The Best Cycling Jackets for Commuting, Mountain Biking and More

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A cycling jacket comes in handy when the weather takes a turn. We’ve gathered our top recommendations for however you ride.

Whether you’re a casual cyclist or take the sport seriously, a good cycling jacket can make the difference between an enjoyable ride and a miserable slog. Navigating the realm of cycling jackets can be difficult due to the amount of options available, and the right jacket for you depends on how you ride and your personal preferences.

To choose the best cycling jackets of 2019, we consulted with REI  merchants, verified members and customers and avid cyclists right here at REI headquarters to bring you our top picks and tips for choosing the right cycling jacket.

Craft Lithe Bike Jacket - Men’s

Best Cycling Jacket for Winter

Craft Lithe Bike Jacket - Men's

  • MSRP: $79.95
  • Weight: 8 ounces
  • Reflective: Yes
  • Packable: Yes
  • Weatherproofing: Wind protective and water resistant

Cold-weather cycling calls for something that will protect you from the wind. This jacket is understated but packs a lot of protection. It’s wind protective and water repellent, ensuring you’ll stay warm and dry without overheating. Plus, it’s so lightweight and packs into its own back pocket, so there’s really no reason to leave it behind. And if you’re riding in the dead of winter, consider layering this windproof jacket over something warm and breathable like the Chrome Merino Cobra hoodie.

REI Co-op Link Packable Cycling Jacket

Best Cycling Jacket with a Hood

VersionsWomen’s, Men’s

REI Co-op Link Packable Cycling Jacket

  • MSRP: $89.95
  • Weight: 4.8-5.8 ounces
  • Reflective: Yes
  • Packable: Yes
  • Weatherproofing: Wind resistant with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish

Be prepared for unpredictable weather. This jacket’s hood is large enough to fit over a bike helmet, adjusts to fit without a helmet and tethers out of the way when you don’t need it at all. Fit plays a huge role in whether a cycling jacket will work for you.

One happy customer wrote: “Thank you REI for making a cycling jacket that fits real women!!! You don't have to be skinny to enjoy cycling! This jacket is comfortable, fits nicely and the color is lovely! I've ordered several cycling jackets in XL and 1X, all cut so slim that the sleeves didn't fit or I couldn't zip around my bust! Love it!!” -KV69

Showers Pass Syncline Bike Jacket

Best Cycling Jacket for Mountain Biking

Versions: Women’s, Men’s

Showers Pass Syncline Bike Jacket

  • MSRP: $135
  • Reflective: Yes
  • Packable: No
  • Weatherproofing: Waterproof

Named after a popular mountain bike trail in the Columbia River Gorge, this jacket will keep you dry and comfortable, while its cross-core vents prevent overheating when you’re climbing steep hills. Its fully seam-taped Artex™ Hardshell 2.5-layer waterproof breathable fabric features a raised print on the membrane to take the place of a lining. This printed “half” layer serves the same purpose as a laminated liner: It lifts the membrane from your skin and protects against abrasion, oils and damage. This print also has wicking properties that pull moisture from the surface of your skin and out through the membrane to keep you cool. This lightweight fabrication offers performance without bulk and durability against wear from your pack. For more information on mountain biking specific clothing, check out our article on what to wear mountain biking.

PEARL iZUMi Elite Escape Convertible Bike Jacket - Men’s

Best Cycling Jacket for Commuting

PEARL iZUMi Elite Escape Convertible Bike Jacket

  • MSRP: $125
  • Weight: 7.6 ounces
  • Reflective: Yes
  • Packable: Yes
  • Weatherproofing: Windproof and water-resistant

Commuting calls for versatility. This jacket features zip-off sleeves that easily convert the jacket into a vest, making it a great choice for year-round riding, or biking around during spring when the weather can be a little more unpredictable. The best commuting jacket is the one you can always have with you. This jacket stuffs into itself for storage and has an integrated strap that easily attaches to your bike, so there’s no reason to ever ride without it.

Co-op Cycles Rain Jacket

Best Cycling Jacket Under $100

Version: Women’s, Men’s

Co-op Cycles Rain Jacket

  • MSRP: $99.95
  • Reflective: Yes
  • Packable: No
  • Weatherproofing: Windproof and waterproof

Protection doesn’t have to be pricey. This jacket keeps you dry and comfortable in the saddle. Its sleek cut and bright color offers versatile performance and wearability on and off your bike. Fully seam sealed, the waterproof/breathable 2.5-layer recycled nylon ripstop is windproof to 60-plus mph and a droptail hem keeps spray off your backside.

Shop All Cycling Jackets

Cycling Jackets Buying Advice

How do you choose a cycling jacket? The overwhelming answer we received was “Well, it depends.” But we dug deeper with our experts to help make navigating the world of cycling jackets a little bit easier. We spoke to Chris Mahan, an art director at REI and a 30-year cycling veteran, and Theo Roffe, an editor at REI and president of the Seattle International Randonneurs cycling club. Here’s what they had to say:

How should a cycling jacket fit?

Both our experts agreed that a cycling jacket should be close-fitting—not too restrictive and not too loose. It’s all about finding that balance. If it’s too loose, it’ll flap around in the wind, slowing you down and making you work harder. If it’s too tight, you won’t be able to comfortably layer up or get into your riding position.

Slightly longer sleeves make a huge difference. When you ride, you’re reaching forward, so shorter sleeves will leave your wrists and forearms exposed. Roffe suggests that a droptail, where the back of the jacket is longer than the front, can be good for additional coverage on the bike, or to keep you clean if you’re riding without fenders.

What makes for a good cycling jacket?

Knowing your end use will help in selecting your jacket. In general, a good cycling jacket is one that fits, keeps you warm (but not overheated) and is easy to adjust on the bike. It should also be made from quality materials. We generate heat while riding bikes, so it’s a good idea to dress to be slightly chilly when you’re standing still.

This may be surprising to some, but both our experts voiced the need for big, chunky zippers. Roffe says “Big zippers are easier to open and close while riding—and they tend to last longer without breaking.”

Should my cycling jacket be waterproof?

If you live and ride somewhere rainy like the Pacific Northwest, a waterproof jacket is your friend. Roffe prefers cycling rain jackets made with waterproof/breathable fabrics that keep rain from soaking in, but don’t trap heat or moisture inside. Less breathable waterproof fabrics can work, but you’ll want to look for pit zips or other venting. Mahan says “I have one great waterproof jacket that I take when I know the weather is going to be bad. Rainproof jackets don’t breathe as well, so 
I like a jacket that has a thermal layer and is rain resistant.” Some riders like a hood that fits over their helmet, while others don’t. If you’re not sure, look for a jacket with a removable or stowable hood, so you can have it both ways.

For shorter rides or drier climates, a jacket that blocks wind may be enough. Some water resistance wouldn’t hurt if you get caught in a drizzle. Since wind jackets aren’t always made with breathable fabrics, look for one with vents or mesh panels on the back—you want to keep warm without trapping too much heat. The nice thing about wind jackets is that they tend to be very light and compressible, so you can easily carry one with you on rides where conditions are more varied.

Learn More: What to Wear on a Bike Ride


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