How to Dress for Cold Weather

Note: An updated version of this article is available here.

Every now and then I flip through a copy of Bicycling Magazine. Usually, there’s nothing in it for me. Lots of expensive toys, lots of talk about Lance and Floyd, and maybe some amateur-level maintenance tips, though I don’t know how many times you can advise your readership to clean their chains before the message is received. This time of year, I start to see these ridiculous $300 cold weather cycling jackets. If anyone is preparing to extend their commuting season through the winter and is thinking of getting one of these, don’t. I’m sure they’re nice, but they are a waste of money. I commute year round, and I’ve never spent that much on winter gear. I totaled up the costs of all the clothing and gear you’ll see below, combined, including socks, underwear, gloves and helmet, everything pictured except my flesh, and the total cost was $211. For everything. That gets me through every season.

For the most people, the line for comfortable cycling seems to be somewhere around 50 degrees. Below that is where the ranks start to thin out. So, with that in mind, I’ve constructed some guidelines for cold weather riding.

Above 60 degrees is pretty easy. This is what I usually wear, sometimes with a t-shirt instead of a beater. The rolled-up fatigues move nicely and are lighter than jeans. Puma Anjans fit perfectly into toe clips. Some people would wear a jersey instead of a cotton shirt, but I only use jerseys for long rides. I have a theory about sweat and hot weather, and I know I’ll meet with some disagreement here, but when it’s in the 80s and 90s, I want my shirt to be soaked. Sweat cools you off, that’s why it happens. Wicking it all away with skin-tight polyester might be nice if you’re on the bike all day, but for commuting, I appreciate the natural AC I get from my sweat-soaked shirt.

In the 50s, I need sleeve coverage. You’ll also see that I’ve put on heavier, longer socks to cover my ankles, but there’s still a little ventilation in the legs, cause constant pedaling warms them up. I really like thermals, and use them constantly in the winter. For this temperature, they’re the ideal top. They don’t wick away sweat, but they dry quick, and I only sweat under my bag anyway. Make sure to tuck it in, or you’ll have a chilly back and everyone driving behind you will see what brand underwear you buy. I’ve also traded in my fingerless gloves for light, full-finger biking gloves.

Now, in the 40s, especially when the wind kicks up, a thermal isn’t enough. In this photo, I’ve added a heavy windbreaker over the thermal, but in the high 40s, I might opt for a vest instead, which keeps my arms from overheating. You’ll also notice that I’m wearing thermal bottoms (known as long underwear to some) under my fatigues. Still the same heavy socks, same gloves. Look close, and you’ll see that I’ve put some of those behind-the-head earmuffs on under my helmet. I scored this pair at a dollar store. I like those better than the headband and helmet liners, cause the headband never sits right and my hair keeps me pretty warm. If you don’t have any hair, you might want to go for a helmet liner at this point.

This is a good place to point out the fallacy of overdressing, one that I fell victim to at first. If you were to put on this outfit and stroll around, you would not be warm enough. But biking is not walking. You warm up much more and much faster on a bike, unless you are riding with zero intensity (hey, show me some hustle, you). Some have said that if you are warm for the first ten minues of riding, you are overdressed. This is true. I promise, if you keep a decent clip, this amount of clothing will keep you warm, and you will probably get there with a little sweat under your layers. Don’t worry about that, by the way. The air is always drier in winter, and your clothes will be dry in no time.

Here’s where it gets serious. Here’s where winter bikers are not only hardcore by reputation, but also in appearance. No, it’s not a ninja mask, it’s a balaclava, and you can get a good one for $15 – $20. You can also get a polar fleece tube for the bottom half of your face, which is good if you use a helmet liner, as long as you pull it up in the back so that it tucks under your helmet; it will slide down otherwise. The concept here is to cover all of your skin. It doesn’t have to be thick – the thermals alone will keep your shins nice and warm, but that blast of chilly air on the exposed centimeter between your jacket sleeve and your glove will get old real fast. My trick here is wristbands, the kind you’re supposed to use to wipe sweat from your brow. When your arms are extended out to your bars, your sleeves pull back, and wristbands do a great job of covering the gap. Cold air will also get to your toes, especially if you wear shoes like mine, so an extra pair of socks helps. I just pull a pair of short socks – which I’m wearing in the first picture – over my thick socks. Under is fine too. Finally, I have thinsulate gloves, which keep my fingers warm. There are good cycling-specific options out there too, but they cost more, and these were $5 from a street vendor.

