Cold weather can leave many cyclists wondering what to wear. Dress with too few layers, and you'll find yourself shivering for your whole ride, dress with too many, and you might as well be sitting in a sauna.

To help with figuring out what to wear as temperatures change towards the cooler side, we have made a winter clothing guide.

We have categorized our Winter Clothing into 3 Categories. Not everyone is affected by temperature the same way, so I didn't want to get too specific with actual temperatures. To give an example, I am someone whose hands easily get hot while I'm riding, but Chris gets cold hands quite easily. So, if we are both riding in 38degrees, I will probably have a lighter weight glove on than Chris because, otherwise, my gloves would be soaked with sweat halfway through the ride (not a great feeling).

The Categories are as follows:

  • Cold - You feel like you might want a few layers, but not too many because it might warm up, or you might overheat easily at this temperature; having some skin exposed might be ok. It is helpful if the layers are easily pack-able into jersey pockets
  • Very Cold - More likely than not you don't want much skin exposed, but you don't need to be layered like Ralphie's brother in "A Christmas Story." You might start to mix in some of the heavier weight clothing.
  • Extremely Cold - Full on, "it is COLD, and it's going to stay cold; there's no way I can overheat in this temperature." You will most likely want the heavier weight/warmest level of clothing.

Each of these categories is meant to give you a few examples of how to layer, and you can give it your personal touch as you start to figure out what works for you. I've found myself with a mixture of wearing heavy and lightweight clothing on several rides so far this Fall.

Where to start:

I think the most important part of your apparel for cooler temps is your base layer. What type of fabric is sitting directly against your skin and how will it affect you in the temperature you are riding in?

My go-to base layer is usually some sort of short or long-sleeve shirt that has moisture-wicking properties. "Moisture-wicking" means the shirt will pull your sweat off of your skin and evaporate easily, thus preventing you from becoming soaking wet in your own sweat while cold air blasts against you and freezes your butt off.

 

A base layer (the fuchsia long sleeve) should wick away sweat and dry quickly so you don't have cold wet fabric against your skin.

 

COLD

This category encompasses rides that might have temperature changes (Ex: start early in the morning and ride into warmer temps as the sun climbs), or the temps are sitting right around where you would like a bit of assurance that you won't get chilled.

This temperature range is where having clothing that packs away into jersey/jacket pockets is nice. You can de-layer and layer back up as necessary with ease. Versatility is key.

Suggested Clothing (pick and choose what works for you):

  • Standard kit
  • Arm warmers
  • Knee warmers
  • Jacket (one that turns into a vest is always a nice versatile piece)
  • Lighter-weight to mid weight glove
  • Toe covers
  • Shoe covers
  • Neck gator
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Clothing Pictured for COLD weather gear:

  • SL Pro Kit
  • Therminal Arm Warmers
  • Therminal Knee Warmers
  • Deflect Hybrid Jacket
  • Element 1.5 Toe Covers
  • Element 1.5 Shoe Covers
  • Drirelease Merino Neck Gator
  • Mesta Wool Liners (Gloves)

VERY COLD

This is where your thoughts start to go to, "Oh man, it's really beginning to feel like Winter." There's a crisp, snappy, cold feeling in the air that makes you more aware of the change in season. It means you need some warmer layers if you're going to enjoy your bike rides. I think this can be the most challenging temperature category to dress for because it is easy to overdress. If you're new to winter clothing, it might take you a few rides to figure out what works for you.

The importance of a proper base layer becomes more apparent here. You are going to sweat, even in the cooler temperatures. If you do not have a material against your skin that wicks away that sweat, then it will be sitting there cold - making your body work harder to stay warm. If your body is working harder to stay warm, then your energy is not being used efficiently and you'll find yourself shivering cold and unhappy fairly early on in your winter ride.

Wearing a proper base layer with a midweight jacket is an efficient way to keep warm and not overheat. Keeping your core warm, and covering your legs and extremities properly will ensure better blood flow and thus, better performance.

Suggested Clothing (pick and choose what works for you):

  • Base layer shirt
  • Standard kit
  • Jacket with midweight insulation; a cycling specific jacket makes storing ride necessities easy
  • Tights or knee warmers depending on your preference
  • Mid-weight gloves, maybe some glove liners as well
  • Neck Gator
  • Shoe Covers
  • Wool-blend socks
  • Ear warmer or hat

Clothing pictured (above and to the right):

  • Base Layer
  • SL Pro Kit
  • Therminal Knee Warmers
  • Therminal Tights (no chamois, great for running as well!)
  • Element 1.0, 1.5, 2.0 Gloves
  • Deflect 1.0 Jacket
  • Element Shoe Covers
  • Deflect H20 Shoe Covers (heavier weight than Elements)
  • Therminal Hat
  • Drirelease Merino Neck Gator

EXTREMELY COLD

Adding a few more layers, and increasing the type of insulation in the clothing, will help you out in this temperature category. In addition to a base layer, jersey, and highly insulating jacket, you'll want to add some type of head layer, be it ear warmers, a hat, or balaclava.

In this temperature, your feet and hands are at a higher risk of becoming very, very cold; the possibility of them going numb can be high. For feet, a winter style cycling shoe, like the Defroster, is recommended, or wearing toe warmers in shoes, with heavy weight socks and heavy-duty shoe covers. The Element 3.0 gloves are my most recommended glove for this category - they are warm, and don't make your hands sweat. On these rides, I'll usually also have a pair of glove liners with me as well in case I feel like one more layer is necessary.

In the pictures below, Connor is dressed in probably close to the the very extreme end of the "Extremely Cold" clothing options, although there are always ways to add more layers if necessary.

On top of his base layer, standard SL Pro kit, and wool socks, Connor is wearing the following:

  • Element 2.0 Jacket (Can also change into a vest)
  • Therminal Tights
  • Defroster Shoes
  • Element 1.5 Windstopper Balaclava
  • Insulator Mitts (on the bike, these things are like sleeping bags for your hands!)

The Defroster shoes are highly reflective.

:)

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Suggested clothing options (pick and choose what works for you):

  • Standard Kit
  • Base Layer
  • Therminal Tights
  • Heavy weight/high insulation gloves
  • Bar/Insulator Mitts
  • Heavy weight/high insulation jacket
  • Hat/Balaclava
  • Heavy weight shoe covers or Winter cycling shoes
  • Wool blend socks

Clothing Pictured (to the left):

  • Therminal Tights
  • Therminal Hat
  • SL Pro Jersey
  • Element 2.0 Jacket
  • Element 2.0 and 3.0 Gloves
  • Deflect H2O Shoe Covers

WET & COLD WEATHER

For those instances when there might be some precipitation, or you're just someone that gets out and rides no matter what the weather and temperature, here is some cycling gear that will help you stay warm and dry.

The Deflect H2O jacket has a woven fabric that is wind and water-resistant and highly breathable. The micro-fleece dots provide airflow and never leave your skin feeling damp or clammy!

Rain Clothing pictured:

  • Deflect H2O Jacket
  • Deflect H2O Shoe Covers
  • Deflect H2O Gloves
  • Therminal Hat
  • Therminal Knee Warmers
  • SL Pro Kit
  • Base Layer

Big thanks to Lindsey Carpenter and Connor Bell for helping us out with this blog! :)

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