Updated Dec 15, 2021, this article was originally written for twistedroad.com ...
Cold Weather Gear: Your Ride, Your Terms
As the temps drop, companies everywhere start hurling an overhand pitch about their "latest and greatest" winter ridewear. Which products meet the hype depends on our will to study the reviews.
Outside of dedicated ATGATT, a lot of the cold weather motorcycle gear we want may be hiding in our dresser drawers. What I'm suggesting is that we still face the cold while off the bike. Insulating layers, electric and/or chemical based warming and armored wind blockers fit the bill whether they display motorcycle specific branding or not.
Base Layer (Under The Hood)
From the ground up, socks are a good start. Grandma's wool from 1970 was pretty itchy but times have changed. The manufacturing process for Smartwool® keeps things cozy as cotton and its insulating warmth is noteworthy.
Long underwear is a no brainer but again comfort is key. One comparable option is Go Athletic Apparel for their moisture wicking material and snug fit. Whatever you choose, this first barrier will bring heat to all that surrounds it.
On top of the former, a t-shirt is a wise choice. Sometimes, a 40°F morning will unexpectedly climb to a 65°F afternoon. Over that, another long sleeved shirt collects warmth should you return during a 30° freeze.
So, that's warm socks, long underwear, a t-shirt and a second set of long sleeves on top. This strata (ooh! $10 word!) makes it easy to adjust for changing temps mid-ride during a break. It also stockpiles body heat in droves but if that's not enough, well ...
Electric/Chemical Layer (Shock and Awww Yeah!)
Again, we're itemizing attire bottom-to-top. Because two heated solutions are available, we'll start with non-electric then move onto powered products. Charcoal chain reaction warmers are cheap to buy and easy to stow while electric offers constant heat with greater coverage.
Charcoal insoles are shaped to fit on the exterior of our socks using a simple temporary adhesive. If our ride is short, we can even peel them back before stashing them in a well sealed ziploc bag. When these aren't up to the task, electric insoles are as good as resting our feet in front of a campfire. The right controls allow for moderate temperature adjustment, a luxury amongst all other cold weather motorcycle gear. Changing temps are no match for electric adaptability!
You won't likely find a charcoal warmer that's big enough to do what an electric vest can. Bathing our entire core in a heated circuit helps pump warm blood to our farthest appendages. This install is so good, I've had to dial things down due to sweating (even at 20°F ~ 30°F) while combined with other electric addons.
Back to charcoal warmers for a moment. There are also small, square shaped versions for the back of our hands. The same logic applies as with insoles, they "do the job until they don't." Harsher weather is then easily conquered by electric gloves and heated grips. Gloves heat the back of our fingers. Grips simmer our palms to perfectly baked comfort.
The aforementioned electrics can be connected into a single wiring setup with independently adjustable controls. Once installed, heating our core, feet and fingers means well circulated blood flow. This serene composure means better perception/reaction time and a generally smoother ride overall.
3-Season Cold Weather Motorcycle Gear
Now it's time for the most important and versatile item in the arsenal, namely ATGATT jacket + pants (with a twist). The convenience of armored cold weather motorcycle gear includes an insulated liner, wind blocking water shield and protective exoskeleton. This tri-layer design builds and maintains interior warmth while deflecting exterior cold, all while protecting us as any riding attire should.
The first layer insulates whatever we're already wearing. Made from soft, cushioned materials, it provides ease of motion so that our actions are relaxed and consistent. It also has pockets to keep on-person valuables warm and dry.
Continuing outward, a wind/rain barrier blocks the outside baddies. This thin, flexible and water resistant variable is the closest thing we riders have to a car interior. Everything underneath has done its job to build warm internal temps. It's up to this outlier to keep said warmth from escaping!
Of course, now we need all of the standard issue armor that well trained, sensible riders depend on. "Dress for the slide, not the ride" is the known phrasing. This last bit should act as an overshield ... and in level-2 fashion at that.
Buying this type of multi-season riding outfit combines three layers into an armored sandwich that's both comfortable and convenient. Staying warm, dry and protected helps riders make smooth, focused and fully-conscious decisions without fatigue. We do want to enjoy our ride, right?
Our Take On Cold Weather Motorcycle Gear
With the above, you could wear spanks over a reflective sequined leotard, all of it underneath a modified electric blanket that's jacketed in aluminum cookware. Joking aside and so long as it's safe, only you know what's right for your ride. A lengthy menu of equally effective, style-driven prospects can be explored at your local motorcycle gear outlet.
Safety says do it right, though so ...
Arrange the gear you'd walk door-to-store in. Now, cover that in motorcycle-specific electric warmth complete with remote adjustability. Complete the process with winter friendly, tri-layer ATGATT armor in both jacket and pants for the ultimate stack of cold weather motorcycle gear!
What's Your Favorite Cold Weather Motorcycle Gear?
There's a lot of great riding garb out there. Which products do you prefer? What do you like about each and why? Your input is invited. Post An Article!