The best cycling jackets can make the difference between loving every minute of a ride or wishing you’d never left the house. You want a jacket that will shrug off rain showers, keep the wind and cold out on blustery days, and ideally not soak you with sweat from the inside out. It’s not a lot to ask, is it?
Cycling jackets aren’t purely a foul weather friend: they’re an essential outer layer in winter months, but many are also comfortable enough to wear throughout the rest of the year as an extra protective layer when the mercury falls or shine turns to rain. Some even manage to add a dash of pub-friendly style to the proceedings.
Let’s be honest, the good old UK weather means that buying the best cycling jacket you can afford is an essential purchase if you don’t want to leave your bike gathering dust in the garage for months on end. Here we’ve compiled a list of the best jackets for every eventuality, so read on to find the right one for you.
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How to choose the best waterproof cycling jacket for you
What types of cycling jackets are out there?
There are a few different types of cycling jackets, and the best one for you will largely depend on your cycling habits. Here are the two main types of cycling jacket:
Waterproof jacket: This should be fairly self-explanatory. Waterproof cycling jackets are made from a waterproof hard shell which makes them more suited to extreme weather conditions – whether it be wind, rain, or both. They’ll likely be a bit more bulky and less breathable than your other options though.
Softshell jacket: Softshell jackets offer a middle ground between hardshell waterproofs and lighter fleece jackets. Often lined with a fleece inner, they’re water resistant as well as being soft and light. That said, many softshell jackets don’t offer complete waterproof protection. So, if you’re after something to withstand the extremes of the Great British weather, then you might have to sacrifice some breathability in exchange for something more durable against the rain.
While most of the entries on our list are fully waterproof, we’ve included two water resistant softshell options, from Canyon and Vulpine, because they offer a breathable and lightweight edge over some of the more heavier waterproofs.
Are there any extras I should consider?
In addition to essentials such as waterproofing, high-vis patches and sensibly-placed pockets, some jackets will have additional features which can improve your cycling experience. A common feature is the drop tail: a flap that comes down at the back of the jacket to protect your lower back against the rain and from splashes. A common issue with the drop tail is that it can sometimes get caught on the seat of your bike, but many manufacturers have found a way around this problem by making the tail stowable inside the jacket.
Some cycling jackets will also have pit zips. These are, if it wasn’t already obvious, zips underneath the armpits of the jacket. They provide ventilation and can be very useful if you’re liable to sweat a lot on your ride. No matter how breathable a jacket’s fabric is, sometimes only a pit zip can allow enough air movement to keep things dry and sweat-free inside.
There’s also aesthetics to think about: Do you want a packable jacket you can just scrunch up and pack away as soon as you’re off your bike, or are you after something a bit more stylish? Some jackets are designed for urban cycling, so you might not even be able to tell they’re a cycling jacket at all. Others are designed and shaped exclusively to be effective in a riding position, with short front panels and long drop tails, so aren’t suitable for wearing casually down the pub.
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The best waterproof and water resistant cycling jackets to buy
1. Dhb Aeron Tempo FLT: Best for lightweight breathability
Price: £90 | Buy now from Wiggle
This lightweight cycling jacket provides excellent protection against the rain, while packing up neatly for compact storage when not in use. The jacket’s streamlined design has performance in mind, built to withstand “high-tempo blasts and long winter training miles”. It has a waterproof rating of 30,000mm and a high breathability rating of 25,000g/m2 (this latter measurement refers to how much moisture can pass through a square metre of fabric in 24 hours). Extra protection comes from the jacket’s drop tail and shaped cuffs, while back vents are added as a further precaution against overheating.
The Aeron Tempo FLT also utilises Dhb’s ‘Flashlight Technology’, keeping you visible at night with reflective patterns and logos. It’s a great cycling jacket but bear in mind that, given its performance-focused design, it fits quite tightly around the chest.
Key features – Material: 100% nylon; Waterproof/water resistant: Waterproof; Wind resistant? Unspecified; Colours available: Two (Black, fluorescent yellow)
Buy now from Wiggle
2. Proviz Switch: Best jacket for night-time visibility
Price: £100 | Buy Men’s | Women’s from Proviz
Like the Canyon jacket, the Proviz Switch is fully reversible (although perhaps not quite as stylish). Fluorescent yellow on one side with Proviz’s signature Reflect360 material on the reverse, you can feel safe knowing that everyone is going to see you zipping down the road – day or night.
It’s fully waterproof, too, so will keep you dry in all b