While “below 30” does technically describe the deadly coldness of outer space, this outfit is all I have ever needed here on earth, or at least here in New York City. I believe the lowest it got last winter was in the teens, and I was just fine. I’ve skipped riding because there was too much snow in the roads, but I’ve never skipped riding because it was too cold out.

You may notice that my eyes are uncovered in all of these pictures. I’m actually not a big fan of eyewear for riding. I find them distracting, even the clear wraparounds, and when it gets cold out, they fog. Goggles might be good for the cold weather, but my life depends on my peripheral vision, and I’d rather have my eyes tearing from the cold than not be able to see. And that’s usually what happens: for the first few minutes of my ride, my eyes tear up. And it passes. When it’s below 30 degrees, the balaclava/mask does something magical – it directs the hot air of my breath up through the eyehole, and keeps my eyes warm. Now that’s economical use of body heat.

So, use your judgement and make your own variations on this formula, but this is what works for me. I like having rules for temperature ranges, because it means I can check the weather in the morning and dress accordingly without having to gamble with being warm enough or do too much mid-ride stripping.

Cold weather isn’t that scary on a bike. I surprised myself, and I encourage everyone to give it a shot, even if you think you’re taking a risk. If it sucks, you can go back to driving or taking public transportation, but you might find out that you like it. I sure do.

If any readers brave colder weather than we have here in New York City, I’d love to hear your tips. In fact, I encourage all winter riders to hit up the comments and share ideas. Teach me something! And remember, if you feel cold, pedal harder!

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0 thoughts on “How to Dress for Cold Weather”

  1. RL Policar says:

    Face Melter! Dang Nick, you’ve out done yourself again! Great article. I’m sure alot of folks will be grateful for your tips.

  2. Jay says:

    I’ve ridden to work in colder than the teen’s temps here in northern Indiana. 6 below zero is the coldest I’ve seen on a bike. When it gets into the single digits, windbreaker type pants on top of your normal pants layer and long underwear helps. The slick windbreaker pant material also helps keep snow from sticking. Layering is the key. I use a long sleeve wicking type base layer with a sweatshirt and light windbreaker jacket for most cold temps. The wicking material keeps my skin dry and keeps me warm. The windbreaker jacket keeps out the cold wind and all the sweat gets trapped in the cotton sweatshirt in the middle layer. I can get away with this becasue my commute is only 20 minutes. I use the face mask and head covering as Nick indicates. For the hands I put a pair of those lobster claw type gloves over the thin full fingeres gloves I wear in the 30 degree and 40 degree range. The lobster claw keeps two fingers at a time together which keeps them warmer in the bitter cold, but still give some mobility for braking/shifting instead of wearing mittens. As Nick states, if you’re cold, pedal harder!

  3. RC says:

    I ride into temperatures that can dip to -20degC when I am on my bike, with a good bit of wind. I find that the best thing is for nice long johns and the equivalent shirt. I found mine at a construction clothing store. The long johns and shirt dry quick from sweat if I am too warm, but provide a nice thin layer with plenty of warmth. I then throw on a thin wind breaker top and bottom. This is typically all I need, there have only been a small portion of days when it wasn’t sufficient, in which case I just threw on an extra cotton t-shirt and flannel pants between the insulated layer and the wind break. Even in wet weather this works great. And is super cheap, I was able to get all of the above for under $60CDN.

  4. Nick says:

    Thanks, Jay, though I wouldn’t mind if it never gets that cold here. Your tips plus RC’s seem to reinforce the idea that windbreakers are key. When your body is generating heat, it’s enough to wear a thin layer that blocks out cold air and traps in some heat.

