Winter cycling clothing: everything you need to stay warm

Prepare for the winter blues with hand picked winter cycling clothing to make those chilly rides a little bit easier to bear

Image shows a rider wearing some of the best winter cycling clothing.
(Image credit: Future)

Love it or hate it, there’s one sure-fire way that you can make cycling in winter more enjoyable: dress properly.

If you have the right winter cycling clothing then you’ll be more likely to have the motivation to head out in cold weather, giving you the base fitness to lay the foundations for a successful summer.

However, get it wrong and you’ll soon find yourself wet and cold, and more inclined to spend the weekends in the warmth of your front room than out on the road.

Winter cycling clothing can be pricey - but high quality kit can keep you going for several seasons. If you're looking to save pennies, there are always a few deals and bargains out there to be had and if you're lucky you might find some winter cycling clothing among next week's Cyber Monday bike deals

So what should you look for in those crucial few pieces of kit to make sure that you will keep your riding up as the winter closes in? Here are the key pieces you shouldn't be without...

Best winter cycling clothing deals Black Friday 2022

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Black Friday is the ideal time to find clothing deals on jackets, jerseys and tights, as well as a range of cold-weather accessories, that'll help you better enjoy your winter miles.

Here's just a couple of our top picks – if you're after more deals, why not check out our Black Friday Cycling Clothing Deals hub page, or for a more general collection our main Black Friday Bike Deals hub has all the best offers we've found from around the web!

Castelli Puro 3 long sleeve jersey: $99.99 (opens in new tab)

Castelli Puro 3 long sleeve jersey: $99.99, $60.00 at Wiggle (opens in new tab)

The Puro is designed to keep you warm and visible, which makes it a great fit for your winter riding. The thermal fabric helps to trap heat in but has breathable properties too, while the fluro colour and reflective details help you to stay seen in low light conditions.

Castelli Explore Velocissimo Bib Tights: £130 (opens in new tab)

Castelli Explore Velocissimo Bib Tights: £130, £65 at Wiggle (opens in new tab)

Winter bib tights don't have to cost the earth. This offering from Castelli boasts plenty of technical details, including a Thermoflex fabric which uses a brushed inner face to lock in your body heat, but are still affordable to cyclists on a budget. At this discounted price it might even be sensible to buy two pairs to see you through this winter and many more to come.

Winter cycling clothing: the essentials

Winter cycling bib tights

Image shows a rider wearing the Rapha Classic Winter Bib Tights with pad.

(Image credit: Andy Turner)

Specifications

Fabric: Thermoroubaix
Chamois: N/A
Sizes: XS-XXL
Colours: Black, Dark Navy

Reasons to buy

+
Warm yet flexible material
+
Comfortable pad
+
Added visibility details

Reasons to avoid

-
Get too warm above 10C / 50F

Rapha's Classic Bib Tights are use a stretchy Thermoroubaix fleece fabric, that's deceptively warm despite feeling quite thin. The design and the cut of the bibs also adds to this warmth - they finish high at both the front and the rear, ensuring that your midriff is kept toasty.

The comfortable straps however offer some ventilation should you start to overheat courtesy of a lightweight mesh fabric. The length of the straps are just right, avoiding any pulling on the shoulders. The legs use grippers rather than zips and feature a nice reflective detail. There are no seams on the leg either, so they don't rub when your flexing and extending your legs during a ride.

All cycling shorts and tights are only as good as their pad, and here it's nice and comfortable despite initially feeling a little bulky. However, once seated our reviewer found it unnoticeable.

As for temperature recommendations, the luxurious fleece-backed material makes them ideal when the mercury drops towards zero but perhaps a little too hot in anything over 50F or 10c - however our reviewer did test them out during a day warmer still and while found them a little too much, was never uncomfortably hot.

Read more: Rapha Classic Bib Tights with pad full review

Image shows a rider wearing the Castelli Entrata Wind Bib Tights.

(Image credit: Paul Grele )
Best value for wind protection

Specifications

Fabric: AirFlex Thermo on front panels. Nano Flex 3G on rear
Wind/ Water proofing: Windproofing on leg fronts. Water repellent on rear
Chamois: KISS Air2
Temperature range: -2C to 6C
Sizes: Mens XS - 3XL
Colour: Black

Reasons to buy

+
Windproof legs are excellent
+
Good quality chamois/seat pad
+
Well made with quality materials
+
Sizing and fit is race oriented

Reasons to avoid

-
Sizing and fit could be a bit too race oriented for some

Designed as a cheaper version of Castelli's top-tier bib tights, the Castelli Entrata Wind Bib Tights are well made with quality materials, that do a great job of keeping you warm and dry on long winter training rides. They're not budget, but they are a truly excellent option in the mid range of the bib tight market.


