Winter cycling jackets

The rain and cold weather are no reason to stop cycling through the winter. With the correct gear, you can transform your ride from cold and wet, to a warm and cosy feeling.

Whilst some cyclists opt for waterproof macs, today we’re going to focus on jackets.

How to pick the right winter cycling jacket for you

  • Warm, but not hot: It’s difficult when you are cycling to get your body temperature right. Often, you’ll feel cold when you first set off on your ride, but within minutes the exercise will get you warmed up. Cyclists therefore cleverly use removable layers. If you are the type of person who feels the cold, go for the thicker jackets. For those of us who hate the feeling of getting too hot – a lightweight jacket will be more suitable. I’ll cover all of these in the below recommendations.
  • Waterproof or breathable: Generally, the more waterproof a winter cycling jacket is, the less breathable it becomes. Therefore, you’ll want to seek out jackets with plenty of well placed sizeable vents.
  • Reflective: Not everyone wants to dress in reflective gear, but subtle reflective features are a nice extra in a jacket.
  • Cut: A close cut, which frequently features in Rapha jackets is great for fast riding as it doesn’t flap in the wind. Commuter jackets on the other hand are more likely to feature a looser fit.
  • Tight openings: You’ll want a jacket that won’t let water in through the neck and will have tight or adjustable cuffs so you can keep the cold air out. Again, adjustable cuffs mean you can loosen them if you are getting too hot.
  • Zips and pockets: Ideally, you’ll want to be able to operate zips with one hand. A pocket is useful for a snack during the ride or a quick place to store items you regularly need such as your keys.
  • Waterproofing rating: Some winter cycling jackets will list their hydrostatic rating. This is how much water they can sustain before leaking. 10,000 is a good figure to aim for and 20,000 is the maximum you’ll find. Note that over time the waterproofing of a material can fade. You can treat it with products such as Nikwax to improve it.

The best winter cycling jackets

With these features in mind, here’s a selection of excellent winter cycling jackets.

DHB EQ 2.5

DHB EQ Winter Cycling Jacket

Offering excellent value for money as always, the DHB EQ 2.5 is a well ventilated and great looking jacket for winter cyclists. The jacket is fully waterproof. The seams are taped and the zip is waterproof. The mesh inner liner helps keep you cool even when you are speeding along. It features a high collar, which is perfect for keeping the rain at bay. The cuffs are easily adjustable so you can have them at tight as you wish.

For your bits and bobs, there’s a zipped rear pocket. There’s also chest pockets that will come in very useful.

The fit here is described as “medium” which is a good cross between strong performance and comfortable fit.

You get a whole lot of jacket here, and it’s easy to see why this jacket has such a high rating on Wiggle.

£62.99 exclusively from Wiggle – in both Men’s and Ladies.

Mavic 2013 HC H20 Jacket

Mavic EQ Winter Cycling Jacket

The Mavic 2013 HC H20 Jacket deserves a place in our winter cycling jacket roundup for its great combination of waterproofing and breathability. It has a 10,000mm water column rain rating which is superb for most rides. This is achieved through a fully seamed design. It’s an incredibly comfortable jacket to wear, thanks to its excellent fitting. There’s a large vent for allowing great ventilation in case you are getting warm.

£169.99 is the best price from Chain Reaction Cycles

DHB Sync

DHB Sync Waterproof Jacket

For those who enjoy having a hood for maximum rain protection, The DHB Sync winter cycling jacket is an excellent choice. We reviewed this jacket recently on London Cyclist and were thoroughly impressed. Even during the most prolonged downfalls of rain, you’ll still be kept dry. The jacket features the classic longer cut at the back, which keeps your bum dry. The adjustable elastic cord waist is a nice addition, for those cyclists who always feel their jacket is riding up their back. The jacket has two zipped front pockets as well as a chest pocket. All of which come in useful for quick access to your phone, wallet and keys. The minimum branding and bright colours, mean that this jacket can easily be worn off the bike too. Whilst breathability isn’t as good as perhaps I would have liked, the two huge zips beneath the arm certainly help.

£71.99 exclusively from Wiggle – available in Male and Female.

Vulpine Cotton Rain Jacket

Vulpine Cotton Rain Jacket

Any jacket made of a material called “Epic Cotton” is worthy of a second glance. Fortunately, in this case, it isn’t just a marketing gimmick. The jacket combines waterproofing with breathability in a way rarely achieved by cycling jackets. The reviews of this jacket have been glowing and if it’s good enough for Jon Snow to wear then it’s certainly good enough for me!

A clever little feature of this jacket is the splash guard that unfolds from the back. This helps prevent any splashing at the back of your trousers. This includes reflective material.

Available for £195 from Vulpine.cc

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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17 Responses to Winter cycling jackets

  1. Andreas 03/10/2012 at 10:25 am #

    Quick test comment – is this working?

    • Phillips 07/10/2012 at 10:25 am #

      No I don’t think so.

