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Best Bike Commuting Jacket – Our Top Urban Work Cycling Picks

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If you’re a committed bike commuter, sooner or later you’ll need to protect yourself against the elements. And a cycling jacket is an integral part of that.

How do you choose the best bike commuting jacket for you? These hardy outer layers come in many forms.

This article will tell you what to look for and give you some reliable buying ideas.

Top Picks:

Top 15 Best Cycling Jackets For Commuters Reviewed

Below, you’ll find 15 of the best jackets you can buy for a bike commute, based on varying criteria.

1. Castelli Men’s Alpha ROS 2 Cycling Jacket (best overall)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Material: Gore-Tex Windstopper 150 outer layer, polyester inner
• Season: winter (23°F to 50°F)
• Water-resistant: yes (DWR coating)

It’s easy to think a jacket has to be voluminous to be warm, but that’s not the case at all with cycling jackets. The form-fitting Castelli Men’s Alpha ROS 2 Cycling Jacket is supremely warm. Part of that comes from its unique design.

Also available in a women’s version, this jacket has an exterior made from Gore-Tex Infinium Windstopper 150 material. As a large part of potential heat loss in cyclists comes from wind chill, this is significant.

Beneath the breathable Windstopper 150 outer shell of the ROS (rain or shine) jacket is an insulating polyester fleece. This layer attaches to the sides of the jacket but opens at the front like a separate layer. There is a tall neck with a fleecy rear section.

The Alpha ROS 2 also excels in terms of pockets. There is a zippered pocket at the left flank for keys and valuables. Deep pockets at the rear hold bike spares or packable clothing items. Drainage holes in these pockets prevent any water from gathering inside.

The design of this Castelli jacket helps you to control your body temperature under different riding conditions. That makes it versatile. The hefty price tag is the only obstacle.

2. Louis Garneau Modesto 3 Men’s Cycling Jacket (best value)

CHECK PRICE AT COMPETITIVE CYCLIST

• Material: Diamond Air 2.0 ripstop body, AirFit mesh panels
• Season: fall, spring, winter
• Water-resistant: yes

A great-performing jacket at an honest price is the Louis Garneau Modesto 3 Men’s Cycling Jacket. This jacket is wind and Water-resistant and loose-fitting enough to act as an outer layer. That’s how you’d use it in the depths of winter.

This jacket (also available for women) has a wind-breaking fabric at the front and ventilation inserts at the rear. A zippered back pocket is ideal for holding keys and valuables. Reflective details provide 360-degree visibility on a dark commute.

Wear a base layer and long-sleeved jersey beneath this LG jacket for maximum warmth. These are items you may already have, but they’re definitely useful if you don’t own them. The jacket keeps off the wind and rain, leaving you to provide insulation.

3. Showers Pass Men’s Refuge Jacket (best for winter)

CHECK PRICE AT COMPETITIVE CYCLIST

  • Material: Elite 3-layer fabric
  • Season: fall, spring, winter
  • Water-resistant: yes, with taped seams

Robust in appearance and use, the Showers Pass Men’s Refuge Jacket can withstand a downpour. The Elite 3-layer fabric used in its making offers extreme water resistance. That’s bolstered by taped seams and sealed AquaGuard Vislon zippers.

This garment is a real workhorse of a winter’s jacket that suits the casual cold weather commuter. Depending on the temperature and your ride intensity, you might get away with only one layer beneath this jacket (e.g., a base layer or jersey).

Also included are a removable hood, reinforced shoulders that are useful for commuter backpacks, and a drop tail to cover your rear end at all times. Adjustable cuffs fit over various sizes of glove.

Available in a women’s version, too, this jacket comes with zippered back and chest pockets to keep your valuables and sundries secure.

4. Smartwool Merino Sport Men’s Ultra-Light Hoodie (best for summer)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Material: recycled nylon outer, 54% merino wool & 46% polyester lining
  • Season: fall, spring, summer
  • Water-resistant: yes, durable water repellent (DWR) finish

The versatile Smartwool Merino Sport Men’s Ultra-Light Hoodie is usable as a lightweight top during early summer rides. And because it’s packable, you can stow it away when the day warms up. It weighs only 5.1 ounces.

