Newbie to cold weather question


I’m landing in NS in 9 days time! Can’t wait at all.

However, it’s kinda mild where I live in the UK at the moment, on a really really cold day it might hit -5C.

What’s the kind of outer layers you wear? I’m OK for legs & feet with my winter kit - just I don’t think my core tops are going to cut it. Did I see some photo’s of riding in down jackets?

Thanks in advance


Hey Mark, a down jacket would be way too hot, even on the coldest days here. Dress in layers, a few inner layers, preferably wool and a windbreaking outer layer. Peel them off as needed, as you warm up.

In the woods, out of the wind, you can work up a good sweat even in minus 10 to 15 temps.


The coldest I’ve ridden would be -11 maybe -15. So not that far off. I consider -5 to be the best temperature for winter riding since the snow stays crusty but it does not feel too cold.

I suspect in 9 days time it will be still fluctuating around zero here and no snow that stays yet. Some good “hero dirt” days might be soon where the ground is frozen but we have not yet had snow.

What I wear will change from day to day. Cold days it is usually a long sleeved thermal shirt, jersey and shell jacket on top of that. I have runners tights with some insulation and shorts on top of that. Good socks.


Thanks Jeff

Bikes won’t turn up until just before Xmas, but then I’ll have a week to get out riding while on shutdown.

Sounds like I need a quick wiggle/chain reaction order before I leave then.

How about gloves? I’m getting a bit older but even in my youth, cold hands would shut me down quicker than anything else. Any suggestions?

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Exactly what @rolls says. It’s all about the layers

I have three sets of gloves of varying thickness. Last night it was the middle set which are a couple mils thick. My warmest are typical fleece gloves. Not great looking but my ice tires usually get all the attention.

All three sets are full fingered and allow one finger braking. One set I have a slit cut in them so I can peel back the finger tip to work my phone. :slight_smile:

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I’ve got a few different weight gloves too. On the coldest days I find a thin glove inside a mid-weight glove is warmer than just a heavy glove. And again, peel off as needed.

For my core, I wear a long sleeve breathable wicking layer (a light long sleeve bike jersey is fine). If needed, a thin fleece jacket, and a windbreaker (hard shell?) outer layer. I really only need the fleece in the coldest conditions (below -7 C). Layers are good. Add and remove as needed. A little cold at the car will be perfect on the trail. Comfortable at the car will mean too hot on trail, and layers will have to come off. I usually bring an extra layer in my pack, in case of having to stop for a breakdown, and having to walk out.

I use a helmet liner inside my helmet, but once warmed up, rarely need it (Probably below -5 C). Below -10, a balaclava.

I usually ride with shin pads, and can get to below zero with shorts and shin pads. Near zero, I wear a regular set of tights. Below (-10 C), I may add a set of nylon pants over the tights.

My hands often get cold for the first 20 minutes of a ride. After that, I’ve usually warmed up enough that my hands are comfortable for the rest of the ride. I have a set of winter cycling gloves that I’ve used hand warmers in to get me through the first part of the ride until I warm up. Sometimes, I’ll then switch to normal cycling gloves after I’ve warmed up. Now, I have heated grips, which work really well to keep me comfortable, and I can usually wear normal cycling gloves. My wife has battery-heated gloves that work well for her.

My feet (especially toes) have been often cold for a whole ride. Normal cycling shoes are meant to be ventilated for cooling, so don’t work well in winter, and if you ride clipless, the cleat in the bottom acts like a heat sink, sucking the heat out of your feet. I usually switch to flat pedals and a hiker shoe when the snow hits. To keep my feet warm, I’ve had the best luck with neoprene booties over my shoes. They’ve worked well, but are a real pain to get on and off. Last winter, I tried just toe caps to break the wind over my toes. Much easier to get on and off, and easy to stow in a pack. They seemed to work well. I also switched to an oversize shoe to give more room for socks and to let the blood circulate. This year, I have battery-heated insoles that I will try out.


Some sort of cover for your ears is really important. Nothing thick, just something to create a barrier between your ears and the cold air.

For layers I use a pair of normal cycling shorts with a base layer for the legs. They don’t tend to need much. As for my torso I use a wicking base with a cycling jersey and a spring shell (I think that’s what it’s called. Just a thin jacket but not like a wind breaker) when it goes under -5 or -7

Good point, Chris.

I use a buff around my neck and one over the head.

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Added bonus of being a freeride/downhiller; all that gear you suffer in through summer comes in handy in the cold… my fullface helmet and leg armor has done the trick on the coldest we have had so far


Not unlike most, layers are key. Wicking long sleeve layer first, warm layer next (I typically wear an activewear quick dry hoodie with a zippered phone pocket on the chest that zips up to cover your neck), light jacket over the top. Typically I go with a light rain jacket for extra warmth and rain/snow resistance (added bonus if there’s pit zips to get some airflow if you warm up). Bottoms usually a pair of light shorts over rain resistant MEC pants. For feet, warm socks with a pair of canvas Five Tens has served me well, even in the worst of weather. Something about them, they’re very good all year around.

If it’s very cold, I use an AirHole face and neck covering, very handy to warm your breath and stop the lungs from burning from the cold air. Standard riding gloves most days, but I’ll bust out snowboarding gloves on particularly cold/messy days.