  5. JiMCi says:

    My commute averages 50 minutes each way, mostly on a lakeshore. For cold weather, i.e. below 35F, I use my cross-country ski clothes, with the occasional wind-breaker when I have a headwind. But on those beautiful mornings (like today!) when the sun rises and the lake is like a gold mirror, it stays in my backpack. I just wish I could put pedal cleats on my x-c ski boots and get rid of the booties!

  6. Jason says:

    A few coooooollllddddd tips from Minnesota. Goggles are essential for temps under 15 degrees (my eyelids have frozen shut before, although it was -20 at the time), cheap protection for hands is a cheap pair of mittens over a cheap pair of gloves (these are warmer than $75 lobster mits), splurge for a good balaclava that fits under your helmet!, pick up a cheap pair of shoe covers (I’ve had some from performance that cost me $10 for the past 15 years) they keep the mud and snow and wet off your shoes, last but not least, plastic grocery bags. Cut these up and stick them in your shoes (and down the front of your pants guys) to keep the wind out in emergencies, plus they are free!

  7. Bill says:

    Great article, thanks Nick!

  8. Jay says:

    I’d say between 0 – 15 degrees F, depending on the wind goggles are essential or a personal preference. I side with Nick and prefer visibility and only pull out the goggles if it is something like 5 degrees with a 20 MPH wind.

    Jason, $75 for lobster mitts??? Where are you shopping? Nordstrom? Mine were $30 at the local bike shop.

    Not sure about the plastic bag down your pants…must be a Minnesota thing….

  9. Carl S says:

    Great Stuff, really informative and well written.

    I’ve lived in California my whole life and never ridden in extremely cold weather before. But now, I’m moving to Denver at the beginning of December. And I’m not willing to give up my commute on a bike when I get there, so I’ve been researching ways to stay warm enough and still make the ride. Thanks for all these, they’ll really help me adapt I think 🙂

    Is there a past article with rain riding tips?

  10. Nick says:

    Carl: You know, I still haven’t found a foolproof method for rain riding. Cheap, waterproof clothing isn’t very comfortable and doesn’t breathe well, and my neoprene booties failed last time I used them, due to rain running down my ankles and into my socks. I’m still working on the best way to stay dry where it counts, but if I ever get it right, I’ll be sure and post my technique.

  11. Varroa says:

    “my neoprene booties failed last time I used them, due to rain running down my ankles and into my socks”

    Tuck your booties under you rainpant legs to prevent that.

    As for cold weather, base wicking layer followed by thin layer of fleece or merino wool followed by a highly breathable wind breaker. Works down to -37c for me!

  12. Nick says:

    Varroa: I wasn’t wearing rain pants! I don’t like them. I think the solution for me lies not in trying to keep every inch of me from getting wet, but from accepting wetness as inevitable. I’ve been meaning to pick up a pair of aquasocks to see if they’re comfortable for wet biking. Thanks for the tip, though!

  13. Jason says:

    HA! Yeah the plastic bag thing is kinda wierd. But it works! Especially for the toes. As for the other thing, some nice windblocker pants or tights would work too….

  14. Good article. I enjoyed it. Key is blocking the wind, as you say. It’s surprising how little clothing one needs to stay warm when one is *active* outdoors. The human body is capable of generating a lot of heat (so long as you are not just sitting there).

    I’ve gotten away from cotten base layers though. Last winter I found myself packing an extra t-shirt just so I could change into a dry one when the first became cold and clammy. When you’re a few miles out in the woods, and sweaty, it’s a joy to stop and slip on something dry. It’s also dangerous to be wet. This year I’ve invested in some wicking base layers, and the improvement in comfort is very noticable.

    Last year I bike well into December before calling it quits in the face of deep snow and bitter cold (we get over 150 inches per year where I live). This year I’ve invested in a pair of studded tires. I don’t know whether I’ll bike all winter, but you can be sure I’ll have some fun with those tires. They’re back-ordered, supposed to arrive December 1, and I wish they’d hurry up and get here. There is snow on the ground now. I could use those tires today.

