Best winter cycling clothing

Complete outfits from seven popular brands

Winter brings with it plenty of 'character-building' weather, and winter cycling requires appropriate clothing to deal with the adverse conditions.

Clothing companies offer a huge variety of items designed to keep every inch of a rider protected from the elements. The brands below have all supplied their complete outfits for winter. The result is a wide range of choices that will see you through the vagaries of our weather. You can of course mix and match the best items from different brands to create the ultimate winter cycling outfit.

Northwave

The distinctive varying thickness skeleton-patterned hollow fibre polypropylene baselayer is highly elastic, soft against the skin, insulating and supportive. The fleece lined Mamba jacket boasts triple-layer X-Lite windproof fabric all over and soft Lombardia inserts on the sides and inside the sleeves. It is very protective and benefits from slim, close-fitting cuffs.

The Mamba bib-tights also use X-Lite windproof fabric from the waist to the seat area, front of the legs to below the knees. Elsewhere, there's soft Vuelta fabric and a microfleece lining. The multi-density 3D Hawker Air pad is super comfy, and the mesh bibs allow your baselayer to breathe.

A windproof NW4Pro membrane keeps the Power Long gloves warm. The tough synthetic leather palm is reinforced with gel pads and silicone print give good purchase. Their fluoro yellow backs and large reflective strip should get you spotted too. The 25cm tall, foot-specific Extreme socks are knitted from wool and polyamide with a double thickness sole and soft feel that is ideal for winter.

A full-length waterproof reflective rear zip secures the Chloroprene rubber Fighter shoe covers, and a mid-sole velcro fastening allows perfect adjustment. Fit is decent, and in the fluoro option, they're hard to ignore.

The Blade headcover has a brushed fleece lining and NW4Pro windproof panel covering the forehead and ears. Elsewhere it's made of thermal material. There are two reflective strips on the rear, but we'd expect them to be concealed by a helmet. It's well insulated, but the windproof membrane tends to rustle against the ears.

  • Body Fit Evo LS baselayer £54.99
  • Mamba jacket £129.99
  • Mamba bib-tights £109.99
  • Power Long gloves £29.99
  • Extreme socks £12.50
  • Fighter shoecovers £25.99
  • Blade headcover £22.99
  • Predator glasses £49.99

www.northwave.com

Rapha

The heavyweight but silky merino-blend baselayer boasts extended sleeves with thumb loops. It has built-in balaclava, which stays in place when you ride. The highly insulated merino-rich Winter jersey can also be worn as an outer layer. It has a windproof front, chunky sleeves and long zipped side vents. It's snug, with amazing comfort and a tall collar. Four assorted pockets lend it some versatility.

The Hardshell jacket is impervious to weather and perfect for any winter eventuality. It's more practical than a rain jacket and performs just as well. With no insert in the tights, Rapha's Classic bib-shorts proved their pad's endurance properties. Wearing them with the brushed Thermoroubaix Classic Winter tights added warmth.

Rapha's new glove system offers three different protective outer options and a merino liner that can be used with any of them. The fine merino has a seamless palm and wide elastic cuff plus thumb wipe. The updated Winter gloves have a supple leather palm, thumb, fore and middle fingers, brushed lining, weatherproof outer with thumb wipe, and neat elastic cuff fastening. Each can be worn independently, but are incredibly warm and comfortable when used together.

The cosy socks are a merino blend, warm all over with a double-thickness footbed. They're perfect beneath the three-ply laminate, taped seam, waterproof overshoes. Kevlar strengthens the sole and central seam, there's a fleece lining, waterproof zip and silicone leg grippers for total ride comfort, plus reflectives. Rapha's plush Merino hat has a double thickness band keeping your forehead and keeps ears warm.

  • Winter jersey £160
  • Hardshell jacket £240
  • Classic bib-shorts £150
  • Classic Winter tights £170
  • Merino glove liners £40
  • Winter gloves £75
  • Merino socks £15
  • Deep Winter overshoes £60
  • Merino hat £35

www.rapha.cc

Assos

Assos kit is expensive, but the seamless-spun, tubular construction skinFoil_fall baselayer includes sections with varying thicknesses, structure and elasticity. It has a form-hugging. The iJ.shaqUno jacker has two layers – a stretchy RX soft fleece next to the body and an outer shell layer. The two are largely free to move independently. It provides excellent body-fitting insulation, but can bunch at the wrists from the fleece snagging your baselayer. Mesh panels in the sleeves and sides expel heat and the soft high collar almost negates the need for a neck protector.

