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Best arm warmers for cycling

Included in this guide:

Best Arm Warmers
(Image credit: Getty)

The best arm warmers for cycling are one of the most versatile ways to protect yourself in cold or changeable conditions. They come in plenty of different shapes and sizes, from heavy-duty thermal construction with windproof panels protecting your joints, to lightweight materials designed to fend off little more than a light breeze. There are even arm warmers designed to do no more than protect against UV rays.

They can be worn with the best cycling jerseys, then peeled off and stuffed in a rear pocket when the sun comes out, making them a quick and easy way to protect yourself from variable temperatures.

The potential use cases for arm warmers is a list as long as your arm itself. The humble arm warmers can serve as a backup option stuffed into your pocket on those warm-but-cloudy days, they can be paired with a short sleeve jersey to form a versatile replacement for your long-sleeved option, they can be pulled on at the top of a long Alpine descent at the height of summer. They can even form a second (or third) sleeve on the coldest of winter days, where neither the best winter cycling jackets nor the best cycling waterproofs will cut it. 

The Cyclingnews team has spent years using arm warmers and as such, we've come across a number of pairs that don't cut the mustard. There have been pairs that persistently fell down after a few kilometres; pairs that were odd-sized, meaning one fell down no matter which arm you wore it on; and pairs that dug in so tight that they cut off circulation to the hands. Luckily, we experience these problems so that you don't have to, so in our roundup of the best arm warmers below, you'll find nothing but a comfortable, secure hold, with exceptional performance no matter the conditions. 

However, if you're unsure what to look for when buying, check out our guide to buying the best arm warmers at the bottom. 

Best arm warmers you can buy today

Assos armWarmer_evo7

Best arm warmers for cold but dry climates

Specifications
Price: £35.00 / $50.00 / €40.00 / AU$73.00
DWR Treatment: No
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Super-soft fleece material+Angled cut at the top covers extra skin on triceps
Reasons to avoid
-No DWR treatment means others are better in a downpour

With a right and left arm-specific cut, the ultra-fine fleece on the interior is appreciably warm and by far the softest on offer in this list. The material provides a surprising amount of insulation for its low-bulk. There is no silicone gripper at the top but the elasticated band seems to hold them up just fine. They are left and right specific, and the tops of the arms are cut at an angle so that your triceps get a little extra coverage. 

Usually, Assos has a reputation for being expensive, and while the Swiss brand rarely fails to deliver a quality product, it's here that Assos can finally be considered a good value proposition. The Armwarmer_evo7 is easily one of the best arm warmers available, and the price is far from the highest in this list. That is except for the Australian market, where Assos has adopted a very unfavourable currency conversion.

They aren't DWR coated, which is why we've titled them the best for dry climates, but that doesn't mean you can't wear them in the wet. They withstand a heavy drizzle without any ingress, but in our testing, there are others here that do a better job. 

(Image credit: Castelli)

Castelli Nanoflex 3g

Best arm warmers for wet climates

Specifications
Price: £40.00 / $49.99 / €39.95 / AU$69.00
DWR Treatment: Yes
Gripper: Dual side
Reasons to buy
+Hydrophobic treatment+Double gripper holds sleeve in place too
Reasons to avoid
-Narrow gripper can be pinchy on some people's arms

Castelli's Nanoflex fabric gets DWR treatment to keep rain from soaking in, and a soft fleecy inner face to trap warm air from your skin. This, the third generation of Nanoflex arm warmers, uses a lighter material on the back to help the fabric conform to tight angles and to prevent pinching with seams routed down the outside of the arm.

The Nanoflex 3g warmers also have a double-sided gripper around the top so it can grab onto your arm and jersey to prevent them from falling down. They're also one of the few options available in a colour that isn't black, with the alternative navy blue providing a touch of individuality to your style. 

(Image credit: Gore bike wear)

Gore M Windstopper

Best for those in windy climates

Specifications
Price: £39.99 / $44.95 / €44.95 / AU$59.95
DWR Treatment: No
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Silicone-free gripper+Incredible wind resistance
Reasons to avoid
-Shorter in length than average

The Gore Windstopper material needs no introduction, its name makes clear its intention and its highly-respected reputation proves its credentials. By integrating the material into the Gore M Windstopper arm warmers, the result is complete windproof protection. But more than that, they do so whilst being breathable, and the DWR coating means they're water-resistant, too. 

They also possess a unique take on the gripper. Instead of silicone grippers, the wide elastic cuff on the wrist and bicep are made from a lighter fabric and seem to hang on pretty well. 

Just beware of the length, as they come up a few centimetres shorter than average.