  2. Joel Levitt 03/10/2012 at 12:02 pm #

    I have the DHB EQ 2.5 and it is great for warmth and light to medium showers but for all of it’s “ventilation” i still end up incredibly damp inside when it’s not raining.
    It is very versatile though for the price – plenty of useful pockets.
    Seems to be a regular problem with sub £100 jackets.

  3. Chris McGovern 03/10/2012 at 3:03 pm #

    I have the Vulpine soft shell after the taping on my Endura one came away earlier this year. The jacket is really well thought out and looks great off the bike. Kept me dry in a light shower and doesn’t seem to be too hot. The tuck away red reflective baboon bum flap is a neat idea.

  4. Luís P 04/10/2012 at 9:22 am #

    I have a DHB Sync and its realy waterproof, it can withstand heavy rain and not a single drop of water inside, and its also good for those cooler autumm days it keeps you warm, but for some people it could be warmer than they want, but in that case you can unzip the big arm vents and that will cool a bit. , You can use it off the bike because it doesnt look like a cycling jacket. Its a great jacket for the price

  5. Eddie Tomlinson 04/10/2012 at 12:46 pm #

    I have an Endura Helium jacket and I find it perfect. I get warm when I cycle so I prefer to have a lightweight waterproof and just layer underneath if needed, mainly using baselayers plus a t-shirt, e.g. Helly hansen baselayer. That’s what works for me.

    The Dhb one looks good. That Mavic one is expensive!! The Helium was about £90, worth it.

    Eddie.

  6. Big Softy 05/10/2012 at 9:49 pm #

    Methinks more style over substance.
    I’ve been wearing the same Altura jacket every winter for the past 10 years with no complaints.
    Worn over a quality base layer it keeps me dry and warm, though no too warm.
    Add a merino shirt when the temperature drops and I’m set.

  7. Paul 08/10/2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Aldi have good cycling jackets for £29.99 in 3 colours. They are fleece lined, relatively breathable and look alright. They have a rear zip pocket and cycle jersey-style back pockets for gels, phone etc.

    I tested mine for the first time yesterday on a 4 hr ride in Berkshire. Weather was foggy and temp range was 4-7 degree’s C. A good value option or you could buy 2 for the price of a branded one and so have one in the wash while you wear the other.

    • Hank 03/03/2013 at 11:10 am #

      Good to see someone sticking up for Aldi.I am new to cycling and to buy named cycling clothes would cost more than I can afford I have bought lots of my cycling gear from Aldi and Lidl and have had no problem whatsoever I find the shorts and leggings have been brilliant. I also see a lot of the expensive gear getting bad reviews like the rubbish waterproof trousers I bought from Altura. There seems to be a lot of snobbery in this sport do people really go faster if the are wearing whole outfits advertising Sky TV.?

  8. Andrew 10/10/2012 at 12:19 pm #

    Don’t forget the almost ubiquitous Altura Night Vision jacket – I have one and you see them everywhere. It strikes a reasonable balance between cost/breathability/waterproofing.

    • MikeF 10/10/2012 at 7:29 pm #

      I have to agree. I have 2- the mid-range (£70 ish) waterproof and windproof jackets. Regular treatment with nikwax on both has kept me warm and dry for 6 years now

  9. Anna 12/10/2012 at 12:56 pm #

    heeeyyy what about the girls?! Am appalled you’re ignoring us ;-) Only kidding. Maybe you don’t know about the amazing Cyclodelic winterjacket? I’ve worn it all last winter and it never failed me. it’s stylish, but functional! and it is on sale at the mo here: http://www.cyclodelic.com/collections/sale/products/edwardian-waterproof-jacket

    Yippee!

  10. goonz 12/10/2012 at 2:51 pm #

    I get really warm and so can only really bear a tshirt or long sleeve and a jacket over it. I have the Rapha Winter Jersey which I havent actually tried out yet as its just not cold enough for me. will let you know how it fares in a few months…

    • Gragra 24/10/2012 at 8:03 pm #

      I am Looking forward to hear about your Rapha winter jacket. I wanted to buy one for myself as well. Let us know how did you get on.

      • goonz 06/11/2012 at 9:52 am #

        Finally decided to use my Rapha Winter Jersey. I wore it over a full sleeved base layer and it performed pretty well. Did feel the cold but after a while I was warm and only my fingers went numb.

        If it gets much colder I would probably use a thermal base layer or a merino full sleeved base layer and that jersey. Should be fine though.

        Only gripe if the colour black. Looks great and I love the understated look but I am guessing in the dark I might be a tad tricky to spot!

        Feels great and fits me well, I love it.

        Hope that helps.

  11. Elaine 27/01/2014 at 3:27 pm #

    I feel the cold a lot, but hate bulky stiff clothes, so I wear my Rapha rain jacket with my very light skiing jacket underneath. I wear a rapha merino baselayer and alpaca snood & hat that I knitted. So far have have been dry and warm.

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