Your Guide to Optimal Summer Layering: Smart Techniques for Breezy Cycling

By Megan Flottorp

Summer is in full swing, and if you’re anything like us — you’ve set aside at least a portion of your holidays to hit the roads, soak in the warm sun, and enjoy the beauty of nature. However, summer weather can be unpredictable, with significant temperature fluctuations, sudden storms and rain showers, or unrelenting heat waves.

As such, it is essential to master the art of layering your clothing to ensure a comfortable, safe, and enjoyable ride. In this guide, we’ll explore clever techniques for layering during summer cycling, allowing you to adapt to changing conditions while maintaining optimal feel-good vibes.

Start with a moisture-wicking base layer

We have said it once, and we will say it again — the foundation of any layered outfit should be a moisture-wicking base layer. Look for lightweight fabrics designed to pull sweat away from your body, keeping you dry and cool throughout your ride. Opt for breathable materials such as merino wool or synthetic blends that offer excellent moisture management. A well-fitting base layer will also help prevent chafing and keep you comfortable even on the hottest of days.

Choose the right jersey

During the warm days of summer, it is critical to keep the air a flowin’. When selecting your jersey, consider one made from lightweight, breathable materials with ample ventilation. Look for jerseys with mesh panels or zippers that can be opened to allow airflow when the temperatures rise. Opt for light colours to reflect the sun’s rays and help keep you cooler.

Utilise cooling accessories

On the hottest days, though, you might need a bit more support to make things bearable. Consider incorporating cooling accessories into your layering strategy to combat the heat during the truest of scorchers. Cooling towels, neck gaiters, or bandanas soaked in cold water can provide instant relief by lowering your body temperature. Simply wrap them around your neck or forehead for a refreshing cooling effect. Additionally, you can explore lightweight, breathable arm coolers or leg coolers that use evaporative cooling technology to keep your limbs cool.

Choose the right shorts

Machines for women shorts
Choose the right shorts for your ride

Comfort is paramount when spending hours in the saddle. Especially during the summer, opting for cycling shorts that provide a good fit and feature moisture-wicking padding or chamois for long-lasting comfort is crucial. If you prefer a more relaxed fit, consider baggy shorts with a removable liner. Remember, proper hygiene is vital during summer rides, so ensure you have a few pairs of shorts to rotate and wash between rides.

Consider a lightweight gilet or vest

A lightweight gilet or vest can be a versatile addition to your summer cycling wardrobe. When the temperatures are mild, but there’s a chance of wind or light rain, a gilet can provide an extra layer of protection without overheating your core. Opt for one with a windproof front panel and a mesh back to balance insulation and breathability. The ability to pack it into a jersey pocket makes it convenient for changing conditions.

Opt for ventilated cycling shoes

Your choice of footwear also plays a significant role in maintaining comfort during summer rides. Look for cycling shoes with excellent ventilation features, such as mesh panels or perforations, to allow airflow and prevent your feet from overheating. Additionally, consider using moisture-wicking and breathable socks specifically designed for cycling to keep your feet dry and comfortable throughout the ride.

Consider a lightweight windbreaker

A lightweight windbreaker is a valuable addition to your summer cycling wardrobe. When unexpected gusts or a sudden rain shower surprise you, a windbreaker can provide extra protection. Look for a packable windbreaker to easily stow in your jersey pocket when not needed. Opt for one with good breathability to prevent overheating.

Layer smartly for early morning or late evening rides

While summer days are often warm, early morning or late evening rides can still bring cooler temperatures. If you plan to hit the road during these times, consider layering up to stay comfortable. Start with arm and leg warmers, a lightweight windbreaker, and possibly a warmer base layer. As the day progresses and temperatures rise, you can gradually remove or stow the layers in your jersey pockets.

Don’t forget sun protection

Please, please, please, don’t neglect to protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays! Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen to exposed skin before each ride, regardless of the weather. Choose sweat-resistant formulas and reapply as needed during extended rides. For sun protection, consider arm sleeves or UV-protective gloves. Also, make sure to wear a lightweight cycling cap or a moisture-wicking sun hat to shield your face and eyes from direct sunlight.

Ultimately, the key to successful layering in the summer is adaptability. Pay attention to weather forecasts, be prepared for unexpected changes, and adjust your layers accordingly throughout your ride. By utilising these additional tips, you’ll be well-equipped to tackle varying summer conditions while maintaining comfort and enjoying your cycling adventures to the fullest. Stay safe, stay cool, and happy cycling!