How to choose your winter cycling jacket
Choosing a winter cycling jacket is a delicate matter, just like choosing bib shorts. Firstly, because winter is not to be trifled with. So, you need to wear a product that keeps you warm without making you too hot and that has adequate breathability. Secondly, because jackets are very expensive and we like you to spend your money well.
There are many proposals on the market, but to really understand something, we should start with a macro distinction of jackets:
- Windproof and rainproof jackets or vests
- Windbreaker jackets with breathable membranes
- Thermal windbreaker jackets with breathable membranes
These three categories are designed for very different climatic conditions. The first category is the most versatile and used in both winter and summer, both in mountain biking and road cycling.
For the in-between seasons, when it starts to get a little hot-cold and we find ourselves in situations of variable temperature during the outing, the second category is recommended.
The third is the jacket for cold winters, and to know how to choose the right one, a number of very important details must be taken into account. Here they go.
A jacket that does not breathe is no good: it is the enemy of health and that is why rainproof jackets should be avoided in winter, except when going downhill. Windproof membranes such as Windstopper, on the other hand, have revolutionised winter sportswear and are perfect: they are breathable, thin, stretchy and lightweight, and help the jacket fit snugly.
So, first of all, make sure there is a windproof membrane.
2. The heat
It is the “fleece” layer that provides adequate thermal insulation flame fleece to that “fleecy” layer that provides adequate thermal insulation: it is the same as that found in pants. It is only necessary if you are cycling in very cold areas (below 5 degrees Celsius) or if you are cold people.
Some jackets have zippers that allow air to enter, for example, when we are doing exercise or a lot of physical activity and the heat rises. They are usually on the front, on the sides or under the armpits. They are perfect if you are pedalling uphill and, therefore, if your body temperature changes considerably.
4. The back area
If the back also has a fleece lining it is likely to be warm, but be careful, as to ensure warmth it must also have a windproof membrane: it is preferable that the back is constructed the same as the front.
If this is not the case, i.e., if the back is “lighter”, then it is somewhere between the 2nd and 3rd categories mentioned above, but it must also be said that if mountain biking is practised and a backpack is carried during the trip, the back of the jacket may not have a windproof membrane.
5. The wrist area
Cold air should not get into the sleeves, so if you want a really warm jacket, choose one with elastic or adjustable cuffs: this is necessary for riding at speeds above 30 km/h for long stretches, i.e., especially on a road bike.
6. The neck area
The collar should be high, possibly with a soft inner lining that comes in contact with the skin. If this is not the case, the use of a neck warmer, such as a Buff, is recommended.
7. Front zipper
Note: the zipper usually provides good protection against drafts, but the best jackets have a bib on the inside that insulates the jacket optimally. This is a detail that should not be overlooked, especially for road bikes in winter.
8. and under the jacket?
You can have the best jacket on the market, but what you wear underneath is vital. If the jacket is very warm, i.e., has a windproof membrane and a fleece lining, it is usually sufficient to wear only a long-sleeved undershirt. For particularly cold people, or if the outside temperature is below -5/-10°C, a thermal jersey, preferably with a full zipper, may be considered.