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Apparel Education - What To Wear For Winter Cycling: Torso & Legs

A collage of three images of cyclists wearing their 45NRTH Naughtvind jackets for winter biking adventures.

Do you know what to wear when riding in cold weather? Our four-part guide to winter ride apparel will help you learn how to dress for winter biking from head to toe. 

In this edition, we’ll cover how to keep your legs and torso warm and dry. Your core is essential to controlling the rest of your body’s temperature, so keeping it warm should be a top priority. Read on for our guide to more-comfortable rides all winter long.

The key to staying comfortable on cold rides is layers. When you wear the right layers of clothing, they work together to do three things:

  1. Trap warm air
  2. Move sweat away from your body
  3. Keep out rain and snow
  • Digital illustration that shows the three elements of winter riding layers: outer, mid, and base.
  • Digital illustration that shows heat being trapped below the base layer of winter riding apparel.
  • Digital illustration that shows moisture being carried away from the base layer of winter riding apparel.
  • Digital illustration that shows snow being repelled by the outer layer of winter riding apparel.

Dressing in layers also makes it easy to add and remove clothing if you get too cold or warm as conditions and your exertion level change.

The three levels of layers

A cyclist in winter riding apparel has their jacket unzipped, showing their base layer to the camera.

Your first layer – Also known as a base layer, this should be a top and leggings that are lightweight, form-fitting, and moisture-wicking. We recommend Merino wool for this base layer because it moves sweat away from your body and keeps you warm even if it gets wet.

  • Image of a 45NRTH Grunnur base layer top displayed on a gray background.
  • Image of 45NRTH Naughtvind cycling bibs displayed on a gray background.




A cyclist in winter riding apparel has their jacket unzipped, showing their mid layer to the camera.

Your second layer If the temperature is well below freezing, or you plan to stop a lot, you might want a mid layer over your base layer. This mid layer should be a breathable and sweat-wicking fabric, like a cycling jersey and tights. This will add a bit of insulation and continue to move sweat away from your body.



A cyclist in winter riding apparel zips up their final outer layer jacket to prepare for a ride.

Your third layer This is your outermost layer and it should protect you from the elements. Go with a jacket and pants that are wind- and water-resistant, but make sure they’re also breathable so the moisture from your sweat can escape. Our Naughtvind Jacket and Pants fit the bill.

  • Image of 2 45NRTH Naughtvind jackets in green and gray displayed on a gray background.
  • Image of 2 pairs of 45NRTH Naughtvind Cycling Pants in green and grey displayed on a gray background.

Keep in mind that your first and second layers can be short sleeves or vests — the most important aspects are fabric and fit. Over time, you’ll learn how to dial in the right combination of items for any given conditions.

Start cool, stay comfortable

Remember that your body will heat up as you get moving, so it’s better to start off your riding feeling a little cold. You’ll feel much more comfortable after a few minutes of pedaling.

A group of cyclists in 45NRTH winter riding gear pedal their fat tire bikes around a curve on a snowy path.

Ready to gear up for winter? Explore our full collection of cold-weather riding apparel. For more winter bike clothing guidance, watch our videos on keeping your head, neckhands, and feet warm and dry through the cold seasons.