Baby It’s Cold Outside, Whats Your Winter Gear Setup?

Written by Boston Biker on Jan 19

Its chilly today, according to weather.com it was 17 today in Boston, and 16 today in Cambridge for the ride in (its 14 in Nome Alaska). Which does nothing to explain why I saw double the number of cyclists in Cambridge than I did in Boston…but that is another blog post. People often will ask me around work, or in my personal life “You cycle…every day…EVEN IN THE WINTER!?!” And I say, “Yea.” That is usually the end, but a couple brave souls will inquire about clothing options for winter cycling so I thought I would just tell you what I wear all winter.

Starting at the top and working down I am bundled this way:

Head:
Helmet
Wool Hat
Cycling Hat
Scarf (if below 20)

Body:
Long sleeve shirt
Short sleeve shirt
First cotton/poly hoody
Second cotton/poly hoody

Hands:
Old thinsulate gloves stuffed into cheapo finger mitten gloves

Legs:
Boxers
Runners spandex pants
Jeans

Feet:
Wool socks
Vans

For bad weather (aka slush/rain/wet snow) I add the following
Rain Coat
Rain Pants
Plastic bag between socks and vans
Second pair of shoes if its going to be really nasty (just easier to change shoes when I get to work)

Thats it, no special high tech parka with electronic hand warmers, I find this set up allows for great flexibility and great layering options, it keeps me warm until about -10 and then at that point will keep me warm enough to get home.

Whats your winter set up, what clothing keeps you going all winter?


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Posted in Commuting | 18 Comments »


18 Responses to “Baby It’s Cold Outside, Whats Your Winter Gear Setup?”

  1. By erik on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Pretty similar here, at least conceptually. When it gets cold, I add some thin long underwear under my jeans. Using my yellow cycling rain jacket over a fleece or sweater is enough on top, though I’ll often add a fleece neck gator when it gets cold (and if it’s super-duper cold, like under 10F, I’ll use my neoprene half-balaclava). On the ears, just a windproof headband. I do love my Pearl Izumi lobster mitts though.

    I was XC skiing this past weekend, and even when it was 0F, the same approach was just fine (normal weight insulating layer under a windproof layer). It’s amazing how much the clothing overlaps. The only difference is we deal with a bit more wind when cycling.

    I actually find snow a lot more irritating. It tickles your nose, gets in your eyes (glasses help, but can get fogged up), the salt and sand ruin the chain, your feet get soaked, the bike lanes don’t get plowed…

  2. By cycler on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    I’m with you on no special gear- today I wore:

    A dress, with regular dress tights, heavy wool socks, mid-calf leather boots with stacked heels, A wool cardigan sweater, trenchcoat, heavy insulated gloves, helmet, earbags (little felt pods that snap over your ear-earmuffs without the connector) scarf, sun glasses

    My legs from mid-calf to knee were chilly, but everything else was fine. I actually was a bit warm when I got to work. The trenchcoat is new and I’m still figuring out what I need under it. If it’s in single digits I would wear either two layer of tights (one wool and one normal) or I would wear lined wool pants. I’d also add liner gloves inside my insulated gloves.

  3. By Marshall on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Head:
    Bandana
    Fleece winter headband
    Neoprene half mask
    Sunglasses or racquetball glasses (night)
    (the bandana/headband combo allows my helmet to fit very snugly)

    Body:
    T-shirt
    Hoody
    Shell from a ski jacket

    Hands:
    Full-finger work gloves

    Legs:
    Boxers
    Long underwear
    Jeans

    Feet:
    Wool socks
    Tennis shoes

    The only really bad part is my wrists between the gloves and sleeves.

  4. By craig on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Key to winter riding is lots of thin, breathable layers. I commute only 10 miles into the city but can log long miles in single digits dressed thusly:

    Head: Helmet
    rain cover (under 30F)
    Sugoi merino cycling cap
    Neck gaiter (under 30F)
    Glasses

    Hands: Gore windstopper cycling gloves
    Swix lobster gloves

    Body: S/S Wicking Baselayer
    L/S Windproof Baselayer (under 30F)
    S/S Cycling Jersey
    L/S Thermal soft-shell jacket
    E-vent cycling Jacket

    Legs: under 30: Thermal full bib-tights
    over 30: normal bib-tights
    Thermal wind tights

    Feet: wool cycling socks (icebreakers)
    wool boot socks (under 30F)
    Sidi Diablo GTX winter shoes
    Thermal Shoe covers (under 30F)

    Current bike setup is a Cross bike with studded Nokian a10 tires, L&M Lights and full fenders.

