Last updated: August 9, 2021

Our method

4Products analysed

45Hours spent

13Evaluated articles

215User reviews

Cycling jackets are primarily for protection and visibility for yourself and for other road users. Finding the right cycling jacket for summer, winter or even a jacket that can be used all year round is not easy. Each jacket has its advantages and disadvantages.

With our cycling jacket test 2021 we want to help you find the most suitable cycling jacket for you. We have compared summer cycling jackets and multifunctional cycling jackets as well as winter jackets and rain ponchos and listed the advantages and disadvantages. This should make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • There is no typical classification of cycling jackets into summer and winter cycling jackets. A distinction is made between the types of cycling jackets: Hardshell jackets, softshell jackets, thermal jackets and wind jackets.
  • To ensure that cycling jackets really do protect you from the wet, you should make sure that they are waterproof.
  • Colours are particularly important for cycling jackets so that you are clearly visible to other road users. It is therefore essential to choose jackets with reflectors or neon colours.

The Best Cycling Jackets: Our Picks

Buying and evaluation criteria for cycling jackets

In this section we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between the various possible cycling jackets. The criteria that you can use to compare the different cycling jackets with each other include:

Size

There is a wide range of sizes for cycling jackets. The smallest sizes are XS and S. These are followed by size M. There are also other differences in size L. There are further differences in size L. Furthermore, there is also a one-size-fits-all size, although it should be mentioned here that this is a bicycle poncho.

However, it is not easy to find the right size for you, because when buying a jacket you have to consider how big your chest circumference is in centimetres. Furthermore, the chest circumference differs between women and men. Therefore, when buying a cycling jacket, you have to pay attention to whether the sizes are given for women or men.

Women's sizes often include XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL, 4XL and a standard size. These are US sizes. Within these US sizes, the German clothing size for women can be derived. The chest circumference plays a major role here.

US size German size Women German size Men
XS 32/34 40/42
S 36/38 44/46
M 40/42 48/50
L 44/46 52/54
XL 48/50 56/58
XXL 52/54 60/62
3XL 56/58 64/66
4XL 60/62 68/70
5XL - 72/74

To find the right jacket size, you need your body height and chest circumference in centimetres. Men's sizes are also often listed: XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL, 4XL, 5XL, as well as the standard size. The sizes given here are often US sizes, which are also referred to as international sizes. The German sizes must therefore be determined by yourself with the help of the chest circumference.

Material

Cycling jackets are made of different materials, as they are intended to meet different requirements. Therefore, different materials can be distinguished. It is important to note which material and which membranes the cycling jacket is made of. As a rule, cycling jackets are made of polyester, polyamide, elastane and nylon.

All of these materials have the same properties, such as tear resistance, water repellency and high formability, whereby they are stable but still elastic. Furthermore, all the fabrics listed are synthetic or man-made fibres.

  • Polyamides are also called thermoplastics. These are plastics that can be formed or moulded at a certain temperature. A special property of polyamide is that it dries very quickly.
  • Elastane are synthetic fibres that are very stretchy and have a high elasticity. Elastane is also known as spandex. However, spandex is always mixed with other fibres such as polyester.
  • Polyesters are fully synthetic fibres. Unlike polyamide, polyester does not dry as quickly. However, polyester is still often used to make cycling jackets because polyester can wick moisture away from the body.
  • Nylon is a similar fully synthetic fibre material to polyester. There is little difference to polyester as the advantages and disadvantages balance each other out. The advantages of nylon are that the fabric is stronger and more stretchable than polyester. However, polyester has a faster drying time and retains colours longer with repeated cleaning. Nylon tends to stick to the body.

The different materials used in cycling jackets also result in different types of cycling jackets. A distinction is made between hardshell jackets, softshell jackets and wind jackets. Hardshell jackets are made of very robust material, as they are more weatherproof than softshell jackets.

The softshell jacket can be compared to a fleece jacket, as it is more flexible than a hardshell cycling jacket. The wind jacket is usually characterised by the hood and is usually made of nylon or polyamide.

Lined/Unlined

Most cycling jackets are unlined jackets. However, there are also winter or year-round cycling jackets that are lined. These are usually called thermal jackets or thermal cycling jackets. Thermal jackets are made of various materials that are primarily warming. For example, a lined thermal cycling jacket consists of a combination of polyester, polyamide and elastane. The thermal jacket can be up to 100% lined.

