The right jacket can turn winter riding from masochistic misery into a warm, enjoyable experience. The first thing to work out is what you want to use your jacket for as this affects fit, style and features.
Will it be a multipurpose Sunday ride stalwart? Does it need to look good for the post-ride pub, or will you only ever pull it on for rides well away from the fashion police?
All kinds of fits are available, from super-snug race jackets to looser, freeride-style coats. Closer fitting tops will flap less and breathe more effectively, but a more relaxed fit gives freedom of movement and more scope for layering. Between the two extremes is a good place to be.
For max ride performance you need a long back and lengthy sleeves to keep fully covered, and a skinny cut that won’t flap in high winds. Fewer features mean lighter weight and smaller pack size, while pit zips and reflectivity are more important performance considerations than hand warmer pockets and style.
- Breathability: A fabric’s ability to shift perspiration out.
- Chin guard: Folded tab at the top of a zip to stop your skin getting caught and prevent scratching.
- Durable Water Repellency (DWR): A waterproof treatment for the outside of the fabric; can wash/wear eventually but jacket can be reproofed.
- Membrane: A waterproof layer within a sandwich of different fabrics.
- One-handed cord: Drawstring with an anchored lock that can be pulled tight with just one hand.
- Pit-zips: Zips under the armpits that can be opened up for venting.
- Pores: Small holes in membrane fabric that let sweat vapour out but keep bigger water droplets (rain) out.
- Seam sealing: Tapes on the inside of seams that stop rainwater getting through the stitching holes.
- Storm flaps: Extra flaps over zips/pockets for added protection.
- Waterproof rating: The amount of rain the fabric can shrug off in 24 hours before it soaks through; how well the jacket seals around your neck and cuffs is generally more important though.
- Water Vapour Transmission Rate: The breathability of the fabric (in mm per 24hrs) but again vents, cut and so on often make more difference.
- Weatherproof zips: Not totally waterproof but more weather resistant than normal.
- Wetting out: The point at which a jacket saturates and starts to leak.
- Wicking: The ability of a fabric to transfer sweat away from your under layers or skin to the outside face of the jacket.
- Yoke vent: A simple flap just below the shoulders that sucks air out when the jacket billows up as you ride along.
- Zip garage: Folded tab at the top of a zip to stop your skin getting caught and prevent scratching.
You can read more at BikeRadar.com