Close banner

Support Outside Online

Love Outside?

Help fund our award-winning journalism with a contribution today.

Contribute to Outside
Gear Guy

What gear do I need for biking to work?

Luckily, my company is relocating to a place where I'll be able to ride to work! What will I need to commute by bike three or four times weekly? I already have road and mountain bikes, plus the gear, but I don't think my racing garb will work for the daily commute. Loehr Athens, Georgia

A: Good for you, doing your part to combat traffic gridlock by hopping on a bicycle! I assume this move takes you away from Athens, which I don't believe is in the most bike-friendly part of the world. But I digress.

No hard-and-fast rules for commuting clothing versus what you might wear when on a "regular" road ride. The key to your outfit is flexibility. Obviously, weather conditions can change between your morning and evening commutes. So you'll want a bike wardrobe that promises maximum versatility. For me, that would entail two or three light layers during cool weather—a synthetic T-shirt, long-sleeve jersey made of a wicking, fast-drying material such as the REI Power Dry Zip-T ($38), and some kind of water-repellent shell (Performance has a great buy on its Gore-Tex jacket—just $199 for a cycling-specific raincoat). If your commute is less than an hour, then I don't think you need a really serious Gore-Tex rainsuit. Lighter materials will work fine, as you can dry them during the day even if they soak through a little.

During the summer months, of course, you can get by with much less. Baggy shorts might be more comfortable and airy than skin-tight ones; something like the Pearl Izumi Mesa Bike Shorts ($75) would work. I'd wear a regular bike jersey, though, as these not only wick well but the bright colors and back pockets will keep you safer, while providing a place to store an en-route snack.

Additionally, invest in a good headlight system so you can keep up your commuting in the winter. At a minimum, get a 15-watt system such as the Planet Bike Insight ($150), a very affordable headlight with three power settings that allow about three hours of run-time. If you can swing it, though, look into one of the new generation of turbo lights, such as the NiteRider BlowTorch ($409) or the Light & Motion ARC (also around $400, depending on the mount). They're expensive, yes, but they put out an amazing amount of light, equal to 30 watts, and have single-charge run-times of close to four hours.

Not many changes needed for the bike. Maybe a luggage rack, or buy a courier-style bag for hauling your stuff, like the Ortlieb Zip-City Medium ($86). Fenders, definitely. Flats would be a hassle, so install tire liners or treat the tubes with Slime, a useful tire sealant.

Ride on!

Gear checklist: REI Tech Tee; Performance Gore-Tex cycling jacket; Pearl Izumi Mesa Bike Short; Planet Bike Insight; NiteRider BlowTorch; Ortlieb Zip-City; Slime.

Support Outside Online

Our mission to inspire readers to get outside has never been more critical. In recent years, Outside Online has reported on groundbreaking research linking time in nature to improved mental and physical health, and we’ve kept you informed about the unprecedented threats to America’s public lands. Our rigorous coverage helps spark important debates about wellness and travel and adventure, and it provides readers an accessible gateway to new outdoor passions. Time outside is essential—and we can help you make the most of it. Making a financial contribution to Outside Online only takes a few minutes and will ensure we can continue supplying the trailblazing, informative journalism that readers like you depend on. We hope you’ll support us. Thank you.

Contribute to Outside