Body-mapped Merino Sport 150 mesh panels prevent you from stewing inside the jacket. It’s breathable and Water-resistant, with a DWR finish that repels water. Some reflective detailing helps with night-time visibility among traffic.

Two zippered hand pockets provide storage for your keys, bank cards and sundries. The Smartwool Ultra-Light Hoodie packs straight into its own right pocket.

This jacket is also eco-friendly, thanks to an outer shell made of recycled nylon. A women’s version is available.

5. Pearl Izumi Quest Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket (best for women)

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Material: recycled polyester body, polyester mesh
  • Season: fall, spring, winter
  • Water-resistant: yes, durable water repellent (DWR) finish

It’s hard to beat the Pearl Izumi Quest Barrier Convertible Cycling Jacket for versatility. Lightweight and breathable, the polyester outer fabric is an effective barrier against the wind.

The relaxed fit of this garment means you can add layers beneath it for winter insulation. If the weather changes for the better, you can snap off the sleeves and use the jacket as a gilet (vest).

For storage, this jacket has two zippered hand pockets and a rear zipper pocket. You can store the detached jacket sleeves in that back pocket. Two hem cord locks help you to fine-tune the fit.

The Quest Barrier Cycling Jacket is excellent for visibility, too, with its “Screaming Yellow” color. The color helps with daytime brightness, while BioViz reflective details get you seen at night. A men’s version also exists.

6. Giordana AV Extreme Men’s Jacket (best for men)

CHECK PRICE AT COMPETITIVE CYCLIST

• Material: eVent DValpine (3-layer), Polartec Alpha 60, polyester mesh
• Season: winter
• Water-resistant: yes

A semi-fitted jacket that includes three individual layers for exceptional warmth is the Giordana AV Extreme Men’s Jacket. The need for adding layers to this jacket is reduced, because they’re already built in. You might wear a base layer with it.

An eVent DValpine outer membrane keeps the jacket breathable, yet windproof and waterproof. A Polartec Alpha 60 mid-layer provide warm insulation as the mid-layer. And a 100% polyester mesh provides the lining.

There are other plus points to the AV Extreme jacket. A fleece collar warms your neck. Straight-cut cuffs slide under winter gloves. You have a zippered side pocket, gusseted rear pockets, and a Pixel reflective tail for high visibility in the dark.

The main downside to this jacket is the price, but you may be lucky enough to pick up a bargain. There’s no doubting the quality, and you can expect many years of winter comfort out of this jacket.

7. ARSUXEO Winter Thermal Softshell Cycling Jacket (best budget option)

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Material: 85% polyester, 15% elastane
  • Season: fall, spring, winter
  • Water-resistant: yes

Anyone buying a cycling jacket on a budget would be hard-pushed to better the ARSUXEO Winter Thermal Softshell Cycling Jacket. It uses a triple-layer fabric for windproofing, water-resistance and insulation.

If you’re forfeiting anything at this price, it’s probably a little breathability. This isn’t the jacket for you if you commute at high speed. Like many cheaper jackets, some sections (i.e., the torso) are warm while the arms and back are a tad airier.

There are various plus points to this jacket. For example, a long back for a forward riding position, an elasticated hem, a zippered front pocket, and a roomy back pocket. Long cuffs keep your wrists warm when wearing gloves. The tall neck also keeps you cozy.

Reflective detailing at the rear of this jacket helps to keep you visible in the dark. For the price, the pros outweigh the cons.

8. Gore C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Viz Men’s Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Material: GORE-TEX fabric, polyamide lining
  • Season: fall, spring, winter
  • Water-resistant: yes (waterproof)

One of the best jackets on the market for rainproofing is the Gore C5 Gore-Tex Shakedry 1985 Viz Jacket. This jacket has that rare and expensive quality of being waterproof and breathable. It’s also lightweight and packable.

It’s the Gore-Tex Shakedry technology that makes this garment exceptional. Water beads on the surface and runs off it, or you can shake it off (hence the name). The material is windproof as well as waterproof, which keeps you warm.

You’ll often get away with wearing only a base layer beneath this jacket. The slim cut is ideal for people who ride to work quickly on a road bike. The cost, as with several jackets in this review, might be prohibitive unless cycling is also a hobby.

