A Useful Review – Winter Essentials Compendium

There are myriad items you can add to your cycling arsenal to make riding through cold weather more pleasurable. This is a challenge our industry has fairly met with wool and down and DWR coated fabrics, not to mention Gore-Tex, Lycra and synthetic insulations. As the season begins to wane, I thought I’d make one last pitch for four items that are my winter ride-or-dies, the things I wear all the time, year after year, because it works for me on every level.

Some of these items I’ve reviewed before, but this is a chance to underline their quality and put them all in one place. Also, this is about the last point in the season I might consider adding winter-specific stuff to my collection, so this is also me drawing a line under winter and mentally moving into spring…even though we’re at least a month out from that here in New England.

OK. First, the most useful cold weather riding gloves I’ve ever owned, the Craft Siberian 2.0. If you don’t own a pair, you’re missing out. They come in full-fingered versions, as well as lobster. Billed as cross-country skiing training glove, they go everywhere and do everything well. Ride a bike. Shovel some snow. Walk a dog. Ride a bike again. I should probably buy a dozen pairs before they get discontinued for no reason I can imagine. They are $64.99.

Next, another Craft item, the Glide Wind Tights. These are also made for Nordic skiing, but they’re perfect for winter riding too. Wind front, check. Warm, check. Stretchy, comfortable and good for all-day riding. Check. Check. Check. I like that they’re not fully fitted. There’s a little give in them, which makes them more comfortable, more forgiving, and better able to hold warmth once you generate it. They are $129.99

Next is the Salomon Essential Wool base layer. I have one from a couple seasons ago that has a hood, which I love, but even without the hood, I would wear this item on every ride if I could. So comfortable. So warm. So not smelly. It’s $100, which is a lot for a base layer, unless you wear that base layer 40-50 times in a year, which I do.

Finally, the Sportful Fiandre Light No Rain Vest. I misidentified this as their Pro vest on The Paceline last week, so my apologies. When it’s cold, I use a windproof vest with pockets (that’s critical), under my top layer. I ride myself warm, strip the top layer and stow it in a vest pocket, along with my other stuff. This vest is absolutely windproof across the front, but breathes well from the back, so someone who generate a lot of heat, like me, can still maintain a reasonable riding temperature. It’s $140.

Obviously, there are other items I like for winter riding, but these are the ones that stand out, that I’d replace immediately if I lost or wore out. Each of them, I think, is good value for the money and you can expect to get many seasons use from. If you have lights-out favorites you’ve been riding in this winter, drop a plug in the comments below.

Join the conversation
  1. alanm9 says

    Dakine mittens. I suffer from Raynauds so can’t wear gloves below freezing. Contrary to what others say you can ride fine in mittens, just get them larger so your fingers can move. The Dakines are lightweight but very warm and durable. I’ve been riding in the same 2 pair for years. The ones I bought were $45 and came with a separate pair of liners. Slide in a mineral hot pack and the fingers stay warm to single digit temps.

  2. dr sweets says

    John boi, while I may have returned to my southern roots, I spent nearly 3 years at the end of the 90’s living in Minneapolis so I learned first hand about year round cold weather riding. It often comes down to the little things that make it more pleasant and do-able for cold weather rides. I am a firm believer in merino base layers. The ones from assorted companies like Salomon are fine, but I can’t complain with the totes basic ones from REI which are often on sale. Another merino item which I’ve used for years are the DeFeet merino gloves/glove liners. These are amazeballs and can often turn your usual gloves out for winter duty. Another real simple trick are employing the hand/foot warmers that you can buy anywhere. These silly things have saved me many times. Lastly, and this damn thing has to be a solid 15+ years old is a Specialized windblock jersey liner. I don’t think they even make it any longer, but I imagine something similar might exist. Functions the same as shoving newspaper down your jersey front when yr descending La Gavia (and you thought I was just a dirtbag) or wherever. It weighs nothing, but is super warm. Finally, the real question is whether you look as sexy and nonplussed as the Sportful vest model when you are wearing said item?

  3. oldtimecaramels says

    If you are ordering one of the items from Craft, I recommend having the Capitol One Shopping extension on your browser. I got the tights for about half of the retail price.

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