Racing directly into lousy weather can be exciting. It can also be flat-out horrible. However, there are some cycling Masochists that insist on heading out regardless of the forecast. Whether because you remain immune to the pleasures of Zwift or because your location makes it a necessity, cycling in extreme conditions is possible as long as you have suitable kit.
While our guides to the best winter jackets or warm tights will give you a good start, accessories play almost as crucial a role. Lifting your outfit from one that can manage the merely chilly to instead tackle storm-force rain and sub-zero temperatures, below are our favourite picks for when better judgment tells you to stay indoors.
Assos Ultraz Winter Skin Base Layer
£105, Shop Men's | Shop Women'sAt some point, you can’t keep putting layers on over the top. Instead, you need to go back to the first thing in contact with your skin. This baselayer from Assos is designed for the very coldest conditions. Made from a durable mix of polypropylene and wool, the use of this second natural material helps the top retain warmth even when wet. The top also employs an entirely seamless construction to maintain a comfortable racing fit.
Isadore Deep winter face mask
£25, Shop IsadoreIn winter, some form of buff to seal around the top of your jacket is a great idea. Also able to be popped up to cover your nose and mouth, this facemask from Isador goes a step further. Also shielding your head, neck, and ears, you can wear the whole lot neckerchief-style if you start to overheat. The last stop before balaclava town, this face mask is just normal enough looking you’ll still be able to pop into a petrol station for a Mars bar without the cashier hitting the panic alarm.
Endura Pro SL Winter Cycling Cap
£29.99, Shop EnduraPlenty of firms make cold-weather caps that will still fit under a helmet yet provide added insulation. This one from Scottish brand Endura looks good, isn’t too expensive, and features useful reflective details. Treated to repel water and pleasantly fleecy inside, it offers suitably business-like looking protection for horrid days.
Isadore Sector Jacket
£250, Shop Men's | Shop Women's A versatile top for occasions you’d rather stay in with the heating on full blast. Designed to keep the body comfortable across a broad spectrum of temperatures, it has a working range from below zero to 15 degrees Celsius. Smooth on the outside, warm and soft inside, this water-resistant jacket aims to be as breathable as possible. Mixing a WindTex exterior and a brushed, thermal interior, it’s best saved for athletic efforts on mixed rather than continuously rainy days.
Rapha Pro Team Lightweight Gore-Tex Jacket
£220, Shop Men's | Shop Women'sJackets that feel like jerseys are all well and good, but when you know it’s going to pour down for extended periods, you’re normaly better off with a shell. This waterproof jacket uses Goretex’s hydrophobic Shakedry fabric. With taped seams, there’s minimal chance of water getting through. However, being incredibly breathable, you won’t find yourself sweltering from within either. Also exceptionally light, it packs down small enough to be carried just for emergencies too.
Gore Wear C3 Windstopper Bib Tights
£159.99, Shop Men's | Shop Women'sRight up there with getting some mudguards, a pair of winter tights will make cold season cycling infinitely more enjoyable. These models from Gore provide a decent pad and wind-blocking panels at a price that’s easy to digest. A little less flexible than more breezy models, you’ll need to zip them into place at the ankles. Sealing your legs away behind a hydrophobic, windproof front, the insulation also extends to cover sensetive and squishy bits. With a high waist also covering your tummy, the whole ensemble makes for much-improved comfort in frigid or rainy conditions.
Gripgrab Flandrien Shoe Covers
£64.95, Shop GripgrabThese waterproof boot covers echo the knitted style popular among Belgian riders. High and stretchy, they provide insulation to your feet plus a good part of the way up your shins. With an impermeable membrane hidden inside, their tall cut helps slow the ingress of any water leaking in from above.
Gore-Tex Infinium Thermo Split Gloves
£69, Shop GoreLet your fingers keep each other company and share their warmth. These split-finger gloves from Gore are highly water-resistant and use plentiful Primaloft insulation. With a separate thumb and forefingers for dexterity, your final three pinkies are housed together, allowing them to communicate heat and benefit from reduced proximity to the outside. Less extreme than traditional lobster-claw-style gloves, they’re a good option for mixed conditions.
Rapha Deep Winter Socks
£25, Shop RaphaA taller sock than would otherwise be acceptable, these highrise models from Rapha feature wind-resistant front panels that run the length of the shin along with thick, padded footbeds. Made of 52% merino wool and 46% nylon, they provide serious insulation while also retaining warmth once wet. Also less likely to get stinky thanks to wool’s natural microbial-management properties, they’re soft, snuggly, and great for a range of non-bike related activities too.