Winter Apparel

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Winter Apparel

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This topic contains 13 replies, has 13 voices, and was last updated by  Allstatecdl 1 month, 3 weeks ago.

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  • #246774

    Historically I ve always been a fair weather cyclist and recently Ive made singletrack riding more of my routine.  With winter approaching I was wondering, what are you guys wearing? Styles of coats, shoes, pants, helments, balaclavas, and why? Any insite would be appreciated as this will be my first winter cycling.

    Thank you in advance.

  • #246776
  • #246783

    Depends on how cold it gets where you live and ride as to the amount of winter clothing you need. Where I am at, 2 hours east of the Singletracks hometown, ( shout out to Hotlanta!), the winter months usually consist of 10-20 days below 40deg. The rest of winter is fair weather, long sleeves and shorts type of riding. Year round for sure! Pedal on man!

  • #246785

    Coat: Too hot, even if you’re mountain biking in Alaska in the winter. Get a good long-sleeve base layer, and wear a long-sleeve shirt or jersey over that. If you have a wool sweater, that could work — it’s breathable and keeps insulating even if it’s wet. There are bike-specific jackets that work pretty well, but they can be expensive. Sometimes I add a wind shell over my long sleeve shirt/jersey.

    Shoes: Get some neoprene shoe covers and a warm pair of socks or two.

    Pants: This is where it might be worth investing in a piece of cycling-specific winter clothing. I prefer insulated tights for really cold rides, otherwise regular tights are generally ok (with baggy shorts over the top, of course). For really cold temps and snow, look into a pair of insulated fat bike pants.

    Helmets: Get a beanie you can wear under your helmet, or just duct-tape the vents shut. 🙂

    Balaclavas: A good Buff (that’s the brand name, any tubular headwear will do) is worth its weight in gold. Seriously, get two of them and throw them in your pack because they take up zero space and weigh nothing. I use one as a scarf, and if it’s really cold, I add another one over my face to keep my nose and ears out of the wind. Singletracks sells these.

    Arm warmers: Just like the Buff, I love to have these in my pack at all times, especially in fall and spring when temperatures swing a bit more.

    • #246790

      Last year was my first year riding in the winter months. Usually, I rode when it was around in the 40s, a couple of times went out in the 35-37 range. Still wore my shorts, with a flannel shirt and/or with a windshirt, gloves. I think only once, maybe twice my fingers got cold.

  • #246794

    For a cold morning say 10 degrees F, I would wear thick socks, tights with chamois, tights without chamois, baggy shorts, 3 medium weight longjohn tops, wind breaker, thin balacava, heavy gloves. It seems like a lot of layers (3 layers on the bottom and 4 layers on the top) but as the day warms up I can remove layers to match the temperature and each layer is fairly thin and packs away easily. If it is warmer, I start with fewer layers. Surprisingly, the baggy shorts add a lot of warmth. I also pack thin gloves to use if my hands get sweaty. Usually, I just need to remove the wind breaker and/or the balacava as the day warms up. For a long climb, I remove layers and for a long descent, I add layers. Except for the wind breaker, all my layers breath and my clothing doesn’t get soaked with sweat.

  • #246796

    For my cold weather rising, definitely layers.  But it doesn’t really get that cold here.  Dec/Jan averages are lows in the high 30’s, and highs in the high 50’s.  Me personally, I don’t ride when it’s below 45.  So shorts and light layers are doable if there’s no wind chill, the Sun’s out, and I expect to ride hard and build up heat.  I guess it’s obvious I don’t like it cold.  But I have tried riding when it’s colder with some cold weather gear.  Something I can best describe as a dry suit.  Loose neoprene kinda stuff made specifically for riding.  Worked great until I started building up body heat.  I was soaked after a short ride when it was 35 outside, and I was just wearing a t-shirt and shorts underneath.  Just don’t like cold enough to find a good solution.  Besides, with winter weather as relatively mild as it is here, I just wait it out the couple weeks or so cold weather affects my riding.

  • #246799

    What’s Winter?

  • #246811

    <p style=”text-align: left;”>If you are riding in very cold for any length of time it is important not let yourself sweat too much. Once you are soaked you are screwed. If the temps vary quite a bit it can be hard to determine the right level of coverage so you are warm, but not too warm.   I rode all last winter but never felt dialed in. Of course winter here is tough because our temps go from slightly above freezing to well below zero F.</p>

  • #246842

    Everyone who has posted has given great advice. I agree with Jeff on the no coat thing. As iliketextmex said, you don’t want to sweat too much in cold weather. Aside from that, I would say bring multiple thin layers with a top layer that is wind and water resistant, but still not too heavy or thick. For a base layer, I usually wear a thin wicking shirt that has a hood that fits under my helmet and protects the back of my neck, though I usually take it down 15-20 minutes into the ride to cool off unless it’s extremely cold. Having the multiple thin layers will allow you to remove or add as necessary and, really, for something like this, it will take some trial and error because everyone is very different when it comes to how the react and perform in different temperatures. My general rule of thumb when I’m biking/hiking/snowshoeing is, if I’m warm and comfortable before I start moving, I have too many layers on.

  • #247003

    I haven’t done a lot of mountain biking in the cold – plenty at 35-50 degrees but not much at subfreezing as I don’t find it any fun, but have done some ice climbing and the issues are similar. Postholing uphill to a frozen waterfall gets you hot and sweaty and standing there belaying in subfreezing temperatures gets you chilled pretty quickly just as riding uphill and coasting down are different extremes of heat regulation, with windchill to boot. Loading extra clothing in a backpack and removing and adding layers (I keep a dry base layer I change into after the approach when ice climbing even if it means stripping off the wet one in zero temps). I often put on a windproof jacket for the bike descents. Most of my routes are uphill on the way out, downhill on the way back so this works pretty well for me.

  • #247070

    Just to be clear, even though I sometimes got the layers wrong, I still loved it. There is something awesome about riding on a moonlit night in the snow.  If you are anything like me, adding winter riding to your life will change your whole perspective on what is “bad” weather.   You won’t be sorry.

  • #247128

    Doesn’t get too cold here but below 45F light weight merino wool shirt and socks, light jacket and cycling vest. Below 30F medium weight merino shirt. Tights are a must or cycling pants. Merino socks will still keep your feet warm even when you put your foot thru a frozen stream into the water. Wear wool skiing, too. Winter cycling gloves down to 30F, below that ski gloves. Have light and heavy tights but rarely wear the heavy ones here in Arizona.

  • #247368

    Layer in a way so that you are cold (maybe uncomfortably cold) for the first 10-15 mins of the ride until your body warms up.  If you start the ride comfortably warm, you will no doubt overheat.  Freezing temps I usually wear a long sleeve baselayer and a fleece vest.  The vest helps you stay warm if you sweat and get wet.  Wet and cold = more cold.  I usually start the ride with the vest mostly unzipped…if I start to get colder (maybe bc of sweat), I’ll zip the vest up to keep my core warm for the remainder of the ride.   Tip: pack a pair of light glove liners and a scull liner as well.  They weigh almost nothing, take up almost no space, but warming your fingers and head with even a thin extra layer can go a long way to warm your whole body if you do find yourself too cold.   Once I started getting my layers right, winter riding became some of my favorite riding in snow or just dry, frozen ground conditions with lots of grip

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