Getting out there on the roads and trails in deep winter means that you will inevitably have to tackle the wet, mud, wind as well as darkness – with a little ice, sleet and snow thrown in for good measure. There is still plenty to enjoy though, so keeping you going strong by maintaining comfort, warmth and dryness through the colder months is paramount. In the end, it is all down to good preparation – selecting the right pieces for the right conditions.
With help from our team of run and ride ambassadors, we have put together some simple advice on Deep Winter Kit – tips to keep you one step ahead of the wintry weather. We’ll let our Helsinki-based cyclist and runner Jukka Rajala kick off with some real world experience. This was hard-earned too – gained from living in what many of us would consider pretty extreme winter weather conditions.
With me living in an arctic climate – where winters are dark, freezing and lots of snow abounds – getting out there can be a real challenge. One can argue that this makes it easier to get your heart rate up for training, but when even a leisurely spin becomes a battle against the elements, good clothing becomes essential. Windchill is brutal and can turn a chilly outing into a freezing one – with lasting effects. You need a barrier against it. The best solution to this winter clothing dilemma is layering; a wind or water blocking outer layer, insulating mid layer and a thermo-regulating, wicking base layer is the key to mastering arctic cycling.
- Baselayer – the staple for any layering system, we suggest you use Merino + Carbon with 37.5 ® Technology. This wicks away moisture from your skin to stop you from feeling the cold. For the fit, opt for lightweight, well cut pieces which sit snugly against the skin
- Midlayer – a middle layer provides additional insulation for the body by creating extra pockets of warm air. Opt for a thicker weight midlayer or consider selecting a long sleeve jersey if you run or ride particularly warm on colder days. Our advice is to keep the same fabric for the midlayer, jersey and baselayer – with Merino a particularly good option
- Outer layer – a protective outer shell or jacket to top it all off will provide that shield with either wind and/or wet weatherproofing capabilities. Fortunately, we have plenty of options here – from the staple and aptly named Ultimate Softshell to the best in class Waterproof Jacket (more on both later)
Why Three Is The Magic Number
It’s fairly straightforward in that any more layers than three, you will start to feel bulky and uncomfortable. Here are some top tips from our run, ride and triathlon ambassador crew on Deep Winter Kit to keep you one step ahead of the wintry weather.
Carsten Nielsen, Danish Ultra Runner on a Long Sleeve Baselayer/Hooded Sweatshirt layering system
Selecting one essential winter piece from ashmei is hard, so I will have to go for two instead. First the Long Sleeve Baselayer. Actually I use it most of the year, but it is the perfect inner layer for me. When I run I do sweat a lot, but a baselayer keeps my body at a comfortable temperature although the shirt is wet. Where the baselayer really wins is the fit and feel. I love the feeling of the fabric that ashmei use and also it fits perfectly. I use the Hooded Sweatshirt all year around as well. It really helps you keep your body warm and the fabric is both stretchy and snug, so much so that it works like a windbreaker. These two pieces in a combination is a perfect match to keep you warm.
Despite the cold air, when trying to pedal against that wind on a slush or snow-covered road with your heart pumping, you can all of a sudden feel like in a steam sauna. A body generates amazing amounts of heat and sweat when it is working hard. Keeping that heat on your skin or letting the cold air in will slow you down like an anchor dragging until you can’t go anymore. ashmei has product options across all three layers, but for me the hidden gems are the Merino Gloves. They are brilliant on their own during wet autumn rides and become an amazing baselayer & midlayer when combined when the extreme weather arrives. For me, the way they keep my fingers warm is just pure magic.
My favourite winter pick has to be the ashmei Gilet. I find my arms and legs rarely feel the cold while I am running so this is a perfect piece for winter runs. The Gilet is wind resistant but breathable – keeping me at optimum temperature throughout my run. The fit is perfect which makes it very comfortable to move in and the length is spot on. If there is a particularly chilly wind the neckline can be worn high or unzipped if the sun does come out. After a winter run session I often put the Hooded Sweatshirt on and then slip the Gilet over the top for my warm down. In my opinion it looks great and is a very practical, must-have piece of kit.
Marcos Lopez, UK cyclist and Outcast Cyclists founder – Baselayer
When riding in winter, a good baselayer is the base of your set up. Get it right and you won’t feel too hot, too cold, too sweaty; get it wrong and your ride won’t be as pleasurable. That’s why I wear my ashmei Merino Baselayers. Great fit, great feel, temperature regulating and odour-resistant. Merino really is a jack of all trades.
Doing its job without you knowing it’s there is probably the holy grail of sports kit. The Lite Jacket (which Rauri is seen in above) is about as close to that as I’ve tried. Testing it out in the Scottish winter it was amazing at keeping the wind out but being breathable and well ventilated enough that you didn’t boil in the bag underneath. Light enough that you forget you’re wearing it, you can chuck it in a pocket just in case or take it off mid run and stow it if the weather warms up. It might be the most versatile piece of kit I’ve worn.
Tom Baker, UK triathlete and Ian Holmes, UK cyclist – on the Cycle Softshell Jacket
Tom thinks that the Cycle Ultimate Softshell is a piece ready for anything winter can throw at it. “If it’s cold, layer it up with a Winter Jersey and Baselayer. When it’s wet, head out and stay dry as it’s waterproof and breathable. Maybe it’s changeable, open/close the vents as needed and make the most of that Merino thermo-regulation magic.”
Ian also considers this the ultimate winter jacket, saying – “the fit is perfect, especially arm length. Breathable and wind-proof, it actually makes for comfortable cold rides and with ample pockets you will have plenty of space to carry food and spares. My favourite bit of cycling clothing.”
For the depths of winter, my favourite combo is the Winter Jersey and either the Windjacket (as Neil is seen in above) or Waterproof Jacket on top of long sleeves to keep out the cold at the wrists. The luxurious collar performs the same function at the neck from temps of six degrees to minus four. I have used these to great effect, but if it’s a little colder, throw in the Neck Gaiter and the Merino Gloves and core temperature is totally sorted.