Staying Dry During Winter Bike Commuting (Updated)

Summer is so over.

If the BTA Bike Commute Challenge did it’s job, then there are a lot of new bike commuters out there and a few of them might even be crazy enough to keep riding through the winter.

Since I’ve been doing the majority of my regular commuting by bike for over 20 years* I thought I’d put up a quick list of my tools for staying warm and dry.

From head to toe, here are:

The Essentials

  • Little Package Wool Cap with Ear Flap
    • What can I say about Caroline’s caps? They fit great, they keep you warm even when wet and the earflaps on the winter cap are like a hug for your head.
  • Showers Pass Elite 2.0 Jacket
    • Yes, it’s expensive. But I’m going into my 6th season with the same jacket and it still keeps me dry.
  • Shower’s Pass Club Convertible Rain Pants
    • At long last I had to give up my 12 year old Burleys. I nursed them through an extra 2 years because I tested an early version of these pants and didn’t like the fit or the performance. Finally, last spring, I tried on a pair and found the fit to be more accurate and the design better for allowing me to move freely. I probably went back and forth 10 times deciding between a medium or a large (literally, I switched trying them on 10 times). I went with the large for more freedom of movement and didn’t regret it. This will be my first full season with these pants.
  • UPDATED January 17, 2015 I just added some Swrve fleece lined winter trousers to my arsenal and I don’t plan to take them off until early March. Warm, water resistant and super cozy without the constricting feel I get from wool leggings under other pants.
  • Gore Windstopper Gloves
    • These are a great shell glove that work for me down to about 45 degrees before I pair them with a nice liner inside (more on that in a sec). They are NOT waterproof, but hold up fine in a light rain and will dry out by the time you leave work.
  • Pearl Izumi Pro Barrier WxB Glove
    • These gloves were a revelation last season and I have to give credit for the find to my lovely wife Jess. I wore these in the Noah’s ark level downpours and turned up BONE DRY every time. With a liner glove, these were perfect for cold rain down to 35 degrees or so. In warmer rain, I ditch the liner gloves and don’t over heat.
  • Smartwool Liner Gloves
    • The secret sauce to make either of the other two gloves proof against just about everything winter can throw.
  • Last but most important, for my feet, I used to go with a shoe cover strategy, but getting them on and off is really annoying (though not as annoying as cold, wet feet). In the last two years, I’ve switched to wearing a waterproof pair of keen boots (kind of like these). This is when the size large rain pants pay off, as they hang down low enough that I rarely have leakage problems.

*Holy crap, I’m old.


  1. Thanks for the plug, Kronda! I have the first two items on your list nailed, but could always use help in the glove department. I’ll have to check out those Pro Barrier gloves. Oh, and waterproof shoes is where it’s at! I love my stylish on-off-the-bike pair of La Canadienne boots for riding – one less thing to change out of when I arrive, and very warm and dry.


  2. Oh, and then there’s this:

    Dark Sky is a new kind of weather app. It uses state-of-the-art weather forecasting to predict when it will rain or snow — down to the minute — at your exact location, and presents it to you alongside the most beautiful radar visualizations you’ve ever seen.


  3. Ha, now that Fall is here in earnest, I think I’ve had three different people tell me about Dark Sky. I bought it on Sunday. 🙂 Now I just have to get back to riding my bike…


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