Top 20 cold-weather cycling clothes

We delve into the road.cc review archive to bring you 20 of the best cycling garments for winter

by David Arthur   November 2, 2012  

Gore Bike Wear Xenon Thermo jersey

road.cc reviews

It's proper chilly out there and it's only set to get colder as winter rushes our way. Now is the time to make sure you're ready for the cold temperatures with the right cycling clothing to keep you warm on the club run or the ride to and from the office.

We get asked all the time what clothing we recommend and seeing as we've tested hundreds of cycling garments over the years, we thought we'd put our heads together and show you some of our favourite cold weather clobber. This is the stuff that we still use regularly long after the review is published - so when we say it's good, we really mean it.

We've linked through to the full reviews on each product so you can read our full verdict on each.

When it gets really cold nothing beats the Castelli Espresso Due jacket. Yes it's a big wedge of cash at £230 but what you get is a premium jacket, made from Windstopper X-Fast fabric, that's packed with features.

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You just never know when you might get caught in the rain, and for those rides the Rapha Women's Rain Jacket is great quality and a really well designed performance jacket.

From Louis Garneau the Massimo Long Sleeve jacket is a high performance winter top capable of tackling the worst of the cold whilst also handling the odd spot of rain

If you're looking for a regular commuting jacket the Mavic Vision H2O packs a high-visibility punch with its bright orange colour and generous reflective stripes. It's also a seriously good waterproof jacket under all that hi-vis.

A base layer is so important. It has the challenging job of wicking sweat away from your skin tp keep you dry and also insulating you. Sweden's Craft have a knack for making stuff that works when it gets cold, and we're consistently impressed with their base layers. The Zero Extreme Windstopper Long Sleeve base layer is hard to fault.

dhb's Ladies Merino Long Sleeve base layer is light, warm and comfortable and well priced too.

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A trusted name when it comes to well designed winter clothing is Gore Bike Wear. Their Xenon Thermo jersey is a good weight long sleeve jersey that can be worn underneath a jacket or on its own with a base layer on slightly warmer days.

The dhb Blade Windslam jersey proves you don't need to break the bank to get a high-quality jersey. This one packs a windproof membrane on the front facing panels on top of a warm Roubaix fabric.

For keeping the legs well insulated it's hard to get better than Rapha's Deep Winter tights but, yes, they cost a lot. They're really well made though and the stretchy windproof panels down the front of the legs keep you pedalling when it turns arctic.

At the other end of the scale Wiggle's excellent in-house clothing brand dhb make some affordable tights and the Vaeon Reflex bib tights are a good pick. They'll keep your legs toasty on all but the most freezing days and the added 3M reflectivity is a useful feature.

Specialized make a good range of gloves and their Radiant is a good choice on really cold days. These are fully waterproof thanks to a Hipora membrane inside. A fleecy inner surface is warm and comfortable and they're surprisingly breathable.

Well-designed and good value gloves with excellent levels of protection and warmth, the Gore Bike Wear Phantom II women's gloves are a go-to option for all but the very coldest weather.

A liner glove like dhb's Roubaix Liner can add warmth to your existing gloves without increasing the bulk too much.

Made from a Windstopper material the Craft Zero Windstopper hat/beanie can be worn under a helmet to keep your head warm even in extreme conditions.

You've always got to keep the head and ears wrapped up in the cold and we like the Octopus Winter cap. It's a beautifully made woollen tea cosy for your noggin.

Rapha's Winter Collar is a simple bit of kit but after one cold ride with it you'll realise the value of your investment. Made from merino wool, it's a simple tubey-scarf that protects your neck from the chill air.

And let's not forget your feet - they can quickly feel the cold. Most cycling shoes are well ventilated which may be good in the summer, but in the winter it's best to cover them up. The DeFeet Slipstream oversocks provide a good layer of insulation on not so cold days.

Sometimes oversocks aren't enough and for those days the Pro Blaze overshoes, with their 2mm thick neoprene construction, will protect your feet in the most miserable of weather. At £29.99, they're a reasonable price too.

The ultimate footwear for the depths of winter have to be proper winter boots. The Northwave Celsuis GTX boots are exactly that and they're rated right down to -10°C. The upper is made from Gore-Tex so they're completely waterproofed.

And lastly, don't forget to swap out your thin summer socks for something chunkier like Giro's Winter Wool socks.

6 user comments

Oldest firstNewest firstBest rated

I had that Castelli jacket. It was good, but not great. In fact I had a Mavic Espoir that was, IMO, warmer.

The Assos ij.bonka, whilst bonkers, is superbly warm, warmer than the Castelli ever was.

posted by bendertherobot [246 posts]
5th November 2012 - 17:58

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Brilliantly gormless-looking model. Love it.

posted by andyp [783 posts]
12th December 2012 - 19:37

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when you buy the Rapha women's jacket, presumably the girl is included? I'll take two...

posted by londonplayer [671 posts]
9th February 2013 - 14:01

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I think Rapha's winter jersey belongs on this list. I got one recently (2nd hand) and I honestly believe it's the most miraculous bit of winter kit I've ever come across. I wore it for a snowy four-hour ride yesterday, when the Met Office assured me it was around 2 degrees all morning - with wind chill from a biting north-easterly taking that down to an apparent minus 6 at times, and I was perfectly comfortable throughout wearing just the Rapha jersey and an Odlo base layer. And I'm no hardcase I can assure you. I'm not the only one who likes it either, it seems: http://road.cc/content/review/29751-rapha-winter-jersey

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posted by Martin Thomas [566 posts]
24th February 2013 - 20:20

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I have the Assos ij.bonka jacket, and it's superb. I was out for a 120km ride this morning, average temp 3 degrees, most of the morning was zero degrees - a sportful base layer, a thin long sleeve jersey and the Assos, and I was toasty for 3 and a half hours.

Pricey, but buy quality, cry once.

posted by Faroon [20 posts]
24th February 2013 - 20:46

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Jeez Faroon that's £260! Suddenly the Rapha looks like a bargain. (Having said that, I'm completely with you on the get-what-you-pay-for argument.)

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posted by Martin Thomas [566 posts]
25th February 2013 - 21:19

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