Gear Tips for Winter Commuting and Cold Weather Riding
We’ve curated a selection of apparel, lights, and gear–plus some DIY solutions–to keep you warm and dry while riding through winter.
Bicycling through the cold, wet, and snowy months is a great way to stave off the winter blahs–and keep you fit for Cascade’s 2023 Events and Rides Season. But it’s important to stay warm, dry, and visible when pedaling through the cold and dark season.
We rounded up some of our favorite new cycling apparel, lights, DIY solutions, and tips for winter bicycling.
Jackets, Pants, Jerseys, Gloves, Hats
Before shopping for any gear, make sure to check our Member Benefits page to see the discounts available to Cascade members.
Showers Pass is a Pacific Northwest brand that offers Cascade members up to 40 percent off on its bike apparel. Cascade staff members wear the Showers Pass Elements rain jacket (shown above, $219 before Cascade member discount) because its technical features and fit make it an ideal outer layer both on or off the bike.
Endura is a bike apparel company based in Scotland, where they know about riding in dank weather. I own a hi-viz yellow Humvee Waterproof Jacket ($124.99, shown below) and Humvee Transit Waterproof Trousers ($99.99) with reflective strips for visibility and velcro straps for cinching them tight at the ankle. Both have kept me dry and visible this winter.
Layering is important for staying warm. We often wear a Cascade Club Jersey as a base layer, but we recently received a Pro Alpha Layer jersey ($160, shown below) from Pearl Izumi and love its soft fleece feel.
Fleeced cycling jerseys are a trend for 2023. My wife has been testing a Velocio Women’s Alpha Long Sleeve jersey (shown below, $199) and it's her favorite lightweight insulating layer thanks to the mix of smooth merino wool and soft fleece.
Cold fingers can ruin a ride. For rainy weather, it’s hard to beat the Showers Pass Crosspoint Waterproof Knit Wool Gloves (shown below, $52 before Cascade discount), which have a merino lining and waterproof mid-layer membrane.
My wife and I have both been wearing a pair of softshell Velocio Alpha Gloves (shown below, unisex, $119), and they have kept our fingers warm this winter while bicycling, cross-country skiing, and walking to work.
Looking for a cheaper DIY solution to make your existing gloves warmer? Put on a pair of nitrile exam gloves or thin rubber gloves beneath your winter mitts for a layer of warmth and waterproofing. Bonus: keeping a box of exam gloves around is great for cleaning your chain or working on greasy bike parts iwthout getting your hands grimy.
Avoid brain freeze and cold ears by donning a cap beneath your helmet. I wear an old merino beanie on super cold days, but any snug hat that fits beneath your helmet will do. REI has a great selection of skull caps, helmet covers, headbands, and other cycling headwear in the $30 to $40 range.
Shoe Covers and Waterproof Socks
In addition to your fingers, keeping your toes warm is key for happy winter riding.
My first gear purchase after becoming a Cascade staffer and member was a pair of Showers Pass Club Shoe Covers ($55 before Cascade discount) that fit over street shoes for winter commuting or clipless cycling shoes for soggy and cold recreational rides.
The Club Shoe Covers were sold out when I last checked, but many brands make shoe covers, including Endura. I bought a pair of the Scottish brand’s Urban Luminite Overshoes ($59.99) for my wife at a steep discount during last winter’s Seattle Bike Swap. Seattle Bike Swap 2023 is coming on Feb. 11, and it's a fantstic opportunity to get bananas deals and bonkers bargains on bike apparel.
Want a DIY solution? Bread bags. Slip bags over your socks before putting your shoes on.
See and Be Seen
I ride with front and rear lights year round, day or night, to make sure drivers see me. My favorite “see me” lights are the Arclight Pedals from Redshift ($139.99) that have removable and rechargeable LED lights, which slide into the front and rear of each pedal. Why lighted pedals? Because motion allows drivers to see you better. I use the Arclights on my electric bike because they are heavy, but they’re worth the extra weight for 360-degree visibility at night.
Bookman Urban Visibility is an award-winning Swedish company that makes lights, reflectors, and visibility devices for people riding, running, or walking. We like that they are committed to Vision Zero, a Cascade and Washington Bikes priority, through their partnership with the SAFER Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre.
Bookman’s Curve Light Set ($79, front shown above and set below) includes rechargeable front and rear lights designed to illuminate you from the sides as well as lighting your path forward and making you visible from the rear. They also sell a variety of lights and reflective stickers for kids.
Reflectors are an affordable way to increase your visibility at night. Swift Industries, which offers a 20 percent discount to Cascade members, is a Seattle brand that makes bags, packs and products (including this waterproof poncho) for bicycling. Swift’s Blue Lug Reflector ($16, below) is a dangling reflective triangle that lights up in car headlights.
A growing number of helmet makers are integrating rechargeable lights into their headgear. I recently got the new Abus HUD-Y ($149.99, below), whose lighting unit magnetically snaps into place for easy removal and installation when recharging.
Fenders are a must in cold and wet weather. Our friends at Bike Works sell a variety of fenders to fit different tire sizes. Stop by the Bike Works shop in Seattle and have them install your fenders. Revenues from their shop support the Bike Works mission of empowering youth and building strong communities through bicycling.
Planning to ride STP? People who register for the Kaiser Permanente Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic presented by Alaska Airlines get 15 percent off bike repair labor through March 31 at the Bike Works shop in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood and at Tacoma’s 2nd Cycle community bike shop.
More Winter Riding Resources
Our supporters at REI have compiled a list of Tips for Winter Bicycling that includes information on riding in snow, tire pressures, and more.
For a fun winter recreational activity, try fat biking. The oversized, low-PSI tires grip the snow and prevent you from sinking in.
- Rain gear
- riding in rain
- winter commuting
- Showers Pass
- Elements Rain Jacket
- Endura Hummvee
- Pearl Izumi
- Pro Alpha Layer
- fleece cycling jersey
- Velocio Women's Alpha Long Sleeve
- cycling gloves
- Velocio Alpha Gloves
- Shoe Covers
- Urban Luminite Overshoes
- waterproof socks
- Arclight pedals
- Bookman Urban Visibility
- Blue Lug
- Abus HUD-Y
- Bike Works
- 2nd Cycle