MTB in the winter, especially when the cold is felt more, is not something for everyone. It will be a question of passion but it also depends on the capacity to tolerate the cold of each of us. It is essential to wear the right clothing to avoid unnecessary suffering. To put in place an ad hoc dressing strategy, which allows us not to sweat too much uphill and not to suffer too much cold downhill, however, requires experience and many field tests.
Depending on the weather, the temperature and the fact that we move uphill, flat or downhill, we will have to wisely use what we have available to make our bike ride enjoyable.
But what is the best clothing for mountain bikining even on the coldest days?
Just to talk about this important aspect, my friend Andrea Candon, who has already collaborated with this blog, came to my rescue writing a brief but complete guideline on what should not be missing in every cyclist’s wardrobe during the winter season.
The best winter clothing for cycling and MTB
Let’s start from the bottom up:
you need to make a distinction based on the pedals (hooks or flat).
If we use flat pedals the solutions are the following:
“soft” mountain boot or approach shoe that is at least ankle-high and a wool sock that reaches the knees
specific Winter MTB shoe type Five Ten combined with wool sock to the knees
You could also use the shoe cover but trustworthy that will break in a short time with pin friction
If we use the hooks, the solutions are the following:
- use shoe cover over the summer shoe, be careful that models that are too ventilated need thicker or neoprene-type shoe covers
- use a winter boot with a boot-ready sole (consider that this shoe can only be used in winter, because in summer it will become an oven)
- The use of the shoe cover will allow you to use any type of sock
Shoes for attachments
Pants: in this case I would recommend the dungarees model, because it allows greater protection also for the belly and back. An important feature that could influence the quality of the laps is the caseback. Unfortunately in the store it is difficult to get an idea if the pad will be comfortable, the advice is to avoid bottoms with gel on economic dungarees and to ask for information based on the number of hours you want to stay in the saddle. If you opt for dungarees, it is better not to use underwear, due to an increase in rubbing.
One of my personal additions to overalls is the short summer MTB shorts with no pad to increase protection from the cold in low areas.
Dungarees with pad
the first layer of protection from the cold for the upper part consists of a long-sleeved thermal jersey. I think everyone now knows the properties of the thermal jersey in various sports fields. It retains the heat generated by both the body and the rubbing of the fabric with the body. It manages to expel sweat / moisture without getting wet. The important thing is not to confuse summer and winter thermal meshes
windstopper is the name of a brand that produces a fabric capable of reducing the dispersion of heat due to the wind but at the same time allows the release of humidity due to physical activity. In my opinion, the combined thermal vest + windstopper jacket (or similar materials) is the best to ride on a bike and I will explain how you can get the most.
Before the lap wear the thermal shirt for half an hour so as to bring it already “in temperature”
Put the jacket on and after getting ready go out directly without being too hot
In this way, as soon as you go out you will not perceive a huge thermal shock as the jacket will be able to contain your body heat already “produced” until you have warmed up for good. Once a certain body temperature is reached, the union of thermal mesh and jacket will allow you to keep it stable (provided you do not stand still for too long of course)
together with shoes, gloves are used to protect the two peripheral ends of our body, which are actually more subject to cooling.
In this case I propose several solutions:
underglove + glove: it is a matter of using a thin glove inside the main glove. Small suggestion, before putting on the glove, rub your hands with the liners, in this way you will already accumulate heat.
Handlebar warmers: born for use extremes (see Fat bikes in Alaska) but if you really suffer from the cold you can install them on your handlebar at the knobs
Snow glove: be careful, even if this seems the simplest solution, the sensitivity on the brake levers will be drastically reduced. To be considered for cycling tourism use
Winter cycling gloves
Neck warmer and balaclava: we arrived at the head, another crucial point, that if not properly protected can make a turn an ordeal. I usually use both to avoid annoying “drafts” that can be generated between the balaclava and the jacket. Also in this case you can find various materials, if you are a person who tends to sweat easily you should aim at a lighter or cotton equipment
Glasses: there are no glasses for winter bikes, but we can find solutions. Avoid glasses with punctures on the lenses for the summer period, in winter you will find yourself constantly watering. For those who also use eyeglasses, I recommend spraying the anti-fog spray that comes from the swimming goggles. The problem of fogging of glasses especially in winter when you stop is very annoying and dangerous.
I can say that I made turns at -1 ° C when I returned home only with my hands a little icy, dressing in the way indicated. My advice is to try and if necessary add a heavier windproof jacket or focus on materials with different insulating capacities.
Finally, in the case of laps with long climbs and descents, consider a change of clothing (at least a spare thermal shirt to carry in the backpack).
Do you go by bike even in winter? How do you adjust for clothing? Do you have any other suggestions to share? Post them in the comments!