The 18 Best Premium Long Sleeve Jerseys and Jackets

·18 min read
Photo credit: Chris Pino
Photo credit: Chris Pino

Depending on where you live and what kind of winter you deal with, your long sleeve kit might vary from an insulated deep winter jacket to a lightweight long sleeve jersey. Fortunately, as fabric technology has advanced in the outdoor industry as a whole, cycling manufacturers have continued to innovate, resulting in winter jackets with exceptional warmth but the weight and feel of a long sleeve jersey. Or long sleeve jerseys that can keep you cozy through a chilly morning without letting you overheat later in the day.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Our team tested more than twenty different long sleeve garments in conditions ranging from mild fall afternoons with temperature in the mid-60s to sub-30º winter mornings and everything in between. Winter weather is different for riders all over the country, so we tried to include recommendations for as wide a swath of winter conditions as possible.

If you're looking for more specific information about how to layer for riding in colder temperatures, check out our winter layering guide here. Options for gloves can sometimes feel as endless as long sleeve layers and chances are if you are looking for a long sleeve layer you could use a pair of gloves as well. Check out our picks for the best cold weather gloves here. You can also find other winter cycling accessories to make your ride a bit more comfortable here.

Key Features To Look For

Insulation - If you’re going to ride in temperatures below the mid-40s, or closer to freezing, you will want an insulated jacket. In the most basic terms, insulation is something used in a jacket to capture and hold onto warm air. Many of us are familiar with down insulation in outdoor “puffy jackets,” but while down is a great insulator, it has drawbacks that make it unsuitable for cycling jackets. Instead, many manufacturers have turned to synthetic insulation, such as Polartec Alpha. This adds warmth to key parts of the jacket, such as wind-facing panels, while using more breathable fabrics on the back to keep you from overheating and cut down on weight.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Breathability - As a cyclist, there is nothing quite as miserable as doing a hard winter ride, working up a sweat, and then stopping long enough to cool down. I’ve never been as cold as when I’ve headed back out with my clothing still damp with sweat. The key to preventing this is to make sure your garments have appropriate breathability to keep you from overheating on your ride. The warmer your ride temperature, the more critical breathability of your garment becomes.

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Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

On jackets, look for lighter weight or breathable fabric on the back, underarms, and side panels. A two-way zipper is useful for temperature control, allowing you to cool down on climbs and quickly zip the jacket for descents. With long sleeve jerseys, the weight of the fabric is important to the range of temperatures in which the jersey can be used. For example, the Velocio CONCEPT Merino uses a thin, lightweight fabric, making it comfortable enough for rides in the high-60s or down to the low-50s. In contrast, the Ornot Thermal Long Sleeve uses a thicker material designed to retain heat more effectively, making it suitable for temperatures between the mid-50s and mid-40s.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Fit - Fit is a bit subjective by nature; however, for those riding in temperatures that require layering, it’s worth thinking about. A tighter fit is recommended for layers meant to be closer to your skin, like a long sleeve jersey or baselayer. For jackets that should go over a mid-layer, it can sometimes be helpful to size up. This is particularly true with insulated jackets, where a skin-tight fit might compress the insulation too much and render it ineffective at holding in warmth.

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Humidity - It’s often easiest to talk about winter layering pieces in terms of temperature range, but humidity can be a big factor in winter kit selection. If you ride somewhere that is cool and dry, such as Colorado, where it might be in the 30s with humidity around 20-30 percent, you likely will be able to use lighter layers. A highly breathable garment can do a much better job of keeping you warm in these conditions due to its more effective moisture transfer. The same garment would be far less effective in New England, where the temperature might also be in the 30s, but humidity can hover around 50-60 percent. In these conditions, you’ll want something with better windproofing at the expense of breathability.

—The Long Sleeves We Loved—

Velocio Recon Snap Jacket - Best Casual Long Sleeve

Available Sizes - Women's XXS-XXL, Men's XS-XXXL

The Recon Snap Jacket is a technical riding jacket that doesn’t scream bike clothes at anyone who sees it. This jacket uses a Pertex Quantum Air shell, which is windproof and water resistant, with a bit of stretch built in.

Polartec’s Alpha Direct insulation inside adds warmth without adding weight. The cut is loose and casual enough that it doesn’t look out of place off the bike but is equally at home on cool-to-cold weather commutes or trail rides.