Detachable cycling jacket parts

With many cycling jackets, it is possible to remove jacket parts such as the hood or parts of the sleeves. However, this is not possible with all cycling jackets. In general, it can be assumed that the jacket parts are not removable, unless it is stated in the details of the cycling jacket.

When removing the parts of the cycling jacket, it is often possible to remove the hood simply by means of a zip fastener, often also called a zip-off.

Sometimes you can also roll up the hood in the collar of the jacket.

The sleeves also have a zip-off closure, so you can decide for yourself whether to leave the sleeves on or take them off. In some cases, you can choose to remove the whole sleeve or just the underarm part of the jacket.

Colours

An important issue when buying a cycling jacket is the colours. Since cycling can be practised at any time of day or night, it is important to make sure that you are seen by other road users. During the day, it is also possible to wear a darker shade. At night, however, it is advisable to use bright reflective or neon colours.

Many cycling jackets can therefore be worn on both sides. During the day, you can then choose between the dark inner side or the neon-coloured outer side. Depending on the colour choice, the entire outfit, consisting of the woman's or man 's helmet, shirt and trousers, can be colour-coordinated. It is still possible to wear dark cycling jackets at night.

In this case, the jacket is usually fitted with reflectors. If the existing reflectors on the jacket are not sufficient, it is possible to add further reflectors, for example with the help of reflector tape.

Cleaning and care

It is important to clean cycling jackets regularly. Dirt and dirty reflectors can reduce visibility. It is important to pay attention to the care label, as this is where you will find information on how to clean or care for the cycling jacket. There are no major differences in the types of cycling jackets that need to be cleaned.

However, there are basic rules that must be observed for every bicycle jacket cleaning. To begin with, it is important to wash the jacket in the washing machine before wearing it for the first time. You should check the label to see what temperature is recommended. Before washing, it is advisable to close all zips, press studs and similar fasteners.

This way, the optimal function of the cycling jacket can be maintained for longer. It is also advisable to wash the cycling jacket with the inside facing out, especially if it is a functional garment.

Tip: Always wash all jacket parts, even if detachable jacket parts are clean. This ensures that the colour remains uniform and is not stronger or weaker in some places.

It is also important to wash functional material or cycling jackets more often with a small amount of detergent than less often with larger amounts of detergent. When it comes to detergent itself, it is usually recommended to clean with liquid detergent and not with powder.

For weatherproof clothing, you should also make sure to rinse sufficiently so that no detergent residue remains on the jacket. It is also important not to use fabric softener.

Decision: What types of cycling jackets are there and which is the right one for me?

Finding the right cycling jacket is not easy. There are different types of cycling jackets, each of which can be worn in summer, winter or even all year round.

Sommerjacke

Summer jacket

With the summer jacket, it is usually possible to remove certain parts of the cycling jacket. This is an advantage because, for example, on hot summer days, you can remove the cycling jacket sleeves through the zip-off zip.

Advantages
  • Detachable jacket parts
  • easy to clean
Disadvantages
  • not always waterproof
  • can stick to the skin

Another advantage is that the hood is also a detachable part of the jacket. On nice summer days, you can zip off the hood or roll it into the collar, depending on the model. Another feature of summer cycling jackets is that they are very light to wear.

Depending on the material, however, a summer jacket can also stick to the skin, especially with nylon. Another disadvantage is that summer cycling jackets are usually only water-repellent.

Winter jacket

Because winter cycling jackets dry very quickly, they have the advantage of being very warm even when wet. The pockets of winter jackets are usually also warm, so that you can warm up your hands.

Advantages
  • warming even when wet
  • dries quickly
  • easy to clean
Disadvantages
  • more expensive
  • more volume

One disadvantage of winter jackets is that they have a larger wearing volume than summer cycling jackets. The wearing volume changes due to the warming materials and the lining that are available in winter cycling jackets. [/su_spoiler]

Multifunctional jacket

The multifunctional cycling jacket is characterised by the fact that it can be worn in different areas. It is also possible to use a multifunctional jacket all year round. A multifunctional cycling jacket is also characterised by the fact that it regulates heat in summer, but still provides sufficient warmth in winter.

