Author Topic: Winter bike commute clothes?  (Read 4056 times)


  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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Winter bike commute clothes?
« on: October 24, 2014, 10:10:33 AM »
At 33 degrees, we're officially moving into the cold weather season here in MI. I started commuting over the summer, and I love (almost) every minute of it. The 40-60 degree mornings have been great riding weather with a light, long-sleeve wicking pull-over and tech shirt. But not at 33 degrees.

I tried the ride with my Asisc Storm Shelter rain jacket, which keeps me warm, but also locks in all my sweat. I've also tried the cold ride with an added thick-wool sweater. The sweat wasn't as big a problem, but the wind cut me to the core.

Does anyone have any suggestions for staying warm on the winter commute without showing up to work in a sweat box?  Also, how much should I consider spending on warm weather gear?  Is it less bad ass to spend $200+ on a coat if I'm presumably going to use it for years to come?


  • Magnum Stache
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #1 on: October 24, 2014, 10:28:40 AM »
You need some sort of water resistant, breathable jacket. Pick one with a collar and elasticized sleeve cuffs. Just about any sporting goods or outdoor store will carry something like this. This is the kind of jacket I wear in the PNW in the winter. As it gets colder I just add more wicking layers underneath. I also add a thin toque under my helmet, gloves and neoprene cycling booties over my bike shoes.

I picked up a 2-pack of fleece lined tights at Costco last weekend to add to my collection. They were $14 and will last for years.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #2 on: October 24, 2014, 10:46:00 AM »
I pretty much use the same clothing all year round, and I live in Yellowknife where -45 temperatures are frequent throughout the winter. I just add or remove a layer as the temperature dictates. My standard cold weather gear, which I start wearing around the beginning of October, is:

Warm weather tights under Axiom Cycling Storm Pants
Long sleeve T-shirt under a light fleece and a soft shell zipped jacket, under a Gore-Tex outer shell (all from the North Face)
Scarpa Hiking Boots
Neoprene face mask and skull cap under a snowboarding helmet, not designed for biking, but it cuts the wind when I add the removable liner, and I can clip my lights on it.
Various winter gloves under snowmobile handlebar mits depending on temperatures.

I rarely get too cold or too hot. The most difficult part is to protect the exposed skin on the face while being able to breath properly without hyperventilating.


  • Senior Mustachian
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2014, 11:18:31 AM »
Don't wear anything cotton if you can avoid it.  It just sucks for cold weather . . . once wet it's worse than having nothing on.  Basically you want to be a little cold when you get on the bike so that 5 minutes later when you warm up you're not too hot.  I find that most regular winter clothing is much too warm and doesn't breathe enough for biking.

Essential stuff:
- mask or scarf over the face
- Something warm over the ears (you can tape over your helmet vents with packing tape and it'll keep your head surprisingly warm)
- Several different weights of winter gloves/mitts
- Roomy insulated hiking boots (slightly too large keeps your feet warm because you can layer socks without cutting off circulation)
- Wool socks
- I like a layered approach for the upper body . . . usually a wicking shirt close to the skin, a fleece (of various weights depending on temp), and a windbreaker on top.
- I got some polartec tights this year, and they are hella warm for my legs over bike shorts.  Previous years I've used just regular workout pants with long underwear beneath, and my crotch was always too cold.

I got fancy this year and bought some clothes from a small company called Foxwear.  They're pretty awesome materials for not too much money.  The fabrics wick wetness away from you and are surprisingly warm.  I'd at least check them out if you're looking for a jacket and some tights.
« Last Edit: October 24, 2014, 01:19:00 PM by GuitarStv »


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #4 on: October 24, 2014, 02:15:16 PM »

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

  • Walrus Stache
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #5 on: October 24, 2014, 02:20:14 PM »
Mr. FP just dropped $200 on a treated down winter coat from LL Bean on the justification that he has not had a new winter coat in 10 years.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #6 on: October 25, 2014, 09:13:39 PM »
I used a ski jacket and jeans when I lived in the usa.  The ski jacket had zips under the armpits which opened up. It was also waterpoof, breathable and cheap. It came from zumiez. Gloves,  bandanna and helmet (instead of beanie, more breathable), wool socks, extra large bandanna over face (think hells angels style!).


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #7 on: October 25, 2014, 09:24:31 PM »
I just wore shorts and a t-shirt, and maybe a coat until I warmed up on the ride. That was in a TX winter though, so no biggie.


  • Stubble
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Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #8 on: October 25, 2014, 10:45:01 PM »
You might check out xc skiing jackets and pants.  Like winter biking, made for aerobic cold weather activity.  There are some neat ones with wind resistant material in the front and lighter, more breathable material in back.


  • Guest
Re: Winter bike commute clothes?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2014, 04:37:37 PM »
The cheapest breathable outer layer that's any good is the Marmot PreCip. $99 retail but if you're patient with the Sierra Trading Post deal emails, you can get one for closer to $50. You'll still sweat some, but I keep the pit zippers open until below zero F to aid in cooling.

Down to 20F all you'll need under that is a thin long-sleeve base layer. I have extra space in my panniers, so I pack a thicker fleece in case I get stranded or I'm headed to a park with the kids.

For hands, ski gloves are great. For feet, some people do the plastic bags in shoes trick. I need insulated boots for other things, so I wear those on the bike as well.