Maap Alt_Road Thermal Jacket - Best Lightweight Winter Jacket

Available Sizes - Women's XXS-L, Men's XS-XXXL

We were particularly impressed with the range of this jacket. On a day that started with temperatures hovering in the low-30s and the high reaching 55°. It kept us warm in the morning, and thanks to all the breathable panels throughout and the two-way zipper, we didn’t overheat as the day warmed up.

Maap managed to combine the weight and packability of a wind jacket with just the right amount of insulation to make a jacket that works very well in all but freezing conditions.

Gore Race Shakedry Jacket - The Ultimate Rain Jacket

Available Sizes - Men's XS-XL

Gore’s Race Shakedry Jacket is the ultimate rain jacket for riding on the road. Gore-Tex’s Shakedry material is unique in its construction. Instead of sandwiching a waterproof membrane between two face fabrics, Shakedry uses the membrane itself as the outer layer, cutting weight and increasing breathability. Its performance is so good that we sometimes wish for rain just to ride in this jacket. Unfortunately, this remarkable performance comes at a hefty price.

Additionally, placing the waterproof membrane as the outer layer of fabric sacrifices durability, and officially Gore only approves this jacket for road riding (it’s also not recommended to use it while wearing a backpack). The Shakedry fabric has minimal stretch, so it’s important to try one of these on before purchase. Despite all of these caveats, it’s the rain shell I reach for most often because of how breathable it is and how small it packs up.

Ornot Grid Thermal Jersey - Best Thermal Jersey

Available Sizes - Women's XS-XL, Men's XS-XXL

Ornot took the classic long sleeve thermal jersey and reimagined it using a Bluesign-approved gridded fleece fabric, giving the jersey a distinctive look. More importantly, the fabric makes for a uniquely soft and warm feeling jersey. The gridded fleece fabric draws moisture away from the skin while trapping body heat between its layers.

You can comfortably wear this jersey on its own for rides up to 60º. Once the temperature drops further, pair it with a vest, or on a colder day, use it as a heavy mid-layer under your favorite riding jacket.

Velocio Concept Merino Long Sleeve - Best Lightweight Long Sleeve

Available Sizes - Women's XXS-XXXL, Men's XS-XXXXL

From a functionality standpoint, this is a modern piece of cycling kit with the fit and features you would expect from any other long sleeve jersey, but it’s made with a Merino wool blend that makes it feel like you’re wearing a luxurious cardigan. Years ago, some of our favorite jerseys were wool. They itched a bit, the pockets sagged, and the fit was more like a t-shirt than something resembling a cycling jersey. The Concept Merino suffers from none of those problems. It’s a near-perfect jersey on its own for temperatures between 50º and the mid-60s.

The jersey’s Merino blend is perfectly mid-weight—not too thin or too thick. It does a great job of keeping you comfortable without overheating, as the fabric breathes very well. Paired with a wind vest, you can extend the Concept Merino Long Sleeve’s range into the high 40s. But as always, your temperature comfort levels may vary.

The Black Bibs Winter Jersey - Best Budget Long Sleeve

Available Sizes - Men's XS-XXXL

The Black Bibs make some of our favorite budget friendly pieces of kit, and the Winter Jersey is no exception. It’s very much a no-frills long sleeve that uses a brushed fleece material throughout, along with three rear pockets. It’s a simple jersey that’s similar to premium brand offerings from a few years ago.

It has no trouble keeping you warm down to the mid-50s on its own or paired with a jacket as a mid-layer when the temperatures get colder. The cut is a bit more relaxed, so we recommend sizing down if you prefer your jersey to be slim fitting.

Rapha Trail Windblock Jersey - Best For Hitting The Trail

Available Sizes - Women's XXS-XL, Men's XS-XXL

While Rapha is a familiar name to riders who ride road or gravel, they are a fresh face in the mountain bike world. After launching their first collection of trail clothing last summer, the British brand has followed up with pieces of mountain bike kit for cooler weather. The Trail Windblock jersey features a Merino blend for the torso for warmth and breathability but opts for more durable nylon on the arms to keep the full-length sleeves from snagging on branches or brush.

The magic of the Trail Windblock comes from the windproof panel stitched to the entire chest of the jersey. This feature adds an extra level of functionality and warmth out on the trail. It can be worn comfortably (alone or with a light base layer) into the high-40s or with a jacket for colder rides.

Albion Insulated Jacket 3.0 - Best For Near Freezing Days

Available Sizes - Women's XS-XXL, Men's XS-XXL

Albion is a UK based cycling clothing brand that’s been around since 2016. Their Insulated Jacket feels light enough and packs small enough to be mistaken for a wind jacket. It features Clo Eco Vivo recycled insulation in strategic places to optimize warmth, along with lightweight panels for breathability. The outer is treated with a Durable Water Repellency coating for some moisture protection but, this should not be mistaken for a rain jacket.