Advantages
  • Year-round use
  • can also be used for other sports
Disadvantages
  • Rapid wear due to year-round use
  • more frequent cleaning necessary

However, it should be noted that due to frequent use in different areas, the cycling jacket may wear out more quickly. Furthermore, you may have to clean the cycling jackets more often because you use them more frequently.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about cycling jackets answered in detail

If you want to buy a cycling jacket, you will certainly have a few questions that you want to have answered beforehand. In our cycling jacket guide, we have selected the most important and frequently asked questions and answered them clearly. The guide should help you find the perfect cycling jacket for you. Enclosed you will find a video in which the features of outdoor jackets are tested, which also include cycling jackets.

What size cycling jacket should I buy?

The size of the cycling jacket is a very important detail. It should be noted that cycling jackets shrink by about 3 % during the first cleanings. Therefore, before buying a cycling jacket, you should not underestimate the shrinkage.

Sizes differ depending on gender, so you should pay attention to whether the sizes are indicated for women or men. Determining the right jacket size is a key point. The chest circumference plays a central role here.

To determine the appropriate jacket size for men, you need the measurements for body height and chest circumference. Both measurements are taken close to the body. There are usually 3 categories of men's sizes.

  • normal sizes
  • stocky sizes
  • slim sizes.

The differentiation is related to the man's figure type. For women, too, all measurements for determining the jacket size should be taken close to the body.

When buying a jacket, you should check whether the size specifies the fit.

To determine the jacket size, you need the body height, the chest circumference in centimetres and the hip circumference in centimetres. When measuring the chest circumference and hip circumference, it is important to measure horizontally with a tape measure at the strongest part of the chest and buttocks. For women, too, there are 3 categories depending on the figure:

  • Regular sizes
  • Short sizes
  • Long sizes.

These sizes are related to body height.

What does a cycling jacket cost?

The cost of a cycling jacket varies greatly. Depending on the quality and size, but also the intended use, the price range can go from about 26 to 320 euros. A cycling jacket that is mainly intended to protect you from rain and wind is available from around 26 euros upwards. However, the prices of most hard and soft shell cycling jackets range from around 60 to 350 euros.

There are also differences in price depending on gender. It is noticeable that men's jackets have a wider price range than women's jackets for the different types of jackets. The following table shows the prices for men's and women's jackets, including discount offers:

Type price range women price range men
Softshell ca. 55-380 € ca. 64-450 €
Hardshell ca. 85-230 € ca. 50-350 €
Thermo ca. 85-120 € ca. 85-240 €

A recommended tip is to check whether the cycling jacket you want is on sale during a discount campaign. During discount campaigns, the cycling jackets are usually reduced, as the normal price of a cycling jacket is usually between €50 and €380.

What are the alternatives to a cycling jacket?

A good alternative to a cycling jacket is a cycling waistcoat. Waistcoats are made of similar material to cycling jackets. As with cycling jackets, there are also different types of cycling waistcoats. A distinction can be made between:

  • Hardshell waistcoat
  • Softshell waistcoat
  • Thermal waistcoat
  • Wind waistcoat.

With cycling waistcoats, you can also distinguish between unlined waistcoats, which are mainly worn in spring and summer, and lined winter waistcoats. Depending on which cycling waistcoat you choose, the weight is different, as lined waistcoats have a larger volume.

Fahrradjacke-1

Thin cycling jackets or cycling waistcoats are particularly suitable for summer.
(Image source: Silvan Arnet/ unsplash)

The cycling waistcoat is also a good alternative to the cycling jacket in terms of price. The price range of a cycling waistcoat goes from about 17 to 230 euros, depending on the type of waistcoat you choose.

What features should a summer cycling jacket have?

A summer jacket should be lightweight and comfortable to wear. It should also have a heat-regulating, cooling function. Summer jackets should also at least have water-repellent properties. Another characteristic that identifies summer cycling jackets is that they fulfil the function of detachable cycling jacket parts. You can remove the hood at any time or shorten the sleeves or take them off completely.

What features should a winter cycling jacket have?

A winter cycling jacket can usually be recognised by the fact that it is lined. Winter cycling jackets are often called thermal cycling jackets. The most important thing about a winter cycling jacket is that it is waterproof and protects against wetness and cold.

Fahrradjacke-2

A thermal winter cycling jacket keeps you particularly warm, even on longer trips. A thermal jacket should not be missing from your cycling wardrobe.
(Image source: Miłosz Klinowski /unsplash)

The pockets of most winter cycling jackets are lined to give you the opportunity to warm up your hands. You can also recognise winter jackets by the fact that they have a larger volume and are therefore heavier than summer cycling jackets.

Image source: Protsenko/ 123rf.com

Reviews