How to dress for the winter days
Are you stood in front of your wardrobe, wondering what to wear for your winter ride? Find out in this article how to dress efficiently to ensure you're at the right temperature.
To keep things simple and logical, we're going to start from the feet and work our way up to your head. This article, we hope, will ensure that you stay toasty warm (but not too warm) throughout the winter months.
1. Your feet
Socks - Invest in a good pair of socks. If your feet tend to run cold, go with merino wool. If you tend to get sweaty, go with a synthetic sock which will wick moisture away. Avoid cotton "sports" socks, which will soak up your sweat, not keep you warm and create friction. Never wear two pairs of socks for "extra warmth", as it restricts blood flow and actually makes your feet colder. More space around the foot = more air around the foot = more warmth (keep this concept in mind).
Innersoles - If you tend to run really cold, you can look at merino wool innersoles. Ensure that they do not restrict your blood flow by making your shoe too small. There is also foil innersoles, which reflect your body heat. Alternatively, wrap your feet in tin foil (we won't guarantee comfort).
Shoes - Summer shoes tend to be lighter and have more vents, particularly under the sole. If you tend to run cold or ride in the rain, better invest in a pair of winter cycling shoes with thicker outer layer. Alternatively, you can also invest in a pair of winter boots, which will keep your feet warm and dry, thus avoiding the need for overshoes.
Overshoes - If you are going to cycle in your regular cycling shoes, it is essential to invest in a pair of overshoes. Without them, winter riding will not be an enjoyable experience. Waterproof outer and fleece inner are your best option. Neoprene ones are pretty good but not waterproof. Avoid the latex type, which are more aero but also a lot more sweaty!
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2. Your legs
Leg warmers or full length bibs? Answer is simple, if you feel that you might get warm, opt for the leg warmers, if it's the depth of winter, opt for the full bibs.
One word of warning, if you have skinny thighs, always opt for the full bibs. No one wants a thigh gap...
For the colder and wetter months, opt for a windproof fleece panel on the top of the thigh. This ensures that you're protected where the rain and wind hits you.
Finally, wearing bibs instead of tights ensures that there is no cold gaps between your tops and your bottoms.
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3. Your body
Baselayer - Wearing a baselayer will ensure that you will keep warm by either keeping you warm with a wool material or wicking the sweat away with a synthetic material. As we did with socks, if you tend to get cold and not so sweaty, go for merino, if you run hot and more sweaty, go for synthetic. Stay away from cotton and regular t-shirts as they will not wick moisture away from your skin. They will soak it up instead and stay wet and therefore cold.
Thermal jersey - Wearing a long sleeve thermal jersey will ensure that air is trapped in the fleece material of the the inside, thus keeping you warmer. There is no real need to put a regular jersey between the baselayer and the thermal jersey as it wont keep you warmer and will only make your top layering system tight and cause discomfort.
Outer jacket - We often get asked if people should invest in a waterproof, a cape or a windproof jacket. These are 3 different jackets for different purpose.
If you're commuting day in day out, we recommend getting a waterproof jacket. The likeliness of you being stuck out in the rain is quite high, so a waterproof jacket will work a lot better. If you want to know more about waterproof jackets rating and levels, check out point 2 of this article.
If you're going for a spring or autumn ride, when the weather isn't very cold, opt for a cape. These are often not waterproof but offer a degree of resistance to water and wind and provide you with an extra layer for no added weight. They should keep you comfy until the next coffee shop (depending on how rainy and windy it is of course).
If you're going for a long ride, will seek shelter from the rain and want to prioritise breathability and warmth, a windproof softshell jacket is the right option. The fleece inner lining will provide added warmth and the windproof outer layer will protect you against, well the wind. These jackets aren't officially waterproof but a lot of them will offer a level of waterproofing, which is superior to a cape and which should get you to shelter dry.
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4. Your hands
Ah, the hands, eternal source of cold and misery... Here's our top tips to ensure you keep those fingers toasty warm.
Thermal gloves - These are great for slightly colder conditions. They will not be wind nor water proof but the fleece inner will provide some added warmth.
Softshell gloves - In cold but dry conditions, softshell gloves are ideal. They protect you against the cold and the wind and ensure that the fleece inner keeps you warm.
Padded gloves - If you tend to run cold, then a padded glove with actual insulation would be a better option. These are often waterproof too! But be wary if you tend to run hot as they can be quite sweaty.
Lobster Claws - For the most sensitive people to cold out there, we have a solution: enters the Lobster Claw! These half mitts half gloves are perfect for those whose hands can 'never get warm' and tend to get numb. Ideally, we would recommend full mitts but these prevent you from changing your gears with ease, so the Lobster Claw is a great option.
Liner or no liner - With a good pair of gloves, you should not need a liner. These can create friction, make your gloves too tight, restricting the air between your fingers and frankly do not help keeping grip of your bike. So leave the liners at home on this occasion.
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5. Your head and neck
Your neck - Inc older conditions always wear a neckwarmer. This will fill the gap between your neck and your jacket and ensure that no wind goes down your top making you cold. You can go for wool or synthetic, fleecy or thin, the choice is up to you!
Your head - When it comes to your head, obviously, always wear a helmet. But under the helmet, there is a few different options. You can wear a headband to protect your ears against the cold wind, or a full skull cap with windproof ear flaps. What do don't do is wear a regular beanie. These are not designed for cycling and will make your helmet fit in an incorrect fashion, thus preventing it from doing a proper job of protecting your head.
Your face - Often forgotten, the face is important. Wear your sunglasses with the correct lense, as a crisp winter's wind can hurt your eyes and make you cry (literally). Too light and you might get skinty from the winter sun, too dark and you won't see anything. Even in low light conditions, light tinted glasses are essential to protect your eyes against debris from the floor.
Last but not least, a good moisturiser and lip balm are important in the winter months as the wind and cold can easily get your skin to be dry, patchy and your lips to crack and no one liked that!
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