Windproof cycling jackets

You look on the BBC weather website and it says wind and light rain for the next day. You watch the ITV weather report and they’re suggesting clear skies. Who to trust? Even then, will the weather do the same thing all day? Of course not! Windproof cycling jackets are for moments like this. When the weather isn’t quite cold or wet enough for a full waterproof jacket but you’re not quite sure if the weather will turn nasty. Or it’s just a bit nippy.

Windproof jackets are often a great middle ground between a full waterproof and nothing. They breath a lot more than a full waterproof but still resist light showers. They can keep the chill off in the morning and evening, but you don’t feel like you are a boil-in-the-bag cyclist at the end of your commute!

*This is an update to a 2010 post to include up-to-date products and advice*

Types of windproof jackets

Windshield – These are often very lightweight, packable jackets made of a single layer of fabric. They act as a barrier to prevent the wind from chilling your skin. They also trap some warm air between the fabric and your skin, keeping you a little warmer when cycling in slightly cool weather. The fabric is usually thin enough to let any hot air pass through it, therefore breathing well. There is usually a treatment on the fabric to repel water, resisting light showers. Finally, the fabrics are usually very quick drying, therefore if you do get wet, you will dry off quickly once the rain stops.

Softshell – A softshell is usually heavier than a windshield. It will have a smooth, supple feeling, closer to cotton than a regular waterproof jacket. The fabric usually blocks a good amount of wind, it not all of it, and is treated with a water repellent coating to shed showers. They tend to feel more comfortable next to the skin and more breathable than a waterproof. They will also blend in in an urban environment a bit more than a standard windshield or waterproof. The main negatives of a softshell are increased weight, bulk and warmth over a windshield .

The type of jacket you need will vary depending on usage and weather. A windshield is a great emergency jacket and can be stowed in very small spaces, even a back pocket or saddle bag. They are often quite cheap (see the dhb Wisp below) and so are a worthwhile addition to any spring/summer/autumn commuting bag. A softshell is a more substantial jacket that tends to feel more like a regular coat and is often a little heavier than a windshield.

Cycling features

Much like waterproof jackets and other clothing you choose to wear on your cycle ride, windproof jackets can have features specifically designed for purpose. However, non-cycling specific jackets will work just as well.

If you do want a bike specific garment, look for: a dropped rear, longer sleeves, a rear pocket or two, no hood. Some will also have reflective bits, like the cuffs on the Arc’teryx below.

Windshield examples

dhb Wisp

Those with bigger wallets will probably scoff at the low price tag of the dhb Wisp but they’ll be missing a bargain. This windproof cycling jacket offers great performance and packs down to a great portable size. The breathability is excellent and it also offers good water resistance for rainy conditions.

The DHB Wisp Windproof Cycling jacket costs £20 and is available only from Wiggle.

DBH wisp windproof cycling jacket

Huez* Starman Windjacket

Huez is a great London cycling company. They make products that function as well on your commute as out in the mountains. The Starman is an incredibly light windproof jacket which can be shoved in a bag but then deployed to keep the worst of the wind off. It is also pretty water repellent due to the shiny nylon fabric. It is a more aggressive cut than the Wisp, meaning it has great coverage for those who ride road bikes or lean over more. You can even rip it open when you heat up, Superman style!

It costs £125 from

Stamen Jacket

Softshell examples

dhb Classic Softshell 

Available in men’s and women’s, this jacket is on the warmer side of softshells, so great for late nights or colder days (or August, always a nasty month!). It is very soft with a fleecy layer on the inside. It does have some cycling specific features, such as a longer back and rear pockets, but it is sleek enough to not stand out in the pub pre commute home.

At £52 from Wiggle this is a very good value jacket with a good level of breathability for the price and is pretty water repellent.

dhb softshell

Arc’teryx A2B Commuter Jacket

This is a favourite jacket for most weather where a little extra protection from the elements is nice, but a full waterproof is not needed. The commuter jacket is available in men’s and women’s and is a really breathable, lightweight option. It fits in well in the city but if has some cycling specific features that make life on the bike easier, such as a dropped tail and rear pocket.

Available from for £160. 

A2B commuter jacket mens


A windproof jacket is often enough to get you through everything but the wettest commute. You will also almost certainly be more comfortable in a windproof than in a waterproof in most London weather. As you can get one for as little as £20, it is a valid addition to your commuting wardrobe.

I personally find that I wear softshells far more than I do waterproofs, and to me it is a good investment. I feel more comfortable hanging out in a cafe or pub in a softshell. In fact the Arc’teryx A2B commuter is my favourite cycling jacket ever. During the summer I always have a lightweight wind jacket very similar to the dhb Wisp in my bag, it has come in handy many times.

See also:

Do you primarily use a windproof jacket while riding? What one do you use? What features do you find most important? Let us know!

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16 Responses to Windproof cycling jackets

  1. Steff Davies 25/10/2010 at 10:25 am #

    I’m very fond of my Montane Featherlight windproof layer – it’s a simple pull-on, but packs down small enough that it can live permanently in a saddlebag and does the job of cutting out the wind nicely.