However, it is the perfect winter jacket (in combination with a good mid-layer) for riders who often ride below 40º in places with high humidity.

Machines For Freedom Summerweight Long Sleeve Jersey - For 70º Winter Days

Available Sizes - Women's XXS-XXXL

If winter riding where you live involves bare legs and plenty of sunscreen, then this summer weight long sleeve is for you! The fabric is designed to protect your skin from prolonged sun exposure with a rating of UPF 50+ and breathes well enough to keep you cool on warm days. The back features three main pockets, which are angled to make them easier to reach, as well as a small zippered pocket for keys or cash.

On its own, the jersey is perfect for days in the 65-85º range but paired with a base layer or vest, it can be great down to the mid 50s.

Specialized Prime Power Grid Long Sleeve Jersey - Most Breathable Thermal Jersey

Available Sizes - Women's XS-XXL, Men's XS-XXL

This jersey strikes the perfect balance between warmth, breathability, and ultra low weight. Specialized used Polartec’s Prime Power Grid fabric to create this jersey. It’s a fabric that looks ordinary on the outside, while the inside is covered by a grid of tiny raised squares. This grid moves the fabric away from your skin, allowing the created voids to trap in warmth and allowing moisture to escape.

We found this jersey to be the perfect long sleeve layer on days ranging from 50º to 70º. It also made for an exceptionally good mid-layer under a wind jacket for colder days. The downside of this jersey was the saggy pockets. Since the fabric is so lightweight and stretchy, just the weight of my phone and wallet would cause everything to ride lower on our back.

Ornot Magic Shell - A Jacket For (Almost) Every Season

Available Sizes - Women's XS-XL, Men's XS-XXL

The Magic Shell has been a long time favorite of ours. We awarded it Gear Of The Year back in 2019 and have continued to love it since. This stealthy shell, constructed from a woven Polartec NeoShell fabric, takes the stress out of dressing for unpredictable weather. Stretchy, comfy, and as quiet as a jersey, but also wind- and water-resistant, plus packable. It’s so versatile it can replace several items in your wardrobe.

For 2021, Ornot has updated the Magic Shell slightly by adding thermally taped seems to improve the garments' warmth, wind, and water resistance.

Velocio Alpha Merino Air Jacket - Warmest Jacket In This Roundup

Available Sizes - Women's XXS-XXXL, Men's XS-XXXXL

The jacket has a weight and feel closer to that of a thermal long sleeve jersey but provides incredible warmth. We wore it most recently on an early morning ride with a real-feel temperature of 31 degrees. To our delight, we were comfortable and maybe even a little too warm.

As the name suggests, this jacket uses a Merino version of Polartec’s Alpha Insulation, which is that fleecy stuff you can see on the inside front panel. Velocio placed the insulation all around the collar and all through the sleeves, the key spots for keeping out the cold and keeping in the warmth. The back of the jacket uses a soft fleece panel that lets the jacket breathe.

Velocio claims the temperature range for this jacket is from 25º to 45º, and they recommend using the jacket with just a base layer, adjusting the base layer based on the temperature. Based on our experience with the jacket, we are confident that the low temperature range is accurate. Fortunately, the jacket features a two-way zipper (which should be a standard feature on any piece of outerwear) for additional thermal regulation. It’s worth noting that this jacket is meant for cold and dry weather conditions. It’s not meant for prolonged rides through snow, sleet, or rain. For these conditions, you’ll want a set of fenders and a waterproof shell such as the Gore Shakedry jacket over a temperature appropriate mid-layer.

Albion Long Sleeve Jersey - The Classic Long Sleeve

Available Sizes - Women's XS-XXL, Men's XS-XXL

This long sleeve jersey from Albion is the classic long sleeve most riders will picture in their minds. It’s a simple piece that works very well as a stand alone layer in mild cold or as the perfect mid-layer when temperatures drop.

Albion used an incredibly soft and luxurious feeling fabric that features 4-way stretch. The jersey is race cut with a slim fit. There are three standard pockets on the back, which we found a little bit hard to get into as they sit a little bit higher than I’m used to. But if you like a clean design with low-key branding, you’ll appreciate this jersey from Albion.

Pas Normal Studios - Stow Away Jacket

Available Sizes - XXS-XXL

We typically would not consider a jacket to be a jersey pocket essential, but the Stow Away Jacket from Pas Normal is precisely that. A fully functional wind jacket that packs down to about the size of your fist and weighs just 105 grams. It’s perfect for riders who often ride through different climate zones in the mountains, and depending on the elevation, the temperature can swing as much as 20º.

