Cold Weather Gear Guide
Riding in the winter is tough. Keeping the stoke becomes increasingly harder when the temperatures drop below freezing but it can be done! There is gear for every kind of weather and lets face it, it's not like we live in Winnipeg. You can do it.
First things first: You need a good base layer and it should probably be merino wool or some type of "smart" wool. Why wool? Because it pulls moisture off your skin, dries quickly and it is naturally anti-microbial. No need to wash them after every ride, just wait until it gets stinky. Shop Baselayer.
The next piece of gear should be thermal bib shorts and a thermal jersey. When it gets really cold, the regular summer weight stuff you've been wearing isn't going to do you any good. You may as well be riding in the nude. The good stuff will keep you warm and dry. Stay away from materials that can't wick moisture, like cotton and polyesters. Shop Thermal Bibs, Thermal Jersey. Don't forget your leg warmers.
The outermost layer should be some type of wind-shell. A vest works well in cooler temps, but get a full windstopper in the winter months. The rush of cold air while you're riding is going to cut your core temperature a lot, so stop the wind from reaching your skin. Shop Windstopper.
There are more items that we all forget about, namely foot, hand and head protection. Sometimes we don't think about our feet until we're several miles away from home and all that cold air is blowing through your ventilated cycling shoes. The best option? Get a winter shoe and be done with it. It may only be really cold in Central Virginia for a few months, but a winter shoe will keep your feet warm and dry and you won't have to go on a laundry hunt for that missing shoe cover. Shoe covers are fine, but in my experience you'll end up losing one of them at some point. They also typically perform poorer in wet conditions. Shop Winter Shoe.
For the head, start with a winter cap. They're just like regular cycling caps but made out of the same stuff your thermal jerseys are made of and they usually are long enough to cover your ears. Shop Winter Cap.
A balaclava or a neck gaiter will keep that exposed area of your neck warm. A lot of cold air can rush down into your jersey from the opening at the neck, so keeping that area covered is really nice. Shop Neck Gaiter.
On a really cold and windy day I like to ride with a helmet lid. Helmets are usually designed for optimal airflow to keep us cool in the warmer months, and we want to stop that airflow in the winter months. There are numerous different ways to do this. Some helmets offer a lid that snaps on top. You can also purchase a helmet cover, not unlike a shoe cover. Anything will work just fine.
For your hands, we cannot recommend Bar-Mits enough. Fumbling around with a big, thick glove or mitten is just annoying. With Bar-Mits, not only are they like little ovens on your handlebars, but you aren't fumbling around with your shifters, brakes or even your cell phone. Keep your hands free to scratch that itch or adjust your bibs. Go with the Bar Mits. Shop Bar-Mits.
As always, stay visible and keep those legs moving over the holidays. Check out more cold-weather gear here.