Must have accessories for cold rides

We’re into December, the icy mornings are beginning to creep in, and sadly they’ll probably continue for a few months yet.

Smugly riding past your neighbours as they scrape the ice from their windscreens (ok, actually on days I have swim training in the morning, that’s me, too..) is great fun, of course, but it is even more enjoyably when you can still feel your fingers and toes.

Here are some accessories that will keep you toasty warm on the colder mornings:

Castelli Diluvio Neoprene Gloves

I’ve recommended them before, I’ll recommend them again – I couldn’t sing the praises of these gloves much louder.

The Castelli Diluvio Gloves are made from Neoprene – like a wetsuit, they’re completely sealed, and they aren’t breathable. That means that your hands sweat, and create a layer of warm, admittedly slightly damp, air around your hands. The design of these gloves means they don’t need to be padded out by layers of insulation, making for a lovely light glove that doesn’t restrict your movement or make the handlebars feel miles away.

Castelli diluvio glove

Reflective Buff

The term ‘buff’ is used by a lot of brands to describe a tube of material that can be used to keep your nose, mouth, ears and head warm as you ride. Simply slip the buff over your neck, and pull it up as high as you want (not over your eyes..) for instant warm-face. Your own breath creates a lovely little radiator, and the only downside is this can make your glasses steam up even more quickly than normal.

‘Buff’ however, as a term, actually does belong to the company ‘Original Buff’. In the 1970s, Joan Rojas, a textile manufacturer, found himself wearing military briefs around his neck to stay warm, and he decided there had to be another way. Buff now sell hundreds of different styles of neckwear, and the bright varieties with reflective strips are great for commuter cyclists.

reflective buff

SealSkinz Thick Mid Length Sock 2014

SealSkinz are kind of a big deal in winter sock wear – they’re the most well known brand for making quality waterproof socks that are warm and keep out the wind, too.

The Thick Mid Length socks have a merino wool lining which provides moisture control, as well as comfort, and then a Nylon and Elastae outer for more warmth and stretch. The insteps have extra padding to give your feet plenty of support, and ankles are elasticated.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 17.09.10

Endura Baa Baa Merino Wool Base Layer – men’s and women’s

Ever seen a cold looking sheep? Thought not.

The Endura Baa Baa Merino base layer uses fine Merino wool to provide a super warm insulating next-to-skin item that is still light weight, flexible and nonrestrictive, as well as having the famous low odour properties of this magical wool.

The seams are flat locked, so you won’t experience and chafing, and you can pop this in the washing machine without a worry.

As with all base layers, make sure you buy this as quite a tight fit, it is meant to be close to your skin, so as to trap a layer of warm air.


Rapha Overshoes

If you’re riding with clipless pedals, you’ll be wearing cycling shoes, which usually have vents. The only exception to this are winter boots, which are very warm, but also rather expensive. Slipping a pair of overshoes over your summer, vented shoes, covers the air holes and gives you a warm, protective layer.

These £55 neoprene booties from Rapha aren’t the cheapest available, but since overshoes spend so much time close to the ground, scraping it when you clip and unclip, quality is key. The neoprene will keep the majority of water out, but it is worth nothing that since there must be holes in the bottom to allow cleats to connect to pedals, no overshoe is ever 100% waterproof.

A common issue with overshoes is the development of a hole at the toe or heal, from contact with the ground (always on the foot you unclip with). Rapha have countered this with a reinforced abrasion-resistant Kevlar sole, and a verse-coil zip works with an updated ankle gripper which has been recently redesigned to keep water from dripping in.

These have been designed for road style cleats, and Rapha recommend you don’t wear them with MTB cleats.

Is there anything else you’d add?

Join 10,221 fellow cyclists who are subscribed to the London Cyclist newsletter

Sign up for our free newsletter to get...

  • Advice on the best cycling gear
  • A Friday roundup of all the latest London cycling news
  • Exclusive content not available on the blog

Subscribe today, and get exclusive access forever! (It's free)

*No spam, ever!

As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

10 Responses to Must have accessories for cold rides

  1. Matt 01/12/2014 at 8:15 pm #

    Now the issue with a Buff being a trademarked name is how to describe one without saying buff? Castelli have got this covered…

    • Tom 01/12/2014 at 9:10 pm #

      Amazing. My wife and I burst out laughing!

    • Tom B 02/12/2014 at 10:32 pm #

      I’ve always called this sort of thing a snood, but now I find that according to Wikipedia a snood is a sort of ladies hairnet. I’m pretty sure I picked up the term, and indeed my first snood, from my ex-Army uncle, so either this is a forces term or he was winding me up

  2. Dave 02/12/2014 at 4:25 pm #

    At only £112 (Wiggle) the Shimano MW81 Boots are just over twice the cost of the Rapha Overshoes above, but they will outlast the overshoes several times over. I have a pair of the MW81 boots that are now on their second winter. I use them daily on my commute, 4 miles of which is along a wet, muddy bridleway. They are still as good as new (replaced the SPD cleats once at £10) and keep my feet warm and dry.

    IMHO overshoes are false economy when used daily, I have yet to come across a pair that will last even one winter without falling apart.

  3. Mrs janet groves 04/12/2014 at 10:39 am #

    Definitely sealskinz socks : although i prefer the knee length ones. Also i wear sealskinz gloves as i’m prone to circulation problems in my fingers. Also i wear a skull cap under my helmet, which keeps my ears warm

  4. Phil 05/12/2014 at 8:46 am #

    On the recommendation of a previous commenter I bought a pair of Weasy boots from Decathlon, and so far they have lived up to my expectations, keeping my feet and lower legs warm and dry whatever they encounter. It remains to be seen how they fare over the winter, but for £15 they’re doing OK.

  5. Kiver 05/12/2014 at 12:39 pm #

    If your circulation is as poor as mine and you still suffer from cold feet, even after multiple sock layers and overshoes then consider feet warmers.

    These typically stick to the outside of your sock, either covering the toe area or the full sole, and release a gentle heat for hours on end. Brands to look for include Hotties, Mycoal or Hot Hands. Some camping/outdoor shops stock them otherwise look to the usual online sources.

    Most are one use only so I save them for longer outings where temperatures are under 5C. Makes those long winter rides so much more pleasurable.

  6. Michael 05/12/2014 at 6:12 pm #

    Most important cold weather accessorie to me is my flask of coffee. When I arrive at destination I can immediately pour and start warming up whilst getting changed and trying to tame my hair.
    It is also great to have with you for those just in case moments, a puncture repair or one of those sorry sir you have to wait here till we have the all clear.
    The flask is a small 300ml one that fits in a bottle cage.

  7. Arentat 06/12/2014 at 5:22 pm #

    Thank you its gets really cold on my way to college.

  8. Teresa 05/01/2015 at 7:59 pm #

    Castelli Diluvio Neoprene Gloves are amazing i recommend it to everyone.

Leave a Reply