Winter Jackets - Buyer's Guide


It’s just into the New Year as we write this, and the thought of riding in the rain (snow) and cold puts a shudder down our backs but the boredom and over-eating of Xmas and NY means we really need to get out and ride.


There’s no better way of putting yourself off a nice winter ride than the thought of being cold or soaked through, so we suggest nipping that thought in the bud and investing in a brilliant new jacket. With great sales going on across the web and in bike stores, now is the time to invest in a new jacket. OK so you’re skint after Xmas but can you really say no to those big discounts? We can’t!


As with most things the more money you spend, the better fabric and jacket you’ll get in return. It’s hard to believe this if you’ve never bought a cycling jacket before, but trust us, on a windy and rainy evening when you‘re cold and tired, a leaky or crap jacket will be enough to push you back to the sofa ‘til summer.




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Waterproof or windproof?


So before you buy your new jacket have a think what you need from it and what sort of riding you’ll be doing. If you’re commuting you’ll need a wind and waterproof that will see you home in comfort, style and with good reflectivity. So go for something with useful pockets a casual, but not baggy, fit and think about ventilation too.


You’ll need the jacket to work in varying temperatures and weather conditions, if you can afford Gore-Tex then go for it, you’ll be quickly thankful of the extra you spend here. Not all of the competitor fabrics we’ve tried live up to their claims, but we’ve never been let down by Gore-Tex. Plus they have different weight fabric to choose from, ranging from the super lightweight Paclite, softshells with Gore-Tex and the 2 or 3 layer Gore-Tex fabrics we've come to know and love.


If you’re a fair weather rider and don’t plan on venturing out at the mere hint of a cloud or spot of rain, then you won’t need to spend quite as much, but should still consider a water-resistant and breathable fabric at the very least. You could think about a softshell or windproof jacket rather than a full on waterproof. They also have decent breathability and stretchy properties for a good anatomic fit and can be used for other outdoor pursuits too.


If the fabric is waterproof it usually is windproof too, beware though as not all wind and waterproof fabrics are breathable. If you opt for a non-breathable fabric you will most likely overheat and get wet from your own sweat. All but the most sedate of riders will require a breathable jacket, and this is where the extra money comes in, but will be worth the spend.



Features to consider



Whichever the jacket you choose it is vital to have easy to use pockets and zippers, as you’re likely to have cold hands and even wearing gloves. The zipper mechanism should be easy to use and pockets need to have openings large enough to get a gloved hand inside easily. Front zips should have at least one storm flap to keep out driving rain and cold winds, look out for two-way zips which are handy to vary ventilation too. Pit zips under the arms can be really handy and let our heat without letting in cold draughts or rain.



Collars often come with a micro-fleece lining, adding warmth and comfort when your chin and neck are getting blasted by snow or rain. Make sure the collar doesn’t interfere with your helmet and if the jacket has a hood, that it can be folded away if necessary. Reflective strips, are a must if you’re planning on riding at night. Check that there are sufficient and will you be seen from all angles too, it’s no good having a strip across your back if you wear a backpack.



Does the jacket have a storage pouch, or does that even matter to you? Some jackets fold into their own rear pocket, which can be handy if the weather turns out better than expected. You can even attach them to your frame or sling around your waist if they have straps too. Take note of the rear section of jackets, some are nice and low and others fold up to make it easier to move around the saddle when mountain biking and can be pulled down for extra protection when needed.



Cuffs are our personal bug bear, we like the option of tightening and loosening our cuffs to accommodate gloves and get us at the right temperature too. Spend time checking over little details like this before choosing your jacket and it’s a good idea to wear similar base and mid layers to what you’ll be riding in so as to ensure you get the right size.



Getting the right jacket is important, so try on loads of jackets before buying, and preferably bend over or sit on a bike to simulate your riding position to check that arms and rear are the right length. Don’t go for a too tight fit as you may need to add another layer in the depths of winter, and on the other hand a baggy fit may annoy you flapping in the wind.


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