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Gear Review- Winter Commuting Gear Layer Edition

Ok. Winter is here- despite these amazing warm days in between cold nights and chilly mornings. Ten Winters ago I remember only passing a few cyclists while on my UWM winter commute and now I can’t even remember all the cyclists I pass every day as I bike to Walkers Point or Bayshore Mall.

Need motivation? Check out the challenges for the Milwaukee Bicycle Collectives Winter Bike Challenge and social media tag your winter away on a bike for a chance to win a special edition winter jacket.

My first winter my gear was pretty simple but each year I commute I’ve added a few more items to make my commute more warm and dry. Here are some winter gear and tips for the seasoned to the new winter cyclist.


The four base layers all my clothes are based around.

Base- IBEX Wool long underwear and wool long sleeve shirt (I’ve got two sets that I wash weekly and they don’t come off until March….really)
Mid- T-Shirt and pair of Swrve jeans or work pants
2nd Mid (25 degrees or colder)- Wool Surly Jersey or Giro New Road Hoodie. Both have thumb holes to keep my wrists warm.
Outer- Swrve Milwaukee Hoodie. Waterproof, Windproof, longer back & pit zips and lots of colors. the XS fits short and slim folks to a XL for folks who need it.

Easy to pack for extra layers when the temps change from morning to night and quickly can add warmth.

Neck- Neck gaiters are much less bulky then scarves such as the Wool Buff or Surly Neck Gaiter.

Face- When it’s 20 degrees or below I use a 45nrth Lung Cookie to keep my glasses from fogging up while keep my face well covered.

Eyes- 100% Proof Goggles are clear and affordable starting at $40 including a pair for folks with glasses. Keeping the cold wind off those eyes keeps those eyelashes from freezing together (yes I’e had it happen)

Head- Giro Shackleton All Season Helmet or Nutcase Snowboarding Helmet with a winter liner to keep my head dry & warm.

Head- Kozie Prery Winter Cap handmade in Chicago with recycled materials, Swrve Winter Caps or Giro Wool Cap. Wool keeps my head warm even when wet.

Hands- Bar Mitts (road or flat bar) even one for kids on Xtracycle Hoopties! This year I’m using 45nrth Cobra Bar Mitts. I can’t ride with just gloves below freezing and bar mitts make it possible for me to ride all winter without using hand warmers for each ride.

Hands- 100% Proof Giro Gloves– Spock Style. Giro Wool gloves as a base layer under warm gloves or by themselves on warm days with bar mitts. Giro Ambient gloves for those 40(ish) days.

Feet- Giro Wool socks (and a second pair in my bag just in case they get wet or it’s really cold) and Giro Alphineduro SPD winter shoes or a decent pair of winter hiking boots. 45nrth Gaiters or the new Giro Alphineduro Gaiters work well to keep my feet dry despite the snow and ice.

Need more tips? Check out our Cold Weather Riding & Bike Maintenance Workshop on Friday– December 18th 7p to 8:30p at Coast In Bikes. We’ll have some winter cycling experts on hand with some “adult” cider & snacks and going for drinks afterwards at Tin Widow for folks wanting to keep the discussion going.

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