Winter Is Coming, How much warm cycling gear do I need?
Updated: Jun 16, 2020
So cold weather is upon us now or coming soon, depending upon your latitude. Most experienced riders have been through many winter seasons, and have used a process of trial and error to assemble a killer collection of winter cycling apparel. However, many beginner to intermediate riders are asking "how much and what type of warm cycling gear do I really need?" Those are great questions and now is the perfect time to gear up so you can rock the winter trails and roads!
I'm going to cut to the chase and give you this valuable winter list you'll need to stay warm and dry. Eventually you'll acquire all the proven/appropriate gear you'll need. No hacks here. I'll leave that up to you :-)
Apparel List: You can do the shopping for the particular brands you like.
We will start the list from the bottom up.
1.Shoe Covers: Thermal & Thin, get both, You'll want them both for different temps. They have both, flat pedal shoe covers & clipless.
2. Wool Socks: 6" minimum in height is what I prefer.
3.Winter Cycling Shoes: Don't really need them & kind of costly, but they do the job really well into the below freezing temps.
4. Some people like to put their foot into a plastic freezer bag then put their socks on.
This method keeps your feet dry and warm.
1.Themal Tights: Below 50 degrees to below freezing temps.
2.Thermal Bibs: Below 50 degrees to freezing temps.
3.Leg Warmers: Mid sixties to mid thirty's .
4.Knee Warmers: Mid sixties to mid thirty's .
5.Shorts or bibs to cover any of these options above that seem to work best for you. T-6 makes a really rad winter pant.
1.Base Layer: It wicks sweat of your skin - Synthetic or Merino wool are your two best material options....DO NOT USE COTTON AS A BASE LAYER OR ANY LAYER:)
2. Polyester Jersey:
3. Arm Warmers: Synthetic or Merino wool / Arm warmers with wind guard are great too.
Mid sixties to mid forty's.
4. Thermal Jersey: Fifty's to below freezing.
5.Wind Jacket: Get one that is lightweight, windproof, & water resistance. Mid forty's to below freezing.
6. Cycling Rain Jacket: Staying dry keeps it more fun on wet days. Get one that's lightweight and not too baggy...It should fit almost snug. Good for most temps into freezing.
Headwear & Face Protection:
1. Cycling Caps: Polyester or Merino Wool.
2.Winter Hat: Many to choose from. I've been using a polyester skull cap and it works great. It keeps you warm and wicks really well. Make sure it can cover your forehead as well for really cold days.
3.Gaiter: I love this piece of apparel because of its multi purpose use. On semi-cold days I leave it around my neck only. On really cold days I pull it over my mouth and up over my ears up to my skull cap, It's like a semi double hat sometimes. Stretch polyester is a great choice for material. Make sure it's really breathable.
4.Balaclava: If you want to by-pass having a skull cap and a gaiter, then buy a balaclava all in one head protector. Again make sure you can breath really well through it when it's pulled over your mouth. They also make wind resistance & waterproof balaclavas as well. I prefer using the gaiter and skull cap method myself :)
5.Fleece Headband/Ear Warmers: Cover just your ears and let your head breathe. Or if you have a gaiter just roll it into ear coverage mode:)
Mid forty's to below freezing.
1. Cool weather glove, I would have to say DeFeet Duraglove ET is great light glove. It works good between sixty and forty degrees. Smart phone compatible too.
2. Thermal five finger gloves that are windproof. Good between mid forty's to below freezing.
3. Lobster claw gloves or three finger gloves like Planet Bike's Borealis gloves. Both are the ultimate for keeping your fingers warm on long winter rides. Get wind & waterproof.
Good between mid forty's to below freezing.
Being from Chicago, I've racked up years of riding in all kinds of weather including rain, snow and ice. This apparel list I've put together for you is most of my personal list of items that I own. You should experiment with different layers and ideas and eventually you will find what works well for you. Be careful not to over dress as this can make you overheat and wear you down quicker. One last thing...support your local bike shop! They will give you great options and advice for your particular climate and terrain. Have fun riding!