(Image credit: dhb)

dhb Merino

Best arm warmers for those on a budget

Specifications
Price: £22.00 / $27.00 / €25.00 / AU$40.00
DWR Treatment: No
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Luxurious soft finishing+Resistance to odour
Reasons to avoid
-Not as warm as Roubaix fabric-Not very water resistant

Wiggle's in-house brand, dhb, continues to up the quality of its gear, and the merino arm warmers are more than just a budget option, their construction, material choice and fit makes for great value for money. 

Using a super-fine 18.5-micron grade of Australian merino yarn, they are seamless and soft on the skin. While they aren't as warm as options made from Roubaix fabric they are perfect for moderate temperatures where fleece-lined fabric is overkill.

There is plenty of stretch built-in, and with the wool's natural propensity to stave off odour, they can be used for plenty of consecutive rides without getting funky. At the top, dhb has also added a silicone gripper to keep them from creeping down your arm. They're not DWR coated though, so they're best saved for dry days. 

(Image credit: Sportful)

Sportful Fiandre NoRain

Best for those who want rain and cold protection combined

Specifications
Price: £38.00 / $50.00 / €34.90 / AU$60.00
DWR Treatment: Yes
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Slightly thicker than most for extra warmth+Highly water-resistant+Extra length
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky material and extra length can cause bunching

As the name suggests, the Sportful NoRain warmers receive a DWR treatment to keep moisture from soaking into the fabric. To be clear, they are not waterproof and you'll need a jacket for that kind of protection but in our experience, these perform best at keeping moisture out.

Those with long arms will be happy to learn the NoRain warmers feature a longer cut that helps avoid gaps between the arm warmers and your jersey or gloves. They've also got reflective logos and come in a touch cheaper than other water-resistant options, depending on where you live.

(Image credit: Endura)

Endura FS260-Pro Thermo

Best arm warmers for those battling colder temperatures on a budget

Specifications
Price: £22.99 / $30.00 / €30.00 / AU$54.99
DWR Treatment: Yes
Gripper: Yes, double-sided
Reasons to buy
+Thicker fabric for more warmth+Reflective details+Great price
Reasons to avoid
-Sizing runs small

The Endura FS260-Pro Thermo warmers are on the thicker end of the spectrum with the 'Thermoroubaix' fabric treated with a PFC-free DWR treatment to help repel water and rain. Even with the heavier material they aren't restrictive and don't bind or pinch at any point. The lower portion of the warmer also sees a reflective logo for extra visibility.

If these warmers tickle your fancy, be aware that Endura has employed some interesting sizing, and they seem to run a bit small, even on our scrawny arms.

Rapha Classic Thermal

Best for overnighters and bikepackers

Specifications
Price: £40.00 / $55.00 / €50.00 / AU$70.00
DWR Treatment: No
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Merino blend brings qualities of natural fibres verging on the warmth of Roubaix fabric
Reasons to avoid
-Bicep opening is a bit tight

Made with a plush merino-polyester blend, Rapha's Classic Thermal arm warmers see a terry-brushed interior for a bit of added warmth. They aren't as toasty as Roubaix fabric but they dry faster and also don't pick up an odour anywhere near as fast, so they're ideal for overnighters or bikepackers planning on wearing them day after day.

With an articulated left and right arm-specific cut, Rapha has placed all the seams on the outside and back of the arm to prevent pinching. The top elastic band features silicone dots to keep them in place and the logos near the wrist are reflective for added visibility.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Arm Warmer

Best for those who are finicky about fit

Specifications
Price: £29.99 / $35.00 / €39.95 / AU$50.00
DWR Treatment: Yes
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Well thought-out panelling+PI Dry Treatment
Reasons to avoid
-Left and right specific makes them tough to put on when on the move

Pearl Izumi updated its best-selling thermal arm warmer with 'PI Dry' hydrophobic treatment, allowing them to shed rain and road spray. They are anatomically cut, with the left and right arm warmer labelled as such.

Pearl Izumi has also updated the gripper around the top cuff to prevent pulling and added reflective logos for increased visibility. Should you want to go full day-glow they are also available in fluorescent yellow.

Giro Chrono

Best for those with sensitive skin

Specifications
Price: £29.99 / $35.00 / €35.00 / AU$54.99
DWR Treatment: No
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Unique stretchy fabric breathes well, and there is no need for grippers
Reasons to avoid
-Not quite as warm as fleece-lined options

With an almost waffle-like texture, the Chrono arm warmers from Giro are unique among this bunch. They are a touch smaller in diameter than most of its rivals but they are very stretchy, and there is no need for a gripper of any kind.

The material is woven and is air permeable but the trade-off is that they aren't nearly as warm as some of the segment leaders.

GripGrab Light Midseason

Best arm warmers for those live who in mild climates

Specifications
Price: £26.95 / $35.00 / €29.95 / AU$49.00
DWR Treatment: No
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Soft, brushed interior+Well-fitting without over or under compression
Reasons to avoid
-They're far from the warmest on this list, but that's not their intention

Ideal for milder climates, the GripGrab Light Midseason warmers still have a brushed interior, but the lighter weight of the fabric retains less heat.