The combination of lightness (4.9 oz), packability and waterproofing makes this jacket unique. There is no textile shell to plump it out. It comprises a technical membrane attached to a liner.

9. Endura Men’s Urban Luminite Hi-Viz Commuter Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

  • Material: 100% polyester
  • Season: fall, spring, winter
  • Water-resistant: waterproof

Temptingly priced and ideal for commuters is the Endura Men’s Urban Luminite Hi-Viz Commuter Jacket. This jacket uses a 2.5-layer waterproof fabric with sealed seams and a storm flap over the front zip.

Breathability in this jacket is fine as long as you don’t try too much high-intensity work on your commute. There are vents under the arms to help you regulate temperature.

The standout feature of the Endura Luminite Hi-Viz Commuter Jacket is its visibility. It has large reflective panels at the front and rear as well as plenty of high-vis yellow for daytime prominence.

For storing valuables, there is a zipped chest pocket and two hand warmer pockets with a microfleece lining. Concealed hem adjusters enable you to tweak the fit. You can’t go far wrong with this jacket, which you could wear over another layer or two.

10. Showers Pass Men’s 3M Scotchlite Hi-Vis Torch Cycling Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Material: 100% nylon
• Season: fall, spring, winter
• Water-resistant: waterproof

A good jacket for nighttime reflectivity is the Showers Pass Men’s 3M Scotchlite Hi-Vis Torch Cycling Jacket. Constructed from MapReflect fabric on the main body, the jacket also includes four red LED lights. These fit into metal grommets.

The jacket is waterproof and breathable. Taped seams prevent entry of rain at the stitching.  A YKK AquaGuard front zipper with a storm flap keeps rain out at another critical point.

Storage comes in the form of a large, zippered chest pocket with an audio port and a large zippered rear pocket. Though it’s expensive, few jackets will get you more seen by motorists than this one.

11. Showers Pass Syncline CC Men’s Cycling Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Material: Nylon
  • Season: fall, spring, winter
  • Water-resistant: yes

Brightly colored in “Firecracker Red”, the Showers Pass Syncline CC Cycling Jacket is a quality garment at an appealing price. It’s made from a durable Artex Hardshell 2.5-layer waterproof and breathable fabric.

Sizable “cross-core” vents under the arms of this jacket aid temperature control.

Taped seams and water-resistant zippers add to the jacket’s weather resistance. You can adjust the fit for comfort and warmth via the double-toggle hem cinch. There is also an adjustable hood.

Besides its eye-catching color, this jacket has 3M Scotchlite reflective trim on the front, back and sleeves. All in all, there is a good mix of performance and safety features for commuting purposes. A women’s version is available.

12. Santic Sting Women’s Soft Shell Cycling Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Material: 82% polyester, 18% elastane
• Season: fall, spring, winter
• Water-resistant: yes

A windproof women’s jacket for colder temperatures is the Santic Sting Soft Shell Cycling Jacket. This cozy jacket has a polar-fleece interior lining to keep you warm, as well as a windproof outer to cut out the wind-chill effect.

You can expect this jacket to have some light water resistance, as windproof jackets are rarely permeated easily. However, it’d be a good idea to carry a packable rainproof jacket for further protection.

Features of the Santic jacket include three elasticated rear pockets for ample storage, reflective printing for commuting after dark, and an internal draft flap behind the zipper. The cuffs are elasticated, and a silicone strip at the hem holds the jacket in place.

Comparable men’s Santic fleece jackets are also available.

13. Fox Ranger 2.5L Water Cycling Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT JENSON USA

• Material: 100% ripstop polyester
• Season: fall, spring, winter
• Water-resistant: yes

If you’re looking for an MTB jacket with robust water resistance and high-quality construction, there’s the Fox Ranger 2.5L Water Cycling Jacket. It comes in a choice of colors, though fluorescent yellow seems most apt for busy commutes.

MTB jackets have a shorter tail than road jackets, as riders aren’t stretched out on the bike. They may have more room or flexibility around the shoulders.

This jacket is lightweight and breathable and would make a good outer layer on colder days. It includes a helmet-compatible hood, two zippered front hand pockets, and drawcord hem cinching to keep out drafts at the base.

A DWR finish in this jacket helps it to repel dirt and rain. As long as you don’t mind the large fox logo at the rear, this makes a useful addition to a bike-commuter’s wardrobe.

