Winter Cycling Apparel Must Haves
When the temperature drops, it's not necessary to store your bike for the winter and give up on riding. As long as you have the proper winter cycling apparel, cold weather riding can be very enjoyable! Protective winter cycling clothing is typically customized for men and women and is designed specifically to keep you dry, warm, and comfortable in any conditions. Below are the most important items to consider to ensure you stay protected throughout the cold winter months.
This layer directly touches the skin and helps retain body heat. It should be made of a breathable moisture-wicking material, like nylon or polyester, to keep you dry and warm. A thin, long or short sleeved top and insulated winter cycling tights work best. Cotton is not recommended as it will retain moisture and keep the body wet and cool.
Winter cycling jerseys made of technical fabric work best as a middle layer. Fabric thickness, sleeve length, ventilation, and jersey length should all be considered based on weather conditions. Jerseys with zippers help prevent overheating by allowing you to cool off by simply unzipping without fully removing the item.
For the outer layer(s), look for a heavier jacket that is designed to block wind. A jacket with a longer back is recommended for maximal warmth and coverage. If you'll be riding in cold, wet conditions, your outermost layer should be a waterproof jacket with pockets, reflective stripes, and a high collar for maximum neck and chin protection. Wind-resistant cycling bib tights also add additional comfort and warmth.
Because a lot of heat is lost through the head, it's vital to find a hat or insulated headband that fits under your helmet. A hat will not only keep your head warm but will help keep sweat off your face and specifically your eyes. A balaclava or gaiter is also recommended as each covers the neck and can be pulled up to cover the mouth in extremely windy or cold conditions.
Hands, Feet and Arms
The hands and feet tend to get the coldest while riding in the winter. Thermal moisture wicking socks will insulate the feet by retaining heat and combating moisture. (Disposable foot warmers are always helpful for providing a little extra warmth as well!) Additionally, water-resistant booties/shoe covers fit over the tops of the shoes and are extremely beneficial for blocking wind and protecting the shoe from the elements.
Many winter cycling gloves have a lobster claw design - two finger pockets and a thumb pocket - making it easier to switch gears while still retaining the warming quality of mittens. They should cover the entire hand and wrist, be waterproof and have extra grip on the palm and fingers. Add an extra pair of thin gloves underneath for additional insulation.
Arm warmers can keep your arms warm on days a cycling jacket or long sleeve cycling jersey are not practical. Arm warmers help retain body heat. Many arm warmers incorporate reflective designs for enhanced visibility. One of the major advantages of arm warmers over a long sleeve cycling jersey is that as the temperature rises during early morning rides, you can easily take them off and put them away in your jersey's pockets.
With all of the specialized winter cycling gear available, it's hard to find an excuse not to ride in cooler temperatures! Keep in mind: the first few minutes of riding should feel cold, but your body will warm up quickly as you begin moving. Winter cycling apparel for women and men is specifically designed to offer insulation and take advantage of body heat; the proper clothing will retain warmth while keeping you dry and comfortable, making your winter ride much more enjoyable!