Winter is approaching and now is the time to prepare for the those cold commutes before it's too late. Below is my guide to suffering less. Enjoy. Base Layers
Base layers are the most essential piece of clothing to add to your winter arsenal. The purpose of a base layer is to wick away the sweat from your body keeping you warm and dry.
Budget : Uniqlo's Heattech Collection is hands down the best base layers you can buy on a budget. $13 bucks will get you the short sleeve model while for $20 you can pick up the long sleeves or the pants. I recommend sizing down to get a snug fit. Luxury : If money is not a problem I recommend seeking out Merino base layers from companies like Rapha, Ibex, Defeet and Icebreakers. These will cost you anywhere from $60 - $110.
Sierra Trade Post also has some great deals on base layers so make sure to check them out as well.
Another crucial component in your set up will be a nice mid layer such as a merino sweater or a long sleeve jersey. I personally use the Chrome Merino Cobra and the Mission Workshop Bosun. The Chrome Merino hoodie is my personal favorite because the Merino is significantly softer on the inside than most other sweaters of it's kind. Also don't forget that Merino wicks away sweat and has natural odor fighting properties that really work.
Rapha has some pretty rad Merino offerings right now with their windproof Hooded Top and their Track Top. Chrome is also offering their Merino Cobra as just a zip up without a hood which is pretty cool.
Regardless with what company you go with a good Mid Layer is gonna cost a big chunk of change but will make you infinitely more comfortable on those cold commutes.
Finding an awesome shell that fits both on and off the bike is the hardest thing ever. I used to own the Mission Workshop Orion which retails for $415!!! Truthfully it was the best piece of gear I've ever owned but ended up selling it because I lost a bunch of weight and found it to be way too big for me. The resale value on MWS gear is great and I basically made my money back. So now I am with out a good shell and winter is rapidly approaching.
So what am I looking at?
Well obviously there is the Mission Workshop Orion which is crazy expensive but is hands down the best cycling / city jacket you can buy. Theres no debating that. Chrome offers the Storm Cobra which is 200 bucks and made for the urban commuter. Swrve offers the popular Milwaukee jacket but it's only water resistant but still a great option for people facing dryer weather.
So I really don't know what I am going to do. I'll have to pull the trigger on something soon though.
Gloves are super important but you knew that already. It's fall in the East Coast right now and I can get away with wearing merino gloves but as the temperatures dip like they did today it's time to bring out the heavy weights. I am not going to recommend any particular glove because I am still experimenting with my set up. I'll try and point you in the right direction though. For riding in colder temps you want a glove system that has a liner that will wick away sweat while the outer shell blocks the wind and insulates the hand. During Fall and Spring a nice insulated glove or something made of wool should do the trick.
The Rapha Glove system has caught my eye recently and I am super into what Castelli is doing as well. I am currently using the Giro Ambients for my chilly morning rides and they perform pretty good. I can already tell that I will need something warmer as Winter appraoches.
Check out this Silk Glove Liner for 12 bucks on Amazon!
A Neck Gaiter will be your new best friend. Cheap, versatile and absolutely crucial for winter commuting. What I love about my Icebreakers Gaiter is that I can wear it to insulte my neck, pull it up to cover my mouth and even pull it over my head to make almost a complete face mask! Merino Gaiters go for as cheap as 20 bucks so definitely go Merino. Wearing one of these will change your commuting experience dramatically.
Merino socks are another big one. Yes there a little expensive but socks are crucial both on and off the bike. The thing about cheap socks is that they don't last and you always end up buying new ones every year if not sooner. So why not splurge and pick up some nice merino socks that will wick away sweat and keep your feet happy for a long fucking time. Trust me; you'll never want to wear cotton socks again.
Lastly. Don't forget your bike light! Winter is dark and cold so it's extra important that you remember to bring your bike lights. If you can afford it; think about upgrading to a better light that makes you and the road more visible. Planet Bike, Portland Design Works and Niterider make awesome lights! Check them out.
I hope this article helps you out. I tried covering as much as I can and I hope it gives you a jump start in getting your winter gear together. Commuting in winter is pretty awesome if you're dressed properly.