    • John 25/03/2016 at 11:16 am #

      Unfortunately the Wisp jacket according to to Wiggle is no longer available. And I only received the E Mail this morning!
      However I have recently bought two jackets from China, ARSUXEO. The Chinese Goretex equivalent. And they are great!!! At around £20 each unquestionable quality and value

  2. Damien Breen 25/10/2010 at 10:41 am #

    The main difference between a windproof and waterproof jacket, is that the former is generally a lot more breathable. I’d say on a day to day basis a windproof jacket is a far more versatile purchase – they’re usually nicer to ride in (not so sweaty) and will also offer bit of protection from light rain showers.

    My tip is that layering is definitely the way to go – my blog has some suggestions on this season’s ‘hottest’ new looks!

  3. Chris aka Karmacycle 26/10/2010 at 2:10 pm #

    Must confess that I normally move straight from light vest to waterproof when it starts getting towards winter. I’ll admit there’s a danger of over-heating, but if you layer things properly you can normally get it about right. I’ve just started wearing a very light Endura waterproof jacket which seems about perfect for the current London weather. Think I’d rather err on the side of being dry than caught in a monsoon and freeze to death. If you’ll pardon a little exagerration. BTW – Damian, I like your blog too – it’s amazing how many great cycling blogs there are out there, and great that the London Cyclist often acts as a kind of hub for us all.

    • Filippo Negroni 27/10/2010 at 1:43 pm #

      I am under the impression that all garments get wet, eventually, and I choose them so that they keep me warm even when wet (to some extent).

      To that effect, I hardly ever use waterproof gear, opting instead for layers of windproof material.

      But waterproof gear does have a place when riding: for example, if I wear jeans, I put fully waterproof over-trousers on.

      But I hardly ever bother when commuting. This morning, after about 30 minutes the rain stopped and I got to work dry, 20 minutes later. I didn’t wear any waterproof but the windproof gear I wear is slightly water repellent so didn’t get soaked either.

      • Dave Escandell 27/10/2010 at 2:52 pm #

        I’m sort of in Fillipo’s camp here.

        While I do own a waterproof, I rarely use it because despite living in the UK and commuting daily, it is still relatively rare that it’s actually raining at the same time as my commute. When it does rain it is often light enough for a windproof to deal with.

        If it’s chucking it down, then I get wet and towl down at the end of my journey.

        Maybe I’m just lucky.

      • Phil 01/11/2010 at 9:08 am #

        I’m with Filippo here- I’ve had Goretex, variously proofed jackets of all descriptions, and I always ended up getting wet because either seams failed or the allegedly breathable layer didn’t breathe enough *grin* For the last eight years I have been wearing a Buffalo Special 6 jacket, which is windproof and keeps me warm even when soaked through. Not initially cheap, but has paid for itself many times over in terms of warmth and comfort.

  4. OfficeHoward 29/10/2010 at 12:13 pm #

    Got a Gore – light, takes up little space in my bag, quite breathable.

    Happy customer.

    (ps. its not bright yellow like so much of the commuter-wear out there!)

    (my local Evans store seems to mainly stock mostly black – seems a bit odd for cycling – or, cyclist-uniform-colour: bright yellow)

  5. Steve 01/11/2010 at 7:23 pm #

    Hi all,
    I always carry a waterproof jacket and shorts, both Endura. I have had the jacket 5 years and it has never let me down, even on the wettest days. The shorts (I find) are a must too. There is nothing worse than a wet backside.
    The downside with both is that I cannot wear either without overheating. So the comments above about breathable windproof jackets are very welcome.

  6. Gary DelNero 22/11/2010 at 2:07 am #

    I’ve been very happy with my 1983 Northface/Goretex jacket w/ hood. I wear it in temps from the low 50’s to the teens, adding layers as needed. Windproof fabric is essential for cycling- you might be damp from rain or sweat, but as long as you keep the cold air away from skin, you’ll be fine.

  7. pass plus 31/03/2012 at 2:35 am #

    I’m no longer sure the place you are getting your info, however good topic. I needs to spend some time studying much more or working out more. Thanks for excellent info I used to be looking for this info for my mission.

  8. Martin Hayes 22/05/2012 at 12:05 pm #

    I’m also a big fan of the Montane Featherlite Smock – packs to the size of an orange and I read somewhere it is the worlds lightest jacket and something like 67 grammes. I use all year round with Merino Wool top and T-Shirt underneath for winter and just T-Shirt in the Spring/Summer/ Autumn – I just get too hot in anything else. Very rarely I’ll break out a full on waterproof if it’s absolutely lashing down – and that is a Aldi cheapy Dayglo Jacket.

  9. Emily 24/03/2016 at 10:05 am #

    Hey All,

    This 2010 post has been updated to stay current, but we have left in the previous comments as they may be of use to you when deciding what jackets to look at.

    Please continue to let everyone know which jackets you love or hate.


  10. Jamie 25/03/2016 at 11:17 am #

    Unfortunately the first jacket in your article (DHB Wisp – £20) seems not to be available any more.

  11. MJ Ray 31/03/2016 at 10:14 am #

    Still no Roubaix jackets? (Chest and upper arms softshell, rest fleece)

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