Choosing the right Jackets, Gilets and Gloves
As we mention in our “Choosing the right cycle jersey” blog, waterproof or heavier outer layers start where jerseys leave off. Jackets can be broken down into three main types: ‘thermal’ jackets that provide insulation, fully waterproof ‘hardshells’ and ‘softshells’ that are both insulating and highly water-resistant.
If we start with thermal jackets, these are intended for cold, dry conditions. Picture a clear day after a crisp overnight frost, not a January rainy day. Hardshells are your go to cycling waterproofs, often made from breathable fabrics so you don’t get too sweaty inside they can be made from very lightweight “pack away” materials or slightly heavier “all day” materials. Softshell jackets are a perfect go between and provide both warmth and protection from the rain. They grew in popularity, as more flexible softshell fabrics began to replace the rather stiff originals. Also advances in fabric technology made the softshells even more light weight, breathable and waterfproof
Gilet / wind vest
A gilet or vest is a sleeveless outer layer that is designed predominantly to keep the wind off your torso. Gilets are great when combined with other layering pieces of cycling clothing, they add to the versatility of existing clothing and provide you with multiple option when out riding. They can be made from breathable waterproof fabrics, softshells of just relatively basic waterproof nylon with mesh backs to stop you from getting sweaty, this means they are ideal to carry on those long rides where the weather is mixed, or to provide you some extra warmth on long descents after a tough climb
Another item of cycling clothing that’s steeped in tradition. The classic ‘track mitt’ has a lightly padded leather palm, crocheted cotton back and a Velcro strip to hold it in place around your wrist. There are loads of alternatives, though, with gel padding in the palm, stretchy backs so there’s no need for a Velcro tab, towelling wipes on the thumb and lots of other features.
For winter you’ll want long-finger gloves and these are available with various amounts of insulation from ‘Ooh, it’s a tad nippy’ to ‘Arctic winter’.