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
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
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.
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
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.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.