A great cycling jacket is the foundation of every women’s cycling wardrobe. This post compares 7 of the very best women’s cycling jackets, including both windproof and waterproof jackets. Usually the only difference between men’s and women’s cycling jackets is that women’s cycling jackets are designed to have a more women-specific fit. This is important, because most cycling jackets are quite form-fitting.
This post is long, so I will outline how it goes. First I have a chart comparing 7 of the best women’s cycling jackets. Then the 7 best jackets are listed, with details about what makes them a good buy. Then, the post explains the differences between windproof and waterproof jackets (also known as softshell and hardshell jackets, respectively).
Chart Comparing 7 of the Best Women’s Cycling Jackets
|7 of the Best Womens Cycling Jackets|
|Waterproof, windproof and breathable. Designed for maximum breathability for performance cycling||Originally designed for elite athletes, but now widely embraced by commuters and all kinds of athletes||This is the gold standard of cycling jackets, with state-of-the-art workmanship and materials, and every possible detail a cyclist needs. Trim fit and very good women-specific styling||Nylon and eVent rip-stop fabric|
|Water resistant but not waterproof; windproof; very good breathability due to ELITE softshell fabric||Commuter cyclists who want to cycle in comfort in spring and fall||Made from Pearl Izumi’s ELITE softshell fabric; keeps you warm with thermal panels. 2 zippered chest pockets; zippered back pocket||ELITE softshell fabric; 100% Polyester|
|Water resistant but not waterproof; windproof; and very breathable thanks to the WIND-STOPPER laminate which is designed to keep wind out and let sweat escape||Bike commuters who want a slim fitting, good looking, functional jacket in a gorgeous color||Extremely highly rated for windproofness; under-arm ventilation; easy to move in even though it is slim-fitting||100% Polyester, Windstopper®Membrane|
|Waterproof, windproof and breathable||Commuter cyclists who want to stay dry and look good!||Super light. Superb women-specific fit. Lots of pockets and plenty of reflective elements. Rain hood available separately||100% nylon|
|Waterproof, windproof and very breathable||Year-round commuter cyclists||This cycling jacket is extremely highly rated for breathability and waterproof-ness. It is also roomy enough to put a layer or two underneath||100% polyamide, Gore-tex membrane, shell inside: 100% polyester|
|Water resistant but not waterproof; windproof; very good breathability||Bike commuters||Form-fitting but comfortable; no pockets; great cut; runs small in chest; high collar||100% nylon|
|Waterproof, windproof, medium breathability.||Bike commuters||Comfort fit, extra high visibility with reflective strips all over, bright colors, high-viz triangle on back, large pockets front and back, bright colors||Polyester and cotton; mesh lining|
7 of the Best Women’s Cycling Jackets
No. 1: Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Waterproof Women’s Cycling Jacket
This jacket is the top of the line in Showers Pass cycling jackets and rates no. 1 on our list of best women’s cycling jackets because it has it all: the quality of the materials and the construction, and the attention to every possible detail put this jacket firmly at no. 1. It’s got so much going for it that it’s hard to keep this summary short. First off, it has 3 layers of eVent rip stop fabric, which gives exceptional breathability, waterproofness, windproofness, and durability. The tail is especially long to ensure a dry lower back and bottom. And the arms are especially long so you never end up with exposed wrists. Of course, you can cinch them closed.
The Elite 2.1 features a big back pocket and a breast pocket, both with excellent quality waterproof zips. The main zip tucks away at the neck so it doesn’t irritate your neck! The breast pocket has an audio port for the cord of your cell phone. This video shows you how handy the pockets are:
An extra special feature for me is the moisture-wicking comfort lining on the inside of the neck, which really helps me to feel warm and cozy on a cold bike ride. Plus, you can cinch the neck with a pull cord to make sure no air gets in. The neck has concealed attachments for a waterproof hood (available separately).