We have found the Stow Away to be an incredibly versatile piece, using it as an extra layer on cold mornings, and have simply stuffed it into a pocket as the day warms up. We’ve also layered it over an insulated mid-layer on cold days and found that the woven fabric did a great job holding in body heat without adding bulk. The Stow Away is not meant for rain, its DWR water repellent feature will help in a light drizzle, anything more than that, and you'll get soaked. But as an everyday wind jacket that you can stuff in a jersey pocket and forget about, it’s perfect.

Endura Pro SL 3-Season Jacket - A Do-It-All 3-Season Shell

Available Sizes - Men's XS-XXL

The Endura Pro SL 3-Season jacket is a shell for road riders that don’t want to have multiple jackets for every possible temperature range between Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Instead, it takes a unique approach of using a zippered ventilation system and a removable bit of PrimaLoft Evolve insulation to make a jacket that can work in conditions ranging from the high 50s to well below freezing (with the appropriate base layer).

The removable insulation comes in the form of a separate inner vest made from PrimaLoft Evolve fabric. It snaps into the main shell and provides additional warmth around the core. The venting system uses two long, front facing zippers that open or close two large vents that suck in cooling air. There’s another vent on the back of the jacket that promotes airflow around the body to keep you from overheating. Finally, another pair of zippered vents near the wrists add further cooling.

Does it work? Yup. The jacket is incredibly warm with all the vents closed and the insulation installed. Remove the insulation, and you’re left with a great windproof jacket that’s water-resistant, has three rear pockets, and, thanks to the zippers and vents, can be worn well into the warmer months. It’s a pretty cool system for riders that want to have just one cold weather jacket.

Velocio Trail Ultralight Hooded Jacket - A Versatile, Packable Jacket For (Almost) Any Ride

Available Sizes - Women’s XXS-XXXL, Men’s XS-XXXXL

The Velocio Trail Ultralight Hooded jacket is one of the most versatile jackets we have used. It’s designed to be an ultralight, windproof, and water-resistant trail jacket for mountain biking. The jacket's fit is tailored but relaxed, with plenty of room to add a mid-layer underneath for colder weather. It’s also casual enough to work as a lightweight jacket for backpacking, hiking, or commuting.

The whole thing packs down into its own reversible zippered stow pouch, making it easy to stash in a hydration pack, a jersey pocket, or in your commuter bag. The hood is also large enough to accommodate a helmet which can make all the difference when the temperature drops. The only thing this jacket can’t do is deal with heavy rain. The fabric does have a DWR treatment, so it is only meant to be water-resistant. Dealing with the occasional stream crossing or standing water on the trail won't be a problem, but it won’t protect you in a prolonged downpour. It is perfect for riders looking for an ultralight wind jacket with a hood that doesn’t look out of place on the bike or off.

Endura GV500 Insulated Jacket - An Insulated Jacket For Trail Or Gravel Adventure

Available Sizes - Men's XS-XXXL

This jacket from Endura is a highly technical and insulated piece of kit that doesn’t look out of place once you’re off the bike. Designed as a warm outer layer for off-road adventure, the GV500 uses PrimaLoft Gold synthetic insulation inside a durable, windproof shell to keep you comfortable as temperatures dip into the 40s. The jacket weighs 245 grams and can pack into itself for easy storage in a frame bag or pack.

We found this jacket to be a little too warm for mountain biking unless it was well below freezing. But we loved it for fall and early winter commutes. It’s warm, lightweight, and fits well while on the bike without being obviously a piece of cycling kit.

Shop Used Outdoor Gear - An Environmentally Friendly Budget Pick

Photo credit: Trevor Raab
Photo credit: Trevor Raab

Available Sizes - varies

If you’re on a budget or are wary of the environmental impact of purchasing new products, then shopping used is a great option. The REI garage sale is an excellent palace to get deals on lightly used outdoor gear, sometimes even cycling specific stuff. Velocio has recently introduced its renewed program, which repairs lightly damaged garments and resells them at a significant discount. We’ve also had great luck with thrift stores near or around ski towns. Ski gear is surprisingly similar to winter cycling gear, just without all the cycling specific touches like back pockets. But any thrift store might have your next favorite piece of winter gear. I once found a wool jumper with a 1/4 zip in a random goodwill in New Jersey that I spent many winters using as my mid-layer on and off the bike.

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