Fine Tuning the Winter Wardrobe

It's taken several years to fine-tune my wardrobe for the cold winter months. For warm weather, after about 60ish degrees, I'm a t-shirt and shorts guy. That's simple. But winter has a lot more nuances. Wind, rain, snow, freezing temps vs. above freezing temps. It's a lot to consider.

Today, though, I was thinking about how nice it is to finally have it all settled in my mind. I was wearing the perfect amount of layers in perfect order. I stayed warm at the beginning of a ride, then unzipped a sipper or opened a cuff on my jacket as my core warmed up. It takes time to figure out how all that works. But when you get there, it's pretty much second nature.

This is the first week of super-cold (for Kentucky) weather. So I'm getting a lot of "What?! You rode in today?" comments. It's not me... it's my clothes. If you're out there trying to find the right cold weather gear combination, stick with it. Experimentation is key. There's no magic formula, either. Your jacket is different than mine. Your commute is different than mine. Your body reacts differently than mine. You can spend time reading reviews and write-ups about gear. But the best thing to do is find the right combo of what you have or what you can get your hands on and ride in it.

A few semi-miserable rides will help you find the right combo quickly. You can shop and shop, buy lots of really nice/expensive gear, but it won't solve the problem. You have to figure out how that gear works together and how it plays with different weather situations. Don't assume that every day (or even the to/from commute in one day) will be the same. That's why layers are great. If you're cold, the solution won't be a warmer jacket. Too warm of a jacket and you sweat. That sweat sits on your skin and becomes colder than you were before you got your new jacket.

My recommendation would be to use lots of thin, wicking layers under a jacket with lots of zippers. My two primary jackets have zippers down the front, under each armpit and on the back. That's a great way to let air move through and cool you off when you start to sweat. You can open a zipper a little bit or all the way, depending on the need.

But like I said, wear what you can get your hands on. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment. If you have questions, feel free to comment or shoot me an email. This 20 degree weather shouldn't stop you from riding! It's still fun!

Get out there.


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  2. One of my favorite times in winter commuting was riding past someone who ran outside to warm up their car. Often times in t-shirs or pajamas. Some of the looks I got were classic.

    It's all in the clothing. Just like going skiing.

    1. I always say that by the time you run out to start your car, let your car warm up and get to work, you could just as easily gotten dressed and ridden a bike.