One of the main problems with cycling jackets is that once you start cycling, you rapidly heat up. This cycling jacket tackles that problem with an impressive SEVEN vent options to let in air: 2 pit vents, 2 cuff vents, a two-way zipper and back vent. The two-way zipper means you can unzip the jacket from the top or the bottom to let cooling air get to your chest or stomach, as needed. It has a trim fit and is best worn over a trim fitting base layer or jersey. The women-specific fit is very well done. Finally, there is 3M reflective trim all around the jacket to make you more visible. And it’s available in blue, yellow (goldenrod), and pink.
This is a simply outstanding jacket – well worth the price for those who can afford it. No wonder it is a top choice with everyone from bike commuters to pro cycling teams to kayakers to skiers to motorcyclists. It fits small, so order a size larger than usual.
|Buy it now! Find the best price for Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Waterproof Women's Cycling Jacket|
This great windproof cycling jacket is the top of the line in Pearl Izumi’s spring and fall line. It is a three-layered jacket made from Pearl Izumi’s ELITE softshell fabric, which is windproof, water resistant, and keeps you warm. It enables superior moisture transfer, while still keeping you warm. The high neck made me feel protected from the wind. The insulation is enhanced by thermal panels down the center of the back and on the sides. This keeps you warm and toasty, while still leaving ample fabric area where you can vent perspiration. Once you have warmed up, you have the option of venting more heat with a full length zipper and two well placed vents on each side of the front panel. A nice little detail that I liked was that the zip has a large handle, so it is easy to unzip while cycling – even if wearing spring-weight full-fingered gloves.
The jacket has a nice soft stretchy feel to it (thanks to being a softshell!). Despite being comfy, it does not look like what I refer to as the: “I have given up look.” Instead, it has a form fit that looks very styling and cute. Finally, it does have some reflective elements.
It’s usually impossible to get a Pearl Izumi jacket under $100, but at the time of posting, you can get this cute and functional jacket for under $100. Check below to see if that is still the case.
This slim-fit windproof jacket looks great and feels great. Like all great softshell cycling jackets, it has built-in versatility to get you from the beginning to the end of a long day or a long ride, all the way through spring or fall. Versality is provided by the close fitting, fleece-lined high collar to keep you warm in colder temperatures, while underarm ventilation and good freedom of movement keep you cooler when things warm up. Plus, it offers the magic of a Gore WINDSTOPPER lamination to keep the wind out when you get your speed up, while the fleece will keep you warm and cozy.
The jacket has zippered pockets front and back, which is convenient. You can adjust the hem length with covered cord stoppers and an elastic draw-cord. And the color, which Gore calls Waterfall/Ice Blue, is just gorgeous!
No. 4: Showers Pass Club Pro Waterproof Women’s Cycling Jacket
This is my favorite waterproof cycling jacket! It has lots of reflective trim, making it easy for other cyclists to see me signalling with my arms. Another great feature is front and rear pockets. But the clincher is this: it’s the best women specific fit jacket I have ever worn! Also, it is completely waterproof, with taped seams, yet it is still very light, made of two and a half layers of ARTEX shell fabric. The pricing on this jacket is very competitive. And you can buy a compatible Showers Pass rain hood separately.
Related Content: My in-depth review of the Showers Pass Women’s Club Pro Jacket
|Buy it now! Find the best price for Showers Pass Women's Club Pro|
No. 5: Gore Bike Wear Power Gore-Tex Active Waterproof Women’s Cycling Jacket
This waterproof jacket makes our list of best women’s cycling jackets because it combines great breathability and waterproof-ness. It is also roomy enough to put a layer or two underneath. This cycling jacket is part of Gore Bike Wear’s Power series, which they designed to keep the year-round cyclist dry. It can be comfortably worn with the inner mesh layer right next to the skin. And it’s available in slim-fit or roomy, which I really like. Roomy would give you space for layers – or just to be more comfy, if you don’t happen to like going around looking like a sausage. On this jacket, the women-specific fit is well done.
