From growing up in cold (pre-climate change) New York winters, I know that there are three rules to staying warm in the cold: wear layers of clothing, protect the sensitive extremities (hand and feet) and cover your head. My helmet will take care of the head but what about the hands and feet?
Starting at the bottom, I might think about shoe covers such as the Pro Barrier WxB from Pearl Izumi. They’re waterproof and windproof, come with taped seams to keep your feet dry and a fleece interior for warmth. An adjustable hook-and-loop closure system makes them easy to put on and take off and they sell for $55 on Amazon.
But maybe I think that’s a little pricey just for covers and that they look a little clunky. I’ve got some go-crazy money and I do love cycling so why not get a pair of actual winter cycling shoes like the Fizik R5 Artica? They are totally weatherproof and have stiff carbon-reinforced nylon sole for solid pedalling. Amazon sells them for about €150.
Maybe you really love your regular cycling shoes (I cycle in running shoes) because they are so comfortable and cool-looking. Then you probably wouldn’t mind shelling out $38 for a pair of Crosspoint Waterproof Crew Socks from the aptly named company Showers Pass. They work. Showers Pass also sells winter cycling gloves. They are knit and waterproof, will keep your hands warm down to around freezing temperature and they sell for about $45.
I have a good thermal undershirt – they are available in most sports shops that sell ski clothes – but if you want a base layer made specifically for cycling, there is, for example, the Prosecco Long Sleeve from Castelli, which keeps the sweat from being trapped under your jacket so you don’t freeze on a fast descent. You can use it in summer too because it keeps the sweat from your skin. It’s 100% polyester, formfitting and has micro-fibre panels along the sides to allow your body to breathe. About $55 on Amazon.
But I think I will go for the Brevet Insulated Jacket from Rapha, which is a step up in winter protection. It looks good (always important) and has Polartec Alpha insulation covered by lightweight, wind-resistant nylon. The back of the jacket is fully insulated as are the forward-facing parts of the sleeves. A stripe of light and flexible knitted material runs over the back of each arm and continues down the side of the jacket to help the jacket breathe and also provide a snug and comfortable fit while I’m cycling.
What I especially like is that the Brevet – like me – is not meant for riding in the rain, though it has a coating to ward off puddle sprays and a light sprinkle. And it’s surprisingly light for an insulated jacket. The way I see it, it’s worth the $205 price tag if I can stay warm, sane and moderately happy through the long, dark, cold winter.