  15. Nick says:

    Have fun with those studded tires, J. I’d love to see what kind of terrain they can handle. Being able to ride on a frozen-over lake sounds like fun.

  16. JiMCi says:

    Jonathan, if your winter conditions change from days with snow on the road to days with dry pavement, you may want to mount your studded tires on a separate set of wheels. Studs are noisy and can be quite slippery on dry asphalt, so it’s easy to simply swap the wheels depending on the conditions. More info on

  17. Steve says:

    Great advice and well presented.

    I made the mistake of wearing a loose insulating layer for a few cold rides. I was miserable because I was alternating between too hot in the armpits and too cold. I dug out some 10 year old polyester long underwear (it is pretty tight on my 41 year old frame) and it has kept me quite comfortable for my rides in the mid 20s to the the low 50s.

  18. Nick says:

    Jason: I put plastic bag corners over my toes when I put my shoes on this morning, and all I have to say is thanks. I’ll let you know if I decide to stick them down my pants.

  19. Terry from Mpls, MN says:

    I used to bicycle commute (about five miles each way) in MN year round, and am getting back into it now. Here are some of my tactics for when it gets colder (0 to -20):
    Snowboots (Sorrels)
    Lightweight longjohns
    A piece of heavyweight polarfleece to put between my longjohns and my privates.
    Ski googles
    Duct tape over the vents on my helmet.

    You can definitely arrive comfortably warm and not sweaty in any temp. But you have to know how to dress. I started tracking what I wore, the distance I rode, temp, and windchill and how comfortable I was. After a while I had a nice chart that told me exactly what I needed to wear.

  20. Raz says:

    Riding in the cold isn’t a big problem, and dressing for whatever the outside air temperature is isn’t a problem either. You can easily get away with less than you think.

    BUT, you can’t dress safely based on the riding case. You HAVE TO dress for an extended stop, like a bad mechanical problem or a total failure, where you have to walk back home (I have no one to call to pick me up, so I’m forced to walk back home if I can’t fix the problem). Yes, it will get sweaty fast, but I rather take that discomfort over freezing half to death walking home.

    One option is to ride with panniers, and keep extra clothing there, but that’s not always an option.

  21. Nick says:

    Raz: That is an excellent point. In the city, if I bust a tire at any point on my trip, I can hop on the subway or find a warm spot to patch the tire. Riding in more rural areas means taking stronger precautions. Thanks for pointing that out.

  22. Fritz says:

    Great illustrations with your guide — probably among the best I’ve seen.

    A word about cotton and wicking — if the cotton T is wet, that means it’s *not* evaporating. THe “wicking” fabrics keep you cooler precisely because they evaporate the sweat instead of trapping it the moisture like cotton does. But you’re right that for shorter distances or slower speeds it really doesn’t matter.

  23. […] *Our #1 post was Nick’s “How to dress for Cold Weather” article. We also got comments from other commuters that ride during the winter months. It is hard to relate for us So Cal riders, for us 50 degrees is cold. […]

  24. Izaiah says:

    When is it bad weather why do people get insane???
    I have noticed , that anytime it rains, or there is a freeze, the public panics, rushes out to the stores and buy up all the
    bottled water, batteries, flash lights, firelogs, and canned food. Why is this. You would think people that have been through
    this kinda weather before would understand that it will not last more than a day or two at the most.
    Another thing I have noticed is when it rains that all the dumb people again get on the roads and cause wrecks and everything
    What is wrong with the people? I would really like to know.

  25. Lori says:

    I found your article when I googled “best cold weather biking outfit”. I was looking to find a “cool” yet affordable look. After reading your article I think I’ll stick to my cold weather biking outfit and continue looking like a dork. Thank you for helping me realize it’s not really how you look getting there, it’s how you get there that counts. I ride in a northern suburb of Chicago and the coldest I’ve rode is about 0 degrees with the windchill. It’s the snow/ice/rain that keeps me off my bike.

