Best winter cycling jackets to keep you warm in the coldest weather

Best winter cycling Jackets
(Image credit: Future)

The best winter cycling jackets provide protection from the coldest weather, allowing you to keep riding year round.

Acting as a shield from rain and wind, the perfect winter cycling jackets will cover all seasonal eventualities from the chilly to the snow stormy, and will be one of your greatest riding wardrobe investments.

What is the best winter cycling jacket?

While your legs are constantly moving on a bike, your torso and arms spend a lot of the time pretty static on the bike. Keeping them warm by wearing a great fitting winter cycling jackets is paramount, not only for your riding enjoyment, but as the key controllers of your bike, in keeping you safe too.

The difference between winter racing and a gentle commute in the coldest months of the year is vast. Meeting your specific needs is careful balancing act of keeping the weather out and the warmth in and the best winter cycling jacket for you will need to match these exacting requirements.

Often ‘thermal’ and made from a Roubaix-style soft, fleece-backed fabric, the winter cycling jackets will come with a reinforced windstopper front, which is often paired to a more breathable fabric at the back to allow for heat dissipation.

Waterproofing is something you'll also find in the many winter cycling jackets, along with storm flaps on the zips, either internal or external. Pockets will often be waterproofed with zips or flaps, as well as deeper - designed for stowing one of the  best waterproof cycling jacket or best cycling gilets.

Shorter days and longer nights in winter will mean that at some point you're probably going to be riding in the dark, or at least lower light levels, so winter cycling jackets often come with more reflective details than most of the short sleeved summer cycling jerseys.

We've tested the best winter cycling jackets for both men and women. There are lighter options for milder autumnal rides as well as more heavyweight deep winter options.

We've got some pointers on what to look for and how to find your best winter cycling jacket ideal match below, but first here's our pick of the best. Most models will have male and female versions available, so don’t be discouraged if it’s a member of the opposite sex in the image.

Best winter cycling jackets reviewed

Here's a look at some of the best we've tested, most are available in men's and women's fit.

Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket in the image has a front zipped pocket and reflective cuff on one arm.

(Image credit: Future)

Best winter cycling jacket for multiple temperatures

Specifications
Fabric: Insulated Polyester. Nylon, Elastane mix
Wind/ Water protection: None specified
Temperature range: Windchill -5°C/ 23°F to 10°C/ 50°F
Sizes : XXS - XL (Women's) XS - XXL (Men's)
Colours : Black/ white, purple (Women's) Black/ white, purple, green (men's)
Reasons to buy
+Thermally insulated+Good degree of breathability +Low Bulk when on +Great race cut fit+High build quality+Competitively priced
Reasons to avoid
-Cuffs could be stretchier

The water resistant Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket performs superbly in a wide range of temperatures. On test we found it's sweet spot was around 5°C/ 41°F or slightly higher, but it kept us warm enough with a long-sleeved base layer at -2°C/ 28.4°F with a wind-chill that made it feel like -5°C/ 23°F, according to Strava.

At the upper end it's probably good for temperatures around 10°C/ 50°F, or even warmer if you get your base layers right, making this one of the best winter cycling jackets for temperature versatility. 

It doesn’t have the extreme weather protection of more technical jackets, but the classic pro fit cut jacket is perfect for the majority of winter not to mention the spring and the autumn with layering adjusted accordingly.

The cut is undoubtable race, making it low profile and avoids bunching when on the drops. The sleeves team will with gloves, but could do with being a little stretchier, especially if you're a watch wearer.  

There's plenty of storage front and back and a good deal of reflective detailing, making this racing style jacket highly practical. 

It's priced very competitively when considered alongside the market average for this level of performance, but you'll probably need to factor in a purchase of one of the best packable rain jackets  or opt for the somewhat pricier Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket Evo.

This item is available in men's and women's fit, with the women's version going under the guise of UMA GT.

Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket Evo is water resistant and wind proof. This image shows the men's fluro red/ orange version.

(Image credit: Future)

Best winter cycling jacket for protection and breathability

Specifications
Fabrics : NEOS Light, RX Heavy double-layer, 3L softshell, PU bonded, NEOS Ultra
Wind/ Water protection: Windproof, water repellent
Temperature range : Down to sub zero/ below 32°F
Sizes: XS - XLG (women's) / XS - XLG & TIR (Men's)
Colours : Fluro pink, black (women's) or Fluro red/orange, black, fluro green (men's)
Reasons to buy
+Very warm even in freezing conditions+Great fit without restrictions+Clever double sleeve design
Reasons to avoid
-No zipped pocket for protecting valuables (especially on wet rides)-High price tag 

As winter jackets go, this is one of the toughest. The inner lining is luxuriously soft and provides you with instant warmth the moment you slip the great fitting winter cycling jacket on.

The outer layer uses various NEOS fabrics, providing the most protection from the elements exactly where it’s needed most, including being fully water resistant and wind proof. The technology behind these fabrics isn't to be underestimated. To gain a weather barrier this good and still retain impressive breathability properties is really impressive. 

