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 best 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 the a waterproof cycling jacket or cycling gilets.
Shorter days and longer nights in winter will mean that a some point your 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 summer cycling jerseys.
We’ve tested the best winter cycling jackets for both men and women. There are lighter options for cool 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.
With each product is a ‘See more’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
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. With each product is a ‘See more’ or ‘Best Deal’ link. If you click on this then we may receive a small amount of money from the retailer when you purchase the item. This doesn’t affect the amount you pay.
Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket
- Pros: Thermal, breathable, low Bulk, great fit, high build quality, competitively priced
- Cons: Cuffs could be stretchier
- Price: $250 / £180
- Score: 9/10
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 or slightly higher, but it kept us warm enough with a long-sleeved base layer at -2°C with a wind-chill that made it feel like -5°C, according to Strava.
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.
It’s priced very competitively priced when considered alongside the market average for this level of performance.
This item is available in men’s and women’s fit.
Read more: Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket review
Assos Mille GT Ultraz Winter Jacket Evo
- Pros: Very warm, great fit, clever double sleeve design
- Cons: Price, no zipped pocket
- Price: $337.50/ £290
- Score: 9/10
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 it on. On the outside, the various NEOS fabrics are used, providing the most protection from the elements exactly where it’s needed most, including being fully water proof.
For some, this jacket may be overkill for the conditions they are likely to ride in. 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 experiance you’ll get several years of use from it, if not more.
Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Light jacket
- Pros: Versatility, warmth, breathability
- Cons: Baggy sleeve
- Price: $249.99/ £229.99
- Score: 9/10
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.
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.
Read more: Castelli Alpha ROS 2 Light review
Endura Windchill Jacket II
- Pros: Warm, windproof, water resistant, underarm venting, practical, price
- Cons: No waterproof pockets
- Price: $102/ £89.99
- Score: 9/10
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. This jacket is ideal for anyone looking for warmth, without the aero fit.
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.
Read more: Endura Windchill Jacket II review
Le Col Pro Rain
- Pros: Soft, fleecy collar, stretchy, easy to operate zip, fit, breathable
- Cons: Price, tight cuffs
- Price: $340/ £240
- Score: 9/10
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.
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 turned unexpectedly to hail, the cushion of a thermal softshell provided superior impact protection, going somewhat out of the remit of this jacket.
The tightness of the cuffs makes it difficult to pull on and off and a point to note for female riders looking at the women’s model – the Cycling Weekly tech team has put this through its paces, too. All of the above applies, aside from the fit – we found the women’s version a bit generous in cut and would suggest sizing down
Read more: Le Col Pro Rain Jacket review
Endura Pro SL HC Windproof jacket
- Pros: Fit, thermal protection, features
- Cons: Limited breathability
- Price: $169.99/ £119.99
- Score: 9/10
If anyone knows about designing the perfect kit to cope then it has to be Scottish based brand Endura. The Pro SL HC Windproof jacket fits the bill nicely for a jacket aimed at protecting the rider when the weather gets dreary and the temperature drops.
Exceptional fit, excellent thermal properties, decent level of weatherproofing and well thought out features should make the Endura Pro SL HC Windproof a go-to staple of every cyclist’s winter wardrobe.
Lighter weight than the Endura Windchill Jacket II, the Pro SL HC Windproof is quite race oriented, so is best worn as either a mid-layer or on as an outer with a base layer.
Read more: Endura Pro SL HC Windproof jacket review
Giro Chrono Pro Alpha jacket
- Pros: Very warm, thumb loops
- Cons: Hard to reach pockets, boxy fit
- Price: $300.49/ £219.99
- Score: 8/10
With Polartec Alpha Direct Active Insulation on the inside along the chest and arms has an immense ability to radiating heat and warmth . The back panel forgoes the extra internal insulation, to allow for heat escape.
The Windblock fabric over the top is treated with a DWR coating and keeps out the windchill and the worst of the rain, the overall combination is ideal for temperatures hovering around zero to five degrees.
The brand has sewn in a stretchy, close fit cuff underneath where the more robust fabric ends, creating a dual layer to ensure the wrists are well covered, with a thumb hole, which if you like is great to have.
Read more: Giro Women’s Chrono Pro Alpha jacket review
Santini Vega Multi jacket
- Pros: Waterproof, windproof, insulating, lightweight, comfortable
- Cons: Short sleeves on long arms, not wide temperature range
- Price: $268.49/ £220
- Score: 8/10
Vega Multi jacket excels in the nasty conditions it’s really designed for. On test we found we couldn’t get cold, wet and miserable wearing it. Even being forced out on days where it was perfect weather for Zwift, we stayed dry, snug and not a little smug when uploading my rides to Strava.
If you tend towards being a fair-weather cyclist, the Santini Vega Multi jacket is perfect for persuading you to get out there, but check the sleeve length (and your bank balance) first.
Read more: Santini Vega Multi jacket review
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.
There are few feelings less pleasant than the clammy clasp of a jacket with poor breathability. It’s no good being protect from the elements if you just end up getting drenched from the inside.
Breathability is measured by 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 you if are putting in some spicy efforts you’ll want to be looking in the range of 20,000–40,000g/m²/24hrs.
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 option 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.
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.
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 a 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!
Generally, when the conditions are such that you need a winter jacket, visibility is not going to be great either. Opting for a jacket which uses brighter colours and reflective detailing can go a long way to helping you be seen on the roads.