14. Gore Wear Gore-Tex Paclite Men’s Cycling Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT REI

  • Material: Polyester
  • Season: fall, spring, winter
  • Water-resistant: yes

A packable rainproof jacket is a great alternative to buying a fully insulated, pricey winter jacket. You can carry this Gore Wear Gore-Tex Paclite Men’s Cycling Jacket with you in changeable conditions. Wear it over a base layer and jersey when necessary.

Of course, you can buy cheaper packable jackets. But Gore-Tex is better than most fabrics at combining robust water resistance with breathability. It eliminates moisture from both directions.

As you’ll notice, this jacket comes in visible colors, and that’s what you need if you encounter much traffic. There are reflective elements, too, for riding in the dark.

The Paclite jacket also has an adjustable hem, adjustable cuffs, a waterproof zippered rear pocket, and a zippered chest pocket. There’s a  zip underflap, and a zipper garage to prevent the zip from coming undone or chafing your skin.

15. BALEAF Men’s Waterproof Cycling Jacket

CHECK PRICE AT AMAZON

• Material: 100% polyester
• Season: fall, spring, winter
• Water-resistant: yes

The BALEAF Men’s Waterproof Cycling Jacket is especially good for its weather resistance and storage. It’s waterproof, lightweight and packable.

Despite the manufacturer’s breathability claims, this is not a jacket you’d buy if high-intensity bike commutes are your thing. It does have ventilation at the rear. For casual, rainy rides into work, it’s fine.

One area where this jacket excels is in the pockets. There are six in all, most of them zippered. They include a back pocket, chest pocket, two hand pockets and two interior pockets.

The BALEAF jacket packs into its own back pocket, in case you want to carry it for emergency use. Other features are reflective details, a hood, and an adjustable drawstring hem. A women’s version also exists.

What To Look Out For When Choosing A Cycling Jacket For Commuting

There are several qualities you can look out for when choosing a bike-commuting jacket. You also need to think about the way you ride, as this will have a bearing on the wisest buying decisions. Please read on for some ideas.

Waterproofing vs Breathability

When you’re in the market for a cycling jacket, it’s wise to consider how fast and intensively you are likely to ride. Why? Because the harder you ride, the more breathable you need your clothing to be.

In cheaper jackets, waterproofness (or high water resistance), will often come at the expense of breathability. So, if you’re on a budget, a garment that is “only” water-resistant is likely to give you a better balance of weather resistance and heat dissipation.

On the other hand, if you insist on a jacket that keeps out a downpour and can still breathe, you’ll be paying premium prices. One way to compromise is by buying an outer shell rather than a multi-layer jacket. Then, you provide all insulating layers yourself.

Read more: Riding to work in the heat

Windproofing & Water Resistance

A waterproof jacket is always windproof, and a windproof jacket will have at least some water resistance. If you see a windproof garment advertised without mention of waterproofing, you can expect it to hold off light rain for a while.

Windproof jackets are woven very tightly. For the same reasons as waterproofing, this can make them less breathable. Always pay attention to product reviews if you’re buying a windproof or waterproof jacket.

A DWR (Durable Water Repellent) finish is added to fabrics to make them hydrophobic. This finish does not affect breathability, so it will often be a desirable feature. Note that a DWR coating eventually wears down and may need reapplying.

Video: DWR Coatings Explained

Cheaper garments tend to have windproof panels across the torso rather than full windproofing. Thus, your arms are likely to feel cooler, so you might want to mitigate for that with an extra breathable layer in extreme cold.

Waterproof Membranes

In more expensive jackets, membranes are waterproof mid-layer films, bonded to the outer layer. They let water vapor out (i.e., sweat) without letting water droplets in. In rare cases, the membrane is the outer layer, which makes the jacket lighter.

Video: The Gore-Tex Membrane

Waterproof Zips and Seams

A jacket that aims for maximum waterproofing always pays attention to zips and seams. The central zip and the stitching are potential weak points under rainfall. Look out for “taped seams” or zips that either have a flap or are PVC coated.

What About Pockets?

Ideally, you always need at least one zippered pocket in a jersey or jacket for valuables. But you can do without that. With open pockets, drainage holes are useful to avoid water from accumulating.

