The UK has been hit with some really windy weather and frequent downpours recently, and besides being a drain on your motivation, the autumn weather also places huge demands on your clothing choices.
Keeping the wind of your body is essential to keep you warm and protected. Wind-chill factor can mean a huge drop in the temperature it actually feels when you’re out: it may be 5°C outside, but travel at 20mph and you’re looking at an actual temperature in the region of -15°C. Yikes!
That means your temperature can drop quickly if you’re wearing inadequate clothing, so clearly a decent jacket designed for such conditions is a wise investment. To compound the problem, very often at this time of year it may not be particularly cold, sometimes it can actually be quite mild, but the wind and high risk of rain can pose a problem.
What you want in an autumn cycling jacket is a lightweight, windproof piece that can easily be stowed away when not needed. When you’re wearing it the breathability factor needs to be good, you want to avoid the boil in the bag sweaty experience at all costs, clearly a heavy duty winter jacket is out of the question.
To help you choose, we’ve picked six of our favourite lightweight windproof jackets, ideal for the current weather. Prices start from just £40 and rise to £140, so something for everyone.
One of the best fabrics on the market, and ideal for this time of year, is Gore’s Windstopper. In the Alp-X jacket it’s perfectly harnessed in a lightweight and breathable top that has the nifty trick of featuring removable sleeves, ideal if you happen to overheat and need to shed the sleeves to control your temperature.
As usual with Gore jackets, it’s packed with features and the fit is excellent. But then it should be for that price. It’s a hefty price tag, but it represents a serious investment in your riding.
Making a departure from being one of the high streets favourite clothing brands, North Face is back to what it does best, with a range of dedicated mountain biking clothing.
The Muddy Tracks jacket is a highlight. The two-layer Hyvent fabric keeps the wind out and the polyurethane coating really keeps water out, rain visibly beading off the surface, yet it manages to be surprisingly breathable at the same time. Sizing is a bugbear so we recommend you try before you buy, but that aside it’s a stellar performer.
Read our review of the Muddy Tracks jacket.
Fresh from Scotland’s Endura is the tiny packable Pakajak. This is exactly the style of jacket that is ideal for this tricky time of year.
With a very thin and light fabric it offers just enough protection from the wind, and when it’s not needed it rolls down into a tiny ball that will slip inside even the smallest hydration pack. We’ve not got our hands on one yet but based on previous Endura jackets we’ve tested, we’re expecting great things. Could it be the ultimate British autumn cycling jacket?
Fox have struck a good balance between value, performance and packability with the Vapor.
A lightweight material provides wind resistant properties with some protection from the rain, and can be easily packed away into the rear pocket when it’s not needed. There’s reflective strips and Lyrca cuffs and the cape back construction aids ventilation, preventing you from getting too stuffy when wearing it.
Another lightweight contender, the Helium from Canadian manufacturer Sugoi is a lovely sub-100g jacket. Despite that light weight, it still manages to keep the wind and most of the rain out too, though it’s certainly more of an emergency jacket to be used for short spells, rather than worn for the duration of a ride.
Bikemagic’s first look at the Sugoi Helium jacket.
For our final jacket in this roundup we’ve picked the excellent Montane Featherlite Marathon jacket. Not a specific mountain bike jacket exactly but don’t let that put you off.
It’s made from Pertex Microlight Mini Rip-stop fabric and by keeping features to a minimum, it weighs just 130g. It’s showerproof and windproof and quick drying, making it an excellent addition to any mountain bikers wardrobe this autumn. Amusingly titled ‘Afterburner’ vents help you cool when you’re working hard on the bike.
Think we’ve missed a jacket? Let is know in the comments box below please.