Cold outside? Stop moaning! Just don one of the best winter cycling jackets and hit the roads, no matter the forecast. You'll be toasty, we promise. “The weather outside is frightful, but the bike looks so delightful”… Had Bing Crosby been a road cyclist, the popular festive tune would have been very different, let's face it.
Cycling throughout winter takes a bit of dedication, but in order to reap the fitness and environmental benefits of remaining pedal-powered when things get a bit wet and chilly, you simply have to invest in the right kit, which is where one of the best weatherproof cycling jackets for winter riding come in.
Windproof, rain resistant, warm and often easily packed into a bag or pocket if the sun comes out or you get a bit sweaty, these excellent adverse weather riding jackets keep you cycling harder, longer and further, no matter the weather.
Better still, there is a jacket to suit most budgets, from basic waterproof numbers to more technical, fleece-lined variants that are guaranteed to keep torsos toasty, as well as sheltered from pesky precipitation.
- Here is a guide for the best bikes plus the another one for the best road bikes
- Best front bike lights… and also best rear bike lights (NB: you need both)
Best winter cycling jacket: what to look for
As with many things cycling-related, this can largely depend on the discipline or type of bicycling antics you get up to on a regular basis. Keen road cyclists will probably want to look towards the tighter, more aerodynamic and technical jackets that compliment the rest of the streamlined kit that makes up a dedicated roady’s wardrobe.
Mountain bikers can get away with a more flattering jacket and are often best served by breathable soft shell numbers that pack a hood (for when hiking to the top of a downhill run), plenty of pockets to carry food and tools, as well as clever panelling to allow for more freedom of movement when busting tricks.
Similarly, commuters will probably want something that’s a little more fashion-led, rather than unflatteringly tight and technical, which is why most of the top brands offer something that can withstand the worst of the weather but still looks good when worn off the bike.
So consider the jacket’s intended use before buying and look out for things like wind-proof fabrics, fleece lining (if you want the extra warmth), the number of pockets, overall styling and even things like reflective properties if you plan to do a lot of low-light or night cycling. Be safe out there, guys and gals.
What is the best cycling jacket for winter riding?
The Rapha Core Rain Jacket II (£100) is one of our favourites, simply because this extremely stylish road riding jersey is constructed from clever waterproof and windproof fabric that’s thin and light, so the whole thing can be rolled up and stuffed into the back pocket of a more traditional jersey if the sun decides to shine again. Updates to this favourite sees more ventilation added, as well as improvements in its waterproof properties, so the wind and weather doesn't leak through any of its seams.
Alternatively, we also rate the Endura Urban Primaloft Flipjak II (£199.99), simply because it offers excellent protection against the elements, nice mobility on the bike and the ability to reverse it for a different colour when the mood takes.
Although not as stylish, the Proviz Men's Reflect 360 Plus Cycling Jacket (£119.99) offers the best visibility of the bunch and is well worth considering if you cycle along particularly dark and treacherous stretches of road or pathway. .
The best cycling jackets for winter riding, in order
The Rapha brand is coveted amongst keen road cyclists, purely because it was among the first brands to place style, great design and technical fabrics at the very forefront of every product. The updated Men’s Core Rain Jacket embodies much of this original thinking, boasting the latest waterproof, windproof and breathable fabrics, as well as a clever lightweight design that makes it easy to pack down and cram into a pocket when not in use.
It’s essentially designed to sit over a more typical riding jersey and offer a long sleeve waterproof layer when the weather turns ugly. The lack of rear pockets means it might be unsuitable for this who want to ride in one garment and one garment alone, but it works extremely well for the more enthusiastic road cyclists keen on keeping up with the peloton, no matter the weather.
Recently updated, it features reflective elements on the arm and body, as well as a new elasticated cord around the hem for a snug fit. The offset front zip is also a nice touch, as it prevents draughts leaking through to the base layers.
