The Best Winter Cycling Gear,

Keep your winter rides comfortable with these jackets, pants, socks, and hats

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Commerce Photo Composite

Verywell Fit / Amelia Manley

Cold weather and snowstorms can make outdoor cycling less than comfortable but with winter cycling apparel, shoes, and accessories, a ride on your two-wheeler will be just as fun as during warmer months. “Riders need to factor in precipitation, temperature, wind, and more to find a combination that keeps them warm and dry inside and out,” says Zach Levy, manager of digital marketing at Velocio, a cycling apparel company.

Tested & Approved

For a windproof and water-resistant, comfortable top layer, the Baleaf Women's Cycling Reflective Jacket is a top pick. Our testers also liked the moisture-wicking lining and waist cinch cord on the Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Cycling Jacket.

We reviewed top products from several different companies after researching their product details and reading through customer reviews. We tested the products for 20 hours each for durability and quality of material, fit, technical benefit for cycling, warmth, waterproofing, and overall value. The products on this list performed the best when we considered features such as performance, durability, weather protection, comfort, design, and price.

According to our research and testing, here is the best winter cycling gear on the market.

Best Jacket for Women: Baleaf Women’s Cycling Reflective Jacket

4.7
Baleaf Women’s Cycling Reflective Jacket

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    4/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Warmth
    5/5
  • Waterproof
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Windproof

  • Reflective details

  • Water-resistant

Cons
  • Too thick for milder conditions

  • Could use more ventilation

Our tester found that this jacket provides most features riders need to protect themselves from harsh winter weather, which makes it a top pick. The water-resistant and windproof finish kept our tester shielded from the elements during cold and windy rides, while the high-cut collar, soft fleece interior, and sleeve cuffs provided additional warmth. With a roomy fit, there’s ample space for layering, but this versatile jacket also feels comfortable with just a base layer.

The zippered front pockets were easy to access and offered plenty of space for our phone, money, and other essentials. We also love the back zippered pocket that’s perfect for storing extra gloves, keys, and maybe a set of hand warmers.

While this budget-friendly jacket offers ample warmth and protection, it’s a little too warm for milder conditions, such as temps above 45 degrees F. Although the full zipper in the front allows you to release some heat as your body warms, you may want to save this jacket for cold, windy rides.

What Our Testers Say

"This jacket is very functional and a great value, especially since it’s very budget-friendly. It’s well-insulated, keeps you warm, and is suitable even for extreme cold temps if worn with layers." — Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach, and product tester

Best Jacket for Men: Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Cycling Jacket

Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Cycling Jacket

Courtesy of REI

Pros
  • Waterproof

  • Excellent for visibility

  • Windproof

Cons
  • No front zippered pockets

  • Expensive

Thanks to the pocket on the front and back of this jacket, you can conveniently carry your stuff with you as you pedal around town or out for a fitness ride (although, we would like to see front zippered pockets). Plenty of features also keep you comfy as you spin, like a moisture-wicking lining at the collar (where we tend to sweat a lot), a cinch cord at the hem if you prefer to wear your jacket tight, and a few venting options, particularly under the pits (where things also heat up).

It’ll also keep water out while still offering breathability as you move. 

Best Cycling Pants for Women: Machines for Freedom Essential Cycling Pant

Machines for Freedom Essential Cycling Pant

Courtesy of Machines for Freedom

Pros
  • Moisture-wicking, silky-soft fabric

  • Comfortable chamois padding

  • Flattering, high waistband

Cons
  • Too narrow for some

  • Expensive

Built for women who want to ride for hours and stay comfortable in the saddle, these Machines for Freedom pants feature a compression material that keeps them in place as you pedal. The high waistband (inspired by yoga styles) won’t dig into your sides when you're seated, and the chamois has enough support for up to six hours of riding.

These pants also wick away moisture, feel silky against the skin, and offer UPF 50+ protection. Use the size chart to find your best fit, ranging from XS-XXXL.

