Commuting year round can be no walk in the park. Let’s face it, here in Britain, we are often confronted with less than favourable weather. It can be so difficult to motivate yourself to grab the bike instead heading for the bus stop, especially when you can hear the rain drumming down outside.
Choosing your kit wisely is imperative when it comes to becoming a hardy winter commuter. And the good news is that once you have the right kit, the weather becomes less and less of a factor, to the point when you become pretty indifferent to the rain! And even better still, you will not have to substitute style in the process!
As the old Scandinavian saying goes "there's no bad weather, just bad clothing" so starting from your feet, we have compiled a list of the most stylish winter commuting gear on the market.
It might sound silly, but socks are one of the most important investments you can make. There is nothing worse than sitting at your desk with feet that are still struggling to defrost after your morning commute.
Merino wool socks may seem pricey but they are an investment well worth making. They perform really well when it comes to keeping regulating the temperature of your feet. If your feet do get a little bit warm on the commute, they will effectively wick away any sweat. And best of all, even if you do sweat a little, they will not smell due to the fact merino wool is a natural fabric.
[part title=" Overshoes"]
Overshoes will keep the wind at bay and more importantly if you invest in a waterproof pair they will keep your feet completely dry. The majority of overshoes on offer in the bike stores are compatible with cycling shoes. If you commute in your regular shoes be aware, don’t fall into the trap of investing in a pair that only has a hole on the sole big enough for a cleat to pop through.
Calling a spade a spade, overshoes are not the most attractive items of kit on the market although they can be discreetly slipped off and popped in your bag when you get to your destination.
Irish brand, Georgia in Dublin, has the most feminine offering that are compatible with flats, heels and knee high boots.
[part title="Winter Leggings/ Rainwraps"]
There is nothing more embarrassing than arriving to work, to a meeting or worse of all to a social occasion with a wet bottom. It is uncomfortable not to mention highly unsightly! Waterproof wear is well worth investing in.
Opting for the cheapest items on the market can often end in quite a lot of discomfort. Waterproof fabrics need to be breathable otherwise they can have a ‘boil in the bag’ effect which let’s face it is not very pleasant.
To keep your bottom-half dry there are a couple of options available. You can either opt for a waterproof pant, which I am afraid are often not the most attractive items on the planet, or, alternatively opt for a rainwrap. The latter is particularly good for city riding as it can be easily slipped on and off and is even skirt friendly!
[part title=" Baselayer"]
Wearing a good quality baselayer in winter is key. There are so many fabric options on the market, but personally we would recommend merino wool. This natural fabric is fantastic at regulating your body temperature, effectively wicking away sweat while ensuring you are kept nice and cosy in cold weather.
Merino wool baselayers also tend to look less technical, and more like day to day items of clothing. We have been really impressed by the vast range of female specific baselayers on offer in recent years. Chapeau, Rapha, Icebreaker and Smartwool in particular offer a wide range of colours and styles.
[part title=" Waterproof Jacket"]
When we say waterproof jacket, a stylish offering does not exactly spring to mind. But thankfully this is not the case.
Brands such as Georgia in Dublin, Ana Nichoola, Otto London and Water off a Duck’s Back all offer jackets that are totally waterproof, breathable (so you will not end up wetter from sweat than you would have from the rain) and do not look like your traditional waterproof/ technical jackets, but instead can be easily be mistaken for regular jackets.
Like your feet, if you get cold hands, it can be game over for the rest of the day. You will spend the first hour of your day sitting at your computer begging your fingers to move over the keyboard as they sit there completely rigid.
It is best to opt for a waterproof pair as any others will be a waste of time in poor weather. Waterproof, windproof gloves are often not the most stylish but they are the easiest bit of kit to whip off and into the safety of your handbag as you glide into a meeting.
When choosing a glove, it is advisable to go for a snug fit as this will keep your hands that bit warmer. A bike specific glove will also come with some grip and often padding around the fingers which will give you a little added control of the bike especially when it is wet and also take a bit of the pressure off your arms when you are riding on uneven roads.
[part title=" Neck Warmer"]
A neck warmer or buff is that little piece of kit that will undoubtedly become of your favourites. On cold days you can draw it up around your face to protect you from the elements.
Available in a number of different patterns and colours, there is definitely one out there to suit your personality.
There are a few additional accessories you can purchase for your bike that will ensure you always end up defeating the elements.
A seat cover is nice and small, can be thrown in your handbag and slipped over your saddle if you arrive outside to find that it has been raining.
Whether you cart your gear around in a basket, panniers or a backpack, you can buy waterproof covers to fit each of these. This will ensure that all of your prized possessions remain in-tact.
In addition to a good set of bike lights it is also a good idea to build addition pops of colour into your outfit choice. This also gives you the opportunity to customize your kit in fun, creative ways. From reflective bows to chic high vis vests and reflective sashes, there are plenty of options out there.