The ultimate guide to choosing jackets for your commute.

Commuting by bike is a perfect way to get fit, be more productive at work and save yourself time and money. But, in order to cycle safely and comfortably, you need to have the right gear. And a cycling jacket is essential for cycling to work throughout the year, especially given the continually changing British weather.

One of the main deterrents we hear regularly about cycling to work is the thought of either getting soaking wet or getting too sweat en route. It’s understandable, but it doesn’t have to put you off.

Getting your choice of jacket wrong can lead to cold, miserable cycling. Getting it right will keep you warm and comfortable in all conditions. Unfortunately, there are lots of different options and price points which can make choosing the right one tricky. Here, we discuss everything you need to know about commuting jackets.

The types of cycling commuting jackets

There are a few types of jackets which have different features. Here are the main types:

Waterproof: For the rainy seasons, a fully waterproof jacket is needed. These jackets are intended as an outer layer that will provide protection against heavy rain and wind. Waterproof jackets typically feature a waterproof external membrane called a Durable Water Repellency layer (DWR), which keeps the rain away from your body.

Showerproof: These are very thin and lightweight jackets made with a showerproof material. Showerproof jackets are very portable due to their weight and are the ideal jacket for quick-changing weather, so you aren’t caught out in a bit of light rain. There is little insulation so don’t expect to be kept warm! These jackets are mainly for the Summer months.

Softshell: Softshell jackets are a mixture of windproof and water-resistant, with a warmer inner fleece layer. Softshell’s are warmer than showerproof jackets and more breathable than fully waterproof jackets, making them ideal Spring and Autumn clothing.

The major difference between them? It all comes down to the level of rain and wind repellent, as well as the level of breathability. Generally speaking, the higher in price you go, the better protection you’ll get from the elements.

What to look for

Cycling jackets come in all shapes and sizes, designs and a variety of materials. So how do you know what to look for? Here are the key features:

  • Design - Good cycling jackets feature a number of nicely designed features, such as zip pockets, comfortable collars to protect against wind, an ergonomic fit and more.
  • Water resistance - This is essentially how much rain the jacket can protect you against. The higher the water resistance, the more rain repellant the jacket is.
  • Breathability - If you want a more breathable jacket, look for air vents and breathable microporous membrane fabrics.
  • Warmth - If you are looking for a jacket in colder conditions, look for handwarmer pockets and fleece linings.
  • Weight - Modern cycling jackets are a lot lighter than they used to be, but look for a lightweight and versatile jacket, rather than a heavy, sweaty ‘old school’ jacket.
  • Visibility - You want to be visible to maintain cycle safety, especially if cycling home in the dark. Good jackets have high-vis features that promote enhances visibility.
  • Wind protection - Good windproof jackets feature wind resistant fabric with improved breathability properties.

Our recommendations

Now you know what the different types of jackets are, here are a few of our favourites.

We’ll start with the extremely portable and light B’Twin 500 Ultralight Windproof Cycling Jacket. This jacket is a cheap and easy option for those looking for a bit of wind protection. Plus, it folds up ultra-small into its inside pocket. It’s specifically for cool, not freezing cold, temperatures, and is just £19.99. It will protect you from a light drizzle and it opens at the back and under the arms for great moisture management and cooling.

Moving on to the Humvee Waterproof Jacket by Endura, this is a mid-range cycle jacket that will keep you warm and dry on the way to work - even in heavy rain. Additionally, the Humvee has a number of cooling venting features to promote better airflow and help avoid excessive sweating. It also comes with a fast wicking, mesh liner for added comfort and a reflective trim. So, windproof - yes, waterproof - yes, high-viz - yes. You can pick one up for about £75.

At the top end of the price range is Gore’s 1985 Gore-Tex SHAKEDRY Jacket, coming in at around the £150-250 price point. This is the jacket for all weather conditions and will keep you dry and warm, while also still being light and breathable. It’s reflective, has a comfort layer, has an ergonomic design, comes with a fully-sealed layer and has double zips. If you want to be assured your jacket can repel heavy rain while still being breathable, Gore excels in the ‘cycling in bad conditions’ jacket market.

Lastly, the Night Vision Evo 3 by Altura is a commuter-friendly jacket due to its increased visibility features, water resistance and breathability. In dark conditions, this jacket is great for enhanced visibility due to the unique NV360 technology it’s made with that promotes 360-degree reflective visibility in dark and low lighting. Additionally, it comes with an integrated I-Lume rear flashing light, so you’ll stand out. The jacket is waterproof and windproof and is a great all-rounder for most weather conditions. You can get it for around £79.99.

Hopefully this help you to choose your ultimate jacket for your commute. If you have any further questions, let us know!