I think I really nailed what to wear for winter cycling when I took part in Red Bull Timelaps back in October 2019 (pictured above with my team). Cycling in the cold and wet is like a baptism of fire for figuring out how to layer for cycling in cold weather!
You can check out all the kit I packed for that weekend of adventure but for general day to day cycling – in cold weather – I put together this post, featuring a video I made for Instagram, to share how I layer along with some other tips I’ve picked up.
The post also covers how to warm up after your ride, instead of spending th rest of the day shivering!
What I Wear For Cycling In Cold Weather:
This 30 second video shows what I typically wear when I’m out riding in cold weather. Most of my kit is from Liv Cycling as I’m a Liv Cycling UK Ambassador.
Winter Cycling Layers:
✅ long thermal tights (or shorts and leg warmers) and sports bra
If you don’t have long thermal tights or are on a budget, then legs warmers are a great way to make your shorts work in the winter. They’re also useful during the transitional seasons to make sure you’re warm enough when you start, but can remove when you / the weather warms up.
When it comes t the sports bra, make sure you wear the right support for you and choose one made from a sweat wicking material. If I’m going out for longer rides, I like to wear one that isn’t too compressive.
✅ base layer and socks
These are two very important pieces – one keeps your torso warm and one keeps your toes warm! A lot of people swear by merino for base layers and socks but if you sweat a lot it isn’t the best material.
Whatever you choose, just try to avoid materials like cotton which get heavy and stay wet, only serving to make you colder. Liv Cycling don’t make this base layer anymore but I love it. I also have a long sleeved merino base layer I picked up in Aldi which is perfect for cycling, running or anything else outdoors.
✅ thermal long sleeved jersey (or short sleeved with arm warmers)
Again, if you don’t have a thermal long sleeved jersey you can use one of you short sleeved one’s with arm warmers. Perfect for transitional seasons too.
✅ cap, headband to cover ears, buff for neck, helmet
This is probably one of the most personal to you areas of layering for cycling in cold weather but there are plenty of options. I can’t cope with cold ears – it gives me a headache. So I always have ear warmers on hand which I wear with my regular summer caps.
I also need my neck to be covered and not allow any draughts into my chest area. And last but not least, your helmet of course.
Accessories are important too. Gloves and overshoes will keep your hand and feet warm and dry as well as protecting then from the wind.
Another option are winter cycling shoes but they’re pretty hard to come by. Here are some that come highly recommended:
- Northwave Himalaya Boots
- Northwave Flash Arctic GTX Boots
- Shimano RW5 Winter Road Shoes
Check eBay to see if you can find any that come up in your size otherwise set an alarm ready for next Summer when hopefully stock starts to come in again.
Best Gloves For Cycling In Cold Weather
I have a couple of pairs of Liv winter gloves (including the Norsa X womens long finger winter glove) which I picked up from Giant Loughton. I haven’t been out in any crazy temperatures so I asked for recommendations from others.
Another more recent popular option are lobster claw gloves. They are warmer than gloves because they have less surface area around your fingers, the insulation can is thicker, and your fingers are together (in 2×2) in a pocket of warm air.
Check out these lobster claw style winter gloves:
- GripGrab Lobster Cycling Gloves* available on Amazon
- Proviz REFLECT360 Waterproof Lobster Gloves
- Pearl Izumi – Ride Pro AMFIB Lobster Gloves* available on Amazon
Out of stock options for reference:
- Giro 100 Proof Winter Gloves
- SealSkinz Waterproof Extreme Cold Weather Cycle Split Finger Glove
- Planet X 365 Waterproof Crab Hand Winter Gloves
- Rapha Overmitts
Regular Winter Glove Recommendations:
Winter Skin Care
I almost forgot about skincare until Courtney reminded me. The harsh weather can takes its toll and dry out your skin. I’ve personally been using Cetaphil’s Daily Defence facial moisturiser which is a great every day moisturiser with SPF50+.
How To Get Warm After Your Ride
If you’ve been out for your ride, come back and are struggling to warm up then here are some things that might help.
Firstly, did you eat and hydrate enough before, during and after the ride? If not, this can cause your body temperature to drop. And bear in mind that drinking can make you colder as the fluid will be cold so warm drinks are best. Try to have a hot breakfast if you’re riding in morning or a hot snack if riding later in the day.
Were you even warm enough before you went out? Before your ride, try layering up to the point you’re almost too hot inside and actually neeeed to get outside for some cold air.
If you sweat excessively, merino base layers are counterintuitive as they actually hold the sweat which will make you colder in the long run.
Try not to stop on your ride – even a quick stop could be enough to allow your body to begin to cool down.
When you get home, warm up slowly with layers and a hot drink before having a hot shower. A hot shower just heats the skin.
Hopefully Spring is well on it’s way and we can worry about all this winter cycling kit at a later date. But no harm in being prepared for next Winter esp if you don’t want the weather to keep you indoors.
Any other kit you recommend?!