Few items of your cycling wardrobe will get as much use as a good pair of arm warmers. Here’s how to choose a good pair, and our pick of some of the best on the market

Whoever came up with the idea for arm warmers deserves a pat on the back. One of the most versatile pieces of cycling clothing, the humble pair of arm warmers are equally at home providing an extra layer of protection on freezing days beneath a heavy winter jacket as they are being pulled on to tackle a long Alpine descent at the height of summer.

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For what may appear to be a very simple piece of clothing, the formula for the perfect arm warmer is surprisingly complex and difficult to solve, with manufacturers occasionally struggling to design a warmer that is tight enough to not fall down while not digging in, and also being long enough to cover the whole of your forearm without having baggy excess material.

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Hopefully this test will help you in the search for that perfect pair of arm warmers, and once you do find that match made in heaven it’s set to last. Each pair of warmers I’ve owned have lasted at least two years, and have only had to be replaced following crashes. So take a good look at the options, and ride off into the sunset.


Dress right for the Autumnal conditions


Our pick of the best arm warmers

What to look for

Grippers

Rapha merino arm warmers silicon grippers

There’s no shame in the fact that, as a cyclist, you’re unlikely to have the biggest biceps down the gym. For this reason any set of arm warmers worth their salt will have silicon grippers around the upper hem to prevent them from slipping down.

Length

gripgrab arm warmers

If you have long, skinny arms it can be a struggle to find arm warmers that fit

With those skinny arms of yours, you might find yourself having to pull arm warmers almost over your shoulders in order to keep them up. However this can leave an annoying gap between the bottom of the warmers and your gloves, a particular pain in cold or wet weather. Decent arm warmers should be long enough to sit snug against your gloves even when pulled up high.

Added Protection

sportful norain water repellent arm warmers

Some arm warmers come with additional protection for wet weather

Cheaper arm warmers might be little more than a lycra extension of your jersey, but spend a little more and you’ll find that many manufacturers begin to integrate the technology from their bigger garments into their warmers. This can be anything from water-resistance to UV protection, so it’s worth doing a bit of research before you buy.