You've heard it before because it's generally true: there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad gear. Cycling through the winter months—whether commuting or adventuring—is an exemplary situation where the adage is right on the money.
To get your kit in order and looking good, we've rounded up a collection of our favorite winter-specific cycling pieces designed to keep you comfortable in the cold and happily pedaling all season long.
Rapha Explore Hooded GORE-TEX Pullover,
My favorite cycling gear functions as well on the street as it does on the bike. And Rapha is an expert at this. The oversized chest pocket on this anorak is handy for on-the-go access to small items and doubles as a stuff sack. A relaxed fit avoids any restriction of movement, while GORE-TEX Active—the latest and greatest waterproof-yet-breathable fabric from the technical fabric powerhouse—easily takes care of inclement weather challenges.
A proper base layer is the foundation upon which the perfect layer game is built. Its job is to regulate the heat that your body produces as your heart rate steadily increases, pulling moisture off your skin (good) to keep you from cooling down (bad). Mission Workshop's Perimeter crew is made from both nylon and Merino wool, giving the layer strength and stretch while regulating temperature (plus it's naturally odor resistant and anti-microbial).
Swrve Softshell Trousers,
For years I swore by using techy long underwear to convert any pair of pants into winter commuter pants. Though an effective (and thrifty) tactic, the combination doesn't do a great job of dumping excess heat, forcing me to immediately have to remove said long underwear once at the office. It's not an elegant solution. These California-sewn pants from Swrve however, are.
Lined with a low-bulk, high-warmth fleece to help keep the heat while the exterior blocks both wind and water, the pants are perfect for daily commuting and more adventurous use too. Pattern details like the articulated knees, diamond crotch gusset, and raised rear waist spotlight how considered the pant is for the task at hand.
PEdAl ED Winter Shoes, $312
The product name, "Winter Shoes," seems a bit of an understatement if you ask me. Tokyo-based PEdAl ED took their design to celebrated Italian bootmaker Diemme to craft a classic hiking style boot suitable for winter pedaling. The end result features reflective hits, breathable lining, and a low cut heel to account for the foot's movement while pedaling. While the yellow laces may not add a technical feature, they look pretty great on the grey suede.
Sub-zero winds against the face are one of my least favorite sensations in the world. A good balaclava (a ski mask, in layman’s) is a highly effective and often affordable piece of gear. Giro's microfleece design makes for on-the-fly adjustment of facial coverage supremely easy, even while fingers are swathed in thick gloves.
(Not digging the Hannibal Lecter look?
Try this simple Winter cap from 45NRTH.)
If you've gotten this far, you don't need me to extoll the virtues of keeping your hands warm while riding a bicycle in the cold. Minimal bulk is what makes this pair of gloves from French brand Café Du Cycle so appealing. With a general-use winter (or ski) glove, finger dexterity is often sacrificed for warmth. Here though, a fleece lining and quilted exterior trap heat just like your favorite puffy, keeping your digits warm and fully functioning, which tends to be useful for things like operating brake and shift levers.