This is a guest post by Elizabeth, author of the Tin Lizzie Rides Again blog. I had a chance to meet up with Elizabeth last time she came to San Francisco. Around here it's pretty much the same mild temperature all year long. So I'm thrilled that she agreed to write this wonderful post with her recommendations for cute cold weather bike gear. Thanks, girl! --Melissa
Biking in the winter is not impossible, but can be unpleasant without well thought-out accessories. As I reflect on lessons learned from last year’s Polar Vortex, I am making a list of requirements for stylish biking in freezing cold weather (a warm coat being obvious, of course!). I am also fervently hoping that I won’t need these things too often!
1. Gloves – keeping your hands warm is crucial to biking in comfort throughout the winter, plus, gloves are a stylish winter basic. Like this burgundy pair: adorable, and good for those sunny not-yet-freezing days. My cute pink winter bike gloves were still not warm enough last winter, so I’m going to have to bite the bullet and try warmer-but-less-stylish ones like these from Terry Bicycles
2. Boots – Keeping toes warm is as important as keeping hands warm, and something else I struggle with. Last winter, a fellow bike commuter coworker swore by her Uggs, while my toes froze in my fake-fur trimmed not-Uggs boots. Uggs have come a long way, style-wise, since they were first introduced to the US, and I can see myself happily wearing these tall Brooks boots or maybe these short Grandle boots all winter. These Clarks Artisan Natira Kae boots, with GORE TEX technology, would be a dressier option, when the occasion calls for biking to a special event.
3. Scarves – Scarves are the easiest way to perk up a winter coat. In addition, scarves enable you to adjust your personal “thermostat” as you bike – wound snug around your neck as you get started, then loosened as you warm up. This neck gaiter from Terry Bicycles is pretty (sequins!) and multipurpose – pull it up over your nose and mouth, or maybe wear it as a hood under your helmet. Speaking of hoods, this Terry Bicycles beanie is a good option to wear under a vented helmet. (The ear pads that go in my Nutcase helmet in the winter are warm enough that I never worry about a cap under it.)
4. Pretty moisture-wicking thermals – Even biking through the Polar Vortex in the Washington, DC region last winter made me sweat, no matter how cold it was. A sweaty back turns into a clammy shirt, which is not only uncomfortable, but cold. This year, I plan to stock up on cute Thermaskins from Lands End. These moisture-wicking thermal tops and bottoms come in a variety of colors and prints, and the range of styles in tops means that I can wear different options under different sweaters. The cute “heat pants” in silk can be worn stylishly under skirts for a while, then under my office pants once it is too cold for skirts. Hopefully these will keep me both warm and dry, plus look nice if I also need to shed a layer.
5. Reflective accessories to wear over winter coats – although my super-warm down jacket is bright red, I still feel a need to wear something reflective over it. I plan to upgrade my skinny Vespertine belt to a wider one, or better yet, throw this fun reflective cape from Henrichs over my shoulders. Because it is dark so early, it is best to stay as visible as possible. This is a stylish alternative to the standard hi viz yellow vest.
These five items are good basics and they reflect my desire to straddle the line between looking good and staying warm, but I am always open to suggestions and new products. Feel free to share!