The fact that you’re reading an article about winter cycling jackets should make you feel proud. Most people can barely muster enough energy to get out on their bike when the weather is good, but you are a true warrior. To reward you for your dedication, I’m going to tell you everything that I know about the winter cycling jacket – what the best ones are, how to choose one that’s right for you, among other useful tidbits of information. And trust me. As an avid cyclist who grew up in Michigan, I know a thing or two about riding in the winter.
As far as I’m concerned, these are the top five winter cycling jackets (for men):
- ARSUXEO Winter Warm Up Fleece
- OUTON men’s cycling jacket
- Shower’s Pass Men’s Elite 2.1
- GORE WEAR Road Cycling Jacket
- Sparx Performance Winter Cycling Thermal Jacket
Please keep reading to learn more about each of these specific jackets (and a whole lot more).
What I personally look for in a winter cycling jacket
Before speaking about each jacket individually, I believe it’s important to let you know how I approached coming up with this list. Over the course of my cycling career (spanning 30+ years now), I’ve ridden quite a bit in temperatures below freezing. Yeah, it sucks, but you know that. You’re reading an article about winter cycling jackets, so I don’t have to explain to you the rationale for wanting to get out there when the weather turns cold.
Anyway, I’ve purchased over 20 winter cycling jackets in my life so far, and there are always a few things that I look for during the buying process:
- The jacket must be windproof
- It must be waterproof
- It must have plenty of easy access pockets that I can stick a gloved hand into
- It must not be too tight
- It must offer some sort of ventilation – because sweating like a pig ain’t no fun when you’re wearing heavy clothing
- It must be lightweight
- Finally, it must look good. Of course.
FYI, I’m currently rocking a cheap Lambada cycling jacket for the winter months. I got it off Amazon several years ago, and it’s been great. Unfortunately, it appears that it’s no longer on the market – which is a real shame. Otherwise, this article would’ve been very different, and it likely would’ve been nothing but me telling you all about how amazing and comfortable that jacket is.
Instead, I’m going to present to you a detailed list of all the top winter cycling jackets on my list for the next cold-weather riding season. That old Lambada cycling jacket served me well, but it’s time to replace ‘e. These are the cold-weather riding jackets that I’m considering:
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A closer look at what I consider to be the top five winter cycling jackets
Again, these are the actual jackets that I have in my wishlist over on Amazon. I would not be recommending these if I wasn’t seriously considering them for myself.
Best overall option
The ARSUXEO Winter Warm Up Fleece cycling jacket is the one I’ve got my eyes on. And no, not only because it’s red (to match my Specialized Allez).
First of all, it checks all the boxes for me in terms of being wind proof and waterproof. It looks stretchy yet tight, which is most certainly what you want in a waterproof garment that’s supposed to keep you warm. Keeping moisture out is absolutely vital in winter riding!
One of the other things that I really like about this one it is the fact that there seems to be a decent amount of zippered storage on both the front and rear. Having a place to put all my stuff is incredibly important for me while out on a ride. If I can’t get lightning-quick access to my phone or selfie stick (lol), then that’s a dealbreaker.
Best budget option
The all-black OUTON men’s cycling jacket looks to be a hard one to beat at an incredibly tempting price. Just like the ARSUXEO jacket I mentioned above, this one looks to be well-sealed while offering very good protection from the elements.
Something else that I really like about this one is the fact that it doesn’t look like a bulky winter jacket. Wind resistance is definitely a problem when it comes to riding in bad weather, and this jacket looks just as sleek and minimalist as a summer cycling jersey.
It’s got all the pockets and protective reflective fabric that I want in a winter cycling jacket, so I am extremely tempted by this one.
Best runner up option
The only reason why I’m not rating the Shower’s Pass Men’s Elite 2.1 as the #1 cold-weather cycling jacket on my list is primarily because of its price. It’s by far the most expensive jacket on this list, however, it is also the one that I like the most.
First of all, this jacket looks good enough to wear in casual settings off the bike. I would have absolutely no problem rocking this one (in yellow of course) in any casual setting, which is hard to say about nearly any other dedicated winter cycling jacket that I’ve ever seen.
Best of all? It comes in a multitude of different colors. If yellow isn’t your thing, don’t worry. The red, blue, and black versions look just as good.
Best high-visibility option
It’s kind of funny. Back in my younger years, I would have never (ever) considered a neon yellow piece of cycling-clothing. The main reason was that high-visibility cycling gear looked a lot worse in my younger years, and I just couldn’t stomach the idea of looking like a dork on my bike.
Now that I’m older (and I don’t care about looking like a dork anymore), most of the high-visibility cycling gear on the market looks pretty darn good. Here is one that I’m seriously considering:
Yup. The GORE WEAR Road Cycling Jacket is quite likely the only piece of neon yellow clothing that I’ve ever considering purchasing. Not only does it look extremely warm and weatherproof, it’s easily the safest item in this entire list. Would the 18-year-old version of me wear this? You bet he would.
Best lightweight option
Because I live in San Diego and it’s very rare for temperatures to drop below freezing, I do need to consider some winter cycling jackets that are fairly lightweighteight. In that case, the Santic Lightweight Windbreaker (the black version) looks like a very good option. For me at least.