The LL.haBu tights are soft and stretchy, with a perfect all-over fit. Their insulation is superb and they have a light compressive feel. There is two-layer fabric over the muscles and an airblock panel over the abdomen. The elastic insert is ideal for long rides, and the foot loops fit perfectly.

The long, slim cuffs of the s7 gloves easily slip under jacket sleeves. Their low bulk is welcome for maintaining feel, and while there is ample grip, they lack a thumb wipe. The Merino Fugu socks are a warm and superbly comfortable partner to the Fugu Booties. These shoes feature water-repellant outers backed by thermal linings, a toughened sole and elastic ankle gripper.

Finally there's the extraordinary fuguHelm hat. It's bulkier than most, but does fit under a helmet. It offers extreme weatherproofing and a toasty lining, plus arm loops for your glasses. The small peak and ear covers are very effective, although there is noticeable wind noise even at steady speeds.

  • LS.skinFoil_fall baselayer £78.99
  • iJ.shaqUno Winter Insulator jacket £211.99
  • LL.haBu_s5 Early Winter bib-tights £222.99
  • s7 Early Winter gloves £74.99
  • Fugu s7 socks £17.99
  • Fugu Bootie s7 overshoes £139.99
  • FuguHelm hat £109.99

www.yellow-limited.com / www.assos.com

Castelli

A 3D knitted body with internal ribbing ensures the Flanders baselayer has a close fit, traps plenty of air and enhances wicking. The four-way stretch sleeves are snug, and perforated mesh under the arms accelerates cooling. The Espresso Due jacket is comfortable and loaded with features and it has an unrestrictive cut. The high collar, use of Windstopper material and a luxurious fleece lining make this perfect for taking on the worst of winter.

The Sorpasso tights feature Windstopper X-Fast 2 material from below the knee to hip. It elevates them from good cool weather tight to being excellent in biting cold. The thicker dual-layer fabric across the front seat pad area provides welcome protection.

The Diluvio gloves have pre-shaped fingers. The very long cuffs are stretchy enough to fit over sleeves and slim enough to slip beneath them. The close fit keeps hands warm and feel is excellent. A Terry wipe extends from the cuff to thumb tip, and the fingers and palm are printed with silicone.

The Merino Venti socks help keep your feet warm by insulating your lower leg. The neoprene Diluvio overshoes take longer to put on thanks to their shorter zips, but fit snugly with low-profile ankle cuffs. The brushed lining of the Skully insulates well. The Head Thingy's warmth and stretch material mean it can be used as a neck warmer, bandana or headband.

  • Flanders LS baselayer £55
  • Espresso Due jacket  £230
  • Sorpasso WS bib-tights  £160
  • Diluvio Deluxe gloves  £40
  • Venti socks £17
  • Diluvio shoe cover 16 £40
  • Viva Thermo Skully £19.99
  • Head Thingy £20

www.saddleback.co.uk / castelli-cycling.com

Pearl Izumi

The microfleece-lined thermal long-sleeved baselayer boasts close fit, instant warmth and superb sweat wicking. The Pro Softshell jacket has a tough softshell outer, thermal material panels on the rear and sides for cooling, plus a brushed fleece lining. There's a high collar and long internal cuffs with thumb loops, which allow the sleeves to overlap your gloves and completely banish draughts.

Elite thermal fleece fabric keeps the generous-fitting bib-tights warm well below 10°C. The stretchy, perforated high bib is supportive and practical. The extended cuffs keep ankles insulated.

The gloves have a fleece lining, Primaloft insulation and a softshell outer. The supple Pittard's leather palm allows for excellent grip. Adjustable slim cuffs, a fleecy thumb wipe, good weather protection and superb warmth make them a reliable choice for frosty days.

