Cold Riding Layering Basics

Keeping dry and staying warm is essential. Layering provides confidence and lets you focus on the ride ahead.

A good layering system includes:

Cyclist layering up

1. Base Layer

Base layers wick perspiration away from the skin. While this is also important for warm-weather riding, it is essential for cooler weather – staying as dry as possible is super helpful for staying warm and comfortable. Any moisture-wicking base layer will do the trick here, but a snug-fitting top is ideal for cycling. For the best winter performance, we recommend anything made with merino wool.

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Two cyclists riding in cold weather

2. Mid layer

Mid layers do the job of actually keeping you warm. Depending how cold it is, you can use a short-sleeved jersey, a long sleeve jersey, or even a soft-faced jacket or jersey. Wear whatever keeps you comfortable! This layer will most likely stay on the whole time.

A cyclist riding in cold weather

3. Insulated Outer Layer

Your shell is your shield. Shells can have insulating properties, but their main purpose is to block out wind and rain while allowing water vapor from sweat to escape. Higher-quality jackets and vests use fabrics that breathe better and will be more comfortable on longer days.

Cold weather apparel


Neck gaiters, gloves, shoe covers, skull caps, arm/leg warmers, and tights are great for extra winter ride coverage. Don’t let the cold stop you from getting out there.

Bonus Gear Breakdown:

Neck Gaiters

Neck Gaiters

A comfy way to add a little insulation pulled up over the chin or nose to keep your face protected.


Winter Gloves

It can take some time to figure out what you need. Most veteran cyclists own multiple pairs for a variety of conditions, but one thing is for sure, you will want a pair of full-finger gloves!

Shoe covers

Shoe covers

Made for cycling, shoe covers slip over the outside of your shoes. They insulate your feet and keep the wind off by blocking the vents that are built into your shoes. Warm socks are great, but shoe covers step it up to the next level.

Cycling headwear

Cycling headwear

Take advantage of cycling-specific skull caps and headbands – designed to fit comfortably under your helmet. With all the venting in a modern helmet, cold air passes through easily and a little extra material covering your ears can make a chilly ride far more pleasant.

Arm Warmers


Arm and leg warmers are fantastic pieces of clothing that are fairly unique to cycling. Modular by design, they are perfect for taking on or off should the temperature fluctuate over the course of a ride.

Winter Tights

Winter Tights

For the coldest rides, you may want to consider an insulated pair of tights or bib tights. These provide warmth over the entirety of the garment for better coverage than shorts paired with leg warmers.


Our Tips & Tricks:

  1. When heading out on an especially cold morning, take a shower before the ride. A short, hot shower can raise your surface temperature and even your core temp slightly. This can make the first 15-30 minutes more comfortable while you get warmed up. Of course, this only works if you are riding from home and not driving to the start of a ride.

  2. Off-season riding brings fewer daylight hours, more cloud cover, and mixed conditions such as rain and fog. Choose clothing that is brightly colored so that you are more visible to drivers. Bright colors don’t have to be classic high-vis yellow – orange, pink, and bright blue are also highly visible colors. If you're looking to expand your wardrobe, check out our large selection of high-vis clothing.

  3. Check the weather where you are riding to, not just where you live. This might seem like a no-brainer, but all too often we look out the window and make clothing choices without checking the weather only to be caught off guard by a storm or discover that it's much colder, windier, or wetter on our route.

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