Windproof and stretchy, the AirFlex fabric used on the front panels is highly effective, and doesn’t mess with the comfy, close race fit. On other tights, heavy weatherproofing can very negatively impact the comfort.


The Nano Flex 3G water repellent fabric on the rear leg panels helps keep the road spray off, and the reflective ankle stripes work well for riding in low light conditions.


Read more: Castelli Entrata Wind Bib Tights

Winter cycling jacket

Alongside your tights, your jacket is an important piece of winter cycling clothing to get right. The bad news is that you’re not going to be able to buy one jacket for all conditions.

If you just need a light additional layer, a cycling gilet is a piece of kit which acts as a barrier against the worst of the wind without causing you to overheat. A light windshell or waterproof is a good option for slightly mild and wet conditions - most are packable, so if the weather turns out to be better than expected you can stash it in your back pocket.

However for the most part you’re going to be looking for a well-insulated jacket with good windproofing. This will keep you comfortable through most conditions, and even if you do get wet, it should still be able to keep you warm.

Breathability could also come into the equation, but this might only really be a factor if you’re throwing some intensity into your winter training.

Image shows a rider wearing the Le Col Pro Jacket II.

(Image credit: Andy Turner)

Specifications

Fabric: Polartec Neoshell
Wind / Waterproof: Yes
Colours: Merlot, Cobalt, Black
Sizes: XS-3XL

Reasons to buy

+
High degree of wind and water proofing
+
Waterproof pocket
+
Reflective detailing
+
Close, 'race' fit

Reasons to avoid

-
Zip feels a little chunky
-
High price tag

Le Col's Pro Jacket II is designed for winter conditions. It's a substantial garment, that blends heavy duty wind and waterproof panels on the front and back, with breathable side panels.

The main panels use a Polartec fabric that works - this jacket really does keep out the wind while also repelling rain. In temperatures as low as 0 C or 32 F, when worn with a good baselayer it felt plenty warm. In fact, during review we called on the full length zip to help regulate our body temperature when we began to get a little too warm. We also rode through through some heavy downpours but they didn't manage to penetrate the jacket's outer layer.

A race cut means the Le Col jacket fits pretty snuggly but was never restrictive, with the length at the back and the arms ideal.  Other notable details include a waterproof zip pocket and an easy-to-see reflective strips on both arms and the rear pockets.

Read more: Le Col Pro Jacket II full review

Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket Evo

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

Fabric: NEOS softshell
Wind / Waterproof: Water column rating of at least 10,000mm
Sizes: XS-XL
Colours: Fluro Yellow, Lolly Red, Black

Reasons to buy

+
Very warm
+
Great fit
+
Clever double sleeve design

Reasons to avoid

-
No zipped pocket
-
Expensive

The Assos Mille GT Ultraz jacket certainly isn't cheap. However it offers plenty of detail and uses a variety of technical fabrics to justify its price tag.

It uses both outer and inner layers, which move somewhat independently. Combined with a high degree of stretch and it adds up to a comfortable jacket that's an ideal fit - never baggy but equally never restrictive when riding either. The double layer approach also allows you to tuck a pair of the best winter gloves over the inner layer, while the outer sits on top to prevent rain dripping down into your gloves.

As for the materials used, the Mille GT Ultraz uses a blend of NEOS fabrics as well as a RX inner. The outer materials are breathable but still water resistant, and are thicker in exposed areas such as the arms. The inner is suitably luxurious and very warm - on test we wore it without a baselayer even on rides that approached zero. All told it's a highly functional jacket that's likely to durable too.

Read more: Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket Evo full review

Winter cycling gloves

Your fingers are going to get cold much more quickly than other parts of your body, so having a good pair of winter cycling gloves will make cold weather riding all the more bearable.

On the coldest days it can also be worth wearing some lightweight inner gloves for extra protection.

However, the most important thing is to pick a pair of gloves which are both well-insulated and windproof, making sure you keep feeling in your digits to maintain control of the gear and brake levers.

You can also get waterproof gloves, which are obviously good in wet conditions, but can compromise on breathability – and after all the most important thing is to keep your hands warm.

Sportful Sottozero winter gloves

(Image credit: Future)

Specifications

Material: Soft shell with Primaloft insulation
Wind and Waterproof: Water resistant
Sizes: XS-XXL
Colours: Black, Cedar, Red

Reasons to buy

+
Warmth without bulk
+
Grippy palms
+
Reflective details
+
Well designed cuff

Reasons to avoid

-
Not waterproof
-
Hard to operate a touchscreen device

Exceptional warmth in a low bulk package is the holy grail for winter cycling gloves - and Sportful's Sottozero offers just that.

