People often think that cycling is all about the legs. It’s true that keeping your pins warm with effective bib tights is essential for high performance, but often core body temperature can have as much, if not more, of an impact on how you feel while out cycling. It’s for this reason that a good jacket should really sit at the very top of your essential kit list for winter riding.
There are a lot of considerations to make when it comes to choosing the best winter cycling jacket for you. Do you live in a colder climate where it regularly drops below freezing temperatures? Or are you lucky enough to be situated in an area where the sun is usually shining, apart from a few wet days? Do you want something understated or brightly coloured? Should you place more value on a jacket’s insulation, or its waterproof and windproof qualities? Do you want a tight fitting garment or one that’s baggy enough to fit extra layers underneath? Take a deep breath, there’s a lot to think about.
To make things a little bit simpler, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite women’s winter cycling jackets to keep you toasty even on the coldest days out on the bike. Whether you’re looking for something to protect you in wet weather, or be a barrier in the biting chill, these jackets have got you covered. From the most premium to the more affordable options, here are our picks of the very best women’s winter cycling jackets on the market.
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Rapha Pro Team Winter Jacket
A great staple if you're looking for an extremely comfortable jacket for long stints in the saddle.
Founded by Simon Mottram in the heart of London in 2004, it’s no surprise that Rapha knows a thing or two about the ideal clothing for surviving a British winter. Long-time kit providers for Team Sky and current makers of kit for both EF-Education WorldTour teams, there’s little room to question the quality of Rapha’s apparel: it’s been worn by the best of the best for over a decade. The Pro Team collection serves as Rapha’s most premium and performance-focussed range, made for riding and racing at the highest level, with little expense spared when it comes to material and design choices.
The first thing about Rapha’s Pro Team Winter Jacket that gives merit to the claim that it has been designed in conjunction with professional riders is the attention to detail. Deep pockets allow plenty of room for spares and gels, while the additional zip pocket gives protection for any valuables. An oversized zipper means the jacket can be undone or zipped up when wearing gloves, an essential feature in cold weather. Add in the reflective logos and panelling on the rear of the jacket and it really feels like this is a garment which has been created by people who ride bikes themselves day in, day out.
The fleece lined inner of the jacket kept me toasty throughout my rides and the outer is coated with DWR (durable water repellent), but a waterproof shell over the top is necessary in especially heavy downpours. Thanks to Rapha’s innovative combination of fabrics — the front has a denser fabric for added protection while the back of the jacket is stretchier and more open to expel heat — the jacket is extremely breathable, even when doing hard efforts on the road. Like all of Rapha’s Pro Team collection, the jacket has a close-fit, meaning it is cut relatively short at the front and has a longer rear to protect from any spray from the roads, something that was especially helpful when in race position on the drops.
Retailing for £195, this jacket is of a reasonable price compared to that of other well-known cycling brands and definitely returns on cost per wear; it can be worn with a thin base layer on warmer days and a thicker one for when things get colder.
- Attention to detail
- Looks great
- Technically advanced
- The fit may be too snug for some
- Not waterproof
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Assos Dyora RS Winter Jacket
This is a jacket for the coldest, deepest winters and provides exceptional levels of warmth, sometimes even too much to make it wearable for every day use.
Widely regarded as the Rolls-Royce of cycling apparel brands, there is no denying that Assos is a market leader in its field. The flagship product in Assos’ female winter collection is undoubtedly the Dyora RS Winter Jacket. Described as the most technical winter softshell that the Swiss brand has created to date, it’s clear that no stone has been left unturned when developing the garment. A serious range of materials have been used on specific areas of the jacket, depending on where the wind hits and where more ventilation is needed, creating optimum conditions for cold, multi-hour rides.
The sleeves on the Dyora RS jacket use a unique “warp-knit 3L ZigZaggy foam”. The warp-knit structure means that the threads zig-zag along the length of the fabric, rather than following a single row, it is therefore much more robust and has a tighter structure, aiding the windproof properties of the jacket. This was an asset on cold days, but does make the sleeves feel a little restrictive when it comes to flexibility. The elastic gripper on the sleeves helps with these wind-blocking properties too.
The body of the jacket is made of Assos’ proprietary wind and waterproof Sphere light textile and this does perform exceptionally well in adverse weather conditions, you can barely feel the rain with this garment on. However, when the temperatures go above five degrees, things can get a little sweaty and I don’t find myself reaching for this garment on milder winter days.