Best Cycling Pants for Men: Rapha Men’s Cargo Winter Tights with Pad

Rapha Men’s Cargo Winter Tights with Pad

Courtesy of Rapha

Pros
  • Water-repellant

  • Pockets for storage

  • Breathable and quick-drying

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Not completely waterproof

These tights give you added warmth, thanks to a fleece-lined fabric that’s also water-repellent. To help keep you visible on the streets, they also have reflective detailing. If you’re carrying goods with you—like snacks, tissues, or other must-haves—these pants feature water-resistant zipped pockets and mesh compartments. Finally, the fast-dry pad under your seat will keep you comfortable, even on long and sweaty rides. 

Best Midlayer for Women: Icebreaker 200 Oasis Half-Zip Top

4.3
Icebreaker 200 Oasis Half-Zip Top

REI

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Warmth
    5/5
  • Waterproof
    3/5
  • Overall Value
    4/5
Pros
  • Moisture-wicking

  • Zipper for ventilation

  • Anti-odor properties

Cons
  • Runs small

  • Neck is too high for some

This versatile Icebreaker half-zip top is a practical choice for any cyclist’s winter gear collection as a mid- or base-layer. Made from 100 percent Merino wool, it naturally regulates temperature and is breathable, helping to prevent overheating.

Our tester was worried about the fabric feeling itchy, as is the case with some wool apparel, but was pleasantly surprised. The shirt is soft and smooth against the skin and also works really well as a light, added layer for warmth. The half-zipper made it easy to release heat once we warmed up.

The Merino wool wicks away moisture and has anti-odor properties, which kept us feeling fresh and dry. Chafing was also not an issue, thanks to the shirt’s smooth material and flatlock seams. It comes in various classic colors and in sizes XS-XL.

What Our Testers Say

"It's a great value and offers many of the features a cyclist would want in a midlayer top, including breathability, moisture-wicking, comfort, and anti-odor properties. The shirt is not too light or heavy, and the half-zipper is a welcome feature. " — Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach, and product tester

Best Midlayer for Men: Craft Core Edge Thermal Mid Layer

Craft Core Edge Thermal Mid Layer

REI

Pros
  • Side pockets for storage

  • Brushed inside

  • Half-zip for temperature regulation

Cons
  • Very little reflectivity

  • No anti-odor properties

Known for its high-quality, durable cold-weather apparel, Craft definitely delivers with this well-designed thermal mid-layer that’s ideal for winter cycling. It’s made of thermal fabric with a soft, brushed interior for extra insulation and comfort. Versatile and breathable, it can be worn as a mid-layer under a jacket or as an outer layer on milder days. The half-zipper allows you to regulate your temperature as conditions change during a ride.

Two zipped side pockets are ideal for storing small items, especially when wearing as an outer layer. Available in sizes S-XXL and in several color options, this stylish shirt also works well for casual wear on your rest days.

Best Cycling Shoe Cover: Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier Shoe Cover

Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier Shoe Cover

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Water- and wind-resistant

  • Easy to get on and off

  • Wide range of sizes

Cons
  • Run small

  • Not completely waterproof

Keeping your digits warm is a common issue while cycling in cold temperatures. When you want added protection for your feet, these Pearl Izumi shoe covers (meant for road shoes with external cleats) will keep ‘em dry and warm. The fabric offers water and wind resistance, plus the fleece lining helps keep your toes toasty.

The hook-and-loop closure also allows for easy on and off. Buy the bright yellow color to add to your visibility on the road too. The shoe covers will fit both men's and women's cycling shoes and come in sizes S-XL.

Best Socks: Swiftwick Pursuit Seven Cycling Crew Socks

4.7
Swiftwick Pursuit Seven Cycling Crew Socks

Backcountry

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    5/5
  • Fit
    5/5
  • Warmth
    4/5
  • Waterproof
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    5/5
Pros
  • Breathable

  • Very durable

  • Moderate compression and cushioning for support

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Limited colors

These durable Swiftwick socks help regulate the temperature of your feet so they don’t get too hot or cold, depending on the weather conditions and how much you heat up as you pedal.

They also feature a contoured, compression fit that supports your foot, while eliminating bunching and sliding. When our tester took them for a spin, the Merino wool felt very soft, smooth, and not itchy, while the reinforced heel and toe and mid-level cushioning definitely added to the socks’ overall comfort and support.

