A Personal Take on The Best Autumn Wear for 2021

By Andrea Champredonde

Peeling back the covers isn’t the challenge it will surely be in another two months. What’s holding you back? You don’t know what to wear? 

Dressing during this time of the year can be a challenge but you are in luck as we are sharing some top autumn wear picks you’ll be comfortable in from the first pedal stroke. So, get up! Get out there! Enjoy this transitional period while you can. Winter is coming. Let’s look at some of the best autumn cycling wear for 2021.

Autumn cycling
Ready for your autumn rides? © Profimedia

Merino wool, base layers and more

The secret is in layering. It may not be news to you but I’m here to convince you to get on the Merino wool bandwagon. I’m one of its biggest cheerleaders and you will be too once you’ve tried it. Wool is nature’s technical material. In fact, cycling clothes used to be wool only until the entrance of scientifically created technical fabrics. Funny how things come full circle. Merino wool is on the rise, giving this natural fibre a well-deserved publicity boost.

Look to brands like dhb who make an impressive palette of Merino products. Jerseys, tights and other accessories are made of the stuff too but I’m shouting a particular “hurrah” for base layers. Merino’s superhero properties make it wearable year round, which is why you can find them in short and sleeveless versions, too.

Slip into a crew neck long sleeve or the zip turtleneck when Old Man Winter comes knocking. Merino wicks away moisture and adapts to your body temperature, keeping you comfortable and dry. It is machine washable but unlike synthetic technical fabrics, Merino doesn’t retain odour.

Another thing that ranks high for Merino is that you can wear it off the bike too! We are talking solids and no spunky prints but that suits me as any of the colours go with jeans, shorts, khakis, etc. But to each his own.

Once you are a fan, and you will be, branch out into Merino accessories like socks, neck tubes, gloves and hats. One piece of advice, read the label before you buy, as Merino may be in a product name but only as a low-percentage blend. Most dbh Merino products are 100% Merino. Anything else may disappoint you.

Versatile jerseys and jackets

Alpha ROS 2 Jacket 

Alpha jacket

What better way to dress for autumn than in an intelligent and versatile jacket! I mean well thought out pieces of clothing that do the job, and do it well. They aren’t inexpensive but think of them as an investment in style, comfort, and performance. Like any wardrobe, a few quality pieces make the difference.

A top pick is Castelli’s Alpha ROS 2 Jacket. ROS stands for Rain or Shine. It is breathable and rated for temps between -5 and 10°C (23-50°F). I found it comfortable to wear in slightly warmer temps with just a short-sleeve base layer underneath. What is its secret power? A genius zipped inner vest you can close or open depending on your temperature.

Too hot? Open up the jacket and let out some heat without exposing your core to the elements or a bazooka blast of cold air. Quality name brand textiles mean it’s windproof while sealed seams and an external zipper with a protective flap mean no water gets in during the rain. The fabric stretches, so the jacket moves with you. It is the perfect choice for autumn rides in dry or wet conditions.

It is available in men’s and women’s models but ladies, don’t shy away from the men’s section. I fall between options in most women’s clothing while the smaller men’s sizes do the trick to perfection and are the first to go on sale! I’ve purchased several at an impressive discount. Who doesn’t love a good deal?

Perfetto ROS Convertible Jacket

Castelli Perfetto Jacket
© Castelli

I’m tooting the horn for another Castelli product but it’s a worthy article. Castelli has been making the Gabba Jersey since 2010 when it was introduced to the pro peloton. If you’ve watched any pro racing in foul weather (the 2021 Paris-Roubaix!), you’ve seen it in action on the pro riders. The Italian brand took the concept of the ever-popular Gabba and morphed it into the Perfetto ROS Convertible Jacket.

Is it a short-sleeved jersey or a jacket? Both, actually. When the mercury rises, remove the sleeves via the convenient zipper, and Boom!, you’ve got a short-sleeved Gabba jersey ready for rain or shine. Roll up the arms and slip them into one of the two generous rear pockets for later. The short sleeves provide coverage to just above the elbow.

And to top it off, it’s breathable, comfortable, and water and wind resistant. Thermal rated for 4-16°C / 39-61°F, wear it alone or over a jersey. I love its cosy, tall neck that keeps the wind out. It comes in four different colours, from be-seen fluorescents to more earthy tones if that is your preferred colour scheme.

Warm but not hot? Unzip the side vents to release some steam. As the calendar brings brisk weather synonymous with the end of the year (here in the Northern Hemisphere), the Perfetto offers the perfect balance of insulation, utility, and protection from wind and rain through a variety of seasonal temperatures.

Keep your pants on! 

GORE bibs

That got your attention, didn’t it? I should really say, keep your bib shorts on, ladies’ bib shorts when nature calls, that is. What am I talking about? Gore’s Women’s Ardent Bib Shorts have built-in side stretch side zippers that make nature breaks a snap or, should I say, a zip.

Say goodbye to the cycling striptease to get to the straps and exposing yourself to the autumn and winter cold when you gotta go. The zippers free up the backside so you can do what you gotta do with ease and discretion. No more nippy full moons behind a roadside bush or tree. Brilliant!

Wear cold-weather tights over the top and you are ready for anything. Curiosity impels me to ponder if a man or a woman designed it but regardless, females everywhere are sending their hearty thank yous. A men’s version of the Ardent exists but without the zips, of course.

Autumn cycling
There’s no weather unfit for cycling – only poorly chosen clothes. © Profimedia

Ladies, if straps on your bibs get in the way of the twins, another nature-break friendly short is the Endura Pro SL Bibshort. Similar to Gore’s product but without the zips, the Endura’s have a super stretchy back panel you pull down like regular shorts to get to business. They have also moved away from traditional straps to more full-coverage up front, which may be to your liking.

Stay warm out there

I’ve brought a few personal favourites to your attention but the fact remains that there are many brands and products doing fabulous things to help keep cyclists warm and comfortable throughout the change of seasons. Consumers having options and versatility is increasingly becoming the key to every cyclist’s wardrobe.

What are your favourite pieces of autumn clothing? Share your knowledge and experience with us and help the cycling community make smarter choices.