Cold Weather Clothing Guide
In this post we are going to talk a little bit about the different types of clothing that can help you brave the cold Iowa Fall, Winter, and Spring. I'll start with a list of items I use including definitions and product examples. I'll follow that up with a few different combinations of clothing I might put together for different temperatures. Everyone is different so please keep in mind this is just what works for me and will definitely vary from person to person.
Wool Cycling Socks: Thicker and more insulated than a traditional sock.
-Defeet Woolie Boolie 6" Sock $16.99
Toe Cover: Insulated cover that just covers the toe section of your shoe.
Shoe Cover: Insulated cover that covers the entire shoe and ankle.
-Pearl Izumi ELITE Softshell MTB Shoe Cover $75.00
Lobster Glove: Heavily insulated glove that pairs together the index finger with the middle finger, and the ring finger with the pinky finger to provide extra warmth with more dexterity than a mitten.
Barmitt: Large neoprene cover that surrounds the entire grip and a portion of the handlebar. These are a necessity under 20F and can be used in warmer temps in combination with much thinner gloves than you could normally wear.
-Various Brands ~$60-100+
Leg/Arm Warmer: Simple sleeves that can be easily put on or removed mid ride as the temps rise or fall.
-Pearl Izumi $20-$50
Wicking Baselayer: Tight fitting garment designed to be worn against the skin to wick away moisture. Should be paired with other forms of clothing on top of it.
-Craft Active Intensity Base layer $49.99
Windproof Boxer Brief: Tight fitting boxer brief with windstopper material on the front. This one is something most people might not know about but its one of the most important items I own for riding in sub 32F temps.
-Craft Active Extreme Windstopper Gunde $69.99
Thin Tight: Tight with minimal or no insulation, can come with or without a chamois. Models with no chamois are meant to be worn over an existing pair of cycling shorts.
-Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Tight $110
Thermal Tight: Heavier tight with midweight or heavy fleece lining and windstopper material. Most of these will have a chamois.
-Pearl Izumi Elite Escape Amfib Cycling Tight $160
Packable Wind Vest/Jacket: Thin vest or jacket that can be rolled up tightly and packed in a bag or jersey pocket. On some rides I'll put this on and remove it multiple times to regulate my temperature. One of the most valuable and underrated pieces a person can own!
Long Sleeve Thermal Jersey: Cycling jersey with fleece lining
Neck Gaiter: Sleeve for your neck that can be pulled up to cover the lower portion of the face.
-Funkier Multi Function Neck Warmer $15
Balaclava: Thin mask that covers the entire head, face, and neck
-Funkier Rovereto Thermal Balaclava $30
Chemical Hand/Toe Warmers: Typically I will wear a thin pair of gloves under thicker gloves with the handwarmers in between the two layers. If you have shoes that are big enough you can do the same with the toe warmers between two layers of socks.
Above 70F: Cycling Shorts and Jersey, no gloves, thin cycling socks
60 - 70F: Cycling Shorts and Jersey, possibly arm and leg warmers. Thin full finger gloves and thin cycling socks
50 - 60F: Cycling Shorts and Jersey, long sleeve wicking baselayer, arm and leg warmers. (The wicking baselayer is something I use for every temperature range going forward from here.) Thin full finger gloves and thin cycling socks. Start including a packable wind vest or jacket in your back jersey pocket.
40 - 50F: Fleece lined short with leg warmers, or add a thin cycling tight with no chamois over your regular cycling shorts. Wicking baselayer, long sleeve insulated jersey, windproof vest or jacket. At this range it might be good for some people to add wool socks, toe covers and insulated gloves
32 - 40F: Thin tights over cycling shorts or thermal fleece lined tights. Wicking baselayer, long sleeve insulated jersey, insulated windproof cycling jacket. Wool cycling socks, toe covers or possibly shoe covers. Insulated gloves or even thick insulated gloves. Thermal cycling cap or headband that covers the ears.
25 - 32F: Thermal fleece lined tights with windproof boxer brief baselayer underneath, wicking baselayer, long sleeve fleece lined jersey, insulated windproof cycling jacket. Wool cycling socks, shoe covers, thick insulated gloves or lobster gloves. Thermal cycling cap and neck gaiter which can double as a partial face mask. For some people this range might necessitate a switch from traditional cycling shoes with covers to a winter specific shoe or even hiking boots with flat pedals.
20 - 25F: Thermal fleece lined tights, windproof boxer brief, thin windproof baselayer, wicking baselayer on top of that, long sleeve fleece lined jersey, insulated windproof cycling jacket. Wool cycling socks, 2nd pair of thin socks if you've got room, shoe covers, lobster gloves, thin gloves underneath, chemical hand and toe warmers between the extra pair of gloves and socks. Thermal cycling cap and neck gaiter which can double as a partial face mask
Below 20F: Add barmitts and full balaclava
Photo from Jingle Cross UCI Elite Race in 2014. Temps were in the teens this year and I learned a lot about dressing warm with as little clothing as possible. Two of the most valuable items for me at this race were the neck gaiter and Craft windproof boxer briefs.