  26. tom says:

    Very late here, but I’ve got a skisuit from the thrift store; those work wonders, look awesome too.

  27. Rhome says:

    An old post but the information in it is evergreen which is why it doesn’t feel too odd to post a question…

    Care to ID your windbreaker?

    I’m evaluating several models now as I aim to stay on the bike as much as possible as the seasons change. As several posters have already pointed out, stopping the wind is most of the battle for staying warm. Body heat indeed takes care of the rest.

  28. Adam says:

    Hey, just like to add what my attire is for the cold Canadian biking, last night was a ride in negative 11 celcius, and my dress was a ski mask, winter hat, sometimes a light scarf for my neck and face

    the upper body consisted of many layers, 2 tshirts, 1 plaid dress shirt, a sweater, a windbreaker, a leather jacket, kart racing gloves

    the lower body was plain old jeans tucked into my socks, sometimes I wear rain pants as a windbreaker

    I usually use these tennis shoes I have because they’re light, but when I need the extra comfort, I wear some light thinsulate boots.

    The wrists are extremely important, make sure your sleeves are pulled forward enough and try to get a jacket that has a snap on the wrists

    The ski mask may be overkill looks wise, but who cares, its like night and day when riding with that thing in cold weather, you can see where you’re headed without looking like you just broke up with a gf or something.

    Leather is really effective for the upper body

    just remember the places where heat exits your body the most, the extremities of your body, and don’t forget the core that heats up the extremities, if you have good biking leg muscles, they should be able to take care of themselves usually heat wise, you just don’t the skin to freeze.

    im not an expert, it just works for me, thanks all.

  29. Adam says:

    By the way, from something I experienced tonight, if you don’t have a face mask, and its around negative 20…it gets hard to breathe and you’ll have a lengthy coughing session afterwards.

  30. Elliott says:

    All good suggestions for cold weather riding and it sounds like most of us have adapted to our conditions pretty well. I ride all year on the streets of Chicago and for me, the cold weather isn’t the problem, but it’s the mess that all the salt and grime make. I wear some old ski pants and crappy boots but am amazed how messy things can be for several days after a snowstorm. It’s a pain in the ass to put on ski pants and boots to go short distances. It seems like the worst mess if the mud/salt/grime hitting the angled down tube and then ricocheting on to my pants/boots. Does a front fender make a big difference? I have the back mud guard, but don’t like the looks of one on the front. Any other suggestions?

  31. chuck says:

    Great article. Reinforces my humble opinions… There’s no need to buy expensive stuff for cold-weather biking… I use inexpensive work gloves, a skull-cap with ear-flaps under the helmet, sweat pants and a windbreaker… It’s fine!!! Don’t be deterred…

    Don’t know that I’ll be doing much biking when it’s in the 20s or below, because that’s pretty cold when you’re starting off, but I highly recommmend it when it’s a bit warmer.

    It’s similar to cross-country skiing. You warm up. It’s cool, fresh, exhilirating…

  32. […] did some looking around yesterday, and I found this great post about dressing for cold weather bike commuting. I love how they show pictures next to the temperatures so that you have  a frame of reference […]

  33. Dave says:

    I am travelling into lectures and will be travelling by bike. I will use this article when well meaning people feel I am underclad for the elements. I wore shorts and t shirt to cycle somewhere at half ten at night. It was 11 C (52F), with virtually still air at the time, and someone asked me wasn’t I cold. This morning, it was 50F and I wore shorts and a hoodie (which I only had on because the house had been cold) and was on the warm side. Where I live highs are normally upper 40’s and lows mid-upper 30s in Winter. For convenience, I tend to wear what I wore round the house, which is usually enough as I try to economise on heating.
    For rainwear (we do get a bit where I live), no rainwear ever above 60F (I hate being too hot). Below that for light rain, if I’m already wearing a hoodie, I just use that, since my commute is barely a mile. For serious precipitation, I would change into a raincoat for the ride. I would only wear both if it was very cold.
    I also wear shorts on the bike, unless its unbearable as I generally find long trousers uncomfortable

  34. Dave says:

    I do do some longer rides for leisure too, and use cycling shorts w/ a wicking type top most of the year for that as the high is over 50 almost every non-winter day. In Winter, I just add an old jumper in dry weather or raincoat in wet weather.