This is probably one of the best options for cyclists who like to layer their clothing. Start off with a warm base layer (or two), throw this over top, and you’re sure to remain toasty warm and dry throughout all sorts of bad weather riding. If you get too warm, simply remove this and stuff it into a pocket somewhere.
Now that I think of it, foldability (and compactness) should play a very important role in your search for cold weather riding gear. I don’t mind being warm on a bike, but I do know it can be incredibly annoying to most of the people that I ride with. Having the ability to strip away clothing as necessaries it the key to an enjoyable ride, and having a winter jacket that can fold down into a fairly compact size is something that you need to consider.
Alternative option 1
One of the jackets that I considered putting on this list was the Sparx Performance Windproof High Viz Jersey. It’s just as fashionable and feature-rich as any other jacket that I’ve mentioned so far, but there were some things about the others that I preferred more.
The primary reason why this jacket didn’t make my list of the “best winter cycling jackets” is the fact that I don’t particularly care for the style as much as I do for the others. Again, since I realize that style and design is 100% subjective, I’m including it here just in case some you like it. It’s most definitely a capable (and feature-rich) item to be included in any winter cycling clothing list.
Alternative option 2
Here’s another jacket by Pearl Izumi that I quite like. However, I’m a total cheapo when it comes to buying winter cycling gear, so it would be difficult for me to pull the trigger on it due to it being a higher cost than the others.
For what it’s worth, this is one of my favorite jackets on this list. However, I do live in San Diego after all, and it’s hard for me to justify spending that much money on a jacket I’m going to use maybe two months out of the entire year.
However, if you live in a cold weather area and can take advantage of wearing something like this often, it’s looks to be an amazing winter jacket for cold weather cycling.
Winter cycling jacket FAQs
Finally, to wrap up this list, I figured it might be helpful to answer a few general questions about winter cycling clothing (and general winter writing tips). Yeah, I know. You may be thinking something like “but Scott, you live in San Diego now – what do you know about cold-weather riding?”
That’s a perfectly valid question. But do remember that I spent the first half of my life in Michigan! I rode my bike all year-round as a boy, and that experience has left an impression on me.
Also, those of you not familiar with Southern California might be surprised to know that it’s not uncommon for early morning temperatures to reach down to the near freezing point in the wintertime. As much as you might think otherwise, I’m still getting plenty of opportunity to freeze my boogers on a bike from December through February each year.
What is the best winter cycling jacket?
Based on all my recommendations above, I’d have to go with the ARSUXEO Winter Warm Up Fleece as the best winter cycling jacket on the market right now. It beats all the others out in both price and features, and my personal opinion is that it looks better than any other jacket in it’s price point.
Of course I realize that last point is totally subjective, but I’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would think that it’s ugly. So yeah – it’s the #1 contender to replace my three year old Lambada cycling jacket later this year.
What temperature is too cold to cycle?
Again, this is completely subjective as everybody (and every body) is different. My tolerance for cold weather riding is likely lower than others (I’m a skinny dude who gets cold very easily). That being said, there does come a point where it’s too cold for anybody to be safely exercising outdoors.
According to the Mayo Clinic, temperatures below 20° can start posing a health risk due to frostbite.
If you want my opinion, 40°F is not too cold. Nor is 30°F – or even 20°F. I’ll concede that anything below 20° is painful and not fun, but I’m going to be quite blunt here when I say this: You’re a wimp if you refuse to get on the bike if the temperature is under 50°F.
What brands are the best when it comes to winter cycling jackets?
In my opinion, some of the lesser-known brands can be even better than the ones you’ve heard of before (such as Pearl Izumi). Over half of the winter bike jackets that I have purchased in my life have been no-name brands purchased on the discount rack down at the local sporting goods store.
Most of them have been good. As a matter fact, my current cycling jacket for cold-weather riding is from a company called Lambada. Yeah – I know. I’ve never heard of them either. But you know what? It’s been one of the best cycling jackets for winter riding that I’ve ever owned, and I’m actually kind of bummed that it’s going to need replacement this fall.
You can’t really go wrong with anything from a big brand-name. However, you are often going to pay more than you would for the better no-name brand. My recommendation is to browse around Amazon and search for the top-rated jackets in your price range.
What should I wear cycling in the winter (besides a good jacket)?
In terms of overall importance, gloves are the next big thing. Trust me – I’ve had to end many a ride prematurely due to frozen fingers, which is always frustrating if the rest of my body isn’t ready to quit yet. Don’t skimp on gloves! Get the best quality pair you can afford.
A thermal skullcap to wear under your helmet is another important thing to have. Studies have shown that the majority of one’s body heat is lost through the head, so trapping all that heat in is a vital importance when you’re cycling in cold weather.
I’m currently using a generic Amazon-branded cap for riding during the winter months. It’s a great value for the money, and I couldn’t be more satisfied.
What do cyclists do in the winter?
Again, the fact that you’re reading this article means that you already know the answer to this. You should be proud of the fact that you know the proper response to this question is “get out there and freaking ride!”
Anyway, I thought it was the perfect question to close out this article. I’ve always been massive supporter of riding year-round, and I honestly think more people would enjoy it if they gave it a proper chance. The key, of course, is to arm yourself with the proper gear so it’s not a totally miserable experience.
A good winter cycling jacket makes all the difference, as it will help you to stay out on the road or trails longer.