They fold away with ease and serve as a good emergency layer, and are easily stuffed into a pocket. There is a good-sized silicone gripper around the top cuff and reflective detailing around the wrist, too.

Rapha Pro Team Arm Screens

(Image credit: Rapha)

Rapha Pro Team Arm Screens

Best for sunshine seekers

Specifications
Price: £35.00 / $50.00 / €40.00 / AU$65.00
DWR Treatment: No
Gripper: Yes
Reasons to buy
+Super lightweight
Reasons to avoid
-Beware they size up larger than average

The Rapha Pro Team arm screens mightn't even belong in this list. Rapha themselves don't even consider them as arm warmers, instead titling them arm screens in reference to their SPF rating of 40. However, protection against the elements doesn't limit itself to the cold, wind or rain. 

For those of us fortunate enough to live in warmer climates and looking to block out the sun's harmful UV rays, the Pro Team Arm Screens are a convenient addition to your kit-list that prevent the need to lather up the sun cream each morning. 

The reflective Rapha stripes add a little visibility, and the best part is their sheer bulk - or lack thereof - making for an incredibly lightweight, packable addition to every ride.

The thin construction does make for an under-compressed fit on your upper arms, and they size up a little larger than expected. When worn under a race-fit jersey, there seems to be enough adhesion to keep them from falling, but if you have skinny arms, we recommend going a size down. 

What to look for in a pair of arm warmers

What size arm warmers do I need?

Like most cycling gear, getting the right size warmers is paramount: too loose and they'll fall down; too tight and at best, they'll cause discomfort, but could lead to affected circulation and numb hands. The same applies when it comes to length: if they are too short, there will be an awkward, chill-inducing gap below your sleeve; on the other hand, too much material will make for an uncomfortable bunch of fabric around your wrists or elbows.

A general rule of thumb is that the arm warmers will usually be the same size as your jersey, but all of our chosen picks of the best arm warmers come with a size guide option from the manufacturer. So if you're shopping online, be sure to use that before you buy. 

If you're shopping in-store and are able to try them on, watch out for folds in the bend of the elbow. While some warmers are just a tube of fabric, others are articulated to accommodate bent elbows. The skin in this area is surprisingly sensitive, and over time bunched fabric can chafe, and will only get worse as sweat and/or rain is introduced. Also watch out for warmers with lots of crisscrossing seams, as these are less pliable than the surrounding fabric and can often cause bind points.

Which fabric is best for arm warmers?

Most arm warmers are made from 'Roubaix' fabric, which is basically a fleece-lined lycra and nylon blend. A few brands make knitted warmers out of merino or synthetic fibres. These come in several sizes and are usually devoid of seems.

There are plenty of basic warmers on the market that are essentially just fabric tubes; however, some also see panels of windproof fabrics sewn in over the joints or have received a durable water repellent (DWR) treatment.

What is a DWR coating?

DWR stands for Durable Water Repellent, and a DWR coating is applied to all sorts of clothing to prevent water from soaking in.

It is a fabric treatment that binds to the individual fibres and creates microspikes that increase the contact angle water droplets have with the fabric. These mini-pegs force droplets to maintain their surface tension and roll off the material rather than spreading out and seeping in.

Many of the best arm warmers feature some definition of a DWR treatment. Bear in mind that they are not permanent and wear off over time, however, there is a range of wash-in or spray-on treatments available. Ten minutes in the tumble dryer can do wonders for extending the life of DWR treatments, however, fabric softener will often degrade it faster. 

How do arm warmers stay up?

As cyclists, we aren't known for our biceps, but thankfully, most arm warmers have silicone grippers around the top cuff to prevent them from slipping down our t-rex-like arms. Most brands place these on the inside of the cuff to grip the skin, while others place a second gripper on the outside, so they grab onto your sleeve.

Why do cyclists wear arm warmers?

Dressing appropriately for a bike ride is harder said than done. We need to commit to a single outfit before we set off since we don't usually have much storage space to carry a different jacket, jersey, or waterproof. On days where weather is changeable, it's even harder, because it could be freezing cold when we set off at 7am, and be a beautiful summer's day when we arrive home at lunchtime. Furthermore, riding up hills means you're putting out a high effort and the slow speeds mean minimal cooling airflow which results in an increase in temperature. Roll down the other side and the equation is reversed - low effort and lots of wind - and you can quickly get cold. 

With all of that taken into account, versatility is key and the best arm warmers are the epitome of versatility. They're small enough to be stowed in a pocket when not needed, quick to remove when the temperatures rise, and easy to refit when the chill returns.