The socks also help stop blisters and wick away moisture, so you don’t have to worry about sweaty, uncomfortable feet either. Merino wool also has anti-odor properties, keeping the stink under control. With a wide range of unisex sizes, these comfy socks are a nice pick for winter cycling.

What Our Testers Say

"These socks are ideal for cold-weather riding, providing the ideal amount of warmth and support. They’re incredibly comfortable and also have anti-odor protection and sweat-wicking capability, thanks to the Merino wool fabric." — Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach, and product tester

Best Gaiter: BUFF Lightweight Merino Wool Gaiter

4.3
BUFF Lightweight Merino Wool Gaiter

Amazon

Our Ratings
  • Materials
    5/5
  • Fit
    4/5
  • Warmth
    4/5
  • Waterproof
    4/5
  • Overall Value
    4/5
Pros
  • Made of soft, warm Merino wool

  • Can be worn various ways

  • Wind-resistant

Cons
  • Too lightweight for very cold conditions

  • Hand wash recommended

Put on this comfortable Buff neck gaiter to keep your face and neck warm as you’re pedaling. Made of 100 percent Merino wool, it feels soft and smooth against your skin and naturally fights odors and wicks away moisture.

Our tester found it easy to control the level of protection and temperature by pulling the gaiter up or down. Although it’s very lightweight and breathable, it effectively blocks out the wind. And when you don’t need it to protect your face or neck, the versatile gaiter can be worn as a headband or hood. It’s also extremely portable, so we could easily tuck it in a pocket when not needed. There’s a range of fun and neutral colors to choose from, so it’s tough to resist picking up more than one.

What Our Testers Say

"The versatile Buff can keep your neck, face, ears, and head warm and protected, depending on how you want to wear it. It's soft, comfortable, breathable, moisture-wicking, and even has anti-odor properties." — Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified running coach, and product tester

Best Hat: Outdoor Essentials Skull Cap

Outdoor Essentials Skull Cap

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Fits comfortably under helmet

  • Sweat-wicking

  • Wind-resistant

Cons
  • May not work for very large heads

  • Not warm enough for very cold weather

Keeping your head warm when you’re on the move is super important for lasting many miles. Add an extra layer under your helmet with this skull cap liner. The tight fit means it won’t feel super bulky under your helmet, while the polyester and spandex fabric makes for a comfortable cap. The cap can also double as a helmet liner for winter sports like snowboarding and skiing.

Best Bike Lights: Ascher USB Rechargeable Bike Light Set

4.8
ashcer-bike-light

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Rechargeable

  • Four light modes

  • Easy to install

Cons
  • Mode button not easy to operate

  • Not as durable as more expensive lights

Stay safe as you ride the streets, especially in lower light conditions, with these affordable bike lights. Rechargeable with a USB cord, they offer four light modes, from full and half brightness to fast and slow flashing. Put the red one on the back of your bike via the silicone strap and the white light on the front to illuminate the streets as you cruise around and alert traffic of your presence. 

Final Verdict

The most important part of bundling up when heading outside to ride your bike in winter is having layers on so you can remove them as needed when you heat up. Make sure you have an outer layer that’ll protect you against the elements, like wind and rain or snow, which you’ll find in the Baleaf Women’s Windproof Softshell Jacket (view at Amazon) and Showers Pass Elite 2.1 Cycling Jacket (view at REI).

How We Rated Winter Cycling Gear

4.8 to 5 stars: These are the best winter cycling gear items we tested. We recommend them without reservation.

4.5 to 4.7 stars: These winter cycling gear items are excellent—they might have minor flaws, but we still recommend them.

4.0 to 4.5 stars: We think these are great winter cycling gear items, but others are better.

3.5 to 3.9 stars: These winter cycling gear items are just average.

3.4 and below: We don't recommend winter cycling gear items with this rating; you won't find any on our list.

What to Look for in Winter Cycling Gear

Temperature Control

Warmth always wins out when we’re talking about working out outside in cold temperatures and unpredictable weather. Look for gear that’s breathable for when you start to heat up but will keep you warm even through super cold days. Merino wool is a good fabric for base layers because it provides good temperature regulation and also wicks away moisture. Plus, it's good for odor protection, which can reduce the number and frequency of washes, potentially increasing the lifespan of your clothing.

