Gear – Dressing for Winter Riding
Clothing is an important aspect of cold-weather riding. It’s easy to overdress. Cycling generates a lot of body heat. By wearing well-ventilated outerwear that allows body heat to escape you will avoid overheating and sweating. It is a good idea to pack an extra layer to have on hand if needed. If you need to stop for any reason, you will cool down quickly.
Keeping you dry is the goal of a base clothing layer. Consider using a synthetic wicking fiber, or merino wool. Cotton tends to soak up and retain sweat, and does not make a good base layer.
If your ride is not very long or strenuous, you may be most comfortable in your regular winter clothing. Wearing what you would wear to walk is sometimes all you need!
Cycling jackets have a longer cut in the back and the sleeves. This helps to break the wind and protect you from debris. Some cycling jackets have additional zippers to provide venting which helps to easily regulate your temperature.
In cold and dry conditions, consider a soft-shell jacket as an outer layer. It will keep you warm and dry, as it is breathable but won’t allow too much wind to penetrate.
In cool and wet conditions, a waterproof (or at least water-resistant) shell is ideal. Be sure to hang your jacket to dry between rides.
In mild conditions, headbands provide warmth and ear protection while allowing air to flow. When the weather is colder, use a helmet liner or wool stocking cap that fits underneath your helmet. In even colder or windier conditions, a balaclava will provide thermal protection for your head and face, as well as cutting down exposure to wind.
When raining or during heavy, wet snow, a cap with a visor helps with warmth and protects your eyes or glasses from the elements.
The helmet that fits you so well in the summer may feel too tight with extra winter gear on your head. Dials or sliders at the back make adjusting the helmet easy. Some cyclists prefer to use a larger helmet in the winter for a more comfortable fit.
Glasses help protect your eyes from the cold, snow and wind. Sunglasses or a pair of clear glasses are effective. Some cyclists prefer insulated ski goggles. Scarves or balaclavas often need to be adjusted to be below your nose (when possible) to prevent glasses or goggles from fogging up and reducing visibility.