  5. By Chip on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Head: helmet, helmet liner or full-face balaclava if it’s really cold.
    Upper body: long-sleeve jersey, Polarfleece jacket, bright yellow shell. Below 10, add a base layer and/or replace the shell with my ski jacket.
    Hands: ski gloves.
    Lower body: bike shorts, running tights, add a base layer if it’s cold. Hasn’t yet been cold enough to add the ski pants.
    Feet: warm socks, regular bike shoes. If it’s really cold, switch to the stompy winter boots and flip the pedals to the non-cleat side.

    I admit I haven’t done much winter riding this year, despite the lack of actual winter. Thing I really need for cold weather is clear-lens ski goggles.

  6. By librarian on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Everyday street clothes, just more of them –

    Nutcase helmet
    Cashmere wool scarf wrapped around head and neck.
    Sunglasses

    Long sleeve t-shirt
    hip-length wool cardigan
    corduroy skirt
    knee-length down coat

    wool tights
    knee-length, lined leather boots

    sheepskin mittens

  7. By lummox on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    I do 10 miles from Belmont to boston all year.

    Head: Helmet, balacalva

    Body: if it is like today, long sleeve wicking layer, long sleeve zip up heavey mid layer, bright yellow wind jacket. If it gets colder, I’ll throw on a nice carhart hoodie under the jacket.

    Legs: regular long johns under carhart pants. If it is heavy rain, I’ll wear rain pants.

    Feet: thick wool socks under regular cycling shoes. If it is heavy rain, I’ll wear waterproof booties.

    Hands: generic winter gloves today, if it is colder, I’ll throw on some 99cent knit gloves underneath.

    Comment: different things work for different people, but for those jeans wearers, try Carhart pants. same warmth, same protection, more flexibilty

  8. By Weather Guy on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    The topic of my blog, every day!

    http://weather.bostonbiker.org/2012/01/19/cold-and-dry-whither-ear-coverings/

    A few months back I switched from your classic Bell bike helmet to a Nutcase helmet. It was mostly for vanity, although perhaps not what you think: the Bell left uglier helmet hair than the Nutcase (whose helmet hair is more “tussle” than “W”). The downside is that the nutcase fits snugly and will not accept a hat or cap underneath, which I truly missed today. My solution a few weeks ago was to wrap a scarf around my face, but I simply didn’t realize how cold it was today when I left.

    Weather: 17 degrees and clear.

    Clothing: Heavy winter jacket, no extra covering on pants or face. I regret the latter, as my ears were cold. Heavy wool gloves.

    Bike: The Crosscheck. I like using panniers much more than bags, which restrict airflow way too much.

    The bike is in dire need of some chain cleaning. I forget how much love it needs in the winter between salt, rain and ice.

  9. By William Furr on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    I don’t wear anything special on my legs or feet. Then again, I’m only riding 3 miles each way. Next week that goes up to 8 miles, so maybe I should add a layer.

    Feet: leather Merrell shoes with cotton socks
    Legs: Cotton twill casual slacks
    Torso: Undershirt, corduroy button-up long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket, windbreaker
    Neck: Wool neck gaiter (much handier than a scarf, no loose ends to chase around)
    Head: Bern helmet with winter liner
    Hands: Regular full-finger cycling gloves underneath my giant nylon waterproof shell mittens

    For riding 8 miles, I think I want to add my rain pants on top of my regular pants; they block the wind nicely and don’t add much weight. I may also start wearing wool socks or go with some kind of liner, maybe plastic bags.

    I also have a fleece balaclava now, but I think it would have to get *awfully* cold for that to be useful.

  10. By crankycoffey on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    thin merino wool balaclava under my helmet
    layers of sweaters
    jacket (sometimes wool, sometimes down, sometimes fancy vintage)
    mittens (2 pairs if it’s really cold)
    wool scarf
    2 pair merino wool long underwear
    pants or skirt
    wool socks
    sneakers or boots, depending on weather.

