Must-Have Autumn Cycling Wear for Women

By Frantiska Blazkova

There’s no weather unfit for cycling – only poorly chosen clothes. If you plan to continue your commuting or outdoor outings even with the short and foggy autumn days drawing near, multiple active-wear brands on the market play in your favour. Not only cyclists but female athletes of all specializations and walks of life have long grown tired of the pink-it-and-shrink-it attitude of most commercial sportswear brands. No hating on pastels, though, if that’s your jam – most cycling wear brands, fortunately, offer their apparel both in sharp unisex designs and bold colour schemes and patterns, scaled to fit a diverse range of bodies. Below is a brief rundown of essentials.

Contrary to what you might think, it’s not desirable to already feel warm before you even saddle up the bike. You should feel neutral or slightly colder when you leave the house as you’ll warm up quickly when you hit the pedals. Layer up good so you can shed the outerwear on the way if you are hot and sweaty – sweat soaks your clothing, makes it stick to your skin and gradually cools down. And you don’t want to be riding in a wet, clingy mess in chilly temperatures. But, as they say, your individual comfort level on a bicycle is all trial and error, all we can do is give you some recommendations. Let’s start from inside out.

Woman Cycling in the Woods
Are you all set for the autumn season? © Profimedia, Alamy

Thermal Underwear

When it comes to autumn cycling wear, thermal undershirts and pants are a no-brainer, and can be worn even if you just want to feel extra toasty on your casual stroll. Thermal underwear is a type of clothing worn beneath your top layers to keep your body warm. Made from speciality fabric, such as merino wool and polyester blends (because they are lightweight, ultra-warm and wick away moisture), thermal underwear traps body heat to provide warmth.

Regarding pants, try these sartorial gems from the women’s section of the tongue-in-cheek cycling clothing brand Fat Lad at the Back and give their e-shop a browse, it’s worth it. As with the pants, the undershirt should be neither too tight nor loose, which might be tricky when ordering online, but most quality brands state exact measurements for each piece and if not, you can always write to them. How about this silk thermal long-sleeve from Terramar? Their anti-microbial comfort technology is a plus when you want to re-wear your clothing.

© Terramar

On a side note, your autumn ride should be both warm and comfortable so if you want some additional pampering, check out our little list of brands making padded underwear for women.

Vests and jackets

As we said above, the outer layers should be chosen wisely and with compactness and lightness in mind as you might need to take them off and stuff them into a backpack if you become too hot and bothered during your ride. The same applies to taking extra layers with you – they shouldn’t take up too much storage space. Your go-to cycling jacket should be breathable, windproof and ideally waterproof. Whether with or without a hood is up to you and the headwear you’ll be wearing. Choose the option you’re most comfortable with. If you like streamlined, smart design with no trinkets, this Squamish Hoody-Windproof jacket by Arc’teryx might just be your thing.

When the temperatures don’t reach sub-zero levels, you can drop the sleeves and get yourself a light and functional vest to keep your core warm, such as this Women’s Nano-Air® Vest by the notoriously eco- and nature-friendly outdoor brand Patagonia.

© Patagonia


It’s always the extremities that suffer the most in the cold and freezing breeze. Your head (especially the ears and nose), feet and toes, hands and fingers. We need to pay extra attention to these body parts not only because we all hate the stinging sensation of frozen fingers coming back to life, but numb feet and hands might pose a potential security risk. Wrap your hands up good and don’t be afraid to splurge on quality a little bit. Try these waterproof gloves by Shower Pass. Sleek and stylish, you won’t be able to get enough of the comfort they provide. The breathable FullRange® insulation dumps excess heat when you’re active and keeps you warm when you’re not. A must have, when it comes to your autumn cycling wear.

Crosspoint Gloves
© Shower Pass

Skull caps and beanies

We all probably have some ordinary beanie just lying around someplace and it will work just fine, even better if it’s lined with fleece. However, the skull cap shape huggin’ your noggin’ is the best one to fit under your helmet. You can also wear your regular high-quality beanie as some countries don’t require adults to cycle with helmets and you could not be a fan of wearing one for various reasons, but we strongly recommend doing so as road conditions are more treacherous during the wet and chilly autumn weather.

You can always get the swimming-cap-like look even with flaps over your ears for extra protection, and it will work perfectly. If you’re a fan of the classic road cycling cap shape, try this merino cycling cap by Pearl Izumi.

Pearl Izumi Cap
© Pearl Izumi

Shoes, overshoes and socks

We’re going to repeat ourselves (not like it hurts) but when it comes to feet, the three most important aspects also come about when spending active time outside during autumn – you should focus on your footwear being warm, comfy and waterproof. Cycling shoes designed for cold and rain feature smaller ventilation holes, additional padding and a high ankle cuff, often lined with neoprene to prevent puddle splashes from getting into your shoes. If you don’t want to invest in autumn/winter cycling shoes as they come at the farther end of the price range, such as these beautiful NORTHWAVE CELSIUS XC GTX, aim straight for overshoes as they will get the job done and you can still use your favourite pair of footwear. You might not love the look as they are kind of reminiscent of an oversized, clunky pair of neoprene socks (that’s a thing too) but their benefits are undeniable. They provide resistance to both wind and water without sacrificing breathability, comfort or the layering ability. How about these softshell Specialized Element Shoe Covers?

Element Shoe Covers
© Element

Last but not least, socks! If you want to go the extra mile, spoil your feet with either waterproof or thermal socks – or both. The market is pretty saturated in this regard, and you can set your preferences according to thickness, function, sustainability, eco-consciousness and, hell, even colour. Check out Q36.5’s selection of supreme women’s socks with ergonomic fit, perfect thermoregulation and quick drying times.

What’s your favourite autumn cycling wear? Let us know!