dressing for winter biking


 There was a time when Chris and I were biking to work almost daily through Chicago winters. But although we've developed a number of strategies over our many cumulative years of biking, this is still a work in progress. Below I share some of the things that have worked for us, but everyone’s different, so while I’d encourage you to use our findings as a starting point, be prepared to tweak and modify to suit your needs.

#1 Rule I live by for cold-weather cycling:

You will not succeed in keeping extremities warm if your trunk and legs are not comfortable.

So, while most people immediately want a solution to their frozen toes in winter, the complete answer has to involve a strategy to keep your whole body appropriately comfortable for your level of activity and the time spent outdoors.

This guide includes our best suggestions, advice and recommendations for staying comfortable on a bike in winter, including:

  1. Base Layers

  2. Mid-Layer Recommendations

  3. Foul Weather Gear

  4. Extremities

  5. Low Cost Alternatives

Biking in dry weather down to about 20°F is doable with cold-weather items you probably already own, plus a few key technical pieces. However, precipitation, and/or temps that dip lower than that, make purpose-made technical gear an investment that will keep you riding safely through all but the worst that Chicago winter can throw at you.