Winter Clothing?

Printable View

  • 09-18-2012
    Winter Clothing?
    Any recommendations for clothing/stuff for riding in the cold? Never really worried about it before since I'm not outside for long periods of time. However; spending a couple of hours or more outside requires a better choice in coats, boots, gloves, clothing and other stuff.
  • 09-18-2012
    There isn't a whole lot of true "winter" specific cycling clothing available...take a cue from the x-country skiers in your area...
  • 09-18-2012
    There are allot of variables....
    1. How much can you handle?
    2. How cold does it get where you plan to ride?
    3. What kind of riding will you be doing?

    Most people, just wear a baselayer, and maybe another layer, and a softshell jacket, skull cap under the helmet, cycling gloves, thermal cycling tights, & thermal sox, with winter cycling shoes. Don't forget, you may feel cold at the start of the ride, but once you start riding, you'll be generating allot of heat. So you will be sweating after awhile.
  • 09-18-2012
    Staying warm is easy...
    Dealing with moisture from sweat is the single biggest issue for me. Still learning and experimenting.

    Good advice here from the other two posters. Couple of things to add: Check out Lou Fox at Foxwear for some very affordable custom-made winter ski/bike/running clothing. Good rep, good gear, great guy, and cheaper than off the rack in many cases. Pogies for your hands/bars, so you can wear light gloves and keep your hands drier (less sweaty). If you ride platforms, consider neo overshoes to wear over winter hiking boots. It's easy to stay warm.
  • 09-19-2012
    Simple, dress for the mountain, not the bike.

    If you're riding a fatbike, you're able to be out in conditions when normal cyclists stay indoors.
  • 09-19-2012
    Steve Balogh
    Starting point
    For the head I bought a snowboard helmet that's got ear protection and lining.
    Find the most breathable lightweight ski jacket you can find, I use a Descent. (I'm in Michigan, so our climate's are not too far off) Underneath use base layers,and experiment with what works for you as far as a jersey/mid layer goes. I don't like using normal bike jerseys, they often don't breathe well. I have some Merino wool items from Icebreaker and REI that breathe pretty well that I use often. Smart wool socks are another item I use a lot of.

    In winter, it's often hard to stay cool moving through MTB trails where the hills block the wind. You can build up a lot of heat on trails, and dealing with sweat at times can be annoying or even dangerous if it's cold enough. When you cross areas that are open, the wind can sometimes make things a bit too interesting, even at mild temps around 40F, so be prepared in cold to be able to handle high wind conditions, often your feet will feel that first.
  • 09-19-2012
  • 09-19-2012
    1 Attachment(s)

    There is a ton of tech wear out there that works very well. I've gotten most of mine through Sierra Trading. Brands like Kenyon and Terramar give you all the weights and fabrics you need.

    I prefer polyester garments, but if you like wool there are good tech wear options there. Silk is also an option, but I have never felt the need. I would suggest brushed surfaces over older smooth or shiny touches as they feel warmer and less sticky. All the Terramar goods I have are brushed.

    Having different layer weights is also how I work my outfits. I usually start with a baselayer weight (like a normal cotton t-shirt) short sleeve t-shirt. I usually follow that with a long sleeve baselayer shirt. Then if it is not too cold (much under 30F) I follow with a middleweight polyester fleece layer and that is fine. If it is under 25F I will sometime substitute an expedition weight fleece layer for the mid, or add it on top if it is nearer 20. If it is windy, I will take a wind shirt or in colder temps a soft shell jacket. In more severe cold/wind I use a Gore Windstopper fleece garment to cut the wind. For temps below 30 I always wear my Swix unlined softshell ski pants. They are fantastic. Answer winter boots with Smartwools, and shoe covers if it is extremely windy or I'm riding creeks. Winter gloves are great, and if you have problems with cold hands, split two finger lobster claw gloves are fantastic. MEC in Canada has the best shoe covers and riding gloves I've seen.

    For me, the three key areas to keep warm are my feet, my hands, and my neck. The former is the hardest, especially if you have thinner shoes and are standing in the snow a lot. Usually your hands will warm eventually. With the exception of standing in the snow, stopping is a key to extremity warmth. When you stop, your blood flows away from your core and into your extremities in more volume, warming them. If your hands and feet are cold, put in a harder effort and then stop for a bit to let this blood flow work. Normally, my mock turtle necks and a stretch beanie are enough, but I usually keep a balaclava in my pocket in case the wind picks up and/or I need more neck/head/ear coverage. I also carry two weights of gloves so that I can keep my hands from getting too hot.