  35. dave Timmerman says:

    Does anyone find that wearing a full balaclava makes it hard to breath when it gets cold ie it freezes up and or your hot breath fogs up you glasses. I am bald, shaved that is and wear glasses and the worst is the wind around the glasses that causes the tearing up. When it is warmer and raining I go without the glasses and tilt my head forward a little and the visor on my helmet stops the worst of the rain.

  36. Carol says:

    We bike all winter in temperatures down to -11C (12F) and layer with wick away clothing, merino wool, thin wind breaker and winter ski jacket. We have found thin balaclavas with a breathing mesh area but unfortunately you have to blow your exhaled breath towards your chest to prevent your glasses fogging. We do wear another toque over this. I warm the inside of my boots and ski mittens with a hair dryer before putting on. I have a tearing problem, which is reduced by wearing safety glasses that surround the eyes. We wear wick away sock liners with wool socks, thermal underwear, pants and ski pants.

  37. Chris says:

    If you are too cheap to buy a balaclava/face mask (like me) and have a bunch of spare beanies lying around (like me) you can simply cut the top off of one and voila, instant free face mask!

  38. mpainter508 says:

    I used to be a courier in Boston,MA. and we all just wore shorts in the winter,maybe some long socks but no jackets and face masks in the winter.I would have sweat my ass off in all that.Even now I ride my triumph in 20 degrees in a flannel and jeans.

  39. kelsey says:

    i had to convert the fahrenheit to celsius to see what you were really talking about here… and i’m reminded of how hardcore we are/have to be in canada.
    it’s already 12 F (-11 C) here today, and it’s only the start of october!

    but anyway, good luck out there everyone and happy riding no matter the temperature!

  40. kevman says:

    I like the idea of not spending too much money on gear, but wearing cotton in the snow is pure madness. It doesn’t wick, but rather invites moisture to cling to you. I’d rather stick with my non cotton layers, which do cost a few bones I’m afraid.
    I’ve been braving the Winters in Sweden for the past 3-4 years and sometimes you gotta buy the gear.

  41. Kaleisu says:

    For women (and men) a great way to remember how to dress is the three W’s:
    Layer 1: Wick
    Layer 2: Warmth
    Layer 3: Wind
    And always keep in mind flexibility. I have tried on cycling pants before that didn’t bend well at the knee! Silly! All those layers can make movement difficult, so experiment for the right combo for you.

    I ride (almost) year round in Minnesota and we get brutal negative wind chills here (sometimes down to -60F). Your base layer should wick sweat (silk, wicking polyster, etc.)and stay dry. The second layer should be warmth (wool, fleece, etc.). Your final layer should be a wind blocker (nylon, rain pants, etc.) to trap in the heat. Pay special attention to ears, toes, fingers, and forehead. I have a balaclava that fits under my helmet and I wear ear bags under it for extra ear protection (, old neoprene booties from my kayaking days that I use inside my -15 rated snow boots, and I made a pair of polyester glove covers out of a pair of pants to go over my ski gloves in a pinch. I also made a neck gator out of an old stocking cap, by literally just cutting a slit in the top. Cheap and better than a scarf. And though some folks thought it was funny above, I always travel with a large garbage bag in my pack, just in case I am getting frost bitten somewhere. Nothing blocks wind like plastic in a pinch. And of course carry a cell phone in case of emergencies, a flat in -20 is dangerous.

