The best cycling arm warmers
Few items of cycling apparel will get as much use as a good pair of arm warmers. Arm warmers are designed to be used in addition to a regular cycling jersey. They provide coverage from wrist to just below the shoulder and protect your arms from cold weather and extreme windchill and speeds. The extra layer of insulation keeps the blood running to the hands for the entirety of the ride. Ideal for the transitional seasons in late fall and early spring, warmers provide a thermal layer of protection without hindering movement or performance. They are lightweight and compact enough to be layered underneath jackets and fleece for the colder winter rides. Cycling arm warmers are built to be versatile and easily removable for the purpose of easy accessibility in either direction. For rides where the temperature climbs as you continue, or your muscles just weren’t warm to begin, warmers can be taken off and stowed away in bib pockets. Reversely, arm warmers can be taken on any ride for the off chance of inclement weather.
What are cycling arm warmers
Cycling arm warmers, similar to leg warmers, are cylindrical in shape and built to conform around the rider’s arm. Made from super soft Dryarn, the material has moisture-wicking capabilities to keep you dry and warm over any length of use. With silicone grippers along the bicep, there is a soft but secure hold in place. Meant to be worn underneath the sleeve of a jersey, the warmer should not be loose enough to slip or move - without discomfort. The sleeve narrows down to the wrist with a snug fitting wristband. Cover wrist to shoulder with the combination of an arm warmer and jersey to block wind, layer up from the cold (without the added bulk), and avoid moisture. They are designed with moisture-wicking technology and are an excellent way to keep a rider from getting wet and cold. Many other arm warmers, given the conditions they are intended for, are also designed to offer a level of thermal protection, trapping a layer of air next to the skin where it warms up and insulates you.
When should you wear arm warmers
While recommended that cyclists use thermal arm warmers once the temperature reaches below 65 degrees fahrenheit, the simple use of number is not always the rule. Many riders will make the choice to continue wearing warmers as the temperature gets warmer by investing in different styles of linings. For cyclists who train in the winter months, a more heavily insulated thermal arm warmer can be suggested. This provides a trapping layer of air just above the skin to keep warm air inside the sleeve. Riders who need extra protection against rain and precipitation would require an arm warmer with built in membranes. These membranes provide extra protection against extreme wind and water at the cost of some breathability. There are lighter insulation levels designed to appeal to commuters and mountain descenders.
What should you look out for when buying arm warmers
There are some key features to look for when choosing a thermal arm warmer that might affect the wear and use. The material, while normally made of synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon, polyamide, polyurethane or a proprietary blend, can be labelled differently. These blends most often take names such as “Windstopper” or “Thermoflex”, which offer a good indication as to the performance qualities. These differently named materials can present changes in weight, breathability, durability, and technical performance. It’s important to take into account the type of protection and performance you require out of an arm warmer and match the material to such. The inner lining can also be customized to meet rider needs. Another property to take into consideration is the construction of the piece. A rider can choose between a multi-panelled or a seamless arm warmer. The warmer with more panels offers more flexibility and movement around the elbows while a seamless prevents chafing and discomfort. In either case, the warmer should fit tightly and securely around the length of the entire arm (wrist to bicep). There should be no discomfort or squeezing, but the warmer should not be able to fall on its own, or have extra fabric that catches any wind. Look for arm warmers with silicone grippers around the bicep to keep your piece secure through any ride. Lastly, safety should be a top priority when it comes to picking any cycling apparel. For early morning or evening rides, pick arm bands with reflective piping or added pieces.