Pocket coverings can be penetrable by rain, even in a jacket that is otherwise waterproof or water-resistant. Be a little wary of that.

Rear pockets will often be where you keep bikes spares and tools, so it’s useful if these are deep. You don’t want items poking too far out of the top of them. You can put spare tubes in bags and cram items like keys in with them in the absence of zips.

Visibility & Reflectivity

Another thing to consider if you commute in significant traffic is visibility. Look for fluorescent colors in daytime clothes and reflectivity if you intend riding in darkness. Jackets vary a lot in how extensive their reflective details are.

On a minority of jackets, you may find provision for small lights to be attached. These are usually provided with the garment.

Video: High Vis vs Reflective Jackets

Hoods

A hood is a useful feature in a bike jacket providing it adequately covers a safety helmet, assuming you wear one, without falling off. You can always wear a cycling cap or skull cap under a helmet to at least keep your head warmer.

You also have to be wary with hoods that they don’t impede your ability to look behind you before maneuvering on the road. Consider using a mirror and/or a Garmin Varia radar unit to compensate for this, if so.

Tall Collar

Though it’s always a good idea to wear a neck buff in cold weather, a tall collar (preferably fleecy) is always a nice thing to have.

This might suffice on its own sometimes, but you can always layer up around the neck.

Adjustable Cuffs & Hem

Jacket cuffs that are either adjustable or long prevent your wrists from getting cold beneath your gloves. Bear in mind that, like your neck, the wrist is a pulse point, which you should try to keep warm.

You don’t need to cool the blood during winter.

Many jackets will have some provision for adjusting the hem. This avoids it being drafty, and you don’t want it riding up on your bike commute. It’s worth checking this detail.

Jacket Layers

Just to remind you, your winter commuting strategy should be influenced by the jacket you buy. A 3-layer jacket complete with insulation will only need a wicking base layer beneath it much of the time.

In the above sense, an expensive winter jacket may be more economical than it first appears. It does most of the job on its own.

On the other hand, a lightweight outer shell will necessitate at least two of your own garments underneath. A wicking base layer and breathable long-sleeved jersey are a good idea beneath a single-layer jacket.

Commuter Bike Jacket FAQs

Some commonly asked questions about cycling jackets are these:

Should I Look For A Waterproof Or Water-Resistant Jacket?

Unless you’re willing to pay top dollar, waterproofing will often come at the expense of breathability. With a limited budget, consider buying something that will resist regular rain for the duration of your commute and still breathe.

What To Wear Under A Cycling Jacket?

A triple-layer winter’s jacket may only need a wicking base layer underneath, or nothing at all. Conversely, a lightweight rain jacket will need a base layer and an extra insulating layer in the form of a fleeced jersey or similar.

Do I Need Reflective Tape Or Panels On My Cycling Jacket?

It’s always a good idea if you commute to or from work in poor light or darkness. But you can add reflectivity at a later date by sticking reflective tape to your jacket or with other reflective accessories.

What’s The Best Way To Wash A Waterproof Jacket?

Always observe washing instructions and use additive-free detergent or soap when jackets have a DWR finish. Do not wash the jacket frequently and don’t use anything with fabric softener on technical fabrics.

Can I Use A Cycling Jacket For Running Or Vice Versa?

You can usually run in a cycling jacket. The opposite is also possible, though a running jacket is quite likely to be baggier and may not have the same degree of wind-proofing.

Summing Up

To briefly recap on our reviews, the Castelli Men’s Alpha ROS 2 Cycling Jacket lies at the top of quite an illustrious pile. It does everything well, and there is that hidden economy of not needing to buy multiple insulating garments to go with it.

If you don’t have loads to spend on a jacket, why not mix and match a good outer layer with other layers from your growing commuter wardrobe? The great-value Louis Garneau Modesto 3 Men’s Cycling Jacket will help fend off the weather.

All of our recommended jackets are exceptional in their own right, despite a few weaknesses here and there. It’s just a question of weighing up what you need for your length and intensity of commute and the type of environment you ride in.

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Bike Push - Mark W
Mark W
I’m a cycling enthusiast, and the founder and chief editor of Bike Push. If I’m not working on this website, then I’m out on the bike clocking up the miles. I want to help others get the most out of cycling.

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