The Best Cool-Weather Bike Gear
I look forward to bike commuting in the fall. Sure, it’s a little chillier on the way to and from work, but the colder temps are a good excuse to upgrade your kit. We’ve gathered some of our favorite pieces—plus some fun accessories—designed to keep you warm, safe, and happy in cold weather.
Arc’teryx Interstate Jacket ($449)
Arc’teryx is known for making bomber, technical jackets ideal for braving climbs in the Canadian Rockies. Bike commuting is a good deal tamer, which is why the company dialed the specs back on this urban piece.
Instead of Gore-Tex Pro, Arc’teryx chose Gore-Tex fabric with C-Knit-backer technology, which is still tough as nails and waterproof in a downpour, but softer next to skin. And instead of a giant, helmet-compatible flap, the hood stows neatly in the collar. You still get a rig that will take a beating, but it’ll also blends in nicely on city streets.
These gloves look slick, but they’re also designed to perform. The water-resistant Pittards WR100X leather cuts the chill on cold mornings and stays supple even after a soaking. Padding on the palm makes for a comfy ride, while smartphone-compatible fingertips let you answer texts, and a soft nose wipe on the thumb ensures you’re tidy when you arrive at the office.
Inside Line Equipment built the perfect commuter bag with its Default. It’s big enough for the day’s essentials (laptop, lunch, extra layers, moleskines), but not so big that it compels me to carrying too much. The main compartment is waterproof, while the outer is made from 1,000-denier fabric: it’ll likely outlast every other bag in my closet. Nice touch: the roll-top synch strap, which helps ensure I can see over the pack when I look to merge into traffic.
Wool is much better at keeping my toes warm than synthetics. Giro’s version of the wool commuter sock is durable, sure, but its finest attribute is the flashy design that adds some flair to an otherwise conservative kit.
Commuter trousers have all the warmth and functionality of bike jeans, but are a bit dressier for morning meetings. I’m a fan of the Durable Cotton Slim trousers because they fit well (svelte but articulated for movement), plus they can take a beating, thanks to an extra-thick cotton-nylon blend throughout. Clever details include: a back hem that’s cut slightly higher than the front to fight plumber’s crack, reflective hits on the belt loops, and a rear pocket big enough to fit a U-lock.
I’m sweat-free minutes after I walk into the office thanks to the quick-drying, stink-free wool used in this henley. And I’m able to keep it on all day courtesy of the surprisingly stylish design.
You’ll notice the pro peloton wearing cycling caps under their helmets on cold days to keep their noggins warm. Same concept here. This cycling cap is handmade from wool sourced in the British Isles, and while it won’t protect your ears, it’s thick enough to take the bite out of the wind.
These new shades from Rapha sneak some cool tech features into a stylish, subtle frame. The slight wraparound shape protects my eyes and fits easily under a helmet. They sit lightly, with their acetate frames, while the top-notch lenses come from Carl Zeiss Vision, so everything is ultra crisp and clean.
The Blinder Arc 1.7 has the best price-to-performance ratio of any commuter light we’ve tested. For $70, you get 170 lumens—enough to light up the bike path at night and catch drivers’ attention during the day—packed into a fully waterproof housing. Nice touches: the well-designed attachment strap and a special button that ensures the light doesn’t accidentally turn on in your pocket.
Normally, you’d be crazy to wear a puffy on your commuter bike, even on the coldest days: they’re just too damn hot. Not so with the RSE Alpha. Stuffed with Polartec’s Alpha insulation, and then surrounded by a breathable face fabric and stretchy fleece panels under the arms, this rig dumps heat exceptionally well. Kuddos to Sugoi for also designing a bike-specific cut, with a long drop hem in back that keeps you covered even when you’re hunching over the bars.