Layers for Winter Riding: Part Two
(Castelli Gabba and gilet make a great match for hard efforts on cold days)
Yesterday, we looked at what to keep your head and neck covered. Today, we will take a quick look at some items I use to keep my torso warm and dry. I find that keeping my core warm and dry is essential, but I am really not as particular about what I wear as I am when I grab stuff for my extremities. I am way more likely to have cold feet or hands than a cold body. That said, you can get a lot out of these three pieces of gear and what you wear under it all.
Jackets, Vests, and Gilets
In cool weather down into the 40’s there is nothing better than a Castelli Gabba long sleeve jersey. It is warm with side vents, waterproof, and windproof. I wear mine constantly from November through March. On any day were I am going to do a hard effort, I can get away with this. Only on longer or slower days do I go for a full winter jacket.
Somewhere in between the cool weather jersey and full jacket lie the gilet or puffer vest. I wear my gilet a lot when I just need a little extra warmth, and a lot of time I use it so I don’t put pins for race numbers through my Gabba. The gilet also provides some visability over the all black Gabba.
Last week, I picked up a great little down puffer vest. It’s tiny, warm as heck, and it cost me $20! I think this will be a great addition to add a little warmth on a cool day’s ride or to throw on before a race during warm ups.
A nice winter riding jacket should be able to get you down into the 20’s without making you feel like you are a sausage. My Verge jacket performs so well in cold temps and it repels most water and sleet that I come across. The large single pocket in the back allows me to stow away caps, neck garters, and gloves as well as my phone and a rag for my glasses. It is essential that you have someplace to store extra stuff so you can adjust as the temperature changes. A good size pocket allows you to take extra layers and to have a place for removable layers.
Usually when it is cold enough to need the warmer jacket, it is snowy and not rainy so being completely waterproof isn't priority number one. Having a large enough light rain jacket for over the top could come in handy as long as it doesn't cause you to sweat to death.
Base layers for your torso
In cool weather I often wear a light wicking base layer and the Gabba or winter jacket. I adjust the base layer as the weather calls for. Get a good short and long sleeve base layer, and make sure it wicks away perspiration. Sweat on the body will make you cold when you stop or ride a long way.
In cold weather I couple the base layer with a merino or smart wool top. I have a short and long sleeve jersey from Portland Cyclewear that are just great as a top layer in the fall and as a heavy base layer in the winter. They are breathable and warm, and they do not get funky with repeated wear. I highly recommend a smart wool or merino layer when the temps drop.
Next time, we will talk about essentials for those hard to keep warm legs, feet, and hands.