Between freezing mornings and unpredictable weather, staying active throughout winter can be tough to say the least. However with the right clothing and strategy, you can remain comfortable regardless of the conditions outside!
Check out our entire collection of products that can help you stay warm, dry and comfortable in the tough weather
Stinging, freezing cold hands that can barely move are up there with the fastest ways to ruin a ride. Below are my picks for some excellent glove options from warm to freezing temps.
For relatively tame conditions of roughly 7-15 degrees and no rain, a pair of purely thermal gloves will be fine for most riders. These consist of just a thermal fabric layer with rubber grippers on the palm to keep your grip no matter the weather.
As things turn colder, (8-2 degrees) more protection is needed. Provided that the weather is still dry, a pair of gloves with a windproof patch will be the ticket. Having the windproof fabric works wonders in keeping you warm as it negates the adverse effects of air flowing across your hands. This is especially apparent when going downhill as the faster speeds push more air across your hands.
Glover are an absolute must when commuting in tough weather. They keep the hands functioning and eliminate that wind bite.
How to Layer:
While it is important that your clothing is fit for the demands of the weather outside, it is equally important to consider how you plan to wear your gear.
Rather than throwing on one pair of super warm thermal bibs or a heavy jacket, using several layers of clothing to achieve the same effect will allow you to adapt to both the conditions outside and the intensity you are riding at.
Instead of a jacket, try this (in order of putting on):
Thermal base layer - Just as you need a strong foundation to build a house on, a base layer acts as the foundation for your layering. Base layers are often made of warm, sweat wicking materials such as Merino or higher tech engineered fabrics. These hug close to your body and trap a thin layer of warm air close to your skin which forms an excellent barrier to the cold (imagine a wetsuit but with air instead).
Maap thermal base layer
Short Sleeve Jersey - On next is just a regular cycling jersey or athletic shirt of your choice. By keeping this layer as a standard jersey, you keep the door open for cooling off should you start to overheat.
Vest- Keep your core toasty with a wind-proof vest. These make a massive difference in staying warm by minimising wind chill and trapping another hot layer of air inside your body. Because of the zipper you can adjust the temp on the fly and the sleeveless design is very compact for when it is stashed in a pocket.
Maap outline vest - Bontrager circuit vest - CG Vest
Arm Warmers - With a vest keeping your chest warm, easily removable arm warmers do the same for your arms (with a bit of practice you can even take them on and off without stopping!). These will often feature a rubber gripper on the arm to keep them firmly in place and their practicality makes them a staple of winter rides.
Maap - Bontrager
WaterProof Jacket/ Rain Cape - For when the rain starts to pour down or for the coldest of conditions, top off the previous layers with a solid waterproof jacket. The idea here is that you have all of your thermal clothing/ insulation sorted with previous layers and the jacket is primarily on to keep the rain and wind off. This keeps your jacket nice and compact as it doesn't need much insulation and allows you to bring it with you in a pocket - keeping you ready for all conditions.
Jackets are absolutely crucial for tough MTB weather.
Knee/leg warmers - These slip on under a set of regular cycling shorts and feature rubber grippers/ zippers to ensure they’re easy to put on and stay in place even with your legs moving when pedaling. Perfect for early morning starts as once you warm up or the sun comes out, they simply slip off and are compact enough to throw in your pocket.
Bontrager (Knee) - Maap (Leg) - Bontrager (Leg)
For your head:
One often overlooked area that radiates plenty of heat into the environment is your head. For our readers with not much hair left…. I’m looking at you in particular ;) Luckily there are plenty of options out there to retain heat and keep ice cream headaches at bay.
The Classic - You can’t go past a good thermal cap for keeping your head and ears warm. Cycling specific thermal caps are made to be both thinner and better at wicking sweat away than a casual beanie. The thickness is especially important as it allows you to comfortably fit your helmet over the top, and the visor reduces glare.
Ultimate warmth - Arctic expeditions, spy operations or the coldest of rides, you’re covered with a balaclava. Giving you the benefits of a gaiter and beanie plus extra coverage on the back of the neck and forehead. If you need the warmest headgear available, then this is the ticket.
If you’ve ever come home with your feet feeling like ice cubes, I’m sure that you’ll appreciate the difference that keeping your feet dry and out of the wind makes. While there are plenty of DIY approaches, (my favourites are staying in bed and the classic feet in plastic bags trick) using purpose made gear makes a world of difference.
Toe Covers - Made of wind and waterproof material, these cover the front half of your shoe. This is often enough to cover the ventilation channels commonly found on the underside of a shoe and help in deflecting spray off your wheels when on wet roads.
Rubber Shoe Covers: Being made of a single piece of rubber, these are perfect for wet, rainy conditions as the lack of seams prevents water from seeping into your shoes. However the stretchy material required to slip it over your shoe unfortunately does not last as long as a fabric option, requiring them to be replaced more frequently than other options.
Got a need for speed? This style of cover effectively smooths out the surface of your shoe and sock, increasing your aerodynamics and making it a great choice for a little extra speed.
Fabric Shoe Covers:Easier to put on and longer lasting than rubber shoe covers, fabric options are a great investment for many winters to come. Using a combination of Velcro and zippers, these are a cinch to take on and off without straining the fabric over time (making them last longer than rubber covers). In addition, these offerings are able to have waterproof outer layers as well as a thermal layer on the inside, giving you extra warmth in addition to keeping water out.
Hi Viz - Black
Make the most of it:
Alright! Now that you’ve got a small mountain of winter clothing, let's make the most of it. The beauty of the layering system is that it allows you to adapt to the weather as it changes. The overall idea of wearing layers is that as you either heat up or cool down, you can gradually add or subtract layers until you reach a comfortable temperature.
For example: Suns come out or you head up a climb and start heating up? No worries, simply strip off a few layers and put them in your pocket for later.
Run into a patch of freakish Melbourne weather or bomb a descent and you're getting cold? No biggie, as you came prepared with all of those layers. Throw on your vest, Leg & Arm warmers and you’ll be well protected from the elements.
One of the best practices when riding out in winter/ unpredictable weather is to bring more clothing than you first anticipate needing. This is pretty easy given how small most cycling specific clothing can pack up, and by doing so you will ensure that no matter how things are looking outside, you can continue to ride!
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