Don’t underestimate the importance of a good pair of cycling gloves. Almost everything else can be fudged in your cold-weather cycling wardrobe. Go ahead and substitute a ski shell for that cycling jacket. But don’t repurpose ski gloves on the bike. Designers have devised ways of wicking sweat from inside the glove during hard aerobic sessions while keeping out wind, rain, and freezing cold. The insulation on such gloves gets thicker toward the fingers, but stretchable fabric allows you to retain the feel of the brakes and shifters. And unlike generic winter gloves, the cycling version has foam or gel padding on the palm to cushion road chatter. Last but not least, these crucial accessories usually feature a soft fleecy area on the thumb for wiping your nose.
When choosing cycling gloves, pay attention to fit. If they're too tight, they will cut blood flow and make you colder. The cuffs are typically made to tuck into your favorite jacket, so think about what you’ll be wearing on cold-weather treks. Also think about what kind of cycling you do. Gloves for freeride or downhill mountain biking are thick and tough, with durable leather or synthetic on the palm; those for cyclocross have a grippy exterior for holding the bike frame in competition.