Cycling in the winter is all about being prepared for the weather and road conditions. Figuring out what to wear takes a bit of experimentation. Layer too much and you’ll overheat. Not enough layers you’ll get cold and stay cold. One of the barriers to winter cycling is access to the quality gear required to cycle in winter weather comfortably. A lot of the items I've listed below come with a hefty price tag and while I got a lot of wear out of them I would recommend, before taking the plunge, playing around with any existing winter gear you already have, for example walking, running, skiing etc.
Waterproof, breathable and lightweight is ideal but not essential especially if you're starting out, or have a short commute. For instance, for my commute I wear my jeans underneath my rain pants for warmth. Second hand gear is also a great option. Whatever gear you choose, try to get bright colours so you can be easily seen - unlike my dark winter gear!
Here’s a handy checklist for winter cycling:
❄️ Waterproof pants (breathable is a nice bonus) - in the past I used my ski pants. Last year I invested in a pair of Arc'teryx Zeta SL Pants
❄️ Waterproof jacket (again, breathable is a nice to have) - the jacket I use is the Arc'teryx Beta AR . While this jacket is expensive I really like the features like the hood that fits over a helmet and the longer fit at the back which helps to protect against splash from the road in the rain.
❄️ For me a helmet in the winter is a must. It feels safe and it's a great place to attach another light. While I've never used one, I've seen a lot of folks use a helmet cover for added protection in rain and snow. I haven't tried this Showers Pass Helmet Cover from Mountain Equipment Company (MEC) but I like that's it's bright.
❄️ Waterproof gloves - my hands get very cold winter cycling. So cold I have to double up on gloves. I will typically use my ski gloves and a pair of Icebreaker liners inside. With layering gloves however you need to be mindful that you have enough mobility that you can still operate your brakes and gear levers.
What are your winter gear go to's?