    I find mittens WAY warmer than gloves.

    I’m always warm to the point of perspiration by the time I arrive.

    It’s good to have layers to remove. I usually take of my scarf at some point.

  11. By Jed on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    When the weather starts to get cold and nasty I just switch into my snowboarding clothing (luckily I have a bunch).

    Head:
    Helmet -> Bern snowboard Helmet (if it’s sufficiently cold)
    Neck Gaiter

    Body:
    Thermal Layer
    Short sleeve shirt
    Hoody or Fleece depending on how I’m feeling
    Outer shell (insulated one if it’s really cold)

    Hands:
    My snowboarding gloves

    Legs:
    Boxer briefs
    Thermals/leggings
    Jeans

    Feet:
    Whatever. I just change into another pair of socks+shoes at work. (Only a 4mi commute)

  12. By charlieblue on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Head:
    -Bern helmet (doesn’t leave much room for a hat underneath, but has liners you can switch out)
    -360s Ear warmers
    -Scarf (when 45 degrees or lower)

    Body*:
    -tanktop (usually cotton)
    -Sugoi Runners Hoodie (makes you look like a ninja, I only put the hood up when it’s below 20 and windy, hood fits nicely under a helmet)
    -L.L. Bean vest (Polartec fleece)
    -Wool felt knee length coat (with proper layering this functions between 45 to below zero, can keep out rain (for awhile) and snow)

    Hands:
    -fingerless gloves under
    -NorthFace APEX gloves (for wet yuck)
    -L.L. Bean gloves (realllllly cold my hands are going to fall off days)

    Legs*:
    -long undies by CuddleDuds
    -Jeans
    (*besides usual lady type undergarments)

    Feet:
    -SmartWool socks
    -boots of some kind or another as long as they fit in the toe baskets (toeclips)

    Sometimes like today, also
    -ToastyToes shoe warmers

    For rain/slush/yuck
    -Rain coat
    -plastic rain pants
    -Hunter Boots (knee high, obnoxiously blue, and yes they fit in the toe clips)

  13. By Megan on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    I will refer you to this article and video: Overcomplicating Winter Cycling and Why It’s Bad

    http://www.copenhagenize.com/2012/01/overcomplicating-winter-cycling-why-its.html

    I just put on my coat and gloves and start riding. Some good wool stockings paired with my dress work just fine.

  14. By cc on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    Winter riding gear…

    helmet, windproof hat, wool long sleeved shirt, light hooded fleece, windproof fleece, lobster mitts, windproof tights, shorts, wool socks, various shoes depending on how cold or wet, if necessary…rain/wind jacket and pants and a wool neck gaiter.

    I bring other clothes for work. I also use many of these items for snowshoeing, winter hiking and ice climbing. I actually like cold weather.

  15. By matt on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    maybe with a short commute, but my 25-mile RT is just too much in the cold. leaves me with terrible headaches. and I have all the stuff – balaclava, lobster mitts, etc etc etc

  16. By cycler on Jan 19, 2012 | Reply

    @ megan,
    While I get the point Copenhagenize is trying to make, I think a couple of people (me, Librarian, Weather Guy and William Furr) already made it in the comments above. Biking in Boston is slightly different than walking or taking the T- I dress much more warmly if I’m doing the latter two- and it’s not ridiculous to discuss what combinations of (mostly normal) clothing work well for people.

  17. By Rebecca on Jan 2, 2013 | Reply

    I went for my seven mile bike ride this morning. Twenty degrees when I left the house and 23 degrees upon my return. What did I wear? My snow pants atop my bare legs, a heavy-duty silk sleeveless undershirt, a silk turtleneck; ordinarily I dislike turtlenecks, but once I’m outside I don’t even notice the tight neck and it means I don’t need to wear a scarf, an old cashmere sweater, a fleece vest, my winter jacket, my sheepskin hat and sheepskin mittens, and thick wool socks and slip-on snow shoes. My toes, which were frost-bitten as a child, were a tiny bit cold when I returned home an hour later. I was sweating so I could have done without the fleece vest.

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