As the name might suggest - sotto zero means 'below zero' in Italian - these are gloves designed to deal with the worst that winter can throw at them. They're constructed using a softshell outer and Primaloft insulation, which is designed to keep the wind and the wet out while still allowing your hands to breathe. There's also a fleecy inner, which feels pleasant against the skin and possibly adds a little extra warmth too.

It adds up to a glove that's lightweight and pretty streamlined considered its deep winter credentials. Combined with a grippy silicone palm and the Sottozero gloves provide excellent grip and bar feel, even in the coldest temperatures. However, the lack of padding on the palm might not suits all but we found on our winter rides it didn't present an issue. In fact, the slightly problematic touchscreen fingertip was the only real downside to these otherwise excellent winter mitts.

Read more: Sportful Sottozero winter gloves full review

Winter cycling footwear

Keeping your toes warm is just as difficult, maybe even more so seeing as, unlike your fingers, you don’t have the option of moving them around while you ride.

For serious winter riding, it might be worth investing in a pair of winter cycling shoes, but for most of us, a pair of heavy duty overshoes will suffice.

Overshoes are designed to be pulled over your normal cycling shoes and have holes in the bottom to allow for your cleats to connect to the pedals. Ideally, the area around this will be reinforced to prevent it from splitting.

It's also a good idea to pair it all with a pair of good winter socks. Don't be tempted to fill your shoes with bulky socks, as this can reduce blood supply and result in numbness.

If it’s raining hard then your feet are going to get wet however waterproof your overshoes claim to be, so look for a pair of neoprene overshoes that will trap warmth and keep the feeling in your toes.

Image shows the Dexshell Heavy Duty overshoes.

(Image credit: Emma Silversides)

Specifications

Fabric: 90% neoprene, 10% nylon
Sizes: S-XL

Reasons to buy

+
Durable
+
Water resistant
+
Windproof
+
Affordable

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as waterproof as smooth neoprene overshoes

Dexshell's Heavy Duty overshoes are made using a neoprene blend, with a textured outer designed to make them more durable. As any winter cyclist knows, overshoes can take a real beating and any detail that can help them survive the cold months is a bonus.

Traditional in design, they feature a full-length waterproof rear zipper that also has some additional reflective detailing. The cuff is elasticated, with some silicone gripping on the inside to help keep them in place while riding. While no overshoes are 'easy' to get on, our reviewer found them straightforward to pull over a pair of cycling shoes.

The cuff length is on the shorter side - it's usually an subjective topic, with some cyclists preferring less restriction, while others want greater coverage. As for the ride, the Dexshell overshoes performed admirably - only after two hours of continuous rain did our reviewer notice any real dampness and it didn't lead to cold feet, with the windproofing working a treat.

Read more: Dexshell Heavy Duty overshoes full review

Winter cycling eye protection

Finally, shorter days don’t mean you can forget about your sunglasses. In fact, if you have ones with replaceable lenses then they can really come in useful during the winter months.

Many sunglasses come with clear or yellow lenses which will help to brighten up gloomy conditions, and will also keep water out of your eyes when riding in the rain – particularly useful if you’re wearing contact lenses.

What's more, on crisp clear days the sun can feel almost as bright as in the summer and is much lower in the sky, so you might get winter use out of your darker lenses too.

Image shows the dhb Vector Photochromatic lens sunglasses.

(Image credit: Chris Marshall-Bell)

Specifications

Lens: Photochromatic
UVB and UVA protection: Yes
Size: One size
Colour: Black
Weight: 36g

Reasons to buy

+
Great lens clarity
+
Contemporary design
+
Excellent field of vision
+
Cheaper than rivals

Reasons to avoid

-
A little heavy on the nose

The Vectors features a striking a frame design that's typically of many modern cycling sunglasses. It's angular and allows for a large one-piece lens that has two small vents at the top to prevent fogging.

As for the lens, it offers UV400 protection as well as being photochromatic, meaning it adapts to changing light conditions. On test they worked well, changing along with the weather as we rode under both cloudy and rainy skies. Even when it brightened up they responded, continuing to offer clear vision - aided in no small part by the size and shape of the glasses, which never seems to obscure your field of view even when tucked in the drops. 

The adjustable nose pad does the trick of keeping the glasses in places, although we did find them a touch heavy on the nose compared to some lighter glasses. It's a minor gripe though, and the dhb Vector glasses offer both high performance and value for money.

Read more: dhb Vector Photochromatic Lens sunglasses full review 

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