We love mountain biking in the cooler weather and through the fall colors and getting out on our fat bikes and riding through some crispy snow. With those conditions our wardrobe becomes different to stay warm. Some of our biggest tips to cool weather gear-don’t go too bulky, think layering, and have versatile gear for different cycling conditions. Whether you are racing or just riding or even mountain biking versus gravel racing make a huge difference in what you will wear. Check out some of our staples, how they keep you warm, and why we love them!
- Vests. Vests are probably some of the most versatile items, and ones we reach for first when the weather gets colder. There are a couple of different kinds of vests we own. Cycling wind vests are one of our favorite layers. With a wind blocking material in the front and ventilation in the back, these keep the wind off your core and keep you warm without adding a ton of bulk. We also like having a thin PrimaLoft insulated vest for when it gets really cold. A piece like this can be layered over or even under a jersey to help with heat retention depending on the temperature. Our cycling wardrobe always includes a vest.
- Base Layers. Your cold weather/winter kit is only as good as your base layers. Layering is the key to staying warm no matter what cold weather activity you are doing. You always want to have a good variety of layers so that you can build the perfect system for whatever weather. Base layers with different thicknesses, sleeve length, and even compression can make a huge difference in heat retention and ventilation. Some of the best fabrics to look for are wool or synthetics.
- Gloves. Another crucial body part to keep warm is your hands. They get the brunt of the wind, when riding, and need to stay functional so you can steer and brake. We have a wide variety of gloves from ones that are just windbreakers to more heavily insulated gloves and pogies for winter fat biking. The key is to have flexibility while maintaining warmth.
- Feet. Again, toes are pretty important to keep warm, so we have a wide variety of items we use, from socks to toe caps to boots. Cycling shoes are highly breathable to keep your feet cool in the summer, but when it gets cold, you feel it on your toes. We have some neoprene toe caps that are one of our first things we reach for to help block the wind. As it gets colder we have full shoe covers, mid weight cycling shoes/boots, and even full fledged insulated winter boots. Some of this equipment can get pricey, but in many cases we have found the price tag worth it if you can afford it. Another thing to consider is that winter boots can make your cycling experience completely difference too because they aren’t as flexible and that connection to the pedal doesn’t feel the same. However, if you want to keep biking in the dead of winter, they are a life saver.
- Pants. Core, feet, and hands-all of these are important to keep warm, but don’t forget about the legs. Pants, like everything else, come in a wide variety of fabrics, insulation, and even with or without a shammy. All of these serve different purposes and everyone’s preferences are different for what they like for pants, but as with all the other gear we have, we have found that quality matters for our comfort while riding in cold weather, so find what you love and invest in it to keep you active in the cooler months.
We don’t like being hampered by the weather in our adventures, so over the years we have learned and created our wardrobes that now have those pieces we couldn’t do without when riding. Some of the items may seem like luxury items, but once you have them, you won’t look back. It takes a bit of time and figuring out what works for you, but we highly recommend investing in your winter wardrobe so that you can stay active all year round on your bike!
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Mark Deering, Adventuring REALTOR, 616.292.6215
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