Cycling

Staying Warm While Mountain Biking in the Cold

mountain biking

Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you should take your feet off of the peddles of your mountain bike. When Mother Nature gives you the cold shoulder, embrace it. She’s simply playing hard to get. There’s no better way to catch her than by extending your mountain biking adventures for another season.

In fact, winter can be one of the best seasons to enjoy your bike. The winter months offer some of the best ways to get out and ride trails and roads when they aren’t super crowded. However, mountain biking in the cold does come with some serious challenges. One of them, in particular, is staying warm.

Worried? Don’t be! There’s little to no stress involved in combatting the cold. We compiled a few tips on how to stay warm while mountain biking in the cold, so you can focus on putting one foot in front of the other – or one pedal over the other.

Wear Waterproof Gear

Boots with red laces on snowshoes in the snow
Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

During winter, it’s not uncommon to come across snow and other kinds of precipitation. As a result, as I’m sure everyone knows, if you get wet then you get cold. How do we remedy this? Or better yet, how do we prevent it? Dress for it. This means wearing waterproof gear.

Start by focusing on your outer layers. Get a good jacket, some waterproof pants, and of course, waterproof shoes. Your shoes are going to be the key to staying as warm as possible while out in the elements. While you’re at it, throw on some warm socks too. A thick pair can really help keep your feet warm while your shoes are carrying the weight of keeping them dry. If able, get the socks first and wear them when trying on your shoes to ensure they’ll work together. Thicker socks can sometimes require you to size up in shoes to accommodate.

Bottom line: the longer your feet stay warm, the longer you’ll be able to ride comfortably. And let’s face it, riding comfortably is always the goal.

Wear Good Base Layers

Man wearing black thermal base layer underwear on white background
Image by arthursfoto from Getty

The outer layers aren’t the only important thing when biking in the cold. You’ll also need good base layers. While your outer layers are striving to keep moisture from the snow and rain out, your base layers have the goal of pulling sweat away from your body.

When you bike, you sweat. It’s true. When that sweat starts to evaporate, you start to get cold. A good base layer will help wick that moisture away and allow your body’s natural heat to keep you warm. In doing so, you’ll feel more comfortable and, consequently, keep peddling. You can get polyester base layers or even some layers that contain wool if it doesn’t irritate your skin, both are superb options when it comes to keeping you warm.

Wear Good Gloves

gloves
Image from Gander

If we’re making bets, it’s safe to say your fingers are going to be one of the first things to feel the cold when you’re out and about. Unfortunately, once your fingers get cold, they have a greater chance of developing frostbite – and, honestly, that’s the last thing anyone wants.

In an effort to combat this, you should have a good pair of insulated gloves. Go for a pair that’s waterproof yet still lightweight. Heavier options could restrict the movement of your fingers and movement equals warmth. You want gloves that will cut the wind and not absorb any moisture, but if you go too thick and warm, your hands will sweat. Remember what we said earlier about evaporating sweat inside your layers? The same principle applies here, too.

If you’re able, try to find a happy medium between lightweight and heavy-duty without sacrificing quality. Also, it’s wise to think about getting a couple of different pairs of gloves for different temperatures. Having options never hurt anyone… or left them out in the cold.

Cover Your Head and Ears

Man in furry hat with sunglasses in the snow
Photo by Cody Black on Unsplash

While most jackets will have a hood or at least a high collar to shield your neck, it works in your favor to cover your head and ears as well. Much like wearing a base layer with moisture-wicking capabilities to absorb the sweat as it’s produced, a hat strives to do the same. Without a hat, you’ll sweat and the sweat will continue to rest in your hair or drip down your face and neck. Ultimately, that sweat will cause you to be cold from being wet.

A hat prevents that. Soaking up the sweat while keeping heat from escaping ensures your head stays warm while biking on a path or trail. Earmuffs or ear coverings of some sort keep the wind from blowing in and around your ears. If you’re able to keep the wind out, you can keep the cold out as well. Some hats also have the ability to cover your ears and your head at the same time – win/win. Regardless, leaving your head or your ears exposed could end your mountain biking excursion earlier than you’d like.

Whether you’re out for a quick spin of the wheels or there’s a path you’ve been meaning to visit, taking the bike out in the winter is still as good a time as any to check those things off your list. At the end of the day, the cold is simply an obstacle to tackle. By following the tips outlined above, staying warm on your next mountain biking adventure is easier than ever before – guaranteed. So adjust your seat, give the brakes a squeeze, and kick up that kickstand, we’ll see you out on the trail.

For more solid mountain biking and cycling advice, check out the articles below:


How do you stay warm while biking in the winter? Leave us a comment below.

Staying warm while mountain biking in the cold

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