Keeping warm while winter riding
While winter is technically a few weeks away, the thermostat begs to differ so it’s best to get ready now! Stay warm and cozy on your winter commute with this basic winter gear riding kit.
Layers, layers, layers
Layers are the name of the not freezing while biking game. While it may feel frigid when you set out, you’ll feel the benefits of your increased heart rate in the first few minutes of your ride. Being able to remove layers quickly at a red light or while stopped on the side of the road is crucial to keeping you comfy. REI has a great article about layering like a pro here. The basics are you want a moisture winking base layer to soak up sweat, an insulating middle layer to retain body heat and an outer shell layer to protect from wind, rain and snow.
An important note about rear winter riding passengers: Your little ride buddies won’t be warming up in the same way you will because they are not physically exerting themselves and increasing their body’s blood flow. While it might be tempting and appropriate for you to set out on your ride wearing fewer layers knowing you’ll warm up quick, the same won’t be true for your passengers so be sure they are nice and snug. Dress them to feel comfortable in the present weather condition, assuming they will feel that cold the whole ride. I personally like to give my kiddo an easy way to store any shed layers while on the ride – i.e. I’ll leave a CargoBay empty for her to use – so she can shed her coat or scarf if she needs to. Keeping a PorterPack up front also makes reaching back to grab shed layers and stuffing them away for storage a breeze.
Because of the redirection of blood flow at our fingers and toes, keeping them covered and warm in cold weather can go a long way in ensuring a cyclist stays comfy. Thick doesn’t necessarily mean warm so be sure to get socks that are thermal. Thermal socks trap the heat your body gives off naturally and uses that to keep your feet warm and toasty.
As with your thermal socks, a good set of gloves can do wonders for rider comfort. Not all gloves are created equal so be sure you get gloves that are thick and trap heat. Most $3 pairs of knit gloves will quickly lose all their heat so investing in gloves with more insulation is a good call. I’m a personal fan of glittens – finger-less gloves with a mitten flap. This allows me to easily do the things I need the dexterity of fingers for with the option to cover up my digits with the mitten flap if they get frigid.
Hat and scarf in one, an adjustable balaclava can adapt like a champ to your needs. I prefer fleece balaclavas with cords that allow me to tighten around the face and a nose and mouth cover that is also adjust but can be pulled down when not needed.
Cold, dry weather can be brutal on those eye balls! Donning a pair of cycling specs or ski goggles while winter riding can ensure the lower temps and drier air don’t mess with your visibility.
A warm drink to enjoy
Bonus points if you bike through the drive through! Stopping along our ride for a hot cocoa or latte can add a lot of pep to my pedal on a cold commute. If sharing with a kiddo or packing in a reusable bottle, be sure the drink temperature is safe for them to sip. Double walled bottles are highly recommended since they retain heat longer.
Next level winter riding gear; A rain cover to protect kiddos from cold winds and snow
More on a 3rd party rain cover we love here.
With these recommendations, your sure to ride in comfort and warmth this coming winter season.