    Temp regulation is key to survival. Start the ride chilled and you will probably be perfect when you start to generate heat. If you are isolated and remote, sweating can kill you! I find that I regulate temperature through my head, neck, and arms. My long sleeve baselayer and midweight fleece shirts ALWAYS have a long zip mock turtle neck for this reason. I can let a lot of excess core temp escape out the front of that shirt. Having those zip up necks is also crucial to keeping the sensitive neck area warm. I don't want tight fitting garments outside the baselayer because they tend not to breathe as well. I want my sleeves loose enough that I can push/roll them up to vent heat off my arms. I can ride in 20 degree weather with three light/mid layers, my sleeves rolled up, and my shirt zipped open if I have everything balanced perfectly. When it is really cold, my out layer of choice is my loose fitting Gore Windstopper vest. I never have any problems with my arms being cold, so I don't need the sleeves. The full front zip and open sleeves really give me a lot of temp control, and yet cut the wind perfectly.

    One big key is to have cargo carrying space. I normally ride with a Camelback MULE as the largest summer pack, but the HAWG comes out in the winter. It has far more room to carry different items that I need to regulate my temperature. Hats, gloves, wind shirts, mid layers, etc. Cargo capacity is a key element in winter riding for me.

    That's a start. ;)

    Below; -10*F. I was dressed so perfectly I took my gloves off for a while!
  • 09-19-2012
    This will be my first winter biking and not just running.
    I know for running, I tend to dress more for wind resistance more than anything else as you will get nice and cozy warm just by the activity itself so you won't need a ton of loft type insulation in most places, main exceptions on the bike would be footwear and hands.
    I have heard Pogies(hand warmer type booties that go on your handlebars) are very useful while allowing you full use of the grips/shifters/brakes with thinner gloves. And you'll want warmer socks with boots or heavier type athletic shoes if you don't ride clipless(I can't remember if you do or not, Bethany).
    Main wear, I'm looking at using my main winter running gear & tweaking from there. So:
    Long sleeve tight fitting base tech shirt(various brands, from cheap Walmart to UnderArmour, I have found it doesn't matter much really)
    Peached fleece lined wind resistant soft shell tights/pants(Athleta and Title Nine)
    Peached fleece lined wind resistant soft shell jacket(North Face or Moving Comfort)
    Wool socks(Smartwool)
    Wool gloves(Smartwool or North Face)
    Zensah skull cap(you'd think you'd need more head warmth, but man that is where you get warm the fastest!)
    Polar fleece earband.

    I have a "cold" version of each set and a "what the hell am I doing out here??!!" version of each set. Occasionally, I'll mix and match depending on wind or precipitation. I go out in whatever weather nature throws at me at 6am every morning, so there isn't anything the above can't handle. You'll want to dress so that when you start out, you are chilly but not cold because once you get going, you'll warm up. If you start warm, you've overdressed!

    Obviously, I have no idea on shoes since this will be my first year fat biking instead of indoor trainer spinning in my warm house. I plan on using my GoreTex Solomon trail running shoes to start and see where that leads me. I also have a pair of Nike ACG hiking boots that might work as well for the bike, but only real world stuff will tell me for sure.
    Pogies are definately on my short list of things I need to get soon though, my hands suck at liking the cold weather(one too many bike commute rides without correct cycling gear). Frostbite sucks...and lasts forever!
  • 09-19-2012
    Chop Suey
    I'm using Bar Mitts ( (I have raynaud's syndrome). Allows you to wear a lighter glove and not deal with the bulk. Hands stay toasty warm. I dress for winter bike riding the same way I would to go cross country skiing as the layers seem to be very similar. And NO cotton!
  • 09-19-2012
    Also, check out this site for winter cycling tips: Icebike Home Page
  • 09-19-2012
    Fat Bob
    1 Attachment(s)
    I've done well with layers and wool. It's surprising how warm you can get, even in the snow... I tend to spend my $ on bike stuff, so cycling specific clothing is often a luxury, if I'm lucky most years for birthdays I get some wool socks. Thrift stores are a gold mine when it comes to inexpensive good quality merino wool, and while not as fashionable, quite a bargain.

