Few items of your cycling wardrobe will get as much use as a good pair of arm warmers. Here’s how to choose a good pair, and our pick of some of the best on the market

Whoever came up with the idea for arm warmers deserves a pat on the back. One of the most versatile pieces of cycling clothing, the humble pair of arm warmers are equally at home providing an extra layer of protection on freezing days beneath a heavy winter jacket as they are being pulled on to tackle a long Alpine descent at the height of summer.

>>> Buyer’s guide to winter cycling gloves

For what may appear to be a very simple piece of clothing, the formula for the perfect arm warmer is surprisingly complex and difficult to solve, with manufacturers occasionally struggling to design a warmer that is tight enough to not fall down while not digging in, and also being long enough to cover the whole of your forearm without having baggy excess material.

>>> Buyer’s guide to cycling bib shorts

Hopefully this test will help you in the search for that perfect pair of arm warmers, and once you do find that match made in heaven it’s set to last. Each pair of warmers I’ve owned have lasted at least two years, and have only had to be replaced following crashes. So take a good look at the options, and ride off into the sunset.


Dress right for the Autumnal conditions


Our pick of the best arm warmers

Carney Reflective Sleeves arm warmers

Carney Reflective Sleeves arm warmers

Carney Reflective Sleeves arm warmers

Review score: 10/10

Launched via a Kickstarter campaign, Carney arm warmers are designed to provide 360° visibility to other road users via the use of tiny reflective beads which shine under headlights. They’ve got a good level of Elastane content, and a Roubaix like inner which we found warm and comfortable.

See the full review of the Carney Reflective Sleeves arm warmers here 

Buy them at Carney for £29 here

Café du Cycliste Loulou Rain arm warmers

Café du Cycliste Loulou Rain arm warmers

Café du Cycliste Loulou Rain arm warmers

Review score: 9/10

Created with changeable conditions in mind, these arm warmers are fleece lined and water resistant, but breath well enough to prevent overheating. The forearm patch is reflective, too. We did find that as a warmer option, these didn’t roll up so well in the pocket.

Read our full review of the Café du Cycliste Loulou Rain arm warmers here

Buy now at Victor and Liberty for £38 here

GripGrab Light arm warmers

GripGrab Light arm warmers

GripGrab Light arm warmers

Review score: 9/10

These lightweight arm warmers, when rolled, are almost half the size of a normal pair which makes them great for slipping into your pocket when out of use. We found them to be very breathable, and good for a range of temperatures – though there are probably better pairs for full-on wet and freezing winter days.

Read the full review of the Grip Grab light arm warmers here

Sportful NoRain arm warmers

Sportful NoRain Arm Warmers

Sportful NoRain Arm Warmers

Review score: 10/10

Available in red or black, the NoRain arm warmers do what they say on the tin: they keep out the rain.

Made from a water resistant fabric, they provide enough insulation whilst still being breathable (unlike the Fiandre light version which impressed us less). We found the length spot on and the grippers held up well without digging in.

Read the full review of the Sportful NoRain arm warmers here

Defeet Armskin arm warmers

Defeet Armskin arm warmers

Defeet Armskin arm warmers

Review score: 9/10

Something a little different compared to the more robust options on the market, the ArmSkins are super light and made using CoolMax EcoMade fibre from recycled sources. They’re warm, and incredibly breathable – as well as being available in a wide range of colours to brighten up any kit.

These aren’t a good option for wet days – so best to slip a waterproof packable jacket in your pocket if rain is on the cards.

Read our full review of the Defeet Armskin arm warmers here

>>> See more arm and leg warmer reviews here

What to look for in arm warmers for cycling

Grippers

Rapha merino arm warmers silicon grippers

There’s no shame in the fact that, as a cyclist, you’re unlikely to have the biggest biceps down the gym. For this reason any set of arm warmers worth their salt will have silicon grippers around the upper hem to prevent them from slipping down.

Length

gripgrab arm warmers

If you have long, skinny arms it can be a struggle to find arm warmers that fit

With those skinny arms of yours, you might find yourself having to pull arm warmers almost over your shoulders in order to keep them up. However this can leave an annoying gap between the bottom of the warmers and your gloves, a particular pain in cold or wet weather. Decent arm warmers should be long enough to sit snug against your gloves even when pulled up high.

Added Protection

sportful norain water repellent arm warmers

Some arm warmers come with additional protection for wet weather

Cheaper arm warmers might be little more than a lycra extension of your jersey, but spend a little more and you’ll find that many manufacturers begin to integrate the technology from their bigger garments into their warmers. This can be anything from water-resistance to UV protection, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you buy.