Winter Biking: Dress for Success

Filed Under: Education & Safety, Gear & Equipment
Post By: justinsmith
Posted On: December 1, 2015


General comment and recommendation on dress

Many people will tell you that layering is key. We agree. And if you want to make maximal use of your layers, or perhaps you’re a minimalist at heart or a spendthrift, consider this…

Woolly Mammoth

It’s the little joys in life…

Ah, the wonders of wool!* Think about it – ‘wool’ly mammoth, ice age… on second thought, we’ll leave the historical geology, and science in general, to those whose profession actually focuses on said subject matter.

Getting back to our experiences and a dash of facts, we present you with the many benefits of wool (cue the brief exciting music clip):

  • Insulating
  • Water resistant
  • Moisture wicking
  • Breathable
  • Temperature regulating
  • Odor resistant
  • And the list goes on…

There’s no “nano” nonsense and gimmicks, just Mother Nature’s long labor of perfecting love.**

For information on the many types of wool, check out this worthwhile guide.

As you proceed, you’ll find that we’ve broken out how to dress by the regions of the body with a particular focus on extremities. Please enjoy the rest of this post and make sure to share with us (Facebook & Twitter) any recommendations you have.

Protecting the windows to your soul (cue dramatic music… Jad… Robert…)

  • Sunglasses – get a good pair, or two; we promise you’ll use them all year long.
    • Tip: We recommend polarized lenses and in a color other than grey, smoke, or black – check up this outstanding guide…
      • To be fair, grey isn’t a bad option, it just doesn’t make the road and surroundings stand out as much as we prefer.
  • Consider getting goggles – while they might seem like overkill, we bet you’ll never not appreciate them.
    waterworld movie image Kevin Costner

    KC doing his thang.

    • What type of goggles? Well, since it is winter, and Waterworld isn’t likely to occur any time soon, we think the ski or snowboard variety will do (much like winter biking, sarcasm is good for the soul…Campbell’s soup, meh).
    • Tip: Make sure to grab some anti-fog spray or try the ol’ dish soap method as seen in this video (it’s highly complex…).
    • Don’t want to go give up your hard earned cash-ola for goggles or sunglasses? Here’s a DIY eye/face shield hack for ya (you’re such a hack).

Head, neck and ears (shoulders, knees and toes… no, just the first three)

  • Get yourself a balaclava (Made of wool of course!).
    • Tip: Add a winter hat and scarf or neck warmer on those negative double digit days.
  • Not a fan of fancy foreign face/head contraptions?
    • A warm winter hat and scarf or neck warmer will do just fine (Turtle Fur has some nice neck warmers that work well)…  you’ll need them on the negative double digit days anyway.
    • Warning: adjusting separate head and neck items can get to be quite annoying while riding.
    • Tip: If you go the hat route, make sure your ears are amply covered.
    • You can also reduce wind noise with these “cat-ears“, which definitely seem like a first-world-problem sort of purchase.
  • “Hack” your helmet to make it winter ready following this guide (is using the word ‘hack’ as annoying for you as it is for us?)
    • Tip: You may want to use something a bit more attractive or less visible than duct tape; though, when it comes to keeping the cold out, we can’t argue with no nonsense utility.
    • Warning: We also suggest covering the exposed duct tape inside your helmet in the instance you forget your fancy foreign face contraption and/or hat.

Hands and wrists (avoiding wristicles is highly recommended) 

Wristicles - they do exist.

Wristicles – they do exist.

  • Gloves, mittens, etc. there’s not much new here; just make sure to get a pair that are warm, well-made, and cover your wrists.
    • Snowboarding and ski gloves are often the best options, though we’ve read that some folks swear buy mittens or the three fingered gloves because your digits share more warmth together and there’s less individual exposure.
    • Tip: When you’re fully extended (think drop bars), your coat sleeves may not be long enough (brrr, just thinking of the potential for wristicles makes me shiver).
  • Don’t want to bother with gloves? Or need even more protection because you don’t want to buy a good pair of gloves? Here’s a wind-guard hack that hopefully suits your fancy.

We highly encourage you to not skimp on protecting the two extremities that control the direction and stability of your bike.

Feet and Ankles

  • Wool socks – ahh, the wonders of wool. Look, if you don’t gleefully welcome winter due to the fact that you can/should be wearing wool socks on every occasion, there may be something wrong with you.
  • Shoes – there are some serious winter bike shoes out there (Google it), but there are other options as well.
    • The winter boots that you already have, assuming it makes sense based on the type and size of your pedals, will likely work just fine.
    • There are also shoe covers that you can buy.
    • Tip: read this article which has just about everything you’ll want to know about winter biking footwear.

Stay tuned for our next blog post on winter biking, which will be all about equipping your bike for winter conditions. We’re talking about knitting a wool sweater for your frame, spokes, handlebars… but all joking aside, there are people who sort of actually do this. Check out this read on “craft bombing your bike” and even yourself (with wool of course!).


*If the garment / wool industry wants to create a brand campaign to compete with cotton, we may have just figured out your tagline

**See previous asterisk, though, this one might be more apt as a line in a commercial or for a specific product.