Winter kit favourites

 

The snow flurries and a string of storms; Freya, Gareth and Hannah, suggest this winter could have a sting in the tail, so we won’t be packing our winter kit away any time soon.  What we have been doing is comparing notes on the best picks from the kit we have had on test this winter and we thought we would share those with you, along with some pro-tips on keeping warm.

 

Craft Sportswear Winter Riding

 

We firmly believe there is no such thing as bad weather but there most definitely is plenty of disappointing kit out there that does not live up to its promises.  So we think it is the perfect time to do a round-up of some of our favourite things, the kit which has kept us happy on our bikes over the autumn and winter period.

 

We know that with a bit of research (spoiler alert - we’ve done that bit for you!) and some proper preparation, it is possible to enjoy the great outdoors whatever the weather, and these items have all made our list for a reason – they have met and exceeded our expectations and keep us warm, possibly even both warm and dry, so here we go, in no particular order …

 

FEET

Feet are typically the most difficult parts of the body to keep warm while cycling.  Blood circulation to the extremities is not helped by sitting on a bike and once they get cold it is almost impossible to warm frozen toes up.  We are not too proud to say we have been in tears in the shower as the feeling has returned to toes which have become completely numb from the cold after a particularly long ride in freezing conditions. 

 

Let’s start with the basics, wearing good quality socks that wick away any sweat you work up is a must and our pick is from Gore.  In particular the Gore Thermo Mid socks are our choice because they have been designed for comfort, warmth and durability.  The comfort comes from the minimal seams, the padding at the toes and heals, and the fact that all of that works really well with cycling shoes.  Add to that the technical material and an elasticated band around the mid foot to keep them perfectly in place and there is nothing more we could ask for.

 

An absolutely essential for winter riding is a pair of good over-shoes and the Craft Shelter Bootie is hard to beat.  They are made from a lightweight, wind and water proof fabric, with a neoprene section over the toes for extra warmth.  They are beautifully put together with taped seams, a sturdy zip and a few reflective details for good measure.  Putting these overshoes on is made simple by the addition of a Velcro strap at the bottom, although actually it is getting overshoes off with frozen fingers that is the bigger challenge.  Either way, these are low stress in that respect and form a nice snug fit around the lower calf.  In our experience, they truly are waterproof and windproof.

 

Gore® C5 WINDSTOPPER® Thermo Overshoes

 

We have also had a great experience with the Gore® C5 WINDSTOPPER® Thermo Overshoes.  Gore Windstopper tech never disappoints when you need protection from wind and water, and we love the high-vis option of these thermo lined, low bulk over-shoes.  These are not as waterproof as the Craft option but the thermo lining makes them a little bit warmer, so they are a great option for the very coldest of days.  On top of that we can really vouch for the resilience of these overshoes because the pair we had on test last year are still going strong.

 

On really really cold days we reach for a pair of heated insoles – once experienced never forgotten.  If you didn’t know that was ‘a thing’ then we might have changed your life forever with that alone!

 

HANDS

Hands are also difficult to keep warm and when the weather is really bitter, we have found ourselves reaching for the Craft Siberian Glow Glove which are undoubtedly the warmest gloves we have ever tested.  This is the second version of these gloves we have had on test and they are glove art; fleece lined and heavily insulated, with a wind and waterproof outer, simply the best winter gloves we have had the pleasure of wearing.  A small fight broke out in the Bike Envy offices when they arrived because we knew from experience that Craft know how to keep us warm and we were not disappointed.  This latest version sports added reflectives which we think are worth a mention too. 

 

Craft Siberian Glow Glove

 

WATERPROOF JACKET

If staying dry is the priority then we can save you time and cut to the chase here - anything made using Gore’s Shakedry fabric will blow your mind.  We reviewed the Gore One Power Lady Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket here and after lots of wear we are still amazed at its water repellant properties.  No, it’s not cheap but man it’s good; totally waterproof, breathable and incredibly lightweight, all with a female specific design.  This is the only waterproof jacket you will ever need and it is massively breathable too.  It is impossible to over-egg the praise for this breakthrough fabric and we look forward to seeing what else Gore can make using it.

 

Gore One Power Lady Gore-Tex Shakedry Jacket

 

WARMTH

When it is not raining, or if you are looking for a warm a mid-layer to wear under a waterproof, the Craft Velo Thermal Jersey is a fabulous option that looks great, feels amazing and delivers unexpected insulation from a lightweight layer.  We have been using it as a top layer in temperatures down to 5 degrees and found it kept us at just the right temperature, no doubt a function of the brushed fleecy interior and highly breathable fabric.  The cut is flattering but allows for a good base layer underneath, while the female specific cut worked well under a waterproof when the elements were throwing everything they had at us.  We particularly love the versatility of this jersey and will be wearing it in through spring, autumn and winter just by choosing different base layers to put underneath.

 

Supremely versatile, the Craft Velo Thermal 2.0 Women’s Jersey woks well in autumn, winter and spring as a top or mid-layer

 

BIB TIGHTS

We were unanimous in picking Gore’s bibs for inclusion in this list.  The Gore Power Lady Thermo Bibtights+ were reviewed here last year and this year we have the GORE® C3 Women Thermo Bib Tights+ on test and they have seen a lot of action.  They are made from a wonderfully warm fleece backed fabric, cut perfectly to work with the female form and with a substantial bib to add a warm layer to the core area.  They offer a real advantage when it comes to staying warm because you do not have to strip off any layers to indulge a “bio break”.  That’ll be a pee to you and me and if you have ever had to remove your gloves and jacket to relieve yourself in freezing weather you will know just how grim it can be.  These amazing bib tights allow you to unzip the back and relieve yourself without even having to take your gloves off.  What’s not to love?

 

GORE® C3 Women Thermo Bib Tights+

 

BASE LAYER

Base layers are the unsung heroes of the winter wardrobe and we reckon it is hard to beat a Helly Hansen base layer.  They have continued to develop warm, wicking fabrics that are the choice of professionals who work in the harshest of environments.  Our top pick for the past two years has been the Helly Hansen Lifa Merino ½ zip which we reviewed here and have worn and washed repeatedly.  This base layer combines LIFA, with all natural and super warm merino, to give a base layer that can be worn alone, underneath a good winter jacket and negates the need to add more and more layers until you can barely move.  But it is not just about insulation, winter riding will test the sweat wicking abilities of your base layer like nothing else and that is where this base layer leads the way.  Happily there are lots of great colours to choose from which means you can buy at least one to wash and one to wear.

 

Helly Hansen Lifa Merino ½ zip

 

PRO TIPS

We talked to ex-Pro cyclist Emma Silversides to find out how professional cyclists survive the winter season and she told us:

  1. Always carry more clothes than you think you need, yes the rolled up waterproof in the back pocket might not look great but you’ll never regret taking an extra layer “just in case”
  2. Make sure shoes and gloves are warm and dry before you start, otherwise you will be fighting a losing battle from the moment you start
  3. Ride out into a headwind and warm up gently.  If you go too hard early you can end up chilly as the pace drops off later in the ride
  4. There are no prizes for being a “hard man” or woman.  If the weather is particularly cold or wet, there is no shame in opting for an indoor option
  5. Protect your ears and forehead - if you have a buff or headband covering your ears you instantly feel warmer.  These parts are seriously exposed to air flow and skin here is really delicate too
  6. Get some full mudguards, they might add a bit of weight but you will stay dryer, cleaner and overall much happier.  Your wheel will also be much more popular in group rides
adad
Web site design by GVC