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What to look for when buying arm warmers

Turn those short-sleeves into long-sleeve jerseys (and then back to short-sleeve when you warm up)

Arm warmers are one of the most useful fall and spring cycling accessories.

When it starts to cool down in the fall or warm up in the spring the temperature difference between the start of a ride and the end of a ride can be drastic. While just a short sleeve jersey or a warm jacket can work for some days, many times you’ll find yourself either too cold at the start of the ride or too warm as the day goes on.

photo: Sportful

Enter arm warmers. The little fabric tubes can make any jersey into a long-sleeve fit. If temperatures get warmer or you find yourself getting too sweaty, arm warmers can be removed and easily packed into your pocket.

photo Rapha

There are many arm warmers on the market, here’s what you’ll want to keep in mind when shopping for your sleeves.

RELATED: 7 essentials for transitioning into colder weather rides


Arm warmers come in different fabrics for different temperatures. Some are a thin material (similar to the fabric of your jersey) while others are lined with thick fleece for cold conditions.

Consider when you’ll be using these arm warmers—will you put them on just as you warm up and take them off afterwards?

Do you intend to use them in combination with a warm base layer under a jersey as a substitute for a light jacket?

Castelli’s UPF 50+ Light Arm Sleeves

Some people even use light and breathable arm warmers as protection from the sun.

For most, a spandex material with a thin fleece lining should hit that happy middle-ground.


There are few things more frustrating on a ride than constantly pulling up an arm warmer that is slowly making its way towards your elbow.

Much like knee and leg warmers, it’s important for this product to have a strong band at the top and an overall stretch to the fabric, otherwise, you might find yourself with an unwanted fabric bracelet and unpleasantly cold arms.

RELATED: Review: Rapha arm warmers and One20Percent chamois cream

Silicone grippers at the top help the warmers stay in place. Some brands even put the grippers on the outside as well, to grab onto your jersey sleeve.

Photo Sugoi

If you can, it’s great to try them on first to see exactly which size is best. Otherwise, a product with size measurements listed can be helpful if you’re not exactly sure which ones to go with.


The majority of arm warmers are thin enough to easily pack into your back pocket but with thicker fabrics, it’s worth considering whether you’ll be taking off the warmers and if you can fold them up neatly to pack them away.