expecting miracles, like no sweat what so ever. The truth is, if on naked skin there is sweat then there will also be sweat with a cycling jacket. Usually the more water resistant a jacket is the less breathable it is. It’s not a perfect world and you can’t have both!
- Storage – some jackets are better at folding into compact spaces to save space
- Fabrics – every cyclist you ask swears by a certain fabric. Gore-tex is an often mentioned name and this is one of the higher end materials. In all honesty I think you are better off not worrying so much about the fabric and instead looking for a jacket where the seams such as zips and vents are well protected as this is where water is likely to sneak in.
As a general rule the more you spend the less you have to trade off between the above features. Having said that if your just starting out then even the budget jackets are perfectly good.
(Note: Looking for something a little lighter? Checkout our windproof cycling jacket recommendations)
Popular waterproof cycling jackets
All of these jackets come highly recommended in reviews and are popular choices.
DHB Signal Cycling Jacket
I own this affordable £53.09 DHB jacket and love two things about it: It’s completely waterproof and it stuffs down nicely into a small enough size to store in my bag ready for the rain.
The jacket keeps me a little warmer than perhaps I would like but opening the under arm vents helps. It largely negates the need for a middle layer which sometimes isn’t such a bad thing. The well-sized waterproof back pocket is excellent for quick access to items and there’s also a couple of side pockets.
Altura Night Vision Evo Jacket
If you are looking for something a little more reflective and much warmer then the Altura Night Vision Evo Cycling Jacket comes well reviewed. The waterproof jacket is highly reflective, great quality and keeps you very warm. This is definitely one for winter cycling. One of the favourite features is the soft material inside the collar making it extra comfortable. Additionally the jacket is well designed on all fronts. Right down to the zips, which are designed to be opened even if wearing gloves. With ample pocket space there is not much more to ask for. It is available for £84.99 from Evans Cycles.
Gore Bike Wear Path Waterproof Cycling Jacket
At the higher end of the scale (Though believe me you can go much higher) is the Gore Bike Wear Path II. The high price is justified by having excellent waterproofing, warmth and at the same time packing down into a small size to fit into your bag. Additionally the Gore Tex material means that the jacket remains highly breathable to prevent you from sweating. It is available from Wiggle for £125.99.
- Windproof cycling jackets
- Gloves for cycling in the winter that keep water and cold out
- How to choose a bicycle helmet
- How to choose cycling shorts
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.