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Best cycling arm, leg, and knee warmers

Cyclist magazine
16 Oct 2018

With the weather turning chillier, we review the best arm and knee warmers that are worth investing in

An old pro once said, ‘If it’s cold enough for sleeves, it’s cold enough for knees,’ and it’s a sentiment we wholeheartedly agree with here at Cyclist. Both arm and knee warmers are a simple way to cope with cooler days or changeable conditions, as they’re easily removed or added, and take up little pocket space.

The market is busy with lots of different types, too. From the ultra-thin UV protection type to thick Roubaix-style ones. Given the time of year, this test focuses on thermal and water-repellent varieties.

Before we kick off though, it’s worth stressing that getting the correct size for both arm and knee warmers is vital.

Those patches of skin on the back of your knees and inside of your elbow are incredibly sensitive and an awkward fold can feel like torture on a long ride – which is only exaggerated in wet conditions.

Also, consider seams. Yes, they help with fit and structure but can also restrict movement and irritate joints. Arm and knee warmers – more complex than they look!

The best cycling arm and knee warmers: Our top picks 

1. dhb Blok arm warmer 

If you’re familiar with dhb’s Blok jersey range you may recognise that this design matches its monochrome Palm jersey – one of the more muted in that loud and proud collection.

You might struggle to match these with any other jersey, but there’s no doubting how good these are for the price.

Featuring a functional silicone gripper at the top, a fleece lining and a reasonable degree of waterproofing these will serve you well when things turn wet and chilly.

And if this zebra stripe design isn’t for you, check out the colour options on Wiggle’s website – there’s a total of 10 in the range.

Verdict: These represent great value for the price, even if the design might be a little OTT for some – 7.5/10

Buy now from Chainreaction for £7

2. Giro Chrono arm warmers

These get around the problem of how to stay put by eschewing gripping hems and instead of getting the whole garment to grab your arm using a ribbed weave that includes 10% elastane, much like you’d find in a sports sock.

The result is actually very comfortable with these being as easy to put on and wear as they are to remove, roll up and stow in a rear pocket.

The material’s high-wicking properties mean these are definitely better suited to warmer, drier days than when the bad stuff really kicks in.

Verdict: These are incredibly comfortable although better suited to early autumn and late spring rides – 8/10

3. Stolen Goat Orkaan Waterproof Arm Warmers

The latest addition to Stolen Goat’s impressive range.

Held in place by silicone studs rather than a strip for added comfort, these have a soft fleece lining, an aero, wind-resistant water-resistant shell complete with UV protection, all in a lightweight package that’s as easy and comfortable to wear as it is to carry.

We also think they look pretty darn handsome as well. Available in sizes XS-XL.

Check out Stolen Goat’s website for a host of other colourways.

Verdict: A superb set of arm warmers that will look after your Chalk Farms (ask a Cockney) in all weathers – 9/10

Buy now from Velovixen for £30

4. Endura Xtract arm warmer

These instantly feel reassuringly thick and durable, and are clearly designed to see you right through the autumn months and into the winter should you want that option.

A study silicone gripper does a superb job of ensuring these won’t slip, while a fleece lining ensures your skin will be kept toasty,

And despite their bulk, these never felt restrictive, were easy to get on and off and packed down conveniently for rear-pocket transportation when they weren’t needed.

Available in hi-viz green, hi-viz pink or hi-viz yellow in sizes S-XL.

Verdict: These arm warmers won’t just keep the cold out they’ll get you seen, too, thanks to their reflective detailing – 8/10

5. Castelli Nanoflex+ Arm Warmers

Nanoflex has been a huge seller for Castelli in the UK and with good reason. The fabric and applied treatment repel rain and road spray brilliantly, never giving it a chance to soak in.

Criticism of the older version of these products focused on their tendency to pucker around the joints. To resolve this, Castelli has updated Nanoflex+ so that it now uses a thinner, less fleecy pile on the back and a contoured shape to minimise excess fabric.

With no seams on the front surfaces of either the arm or knee warmers, the performance of both in the wet was outstanding. Fit, while not perfect, is also a step up from the previous incarnation, with both arm and knee warmers staying put beautifully.

We love the use of silicone grippers on the inside and out of the top of both sets, too. Three sizes and excellent cool weather performance completes the picture.

Verdict: A significant improvement on an already good product, Castelli’s Nanoflex+ is as good as it gets - 10/10

Read our full review here

6. Endura Windchill Knee Warmers

Taking the award for most panels is the home-grown talent of Endura, with five in the arm warmers and six in the knee.