  42. Dan says:

    I’ve just recently dared to do cold weather riding (and night riding, but that’s another story). I’m from the south, but I even I can overheat easily with too much clothes. I agree with Nick even down to the details of vest at high 40’s (I just roll up my sleeves, but some also zip off for changing weather) and full wind breaker at low forties etc.. Two big changes… I much prefer a neck warmer and bike cap to a balaclava because it’s more versatile before and during the ride. I can vent my ears to cool off or not. I don’t have any problem with it sliding down on its own but mine is a sporty elasticized variety. Second..unless Nick is riding through North Korea on his way to work, those colors are an invitation to get killed. I choose a nice obvious bright colored jacket.

  43. Dan says:

    Celeste, what’s the difference? They make wind breakers in all colors if that’s the point. The pants don’t need to be military fatigues, just something lighter than jeans. I just use dockers. I’ve used jeans too though. I have no problem with cotton, but I don’t bike in snow like the Swedish gent. That’s what skis are for.

  44. iseestupidpeople says:

    Riding in traffic wearing black, gray, and camouflage will get you hit much more frequently.

  45. jay says:

    Really good advice. I’m always telling everyone who’s reticent about the winter ride that it’s all about layering and thermals. I ride in Chicago, and from what I understand the weather here is comparable to NY, snow and all. This is pretty much exactly the way I dress up, except my long underwear doesn’t come out until around ten or fifteen degrees, otherwise I get way too hot. I also don’t have a windbreaker, I have a very thick hoodie that cuts the wind and keeps me warm, and it lets me keep my hood up underneath the helmet to keep my head and ears warm. I’ll usually tie a bandana across my face. When it’s really cold out (lower teens and single digits), I break out the balaclava. As for gloves, I like to use the mittens that double as fingerless gloves when you fold them back, it makes for a lot more dexterity with locks and helmets. When it’s really cold, I’ll wear a pair of thin knit gloves underneath. Fenders are essential, but when it’s really slushy out my feet tend to get pretty wet despite them. I got a pair of galoshes (or “rubber overshoe”) to wear when it’s raining or the slush is overwhelming. They work great and really help to cut the wind (I wear shoes like yours). The only downside was that they cost almost thirty dollars, but it was worth it to not have wet socks. Plus, when everything else like gloves and long sleeved shirts are either very cheap or already somewhere in your closet, it takes some of the bite off of the price.

  46. Laura says:

    I found this article very useful! I’m going to tab it in my favorites. In addition to wearing the appropriate attire. Once you finish riding it’s a good idea to drink some hot tea. This will soothe the body. Also, breath in the hot vapors. The dry/cold air is harsh on the lungs.

  47. […] There is an elite class of everyday people who love to Icebike, but even fewer who bicycle tour in foul weather. In the end, everything comes back to layers. […]

  48. Andrew Fuqua says:

    Here’s what I wear in a quick to read table:

    Nice article, Nick, and great comments too.

  49. Slug says:

    My outfit for 10-30 degree weather consists of jeans, some warm mittens, and a semi-warm jacket.

  50. Niki Cunningham says:

    Hey! I use your recommendations religiously and you are always right! Thanks so much. BUT I am just realizing that you jump from “In the 40s,” to “Below 30.” What do you do in the 30s??

  51. gillian says:

    plastic bags may keep your feet and toes from getting wet from rain water and puddles coming in, but once your feet start sweating, they’ll be cold again. plastic bags aren’t breathable and aren’t really a good solution for very long commutes. my feet were sopping wet inside the bags and freezing from my own sweat. 🙁

  52. Fro says:

    Thanks for this. I am looking to start biking way earlier this year and this article gave me lots of ideas and HOPE too.

  53. Juno says:


    My names Juno, I am currently a student at ArtCenter College of Design. I am currently working on a school project to design footwear for everyday commuters that live in urban cities such as New York. I have read some of the posts in this group and I realized that winter season can be very difficult for bike messengers due to the cold and from your feet getting wet.

    So my question is why is that bike messengers choose to still wear shoes that might not be best suitable for the colder seasons?

    Why not wear winter boots? What are some of the issues with existing boots that are pushing people away from wearing them and instead deciding to wear a plastic bag over their socks?

    Thank you!

  54. Jack says:

    Quite overdressed i think. I use mask when biking -22 to -27F if wind’s hard.

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