The design is classy and understated, as is usual with Assos, with purple accents and a black base. More colour options would be preferable, however, to aid visibility in the darker winter months, but Assos have somewhat remedied this with a reflective strip on the rear pocket. Details like the taped, double-slider zipper and lidded pockets all go a little way to justify the £430 price tag of the Dyora RS Jacket. While it is a big initial investment, the jacket is extremely durable and could see a rider through a multitude of winters and conditions, making the cost per use a bit more digestible. Clearly there are cheaper alternatives out there, but if it’s within your budget, it'll be hard to find a warmer jacket.
- Extremely warm
- Good waterproof qualities
- Can get too hot
- Very expensive
- Slight lack of flexibility
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Castelli Alpha RoS 2 Jacket
Castelli's clever construction means that this jacket is versatile enough to be used in a range of temperatures and when the heavens open
It’s widely-known that Italian company Castelli makes some of the best winter cycling apparel on the market. The brand’s innovative RoS (rain or shine) collection aims to give enough protection from wet weather when the heavens open, while also remaining breathable enough to be worn when it’s dry. Castelli’s Alpha RoS 2 Jacket is one of the flagship products in this range, utilising a unique double-layered construction which makes it an extremely versatile garment for a range of weather conditions.
The outer of the jacket is made up of Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper fabric. Castelli don’t market this as completely waterproof, but it is impressively water resistant, even in heavy downpours. The Gore-Tex material itself isn’t one that would feel comfortable if sitting directly on the skin, though, and that’s where the dual-layered design of this jacket comes into its own. The inner of the jacket is made from an entirely separate fleecy layer which feels soft and warm against the skin, almost acting as a second base layer. This construction means there are pockets of air in between the two layers which gives any water which has penetrated through the Gore-Tex outer fabric a chance to dissipate before it reaches the skin.
Having two layers within one jacket also gives a range of options for wear in different conditions. For example, the outer layer can be unzipped when going up a climb and done up for a descent, or the inner layer can be unzipped and tucked into the side of the outer layer to keep you cooler while doing an effort, without losing the windproof qualities of the Gore-Tex. The jacket also features a double cuff and collar which helps when the temperatures get really chilly. I found the Alpha RoS 2 Jacket warm enough with a thin long sleeve baselayer in heavy rain and temperatures below five degrees (without ever feeling the need to put a rain jacket over the top). The fit of the jacket is well-designed, perfectly shaped to the female anatomy, but I would say that the sleeves are longer than some other jackets I own and could be more fitted.
Retailing at £320, this jacket is undeniably an investment, but it can be adjusted to fit a range of weather conditions, meaning you could probably get good use out of it throughout the majority of the winter period.
- Waterproof qualities
- Flattering, streamlined fit
- No double zipper
- Not warm enough for minus temperatures
- Sleeves too long
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Le Col Women’s Pro Jacket II
A great-looking jacket which is good for cold and blustery conditions, but it might not be the one to reach for if you’re planning some tough efforts
Founded by ex-professional rider Yanto Barker, sponsors of the men’s WorldTour team Bora-Hansgrohe (and formerly the women’s team Le Col-Wahoo), Le Col is a brand that has plenty of experience creating kit for the best of the best. Ambassadors such as Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton help the British manufacturer continue to create high quality and high-performance cycling kit, and the Pro Jacket II is no exception. This is Le Col’s flagship winter jacket, part of its ‘Pro’ collection which is said to be made for those who are looking for aero gains in racing or training.
The women’s Pro Jacket II is made from Polartec’s Neoshell fabric which Le Col says is waterproof and windproof. I found that this fabric was especially good at repelling downpours and I am yet to feel cold in the Pro Jacket II despite doing some rides in wet and freezing conditions. With the benefits of such warmth does mean that the jacket can get slightly stuffy when doing race efforts or going up climbs, so I did find myself having to unzip it to get some additional ventilation at times. However, this is a sacrifice I’d always be willing to make for such good waterproof and windproof qualities.
Part of needing to unzip the jacket also comes from it being slightly too tight around the neck for me personally, but this will be dependent on each rider. Other than that, I thought the fit of the Le Col jacket was good, but could be slightly tighter considering it’s a garment which is said to have a race-fit. The reflective panels are great for winter conditions, be that in fog, poor visibility or low-light, while a zip pocket and three large rear pockets offer plenty of space for snacks and spares. Le Col has achieved this without the jacket looking or feeling bulky; I thought it had a flattering fit being cut short at the front and with two seams on either side of the torso.
Costing £260 when being sold at full price, Le Col’s jacket is inline with the price of most other garments in the winter jacket sphere, but it is definitely an investment. However, if you’re looking for a jacket that is versatile enough for long endurance rides as well as shorter, more intense efforts (regardless of the weather conditions), the Le Col Pro Jacket II is a great choice.