On test we found the double cuff design on the arms really effective, doing away with the gloves over or under jacket dilemma. Allowing you to do both not only prevents any chance of drafty cold gaps around your wrist (especially if you are a watch wearer) but also means any water on your arms doesn't run down and in to your gloves if you prefer having sleeves tucked in. 

Ideally we would like to have seen a similar belt and braces approach to the rear pockets. The storm flaps do a really good job at preventing water ingress, but a waterproof zipped pocket would have put our minds at total rest for phone or key protection.

It's one of the more expensive options in our line up of the best winter cycling jackets, but for those who won’t let the weather get in the way of their riding, this represents a dependable—albeit pricey—option, but in our experience you'll get several years of use from it, if not more.

Castelli Alpha ROS 2 winter jacket in the image is the female version.

(Image credit: Future)

Best Castelli allrounder winter cycling jacket

Specifications
Fabric : Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper 150, ProSecco Strada lightweight, ProSecco Strada lightweight, ProSecco Strada lightweight, Nano Flex Xtra Dry
Wind/ water protection: Wind and water resistant
Temperature range : 8°C/ 46°F - 15 °C / 59°F
Sizes: S - XL (women's) / S - 3XL (men's)
Colours: Black, fluro red (women's) or green, blue, fluro red, silver/gray (men's)
Reasons to buy
+Great range of temperature versatility+Warmth generated constantly+Impressive breathability
Reasons to avoid
-Baggy sleeves compared to tighter race fit of torso

Castelli's range of winter gear is becoming bewilderingly vast, but if you're looking for a 'suits most conditions' middle ground, this is the one to go for

The defining feature of the Alpha ROS 2 light jacket is its double layer make-up. On the inside, is an insulating ProSecco Strada lightweight fabric. Over the top, and on the sleeves, there’s an extra blanket of Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper 150 material. The back of the jacket uses Nano Flex Xtra Dry material, with a focus on breathability and rain shedding thanks to a water-repellent finish.

The race cut style, means that this is a really easy winter cycling jacket to reach for, although ideally we'd like the arms slimmed down to match the torso figure hugging fit. 

In our minds it's a clear alternative to the much loved Castelli Gabba jacket, and even the more recent Perfetto.

We'd happily wear this jacket in most conditions between October and March, layering it up for the really cold days, and I’d expect it to last several years – so I’d see it as an investment piece, and a wise one at that.

The Endura Windchill Jacket II in the picture is teh men's high-viz yellow version

(Image credit: Future)

Best winter cycling jacket on a budget

Specifications
Fabric : Stretch, windproof thermal grid-backed
Wind/ water protection : Wind proof, water repellent
Temperature range: 0°C/ 32°F - 8°C/ 46°F
Sizes: S - XL (men's only)
Colours: Black, hi-viz yellow (men's only)
Reasons to buy
+Warm down to freezing conditions+Windproof and water resistant+Underarm venting to help breathability+Practical for commuting +Great entry level price point
Reasons to avoid
-No waterproof pockets

The Endura Windchill Jacket II is an excellent example of how simple, yet effective, a winter jacket can be. For the price it offers warmth, water resistance, and practical features, such as the under arm venting. Ideally it would have been great to have a waterproof pocket for a mobile, so it's worth ensuring you have a sealable bag hanging around for all eventualities. 

 This jacket is ideal for anyone looking for warmth, without a skin tight fit, making it a great option for just chucking over bulkier non-bike attire for a commute home as well as not feeling the pressure of having to ride hard and fast that aero clothing can bring. 

On test even we found even on a slow winter ride in the snow and ice with wind-chill hovering around zero degrees the Endura Windchill Jacket II was plenty warm enough with just a thermal base layer.

It's hard to compare to the likes of the highly technical Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket Evo or the Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Light jacket, but with one digit less on the price tag, it's a great option for anyone looking for a simple but great winter cycling jacket. 

The Le Col Pro Rain Jacket in the image is the men's black version.

(Image credit: Future)

Best winter cycling jacket for high intensity riding

Specifications
Fabric : 3Layer stretch, taped
Wind/ water protection : Wind and water proof
Temperature range : Down to Freezing
Sizes: XS - XL (Women's) - XS - 3XL (men's)
Colours: Orange, black
Reasons to buy
+Nice feel against skin+Fleecy high collar for neck protection+Really stretchy for a great fit+Easy to operate zip+Exceptionally breathable, even at full gas riding 
Reasons to avoid
-High price tag -Tight cuffs make getting it on/ off a challenge

The waterproof Le Col Pro Rain Jacket lives up to its billing as a jacket for racing and high intensity training. The breathability and feel of the fabric are phenomenal, as is the degree of stretch in the material, which allows it to conform closely to the body. making this one of the best winter cycling jackets we've ever ridden.

On test the Le Col Pro Rain Jacket dealt admirably with some horrid conditions, shrugging off the heaviest of downpours without a struggle. Even when the rain became hail, the thermal softshell even provided impact protection.