    **forgive the non-fatbike content, the guy I was riding with was on a pugs though**
  • 09-19-2012
    I think a great place to start is a thin wind protection layer on the outside. You can then use various amounts of insulation under this layer to meet your specific temp and activity level needs. Once I have the wind protection layer I generally need very little insulation to keep warm since my body is producing so much heat as I ride. Significant amounts of sweat is to be avoided.
  • 09-19-2012
    Get some good base layers as others have suggested. One thing I will add is get some wind-RESISTANT outer layers not wind-proof. Wind-proof will not breath well enough to get the moisture out from under your outer layer. You really want something that blocks about 90% of the wind and lets some air through to help with evaporation. Jackets and pants that are wind resistant on the front and then highly breathable on the back work well.
  • 09-19-2012

    Originally Posted by tedsti View Post
    get some good base layers as others have suggested. One thing i will add is get some wind-resistant outer layers not wind-proof. Wind-proof will not breath well enough to get the moisture out from under your outer layer. You really want something that blocks about 90% of the wind and lets some air through to help with evaporation. Jackets and pants that are wind resistant on the front and then highly breathable on the back work well.

  • 09-19-2012
    This will be my 1st year in the snow instead of on a trainer and this info is invaluable. Thanks.
  • 09-19-2012
    Everyone's temperature tolerances are different, so experiment close to home before trying out new gear in the middle of nowhere. Also, be wary of "winter cycling gear" especially if it's European. No one has the same winter as you, so what may be a winter item in Italy will be useless in Canada.
  • 09-19-2012
    Steve Balogh

    Originally Posted by Volsung View Post
    Everyone's temperature tolerances are different, so experiment close to home before trying out new gear in the middle of nowhere. Also, be wary of "winter cycling gear" especially if it's European. No one has the same winter as you, so what may be a winter item in Italy will be useless in Canada.

    +1 Too often going to a bike shop for winter specific gear results in finding clothing more suited for road biking. Riding a fatbike in deep snow is a whole different animal as far as riding a bike in the winter. With jackets I've done better in ski shops. I also use ski goggles with the snowboard helmet. Better face protection around the eyes.

    One other thing to mention is if you go to a ski shop, the clothing is rated for how well it breathes, so you can compare different garments by a rating printed on the tag, for how well water vapor passes through. Ask the salesperson for advise. Sometimes the cheaper stuff works better than the more expensive, so don't be fooled by price.

    I also like a lot of fleece mid layers when it gets really cold out. Top and bottom.

    I use Moose Mitt pogies, the heavy duty construction allows me to plow through snow covered branches that hang low from the weight of the snow. I've had them for several years, they are the most abused piece of gear I own and so far have no damage at all to them. I often ride without gloves in temps down near 0F if there's no wind. For those of you in SE Michigan, I'm talking Murray Lake loop at Brighton in the winter, same often goes for Maybury,

    For pants, I like the REI Novarra winter bike type. Breaks the wind, doesn't seem to be real breathable, but I've never had an issue overheating with them. Again it's something I like that's pretty tear resistant when pushing aside low hanging branches, or the occasional slip.
  • 09-19-2012
    My top 3, for the 3 toughest spots:

    Face: fleece neckwarmer (tube thingy) with a 1/2 zip - warm, adjustable, not claustrophobic.

    Feet: gore tex socks over wool socks add significant warmth (some are very unstretchy, so be careful with sizing)

    Hands: Pogies, mine are from Dogwood Designs, best $ spent hands down,

    For safety: Consider carrying dry socks, spare gloves, warmer hat than you think you'll need, a couple chemical handwarmer/footwarmer packs & pocket size mylar emergency blanket or "shelter".
  • 09-19-2012
    Check out Aerotech Design. Their stuff is reasonably priced and very good quality.
    I also like Under Armour and Eastern Mountain Sports.
    I use a combination of all of these. Under Armour base layer, Aerotech fleece bibtights, depending on the temp, one or two layers of EMS wicking layers and then a Trek Jacket. I wear either a skull cap or a balaclava depending again on the temp and I have a couple of different pairs of gloves depending on the temp. Riding at 25 degrees is very different from riding at 35 degrees.
  • 09-19-2012
    My wardrobe for last winter consisted of:

    Hot Chilly's long sleeve, medium weight, half-zip poly top
    " "" " medium weight bottoms with a cotton or poly/cotton baggy short
    REI wool socks coupled with a pair of Keen Targhee's
    Wool "Camp Coat" made by Kevin Kinney of Empire Wool and Canvas. (He is making a wool jersey style coat this season that looks promising Empire Wool and Canvas Company )

    I lacked a breathable wind layer however and will be looking for something suitable soon....and I'd like to try wool baselayers instead of poly if finances allow.
  • 09-20-2012
    Thanks for all the info. NE winters can get pretty cold and windy. Snowfall varies. Last year was really mild and rode a couple of times on a basic bike so I know you can really warm up. The pics are great.

    Footwear was a concern as I didn't want to keep slipping on the pedals (I have flat pedals), pants/boots that didn't get caught up on the chainrings, and wondered about coat length and keeping hands, neck and head warm. I also didn't want to be so bulky I was catching on tree limbs.

    Nearest sports store is Scheeles which translates to overpriced, nothing fits and underwhelming. Sizing can be a PITA because I'm on the heavy side. Sports clothing companies always assumes you are in perfect condition and cycling clothing is even worse.

    Looks like I have a lot of stuff already then and have a better idea of what I need. I had visions of looking like George Costanza from "Seinfield" in his outrageous coat trying to ride a bike.

    LOL. Maybe Nakedbabytoes and I need to plan a shopping day if gas prices ever drop.
  • 09-20-2012
    Oy vey....the gas prices! Makes bike riding seem cheap sometimes!
    I wouldn't start at Scheels either, Bethany. I'd probably start at Shopko or Target(even Walmart's sports section is decent for tech type shirts and pants) with Champion & Nike type stuff and go from there. Tech shirts are made of the same things and athletic pants can easily be found as well, in various sizes. You know me, I didn't start out at 115lbs...and I wasn't gonna spend a ton of cash on my new hobby if it didn't stick, so that is where I started too. A few pairs of lined Adidas wind slick pants and a few long & short sleeve slick tech shirts and there you go. There are lots of great cheap softshell jackets out there right now too. Gloves. Hats. Socks. You get into it, you find places to upgrade clothes(just like you switched stuff out on your bike) and realize what you need and what you don't.
    And if you need help getting basics, I've been there before. You'll only get supportive help from this girl!

    I just ordered my pogies because of this thread:) With my Jones bars, it might take a few trial & error purchases & returns to get ones that fit!
  • 09-20-2012
    Really liked the pogies and plan on getting some as they will seem to work with grip shifts. There's some nice stuff out there via the sites that were given and reasonable prices. I just hate to get all kinds of stuff and then realize winter riding isn't for me after a few rides. I sweat terribly as well.

    Target has some nice stuff as I picked up some for walking/running/cycling earlier this year. I'll have to get back up there in the next few weeks. Wal-Mart down here is iffy as usual. Anything sport related is their fake Yoga line and huge basketball shorts/tops in the men's section.

    Guys have it easy when it comes to clothing. Just get pants with the correct width and length, the shirt size you need and they are out the door. Even shoes/boots are easier. LOL.

    If I wanted to make it really easy, I could hit the nearest feed/grain/farming supply store and get their winter stuff for feeding the animals, doing farm work and deer hunting. It would look terrible, but I'd be warm. LOL. Hunter orange, camoflauge green and crap brown would look absolutely stunning together.

    Ughh..just realized hunting season is coming up and the local trail will be closed through parts of October and November. I'll have to keep to the main roads and off the remote side ones for safety as well.
  • 09-20-2012
    Last year I got around in base layers and jeans (I just ordered some proper pants for this winter). Base layer over a workout shirt - no coat. Base layer gloves under XXL Fox gloves. I wear snowboots with two pairs of socks on platforms. I only cover my face with one of those cheap fleece neck/face things for extra-cold rides. My quads and hands get stung most by the cold (need pogies). No hat, just my XC helmet. Slightly ghetto setup, but it did the job. That wasn't even on a fatbike!

    I too found that you want to dress light enough to be chilled before getting on the bike, but once pedaling, you warm up just right.