The nylon and merino socks keep shins warm and their thinner toe section means your feet won't be uncomfortably wedged into your shoes. The stretchy, fleece-lined WxB shoe covers keep wind and water at bay. They fit superbly and have generous openings for cleats and heels, and the two-part velcro rear fastening makes them easy to get on and off. The cap is a fine mix of traditional peaked cycling cap and thermal skullcap with a windproof front, offering great style and practicality.

  • LS Thermal baselayer £49.99
  • Pro Softshell 180 jacket £129.99
  • Elite Thermal bib-tights £99.99
  • Pro Softshell gloves £59.99
  • Elite Tall Wool socks £16.99
  • Pro Barrier WxB shoe covers £39.99
  • Pro Barrier cycling cap £19.99

www.pearlizumi.co.uk

Sportful

Sportful's Active 100 baselayer is 85 percent Meryl Skinlife and 15 percent polyester. It's thin, but is far warmer than it looks. It feels very soft and has a seamless body and 5cm tall collar. It wicks very well too.

The stretchable softshell fabric of the fleece-lined Alpe jacket is teamed with a heavyweight warm and breathable ThermoDrytex XP back. It has a high collar and the double cuffs work well with gloves. The reflective panels and detailing also work well, plus three rear pockets swallow essentials. The Alpe is supremely comfortable in all but the most violent weather.

The Total Comfort bib-tights aren't windproof but do have double-layered panels on the front and knees. The bibs are supportive and elasticated and have a brushed fleecy lining and tall, zipped ankle grippers.

With minimal bulk, Sportful's windproof Stretch Softshell gloves fit like the proverbial. The tough microfibre fingers are matched to a super-grippy synthetic palm and thumb, padded where necessary for excellent feel and dexterity. The thumb has an Ultra Suede wipe, and the slim extended cuffs fit beneath sleeves. They are superbly made and we found them to be surprisingly good, even in near-freezing temperatures.

The mid-calf-length socks provide cold weather comfort while keeping lower extremities warm. They're made of a blend of merino wool, Isowool and nylon, and have varying thickness in all the right places. We found the versatile one-piece knitted, stretchy Second Skin neck warmer capable of banishing draughts. The Edge Windstopper hat is a fine bit of cold weather head gear.

  • Active 100 LS High Collar baselayer £40
  • Alpe Softshell jacket £115
  • Total Comfort bib-tights £135
  • Stretch Softshell gloves £43
  • Merino Medium socks £16
  • Second Skin neck warmer £19
  • Edge WS hat £18.50

www.c3products.com / www.sportful.it

Louis Garneau

Surprisingly for a company founded in Canada, Louis Garneau don't offer any baselayers, but they do have some serious winters to contend with. The EnerBlock 2 Jacket is constructed from three-ply stretch knit EnerBlock fabric on the front of the arms and majority of the jacket front. It contains a polyurethane membrane and water repellent finish for windproofing. Shower protection is reasonable. The remainder uses thermal HeatMaxx fabris with a brushed fleece lining. There's a high collar with zip garage, three generous rear drop pockets with reflective trim, two sizeable zipped waist pockets, and a zipped multimedia pocket on the left sleeve.

The Gemini bib-tights use Light WindDry 2 windproof fabric for all of the leading surfaces. Elsewhere, HeatMaxx thermal fabric is present in a multi-panel anatomic construction that offers a close fit and great weather protection. There's a brushed fleece lining throughout, and the multi-density Airzone pad proved very comfortable. All that protection makes them heavier than average, but when the wind whistles, you'll be glad.

The Course Attack gloves are low bulk and light. They still manage to stay warm and comfy on very cool days. They have an unlined Sismik softshell back and Pittards WR100X leather palm with reinforcing panels and Ergo Air vent. Grip, dexterity and comfort are great.

The Yarn socks are very thin. They provide decent warmth on cool days, meaning you'll need the basic neoprene Neo Protect overshoes too. The stretchy Matrix hat is thin, with a double thickness circumference, providing extra warmth beneath a helmet.

  • EnerBlock 2 jacket £99.99
  • Gemini Windproof bib-tights £99.99
  • Course Attack gloves £37.99
  • Yarn socks £14.99
  • Neo Protect shoe cover £19.99
  • Matrix hat £13.49

www.louisgarneau.com

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