Best value cycling jackets

Forget about the rain with our pick of the best budget jackets

British cyclists know all about wet weather. It rains, you ride, you get wet. But if you want to keep riding, commuting or training when it rains, a waterproof cycling jacket is invaluable. We've rounded up four of the best value options to help you find the right waterproof for you.

While they vary in cut, style, material and are designed for different types of riders, they were chosen with protection from the elements as the prime concern. Some will fit in your jersey pocket, some are bulky and warmer, but all combine waterproof layers and materials with a degree of breathability, often aided by permanently open or zipped vents.

Waterproof or breathable?

But nobody – in spite of claims to the contrary – has yet invented the perfect waterproof jacket combining waterproofing and breathability, though some are getting close. And even with the very best materials, after a long, hard ride, you’re still likely to suffer some build up of sweat.

We rode these jackets on the bike during late summer rains on shorter and longer rides, but we also tested the material and the seams of each jacket at a neutral clothing manufacturer, to see whether they really could withstand water. The results were very impressive, which accounts for the generally high marks awarded; the most we could get was some very, very slight seepage on a few seams, not enough to cause problems.

And all of them can be found for around the £80 mark currently – a very decent price for a top jacket and comparable to even cheaper offerings that won't offer the same quality.

Pearl Izumi PRO Aero WXB


Buy now from:

Evans Cycles (currently £79.99)

Pearl’s jacket is an exercise in minimalism. It weighs just 173g and will easily fit in a jersey pocket. The Minerale material, zip and seams proved impressively waterproof under testing and the jacket was comfortable to wear on the bike. The cut is close, though not too snug, and the material has a fair bit of stretch. Sizing-wise it also comes out larger than some other jackets we tested. Our only – very slight – criticism is that it’s possible to catch the zip on the internal storm flap. Overall it's a great quality, lightweight and genuinely packable waterproof.

  • Sizes: XS, M, L, XL, XXL
  • Colours: Two choices

Madison Flux


Buy now from:

Cyclestore (currently £77.99)

Although nominally an off-road jacket, Madison’s Flux would make an excellent winter commuting waterproof. Unlike a lot of the super-lightweight racier tops, the Flux has a full range of internal and external pockets and a couple of meshed side vents to back up a surprisingly impressive degree of breathability. We were surprised, because it’s quite a weighty top, in which we expected to get sweatier than we did. The sizing is slightly on the generous side, which makes for easier layering, and its high, fleece-lined collar will prove a welcome friend on cold, windy, winter days. 

  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL 
  • Colours: Three choices

Agu Secco Pro


Buy now from:

Winstanley's Bikes (currently £84.99)

Developed with the aid of pro riders, this top will appeal to those who ride and train hard throughout winter and who want an emergency waterproof. Its unique selling points are the full-length velcro closure and a transparent fog-free window on the left wrist – large enough for an HRM watch. The Poray 5000 coating doesn’t quite compare with Gore-Tex or eVent for waterproofing, but both the material and the internal seams survived our testing, with the velcro secure enough on the bike too. Easy to take off, packable and with large reflective strips.

  • Sizes: XXS, XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL 
  • Colours: Yellow only

Altura Night Vision Evo 2013


Buy now from:

Millet Sports (currently £89.99)

There are good reasons why you see Altura’s Night Vision products so often – they work, and they’re well priced. The 2013 Evo has gained a small rear LED, which makes this one of the most comprehensively specced jackets out there. It’s a slightly heavy, bulky top, but in spite of that it doesn’t get too clammy. An inner mesh helps with comfort (if not packability), with vented shoulder blades and large pit zips helping on warmer rides. With extensive reflectives the Night Vision lives up to its name, and it also has a full complement of pockets – waterproof, of course. A great value top for commuting in the dark.

  • Sizes: S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL
  • Colours: Three choices

These reviews were originally published in Cycling Plus magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.

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