This jacket is neither very heavy nor very light – it’s somewhat of an in-the-middle-weight jacket, with a high level of waterproofness. If you want to make just one jacket work for you all year around, this could be the one.
No. 6: Gore Bike Wear Oxygen SO Windproof Women’s Cycling Jacket
This is a softshell, windproof cycling jacket. It breathes really well, has excellent features, and has a really great fit. It looks a bit form fitting in the photos, but I find mine really comfortable. Importantly, the fit around the neck is superb and very cozy. It does not have pockets, but it does have zips on the sides. It does not ride up thanks to its specialized cut for stretched-out cycling positions. To my mind, it’s a perfect windproof cycling jacket.
It does run small in the chest, so if you are above average in this area, it might be best to order the next size up.
No. 7: Proviz Nightrider Waterproof Hi-Viz Women’s Cycling Jacket
This jacket has extraordinary visibility, even in the daytime. No one will fail to see you when you are wearing this high visibility jacket. It even has a removable hi-viz triangle on the back. You can replace the triangle with an even more hi-viz triangle, their award-wining Proviz Triviz Red (Red Dot Design Award Winner 2013), which is basically a flashing triangular light for the back of your jacket (or your backpack). It has large pockets, and reflective piping, patches, zippers and lettering. The jacket has mesh lining, while the collar has a fleece lining. The fleecy collar makes it very welcome in cool weather. This jacket was ranked no. 1 high visibility jacket by Road.cc.
It would also be ideal for nighttime walks, or simply crossing the road on a dark night. And it’s also really cheap!
What is the Difference between Windproof (Softshell) and Waterproof (Hardshell) Cycling Jackets?
Some of the jackets above are waterproof (hardshell) jackets, and some are windproof (softshell) jackets. In case you are wondering what the difference is, this table shows the difference between windproof (softshell) and waterproof (hardshell) cycling jackets.
|Waterproof?||Usually water resistant, due to a DWR coating on the exterior. Not waterproof||Aims to be completely waterproof, using a hard shell - such as a woven fabric with a laminate coating, such as Gore-Tex|
|Breathable?||Much more breathable than hardshell jackets, but less breathable than fleece jackets||Very limited breathability, because keeping out water has the obvious side effect of keeping water IN. Quality hardshell jackets strive to incorporate SOME breathability, by using the advanced micro pore technology developed by Gore-Tex to allow water vapor molecules to escape|
|Windproof||Vary from a little windproof to completely windproof. Some have a woven face to increase windproofness. And Gore uses WINDSTOPPER, a laminate that is sandwiched together with other textile layers to create a single fabric that is windproof but breathable||Yes, they are especially designed with laminate and sealed seams to exclude wind completely|
|Do they make a noise?||These are usually quieter than hardshells, as they are softer||These jackets can make a noise as you move, due to the hard materials|
|Texture||Softer than hardshell jackets||These are not soft and cozy jackets, as they strive to exclude the elements with specialized fabrics|
|Packable||Not as thin as hardshell jackets, as they include a fleecy layer. Harder to pack than hardshells||The thinnest, as they have no fleecy layers, so they pack well into a pannier|
Cycling jackets may be hardshell or softshell jackets. A hardshell cycling jacket is usually both waterproof and windproof. It is intended for more extreme weather and is typically worn in winter. However, it is not designed to keep you warm. The basic principle of dressing for cycling is to wear layers. Your hardshell jacket will be the outermost layer in cold and rainy conditions, and you would wear insulating layers underneath it to keep warm.
A windproof (softshell) cycling jacket is intended for less extreme conditions. It has varying levels of windproofness, but it is not waterproof, only water resistant. It is softer, lighter, warmer, more breathable, and more flexible than a full waterproof hardshell cycling jacket. All of which makes it perfect for days when the weather is less extreme, but you still need a bit of help keeping warm and dry.
I hope this post was helpful. Whether you are looking a waterproof cycling jacket, a windproof cycling jacket, or both – something in this post should do the trick!
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