As a more practical alternative to the aforementioned Rapha jacket, this incredibly warm number from Endura offers great on-bike fitment with outstanding insulation and weatherproofing. Although designed primarily with the commuter in mind, it would also suit a keen trails rider or mountain biker, as its soft shell allows for plenty of upper body movement, while its construction makes it easy to fold down small enough to stuff into a bag or large pocket.
Neat design elements include zipped hand-warming pockets, reflective logos on the arms and lower back (we’re not so keen on the look of latter) and a reversible design, so you can opt for a bright orange colour way or a more subdued grey when the mood takes.
The clue is in the name with Endura kit, because it really is built to last, with sturdy zips, tough fabrics and properly weatherproof shells that are carefully selected to withstand the rigours of the daily ride.
There are jackets that suggest they are waterproof and then there are jackets from Gore, which protect from the elements like little else on sale. This innovative material is stretchy, comfortable against the skin but, above all else, cuts out the wind and stops cold, wet rain from soaking into base layers.
Rain droplets don’t have chance to penetrate the surface layer, yet sweat quickly wicks away from the skin. Better still, the latest GORE-TEX technology means this jacket is just an aggressive shake away from being bone dry. No more packing away sodden jackets into a bag or back pocket
If the skin-tight MAMIL outfit isn’t your thing, then look towards something like this insulated number from mountain bike brand Nukeproof. Packed to the gunwales with 60gsm of PrimaLoft insulation, it’s perfect for those cold days or it can be layered up with a base layer for proper frigid sessions on the trails. But bear in mind, this thing is warm when the heart rate rises.
A three-piece hood makes it easy to wrap the face and ears up warm underneath a helmet, while DWR water repellent coating to the outer fabric ensures it sees off moderate rain showers and even snow.
Like its bikes, the Nukeproof jacket is hardy and tested to withstand tough off-road conditions, so it will happily take on the regular commute during the week and then dominate some downhill at the weekend.
Cycling at night can be a daunting prospect and even with the best bike lights panther market, remaining visible to other road users should be a priority for any cyclist. The Proviz REFLECT360 technology was and still is the best on the market for soaking up any light from street lamps and headlights and beaming it back to drivers.
During the day, the jacket is a modest grey, but shine a light on it and it turns brilliant white, standing out on even the darkest roads. Waterproof, windproof and machine washable, it’s a great addition to the commuter kit box and new improvements, including a fleece-lined collar and improved zips, ensure it’s warmer and more robust than ever.
Many of the jackets on this list focus on technical elements and forget that some riders just want a jacket that looks good and keeps the body (and a select few items) dry when on the bike.
Chrome Industries has long been the go-to brand for fashion-conscious riders that respect technical elements but don't want skintight race wear for the daily commute. This Candlestick - a coach-style, waterproof daily jacket - is highly weatherproof and comes with neat reflective elements, an internal waterproof pocket, zipped side vents for improved airflow and a high wind collar to protect ya' neck, but it looks properly sharp off the bike too.
The branding is on point here and although it is not the warmest jacket on the list, is is definitely the coolest.
We would recommend the Stolen Goat Mekon Climb & Conquer Jacket for those absolutely hardcore cyclists who really can't be bothered to ride indoors, even when the temperature is near freezing point. This insulated, wind- and waterproof cycling jacket will keep your arms and torso warm, no matter what's how cold is it outside.
According to Stolen Goat, the jacket was designed for when temperatures head below 8 degrees and indeed, the Mekon is the warmest cycling jacket from Stolen Goat. Actually, it's probably the warmest cycling jacket, period. For the same reason, if the weather is a bit milder than that, wearing the Mekon might be a bit too much, especially when riding uphill.
This performance fit jacket comes equipped with three pockets in the rear for your snacks/water bottle plus a little zip pocket, also on the back, to hide valuables in. Not a 50-inch flat screen TV but keys, phone etc. Don't let the cold weather prevent you from practicing your favourite pastime activity, get the Stolen Goat Mekon Jacket today!