- Reflective detailing for low-light conditions
- Great storage options
- Looks sleek and well-designed
- Should be tighter for a race-fit
- Could be slightly more breathable
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Castelli Perfetto RoS 2
If it's raining, this is a perfect choice of jacket and it can be layered up for colder days
While Castelli’s Alpha RoS 2 Jacket is a great option for a classic winter jacket on the coldest days, in many European countries (the UK especially) we often face wet, middling conditions during the winter months. The Perfetto Ros 2 Jacket is an ideal option for this type of weather with great water resistant qualities, enough warmth and insulation for the spring and autumn and multiple options when it comes to layering up for colder days.
It’s for this reason that I regularly find myself reaching for the Perfetto despite it not being one of the heaviest winter jackets I own. While the brushed Gore-Tex Infinium 205 fabric on the front of the garment keeps me warm right from the moment I set off on a ride, the jacket remains extremely breathable and has a ‘barely there’ feel when it’s on. I can pair it with a long sleeve base layer and be warm enough when the temperature drops down to five degrees celsius, or just wear it with a summer base layer for temperatures up to 15 degrees. It works when I’m doing endurance rides, but comes into its own when I’m doing hard efforts on climbs. This is largely down to the two vents on either side of the garment which can be unzipped on the move to allow for additional breathability when required. The oversized double YKK zipper on the main zip of the jacket is also easy to unzip when things are getting a little bit sweaty on a climb, even with gloved fingers.
Castelli’s attention to detail is impressive in the Perfetto RoS 2 jacket, with the entire frontal zip of the jacket covered with the Infinium 205 fabric to stop rain or cold air getting in. Taped seams across the shoulders help with this too. Castelli have added an extra pocket to the rear of the jacket meaning there are now three pockets (the previous version had two) which I found deep enough to store everything I needed for a long ride. Add in the fact that this jacket keeps me dry until the rain gets really heavy and the specific cut that is shaped well to the female shape and it’s hard to find fault with the Castelli Perfetto RoS 2 jacket. At £245, this is an expensive piece of kit, but it can be used for a huge variety of riding conditions.
- Extremely water resistant
- Close cut while remaining breathable
- More expensive than the previous iteration
- Fit could be too tight for some
Reviewed by Rachel Jary
Pas Normal Studios Women's Essential Thermal Jersey
This is a winter jersey that looks good and has the performance to live up to it
Pas Normal Studios has undoubtedly made a name for itself as one of the most popular cycling brands in the current market. With a huge social media presence and a founder with a background in fashion design, it’s fair to say that those who wear Pas Normal Studios clothing are cyclists who put reasonable levels of effort into their kit choices. The Danish brand often releases apparel in understated, muted colours and the signature PNS logo adorns all of its clothing. The Pas Normal Studios ‘Essentials’ collection is the brand’s premium collection that is said to be created with a more relaxed fit and its intended to be used for ‘all-day riding.’
A flagship product in the women’s Essentials collection is the women's Essential Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey. It’s a garment made of a soft four-way stretch fabric and a brushed up grid fleece inner, with the front and sleeves made with a three-layer soft shell fabric for added insulation. The fabric on the sleeves and front blocks out wind and kept me toasty in conditions down to five degrees celsius, while the thinner material on the back and back of the sleeves gave the Essential Thermal Jersey the breathability of a traditional jersey. The fleeced inner means that the garment feels soft against the skin (so can be worn without a long sleeve base layer) but the sleeves are also roomy enough that I could layer a thick winter base layer underneath for the coldest days.
Thanks to its DWR (durable water repellent) treatment, the Essential Thermal Jersey resists rain showers (you would need to have an emergency rain cape for heavier downpours) and features a YKK zipper so it can be adjusted on the move. It definitely is a garment with a tighter fit than other brands, it is cut short at the front and feels compressive when you first put it on, but as a rider who has an aggressive race position, this wasn’t an issue for me when I was riding. However, if you prefer a looser fit, I’d recommend going a size bigger than you would in other brands. Pas Normal Studios lists the three rear pockets as having a no-stretch material so they don't lose shape when they are stuffed with spares, bars or gels for a ride. While this is a useful feature, I did find that it made it tricky to actually get things in and out of the pockets at times due to them lacking any stretch.
At £225, this is an expensive investment but it’s worth considering if you are a rider who enjoys investing in kit that looks as good as it performs. The Pas Normal Studios Women's Essential Thermal Long Sleeve Jersey is also suitable for a variety of riding conditions which could make it your staple jacket throughout the winter.