Not limiting themselves to panels alone, the top of both sets of warmers feature a wide elastic gripper with silicone beads around the inside; the thigh has them on the outside, too.

Constructed from Thermolite fabric, its hollow fibres are designed to trap air for warmth and keep you toasty even when wet.

Both items have been treated with Repel Teflon fabric protector, which keeps rainwater at bay for around 15 minutes, although the seams are more vulnerable to leakage.

We struggled with Endura’s sizing finding that L/XL was loose while S/M was restrictive yet still gathered around joints.

If the Windchill garments fit you, then they offer a good and cost-effective way to keep warm in changeable seasons but as far as sizing is concerned, our advice is to definitely try before you buy.

Verdict: A great brand and a good-value product but sizing could potentially present problems for some riders - 7/10

7. Giro Chrono Knee Warmers

Measuring a smaller diameter than the rest of our test items and with a distinctly different look to them, Giro has stepped away from the norm with its Chrono offering.

With a 10% elastane content, Chrono is ideal if your skin is intolerant to silicone grippers as the material means there’s no need for them – the fabric’s high elasticity means that the whole garment acts to softly grip your limb. While the arm warmers have a gently tapering cut, the knees are heavily sculpted and both fitted us well with minimal gathering. 

Constructed with a more open weave than some, the Chrono is best suited to slightly warmer days, for those riders who run hot or on rides where you’re putting in more effort.

An additional benefit is that they effectively move moisture away from the skin.  

Soft to touch and with plenty of stretch, Giro’s Chrono warmers have a quality feel that makes them especially suitable if you find regular warmers don’t fit or you have sensitive skin.

Verdict: The material used in these is grippier and good at wicking moisture away. Good for warmer days - 8/10

8. GripGrab Aquarepel Thermal Arm and Leg Warmers

Enhanced protection for grim conditions. Gripgrab’s Aquarepel arm and leg warmers might have a higher-than-average price, however, pull them on and you’re likely to be smitten. With the ability to fend off wind and rain, both arms and legs nevertheless remain svelte fitting, with cuffs that hold but don’t pinch.

Despite using wind and water-resistant fabric, they’re also stretchy enough to allow for uninhibited movement yet are far warmer than most others we’ve tried. Even once the water starts getting through, they’re less inclined to hold onto it, meaning they never feel waterlogged.

Little reflective tabs finish off a pairing that’s not cheap, but unlikely to leave you feeling short-changed.

Read our review here

Verdict: Expensive for something so simple, excellent fit and weatherproofing go a long way to justifying the cost - 9/10

9. Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Arm and Leg Warmers 

Another brand that looks to fine-tune the fit of both warmers by offering a carefully sculpted anatomic fit is American brand Pearl Izumi.

Its arm warmer, for example, has a four-panel construction on the inner arm that’s cut slightly shorter to give a square finish at the wrist when the elbow is bent.

Both sets of warmers have a pronounced seam just past the joint to aid articulation, as well as a wide elastic gripper backed with a broad silicone stripe to keep them in place.

Surprisingly few brands opt to have a gripper below the knee, yet the Elite Thermal does which helps secure them in place. On the thigh, the broad gripper works a treat, while on the upper arm it feels a little bulky which is surprising, given how comfy the fabric is.

Elite offers excellent fit, a wide selection of sizes (five in total) with good warmth. Overall, an impressive package at a fair price.

Verdict: Thoughtful design that’s intended to optimise movement while keeping the warmers in place - 8/10

10. dhb Aeron Rain Defence Arm and Leg Warmers 

Constructed from Miti Thermal fabric on the rear and Windtex Storm Shield on the exposed forward-facing areas, dhb’s first attempt at water-resisting warmers makes a good fist of it through excellent design.

Using Miti Thermal at the rear gives ample warmth and the fabric works hard with its high level of flexibility to get a workable contour with the surprisingly restrictive Windtex membrane.

While there is a certain amount of creasing at the joints, it didn’t irritate and thanks to the top and bottom grippers, they stayed where they were placed.

Sold as shower protection, the treatment causes water to bead and lasted about 20 minutes before being overcome just like others here – perhaps even a little longer on the arms as the seams are tucked underneath.

dhb’s Aeron combination are truly excellent, offering a good fit on the arms and the knees.

Verdict: The water resistance is a useful bonus. These are a superb combo, especially given the price - 9/10

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