If you are in the market for a new jacket a bike specific one could be a good option and a great investment to keep you riding.  What would be the best bike jacket for cycling?

Supporting you and your family to SMILE when you ride.

 

All bike jackets will be designed with a specific function or combination of functions in mind – keeping you dry, keeping you warm, deflecting the wind, making you more visible.  They will probably share some bike specific features like good pockets, reflective strips, vents for airflow.

Staying warm on a bike can be challenging as the temperatures drop following a change of season.  Combine this with rain and/or wind and being comfortable requires some planning and the right type of gear.  We would love to see you riding all season round but to do this in a way that makes you want to ride, or to keep you smiling while riding, you need protection.

Technical Terms Explained

 

Waterproof – Technically means that it is impermeable to water, no matter how much time it spends in water.  No water in or out. It will have a coating on the outer fabric along with fully taped seams (seam sealed, see photo) and it may have a built in membrane lining.

Resistant – This type of jacket will be able to resist the penetration of water to a certain degree but not entirely so is considered water resistant or water repellant or showerproof. It will often bead up rainwater, forming drops on the surface.

Breathability –  Is a measure of how quickly moisture vapour, generated from your body when you are exercising, is able to pass through a fabric from the inside to the outside environment.

For more detailed information on this important subject see Waterproof or Breathable – Bike Jackets Explained

Choose the correct chamois

 

To follow are a few types of bike jackets explained in more detail.  Hopefully this will help you choose a jacket that will match closely to the type of riding that you do most often.  Having more than one jacket is always an option as well…

The Best Bike Jacket for Cycling in Traffic
 

Town riding usually sees you in everyday style clothing as you do chores or commute to work.  Jackets will need to be waterproof to get you to where you are going and still be relatively dry… Choosing a long length or combining your jacket with waterproof pants is a great idea for committed commuters. An urban jacket should help with your visibility so choose a bright colour with lots of reflective elements.  For many cyclists it is important this type of jacket is light weight and packs down.  This makes it really easy to carry when it is not being worn.

Any bike jacket style can be best in category for visibility.  This is all about your colour choice and reflective stripping or bands.  Bright colours that will attract the attention of drivers include anything fluorescent, orange, yellow, green, bright blue or red.  Reflective materials are picked up by car lights in limited visibility weather or at night time.  These can be placed on the back or front of the jacket and piped around edging.

See our Visibility On The Bike page for lots of ideas…

Choose the correct chamois
The Best Bike Jacket for Warmth
 

A thermal or wind/chill protection style of jacket is a great choice for warmth  These types of jackets work well for days when you know it’s not going to rain but it’s still cold.  You may also be a recreation rider who only chooses to go out riding when the weather is relatively good.  Look for warm fabrics, built up neck protection & zips finishing under you chin.  Any additional windproof protection through the chest area is also a bonus.  Known as soft shell jackets, they offer water resistance, breathability and warmth. Great as a lightweight outer layer or a breathable mid-layer.  This is a jacket for people who do not intend to ride in the rain.

thermal bike jacket
The Best Bike Jacket to Carry
 

A jacket that is lightweight and easy to carry can be a great addition to your cycling wardrobe.  These jackets will provide a wind block and be water resistant so can be worn for a variety of different reasons.  Most will pack down into a pocket making them extremely easy to take with you incase you need some extra protection while riding.  A vest can also be a good choice in this category. 

thermal bike jacket
The Best Bike Jacket for Dependable Performance
 

When you plan to ride your bike into places that are remote you need to have performance level bike gear that will keep you safe.  A waterproof jacket for protection against being wet is essential.  Because you will be working on your bike – in these types of locations – breathability is key to keeping you dry on the inside of the jacket as well.  This balance of waterproof yet breathable is a fine balance that many jackets do not achieve.  So know what you are buying. This jacket will use a 3-layer construction with a durable face fabric that will be very resilient in a wide range of conditions.  Seam & zip sealing becomes very important.

It will also need to pack down well so it is easy to carry.  These jackets are generally expensive.  They will have many added features like seam sealing, zippers for venting & waterproof fabric treatments/membranes with high ratings.

Choose the correct chamois
Be Safe – Signs of Hyperthermia

 

If you are bike touring in conditions with a significant Cold Challenge – Temperature, Wetness, Wind combined with fatigue, poor food intake and/or dehydration you need to be aware of the risk of mild hypothermia

  • Watch for the “Umbles” – stumbles, mumbles, fumbles, and grumbles which show changes in motor coordination and levels of consciousness
  • Shivering – not under voluntary control, not easily stopped
  • Can’t do complex motor functions (single track riding) can still walk & talk
  • Numbness in periphery (hands, feet)

Heat Retention + Heat Production is less than Cold Challenge = Hypothermia

What can you do for mild hypothermia?
 
  1. Reduce heat loss by adding layers of clothing, getting dry clothing on, increasing physical activity or providing shelter.  Use a survival blanket
  2. Add fuel & fluids. It is essential to keep a hypothermic person adequately hydrated and fuelled
  3. Add Heat – Fire or other external heat source.  Body to body contact. Get into a sleeping bag, in dry clothing with a normo-thermic person in lightweight dry clothing

(Source: Outdoor Action Guide to Hypothermia & Cold Weather Injuries.  By Rick Curtis)

This advice gives you a starting place to help someone who has injured themselves or is showing signs of mild hypothermia.  Nothing replaces training, so if no-one in your group has training or a medical background consider adding this to your list of things to “get better” at before you go bike touring or on multi day adventures.

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