Best winter cycling apparel: ride through the winter of 2019 without getting cold

Keep calm and carry on cycling with this selection of toasty, weather-stopping gear for the ardent peddler

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Unless you've invested in a turbo trainer, getting the miles in when the icy fists of winter are hammering on your front door is not an easy task.

Granted, sweating it out on a static bicycle is a great way of keeping those joints and muscles in check, but nothing beats the thrill of getting out on the open road, while those who like their riding muddy will appreciate the fresh air, no matter the weather.

Our Swedish chums can often be heard saying: "there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes" and we wholeheartedly agree. Kit yourself out with the right gear and winter cycling suddenly doesn't seem so bad.

We've collated some of our favourite items that will keep vital body parts toasty, protected from the rain and visible to other road users when those gloomy winter days start to take their toll.

How to buy essential winter cycling kit

First of all, it's worth taking note of the type of cycling you are thinking of undertaking this winter. If lots of muddy, off-road antics are on the cards, stick to the gear that's designed for mountain bikers, as it will likely be more resistant to tears or snags and will likely pack a bit of additional protection from falls and heavy downpours.

On the other hand, road cyclists will probably want to find something with an extra snug fit, for the ultimate in aero gains, while a good chamois (the padding for your butt) will also mean the difference between a chafed undercarriage and a happy rider.

Commuters might want to turn towards slightly more fashionable cycling brands if they wish to wear the same clothing into the office or place of work. Alternatively, suck it up and get changed out of the sweaty stuff mentioned below before the working day begins. 

Above all else, warmth is going to be key here, so look for materials with thermal properties that also wick away sweat and moisture to keep the skin dry and comfortable throughout the ride.

Cycling bib shorts are probably out of the question, so look out for full length winter training bibs, which also handily come with waterproof coatings, while long sleeve cycling jerseys with thermal insulation are also a solid investment.

The best winter cycling gear, in order

1. Specialized Deflect Gloves

Superb chill protection for keen road cyclists

Specifications
Best for: Winter road rides
Material: Wind-resistant softshell
Reasons to buy
+Snug fit+Comfortable+Reflective details
Reasons to avoid
-Limited colour range-Zero crash protection 

Anyone who has faced a cold, windy day on the bike will attest to the pain experienced in the digits, as hands freeze solid, making gear changes and braking tough and agonising.

A decent pair of winter gloves doesn't necessarily mean gigantic blobs of fabric covering your hands, either, because these skinny numbers allow for some great feel through the bars and supreme protection from freezing winds.

The wind-resistant soft shell upper keeps out the cold bit, while a hydrophobic (water resistant) suede palm equates to excellent grip on the bars even when it starts to drizzle.

There are also plenty of clever little touches that elevate this over your standard glove, such as the Wiretap touchscreen compatible pad on the fingers for easy use of bike computers and smartphones, while the padded palm reduces numbness during long rides and the fabric cuff stops the chill heading up your sleeves.

2. Castelli Arrivo 3 Thermo Head Thingy

Keep the face, head or neck warm with this versatile thingy

Specifications
Best for: One-stop warmth
Material: Thermoflex fleece
Reasons to buy
+Multiple uses+Breathable+Warm
Reasons to avoid
-Looks a bit daft

This handy piece of kit is a must-have for anyone venturing out into the cold, no matter the cycling discipline, thanks to its versatility and ability to keep multiple body parts warm without allowing moisture to build up.

Its innovative Thermoflex fleece construction ensures a comfortable fit against the skin and it can be worn as a standard neck warmer, pulled over the mouth to prevent freezing air entering the lungs or fashioned into a bandana or cap and worn under the helmet.

Roadies, mountain bikers and urban commuters alike can benefit from this simple and inexpensive piece of kit that's constructed with Castelli's renowned eye to detail.

3. Rapha Pro Team Winter Tights

Quite simply the finest winter tights known to man

Specifications
Best for: The competitive road cyclist
Material: Windlock fabric
Reasons to buy
+Great protection from the elements+Superb fit+Amazing chamois pad
Reasons to avoid
-Cripplingly expensive

Some cycling gear manufacturers throw the word 'pro' into their product descriptions willy-nilly, but these winter tights from Rapha feature the same extremely comfortable Pad II that the real professional athletes use.

