If you’re riding just a short distance to work it doesn’t make sense to change in and out of cycling clothes, even in winter. What this does mean is that your outerwear in winter needs to keep you warm, dry and clean, so you can transition into the working day smoothly. Good news is that standard ‘outdoor’ clothing makes ideal winter gear for short hop commuters – and many people will already own stuff like this.
Look for a jacket that will keep you warm and dry whilst breathing well. A good quality waterproof and breathable walking jacket is ideal – keeping the wind and rain at bay without making you boil in the bag. Many fashion jackets will also cut muster for short hop urban commuting if you shop carefully.
Key features to look for include longer arms and cinches at the wrist to keep your arms warm and dry and a storm neck to keep the winter draughts away.
Pit zips are good as well, in case you start to overheat on milder days or when climbing hills.
If you've got a longer walking jacket it might have a two way front zip, meaning that you can unzip the front of the coat from the bottom and not hinder your range of leg movement.
Wearing a good quality thermal base layer under your normal work gear is a great tip – on the outside you look normal, but on the inside your base layer is keeping you warm and wicking perspiration away from your skin, thus avoiding the chills.
What you wear next to your skin has the biggest bearing on your comfort and warmth. Merino wool is the best in the business at keeping you warm, wicking away sweat and staying stink free.
A pair of breathable waterproof overtrousers are a must for winter. On wet days they allow you to cycle to work with your work gear shielded from the elements. On really cold days they provide a barrier against windchill, whilst trapping valuable body heat inside. ·
The hardest part to keep warm and dry – however outdoor gear shops can come to the rescue with a number of Gore-tex (or similar) lined trail shoes and boots, which incorporate a waterproof lining. Lightweight walking shoes and boots will also have a ‘bellows tongue’ meaning water can leak in around the laces and look semi normal, if your office dress code permits.
You can of course, apply the logical solution and keep an extra pair of dry shoes and socks at your workplace, meaning that wet feet on your ride in isn't such a big issue.
A good pair of warm gloves are an absolute must – your hands are in the firing line of wind and rain on a bike, no matter how short your ride is. Thinsulate lined microfleece or woollen gloves are cheap and readily available from many shops and will save you from the misery of cold hands.
Look out for Scotchlite reflective details on clothing or pick up a cheap hi vis vest to go over your standard jacket. It’s not a look that will win you any fashion awards but you will be visible through the dark, rain and fog.