top of page

Winter Riding Explained

From the Ohio Gravel Grinders Blog: WINTER RIDING EXPLAINED - by Kari Hutson

Probably the most frequent question I get asked is how I manage to stay warm while riding outside in the winter. Riding in the cold can be intimidating. It seems as if it is prohibitively expensive to buy all the gear “required” to stay warm when it’s cold and grey outside. With some strategic layering and a couple of key purchases, you can stay warm and enjoy winter riding in Ohio! There are a couple of items I will share below that really don’t have quality budget-friendly options (at least not that I’ve found) BUT if you are willing to shop around and purchase used, the Facebook swap meets and sites like eBay or Poshmark can help you snag some of these items for a good price. I bought my winter riding shoes off the online swap meet for half of their original cost new and they are on season 3 of winter riding still going strong. In that case, the investment was totally worth it! Feel free to share any gear, tips, and tricks I might have missed in the comments below!

Disclaimer: These temps and layers are what work for me. I’m ALWAYS cold. They are a good starting place for you to add or remove layers as you figure out what works for you. And remember, if you’re doing a hard ride with lots of hills, you may want to dress for 25* even if the feels like 14* because more effort means more heat production and fewer layers are needed. With so many layers, sometimes I feel like the kid in A Christmas Story!

The first thing that is key to successful winter riding is layers. Base layers are the most important part of your outdoor clothing system. That system is made up of three layers: the outer shell for rain and snow protection, the middle insulation layer, and the all-important base layer on the inside. Some days, it’s 20* at the start of my ride but pushing 40* by the end. You want to make sure you have the ability to shed or add layers as you go because getting sweaty when it’s below freezing is definitely not a good thing. I like to throw a Donut Sack handlebar bag on the front of my bike during the winter to stash layers instead of trying to cram them in my pockets.

The other really important thing to consider as you plan your outfit is: What level of effort do you plan to put in and is it sunny or cloudy? The level of intensity coupled with the sun makes a HUGE difference in what I choose to wear, no matter the real feel temps. I’ve found it helpful to list what I wore and what the conditions were on my Strava or my Garmin notes so I can refer back to them as the winter goes on. Finally, if you’re not cold when you start, you’re overdressed. You will warm up. I promise. So if you’re comfy at the start, shed a layer now.



bottom of page