The tightness of the cuffs does make it difficult to pull on and off, something to think about when you are at the post ride lacking strength stage. 

We love the fact that the women’s model mirrors the same features as the men's version, but it's worth noting that having also put this through its paces, we found the women’s version a bit generous in cut and would suggest sizing down.

But all this performance comes at a cost, and it's not a cheap one. As with the likes of the Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Light jacket and Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket Evo it's another headline act, and one you'll have to pay for. 

The dhb Aeron Lab Winter Polartec jacket in the image is the women's navy blue version

(Image credit: Future)

Best winter cycling jacket for competing with pricier peers

Specifications
Fabric: NeoShell®, Alpha® Direct and Power Shield® Pro
Wind/ water protection : Water and wind proof
Temperature range : 0°C/ 32°F - 12°C/ 53.6°F
Sizes: UK 8 - UK16 (women's) / XS - XL (men's )
Colours : Navy blue (women's) or Dark green, navy blue, red (men's)
Reasons to buy
+Excellent warmth and breathability +Great waterproofing capabilities+Cheaper alternative to higher priced peers
Reasons to avoid
-Could do with longer tail-Women's version only available in navy blue

The dhb Aeron Lab Winter Polartec is one of the best winter cycling jackets that stands up to it's more expensive rivals. 

On test we found that Wiggle house brand offered great warm all the way down to freezing temperatures. However, thanks to it's lofty waffle soft inner, it was also capable of being warn with a much lighter weight base layer and stepping just in to the milder temperatures of 12°C/ 53.6°F .

The design is reminiscent of the Castelli Alpha ROS 2 winter jacket, in that it's a race cut design, low weight and low bulk. 

While it wouldn't be fair to say it's exactly level pegging with the afore mentioned Castelli, it is impressively breathable, considering that it proved to be fully wind and as waterproof as you're probably going to get out on the open roads.

In an ideal world, we'd like to see a slightly longer rear to the jacket, it took away some of the waterproofing perfection. It would also be remis of us not to point out the imbalance in the gender colour options - but at least it's actually a wearable colour that the women get - although a high-viz option would be nice too. 

Best winter cycling jackets: what to look for

As mentioned above, the best winter cycling jacket will be a key investment, so it's vital to ensure your needs are met. Here's our tips on how to find the best match for you.

Breathability

There are few feelings less pleasant than the clammy clasp of a jacket with poor breathability. It’s no good being protected from the elements if you just end up getting drenched from the inside.

Breathability is measured by the number of grams of water vapour that can pass through a square meter of the material in a 24-hour period. A value of 10,000–20,000g/m²/24hrs tends to be fine for a steady ride, but if you are putting in some spicy efforts you’ll want to be looking in the range of 20,000–40,000g/m²/24hrs.

Although it's worth noting that even the best winter cycling jackets that have a high waterproofing value will eventually let water in — if nothing else through the big holes that allow your head to poke out! 

Waterproof vs Water resistance

If you plan on riding through truly biblical conditions, you’ll need a jacket that can stand up to the deluge.

The way a fabric's waterproofness is tested is by measuring the Hydrostatic Head. That is, how tall a column of water can be stood on the material before it starts to penetrate through the fabric. For a proper waterproof jacket, you should be looking for at least 10,000mm and going up to 20,000mm for greater protection from the rain.

That said, the more waterproof a fabric is, the less breathable it tends to be. Lately, more and more water resistant “soft shell” jackets have been released. These are breathable enough to ride in the dry without feeling clammy and can fend off a shower — although not a downpour. This makes them a great winter cycling jacket for changeable days when you’re not sure what the weather will do — and certainly makes the pre-ride choice of what jacket to put on significantly easier.

Fit

Some winter jackets are cut to leave space for extra layers to be added underneath. Others share the same fit as the lighter-weight options in the range. It’s worth just checking which way the manufacturer of the jacket you’re looking at has gone, so you know what to expect with the sizing and can adjust your choice accordingly.

The same principle applies for whether a collar is intended to be skin-tight, preventing any draughts from shooting down your neck, or if the jacket is supposed to be used in combination with a buff and therefore cut to leave a little extra room.

Warmth

Although it might be cold out, sometimes it’s worth not opting for the warmest jacket available. As a highly technical piece of clothing, a winter jacket does represent a considerable investment, so you’ll want to maximise the amount of use you will get out of it.

Remember, you can always combine a thinner jacket with more layers, but you can’t make a thick jacket any less warm. Don’t make the mistake of paying through the nose for the absolutely best winter cycling jacket you’ll only use on the five coldest days of the year.

Although, if you know you do run irremediably cold, then by all means get the warmest jacket you can to keep you riding through the winter!

Visibility

Generally, when the conditions are such that you need a winter jacket, visibility is not going to be great either. Opting for a jacket that uses brighter colours and reflective detailing can go a long way to helping you be seen on the roads.

Most of the best winter cycling jackets will have elements of high-viz or reflectivity build in.