Everyone’s tolerance of cold is different, but we can all agree that anything below 0ºF (-18°C) is COLD.
This week, Scott shares what he wears to conquer it:
I have a lot of experience over the years riding in cold. From delivering coffee by bike during my time with Peace Coffee, to riding the Norpine Fat Bike Classic at -15ºF (-26°C) last year, and I’ve learned that the best way to teach yourself how to dress in extreme conditions is to get out in it and ride.
At any temperature in the winter, overdressing is a huge concern. Most people think that they want to be warm so they throw on as many layers as they can and before they take one pedal stroke, they are already sweating. This can put you in the danger zone very quickly.
So the first thing on my mind when I gear up is layering. My basic set up is wool against the skin, some insulation (which varies depending on physical exertion) and a breathable wind blocking layer on the outside. For these temps, I use the 45NRTH Wool Tee against the skin, my favorite Blackrocks Wool riding sweater for insulation and the Naughtvind Jacket to trap heat and block wind. I will start with the Jacket all sealed up, but as I start to warm up, I’ll open up the pit zips to allow some heat to escape and keep me in the zone where I’m warm, but not sweating.
On the bottom, I’ll layer my summer riding shorts with an insulating, wind blocking pant. My favorite shorts right now are my Ketl Mountain liner bibs. They wick the moisture away from my skin to keep me dry while the Naughtvind Pants trap the heat. Just like the jacket, I’ll keep the thigh vents closed to start, but open them up as I warm up. The back pockets are perfect for stashing my phone - keeping your electronics warm, especially your phone is always a good idea, especially at these temps.
Speaking of keeping things warm, eating and drinking is a big problem at these temps as everything freezes up very quickly. I’ve come up with a clever way to keep my favorite Hammer Gel from freezing. I mount up my Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag to my bars and stash a few foot warmers inside about 20 minutes before I ride. This creates a nice warm pocket to put my gels. Not only does it prevent them from freezing, but they are actually warm! Hitting a little warm Apple Cinnamon or Hazelnut Chocolate mid ride is a TREAT!
Keeping your feet warm is key to a fun ride. When temps get close to zero or below, I always wear my Wolfgar boots. With one or two pairs of 45NRTH socks inside, I never have to think about my feet. Plus the stiffness is a great bonus at a race!
If you know me, you know I keep it pretty tight up top…like bald. So keeping my noggin warm at these temps is critical. I’ve found that I need to keep the wind off to stay comfortable so I go with the Stovepipe hat. The ear coverage is great and it fits great under my POC helmet. Closer to -10ºF (-23°C) calls for some extra protection so I often layer the Toaster Fork merino wool balaclava. A lot of people ask why I don’t wear a winter specific helmet - I tend to overheat too fast and it doesn’t allow for layering options like a standard summer helmet does. To cover my eyes, I’m loving the Oakley Wind Jacket glasses with Prizm snow lenses. The extra coverage is great, and doesn’t fog up like a standard goggle. It’s amazing how much they help you see the good lines in the snow! I also layer up some Dermatone on my face to protect from wind and sun. Believe it or not, you can get sun burned at -10ºF!
Finally, I rock the Cobrafist pogies for my hands. They allow me to wear a thinner glove and stay warm while retaining the dexterity to eat and operate zippers and other things easily.
All this gear really adds up when it’s time to travel to the trail or to the race. Pro tip: Separate all your gear into different bags! I really like having each part of my kit organized; boots and socks in one bag, helmet, glasses and headwear in another, etc. This makes getting dressed and out on the trail much easier and faster!
Riding in the winter requires trial and error. Since comfort is personal, the best way to find the right gear is to test it out. Scott’s favorite kit is a great starting point to dialing in your own kit for winter riding in -10 - 0ºF weather. Next week, we’ll feature Kurt’s favorites for -25 to -10ºF.