Comfort

You never want your wardrobe to stop your ride short. Comfort is key to going long and cycling strong. Look for gear with soft materials that feel great against the skin and offer enough stretch to move with you as you pedal fast.

“Cyclists should choose clothing that they can move in, of course, but also something that will help keep their body heat in,” says Stevie Vladic, cycling instructor XPRO for CycleBar GO. “A good pair of leggings, or whatever you prefer to keep your hamstrings and muscles warm would be beneficial as well.”

Safety

Gear with safety features, like reflectivity, will help you stay visible in early morning or evening hours when the sun’s not quite at its highest—or those dreary days when you need a little illumination for cars and other bikers to spot you on the street.

Weatherproofing

Weatherproof outer layers are also important in most winter riding conditions. Streets and trails can be wet from rain or melting snow or ice. And winds can be blustery. To help protect yourself, look for weatherproofing materials and coatings on your gear items—especially the ones you'll wear above your layers. Breathability can become an issue with super bomber clothes, so be sure to also look for weatherproofing that allows for breathability. If that's not possible, consider making sure you have base- or mid-layers that are deft at wicking moisture.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How cold is too cold to ride a bike?

    That largely depends on your comfort level. For recreational cyclists, 40 degrees F is often a cut-off temperature for when they’ll ride outside. However, cycling enthusiasts and bike commuters sometimes ride in much colder weather, even in single-digit temps. It’s really a matter of how well an individual can tolerate the cold and wind, and how willing they are to take the proper precautions to ride in frigid conditions.

  • Is the cold bad for bikes?

    Riding outside in temperatures below 40 degrees F could possibly cause damage to your bike. The cold weather may make the bike grease stiffer and your bearings may even freeze. Freezing conditions may also lead to ice build-up on your bike, which makes it difficult to shift and brake.

    Riding in slush, snow, and over potholes may also be tough on a lightweight bike frame or tires. Some cyclists opt for a mountain bike with thicker tires in the winter to handle the harsh conditions.

    Also, road treatments such as rock salt and other chemical de-icers may be harmful to your bike by causing corrosion. If you ride outside in the winter, be sure to clean and dry your bike after rides to prevent damage.

  • What layers should you wear for winter cycling?

    Layering is crucial for winter cycling to make sure you’re prepared for changing conditions and ready to add or take off a layer as your body temperature adjusts throughout the ride. “Dress too warm and a rider will sweat and get cold,” says Zach Levy. “Forget a wind or waterproof layer and high winds or light precipitation will end a ride.”

    Cyclists should wear a base layer made of a wicking, breathable fabric. A lightweight, windproof, water-resistant jacket can go over that, with a mid-layer added if more insulation and warmth are needed.

    For really cold and windy conditions, you may need more than just a pair of tights for your bottom half. “I think it is important to wear an extra layer on your legs to protect your muscles and to make sure they are warm enough for the ride,” says Stevie Vladic. “It’s also helpful to get something to cover your mouth and nose so that you aren’t bothered by the cold wind hitting your face.”

  • Is cycling in the winter harder?

    Riding in hot or cold weather both present some challenges. “In hot weather, the challenge lies in avoiding overheating, but proper layering for winter riding is more dynamic,” Levy explains. Cyclists have to more carefully consider their apparel and gear choices for a cold-weather ride since wearing too little or too much can lead to discomfort and potentially dangerous conditions such as hypothermia. In addition, all the extra layers increase your aerodynamic drag, so you’ll have to put in more effort compared to summer rides.

    You’re also more likely to ride in low-light conditions in the winter, so suiting up requires the proper reflective gear and safety lights. Cycling in the winter months also means you frequently have to contend with wind resistance, which will make riding more challenging.

    While a proper warm-up is always recommended before hopping on the bike, it’s especially crucial when heading out for a ride in cold weather. “It’s helpful to maybe add a few more minutes of stretches to allow your blood to start flowing so that your body will be ready for the cold ride,” Vladic says.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

Certified running coach and fitness writer Christine Luff has spent years researching, testing, and recommending fitness and athletic products and knows that the right gear can tremendously improve performance and comfort.