Best Winter Cycling Clothes

best Winter Cycling Clothes

Cycling during the winter can be an enjoyable yet challenging experience. Facing cold temperatures, wind, rain, snow, and ice requires proper preparation with clothing to stay comfortable and safe. Having the right winter cycling wardrobe is essential to make the most of riding in colder months.

Overview of Cycling in Winter Conditions

Winter conditions bring a unique set of obstacles for cycling. Colder air and wind can penetrate clothing and steal body heat rapidly. Precipitation like rain or snow also make regulating temperature difficult. Traction becomes more precarious on slick roads or paths laden with ice, snow, or wet leaves. Having versatile layers and outerwear equipped for variable and extreme weather is key.

Importance of Proper Winter Cycling Attire

Dressing correctly for colder riding regulates body temperature, blocks wind and moisture, allows ventilation, and protects extremities. Improper clothing often leads to being too cold, wet, or overheated. Being unprepared with insufficient gear makes for an uncomfortable and potentially hazardous ride. Investing in quality winter cycling apparel tailored for cold weather enhances performance, safety and ultimately the enjoyment of riding.

Base Layers

Thermal Base Layer Tops

Wicking base layer tops made of merino wool or synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon work well to wick moisture and sweat. They fit snugly to transfer moisture while retaining warmth. Long sleeve tops add core protection.

Thermal Base Layer Bottoms

Matching thermal bottoms with the base layer top allows consistent protection. Tights or leggings help seal in warmth while keeping the legs mobile. Many have convenient pockets and zippered ankles for ventilation.

Merino Wool Base Layers

Merino wool base layers naturally wick moisturebetter than synthetic fabrics. The material’s fibers trap heat while allowing vapor transmission. Merino wool is also antimicrobial, controlling odor. As a sustainable fabric, merino wool has gained popularity for cold weather base layers.

Insulating Layers

Fleece Jackets

Fleece cycling jackets provide lightweight, breathable insulation that retains heat well, even when damp. Full length zippers allow for adjustable ventilation. Some feature wind flaps. Fleece works well as a mid layer under a jacket.

Softshell Cycling Jackets

With wind and light water resistance, softshell jackets serve as great mid layer insulation. They are stretchy for comfortable movement and feature different levels of breathability. Softshells work well under a hardshell jacket.

Insulated Cycling Jackets

Insulated jackets have become popular mid layers that trap heat while allowing decent breathability and stretch. Many utilize synthetic or down feather fill with a Durable Water Resistant (DWR) outer face fabric. Others may have PrimaLoft insulation built for athletic cold weather activity.

Outer Layers

Waterproof Cycling Jackets

Waterproof cycling jackets utilize fabrics like Gore-Tex that provide excellent water resistance while allowing sweat vapor to pass through. Sealed seams prevent leaks while vents allow airflow. They serve as an ideal outer layer when rain or heavy snow is present.

Waterproof Cycling Pants

Matching waterproof pants provide lower body protection. Materials like Gor-Tex block moisture while permitting perspiration to escape. Features like ankle zips, adjustable waist and leg grippers accommodate on bike movements and fit over other layers.

Windproof Cycling Jackets

Windproof cycling jackets give shelter from cold and blustery winds. Made of tightly woven nylon or polyester, they allow some breathability. Windproof jackets work well as outer layers in dry conditions or a mid-layer underneath a hardshell jacket. Some feature removable sleeves.


Cycling Gloves

Keeping hands warm and dry while maintaining feel is critical. Quality winter gloves allow dexterity while providing wind and water protection with insulating materials. Many come with absorbent pads to wipe away moisture and reflective details for visibility.

Cycling Socks

Wool blend cycling socks help insulate feet while wicking moisture. Merino wool and synthetic material blends manage sweat effectively. Ample cuffs seal out debris. Some socks have integrated heat packs. Spare dry socks are useful if feet get wet.

Balaclavas and Neck Gaiters

Balaclavas or neck gaiters protect exposed skin from frigid air while sealing in warmth. Merino wool or fleece options fit comfortably under a helmet. Some feature wind flaps over vulnerable gaps in gear.

Winter Cycling Shoes

Insulated winter cycling shoes have built-in warmth for maintaining toe heat. While road shoes accommodate cleat setups, mountain bike styles allow walking traction. Combining shoes with merino socks creates ample insulation.

Winter Cycling Boots

When more coverage is needed to combat extremely cold feet, winter specific cycling boots prove useful. PrimaLoft insulation, fleece lining and rim heaters seal in warmth while repelling moisture ingress. High ankle protection shields from snow and debris.


Final Tips for Winter Cycling Clothing

Focus on versatile layers rather than bulky, restrictive individual pieces. Be prepared with backpackable options to adjust to variable conditions during a ride. Care for merino wool and technical fabrics properly to maximize their performance.

Importance of Layering System

Following the principle of base, mid and outer layer synergy is fundamental to dialing in protection, warmth and comfort on winter rides. Improper layering often leaves critical gaps that lead to cold spots. Get the layering dialed, and winter becomes much more enjoyable.

See also: Best Winter Riding Tips

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best base layer material?

Merino wool is considered the best winter cycling base layer for its natural ability wick moisture while providing warmth even when damp. It is antimicrobial as well controlling odor.

Should jackets be waterproof or windproof?

Waterproof jackets excel at repelling rain and snow while windproof jackets are optimized for blocking wind and retaining heat. Utilizing both types provides versatility in unpredictable conditions.

How can I keep my feet warm in winter?

Combining insulated winter cycling boots with merino wool blend socks creates ample insulation for keeping feet warm in frigid conditions. Some winter cycling shoes also have integrated heating elements.

What’s the best way to protect my face?

Balaclavas and neck gaiters shield exposed skin from cold winter air while allowing breathability. Fleece and merino wool options fit comfortably under a bike helmet.

Should I size up on winter gear?

Sizing up on winter gear allows layering underneath while maintaining flexibility. Oversized gear can compromise snugness while restrictive winter clothing negatively impacts mobility.

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