- Extremely warm for such a lightweight material
- Suitable for varying ride conditions
- Looks great with a flattering cut
- Pockets can be difficult to access
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Attaquer Womens Race Long Sleeved Jersey Black
This isn't the warmest winter jacket but it's perfect for middling conditions, especially if you're someone who is looking for aero gains.
Named after the French word for "to attack", it’s perhaps unsurprising that Australian brand Attaquer hits the mark when it comes to making cycling apparel which helps riders go fast. The brand’s Race Long Sleeve Jersey isn’t strictly a winter jacket, but its insulating properties means that it warrants being in this guide as a great option for milder days. Despite it being named as a jersey by Attaquer, it’s a garment that I found gave similar levels of warmth to lightweight jackets while keeping the flexible and moisture-wicking properties of a jersey.
Most of the jersey’s insulation comes from the brushed fabric that lines the front and rear panels, as well as the sleeves. This fabric has an extremely soft feel against the skin, providing enough warmth for temperatures from 13 degrees celsius upwards. This isn’t a garment for the deepest winter, but with a thick long sleeve base layer underneath or a gilet/rain shell over the top, Attaquer’s Race Long Sleeve can also be used in even colder temperatures. Made of a silky material that has a premium and luxurious feel, I like the way that the jersey avoids that sometimes suffocating feel that long sleeve garments can sometimes have. The Race Long Sleeve wicks sweat especially well too, it didn’t retain moisture which meant I avoided getting cold when stopping during rides.
Naturally, given that Attaquer themselves market this as a “race” garment, the jersey does have a tight, aerodynamic fit. However, the material is stretchy enough that this doesn’t feel restrictive and, unlike other race fit jerseys, the band around the sleeves and the bottom of the garment isn’t tight on the body which gives it an overall flattering look. It feels as if Attaquer has contoured the jersey well to a female-specific shape, striking the right balance between comfort and compression.
Focussing solely on the appearance of the Race Jersey, I’d give Attaquer top marks, too. I’m a big fan of the silver logo on the side of the zipper and the reflective paneling on the rear of the jersey. Add in the well-sized pockets and cuffed sleeves to block out cold air and the attention to detail from Attaquer is impressive. Retailing for £154.96, I’d ascertain that the garment is well-priced for the amount it can be used – it’s a jersey I will get use out of in spring, summer, autumn and early winter.
- Great versatility
- Good design choices for added visibility when out riding
- An aero-dynamic race fit that remains comfortable
- Not the warmest option
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary
Sportful Total Comfort Jacket
A good option for all-day adventures when temperatures could creep into minus figures
Perhaps thanks to the brand's background in creating cross-country skiing gear, Sportful's winter jacket is perfect for the coldest temperatures. The ‘Total Comfort’ jacket aims to provide riders with comfort in all conditions – Sportful claims it will keep you warm down to minus 5 degrees celsius. With the inside of the jacket lined with Polartec’s Alpha Direct fabric (a fleece-like material) and the outer made from Polartec’s Neoshell, which is said to be both waterproof and windproof, this is a jacket which aims to hit the right mark between comfort, warmth and water-resistance while also remaining breathable when a rider gets sweaty.
I found that the jacket did protect me from most downpours; the fabric at the rear and at the bottom of the sleeves is treated to repel water and these are two areas which are particularly prone to water seeping through small gaps or seams. The extra protection here really helps keep you feeling warm and dry on the bike. The Neoshell fabric used on the rest of the jacket is almost fully waterproof, but I did start to feel some slight dampness when the showers were extremely heavy. The jacket’s inner Alpha Direct fabric has a soft feeling against the skin and is very warm, but the loose-fleece texture did make me worry that it might just absorb moisture. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that even when I was riding hard and sweating, I never felt a risk of overheating and it wicked sweat well.
In-keeping with the name ‘Total Comfort’ the Sportful jacket has a roomy, comfortable fit which meant that it certainly didn’t restrict me at all or feel tight when I was riding. However, I did feel like there was excess material on the sleeves and around the shoulders so I likely wouldn’t reach for this jacket if I was looking to do race-style efforts where I wanted aerodynamic gains. However, for long rides where warmth and comfort is a priority, this is a great choice, especially considering the attention to detail like the additional zipped pocket for valuables on the side. Retailing for £290, this is an expensive piece of kit but it remains in the ballpark of what I’d expect to pay for a jacket which is technologically advanced enough to take me into extremely cold temperatures.
- Good water resistance
- Comfortable fit
- Extra zipped pocket space
- Long arm length
- Not the most aerodynamic cut
Reviewed by: Rachel Jary