On top of this, they boast a wind-blocking DWR (durable water repellent) fabric on all of the front-facing panels, meaning your thighs and shins don't turn into icy slabs as soon as the winter drizzle sets in.

Hand on heart, the snug fit and brushed back fleece fabric inside the tights make these one of the most comfortable winter cycling garments you can buy. And that's a good job too, because they are hella pricey.

4. dhb Aeron Lab All Winter Polartec Jacket

Keeps out the harshest elements for deep winter riding

Specifications
Best for: Arctic conditions
Material: Three-Polartec fabric combination
Reasons to buy
+Extreme protection from the cold+Snug fit
Reasons to avoid
-Unflattering-Expensive

There was a time when Wiggle.co.uk own-brand dhb sat at the very affordable end of the price spectrum, but the one-stop fitness web shop has become very well-respected by enthusiasts in recent years and as a result, the products have taken a  more technical turn.

Part of the advanced LAB range, this All Winter jacket is the first to combine three advanced fabric technologies from Polartec - NeoShell, Alpha Direct and Power Shield Pro, which not only keep the core suitably warm but also block out wind and rain.

Primarily designed for road used in mind, this versatile jacket can also be worn by hardy commuters and mountain bikers alike. However, the tight, aero fit might not be for everyone.

5. Showers Pass Transit Waterproof Backpack

Watertight luggage for the soggy weekday warrior

Specifications
Best for: Winter downpours
Material: 100% Ballistic Nylon
Reasons to buy
+Bombproof+Highly visible+Multiple compartments 
Reasons to avoid
-Bulky

Ignore the boxy silhouette, as these ingenious bags place function over form by utilising fully welded seams with a single-side TPU coating and a 840-denier 100% Ballistic Nylon material to create one watertight mother.

Designed with cyclists from all walks of life in mind, the 42-litre monster will happily transport laptops that measure up to 17-inches and the clever ensures expensive items don't touch the ground when the backpack is dropped.

There is also a fleece-lined pocket for up to 10-inch tablets, four nylon compartments with elastic openings for bottles and a separate fleece-lined pocket for phones and keys etc.

On top of this, it boasts neat reflective elements and four built in red LEDs with variable flash modes for the ultimate in visibility.

The price may sting a bit but honestly, we have lived with a Showers Pass backpack for a number of years now and it has never failed us. They are arguably among the most durable, water resistant load-luggers out there.

6. Northwave Flash TH Winter Shoes

Thinsulate-lined shoes for toasty toes

Specifications
Best for: Everyday use
Material: Synthetic
Reasons to buy
+So warm+So comfortable+So durable
Reasons to avoid
-Heavy

A numb foot is reason enough to cut a ride short and seek shelter, but these Thinsulate-lined beauties help keep feet toasty without compromising performance.

Granted, they aren't quite as hardcore as the ankle-length all-weather boots offered by Northwave, nor are they as performance-focussed as their lightweight summer counterparts, but anyone riding in chilly conditions will appreciate the clever, fleece-lined Arctic GTX footbed.

7. BUFF Dryflx Hat

An trusty head-warming helmet liner

Specifications
Best for: Anti-brain freeze
Material: Recycled polyester
Reasons to buy
+Cheap+Lightweight+Simple
Reasons to avoid
-Makes heads look like colourful eggs

BUFF has seemingly been around since the beginning of time and it is the brand that arguably invented the multi-use neck-warmer, but its latest ultra-light and seamless hat range has been designed with extreme activities in mind.

Reflective, stretchy and excellent at wicking away brow moisture, the Dryflx Hat makes a great companion to an evening run but also doubles-up as a brilliant helmet liner for keeping skulls and ears toasty warm.

8. Herschel Supply Co Novel Duffle Bag

Icebreaker 260 Zone Merino LS Half Zip Hood

Specifications
Best for: Discreet warmth
Material: Merino wool
Reasons to buy
+Tight fit+Additional hood
Reasons to avoid
-Silly expensive

Merino wool might not be cheap but it is almost unbeatable when it comes to keeping vital organs warm. This tight-fitting base layer is excellent at trapping heat, while simultaneously wicking moisture and sweat away from the skin.

The built-in hood is perfect for slipping underneath a helmet on those really chilly days and its discreet nature means that it can happily be worn underneath slightly more stylish garments.