How To

How to layer clothing for winter cycling

The art of layering for cold days, dry and wet

Wet weather outer layer

Seeing off the rain and defeating the cold, while remaining sufficiently ventilated to avoid overheating can be a tricky balance. Layering can provide much of the answer, but it requires skill, experience, and a healthy bank balance. Modern, technical fabrics are surprisingly effective, but manufacturers’ claims should be treated with caution. A jacket sufficiently sealed to keep out rain is likely to have difficulty managing moisture of a different kind: sweat.

Softshell jackets like Endura’s Stealth offer a versatile defence against a range of conditions, when worn with appropriate layers

Endura’s softshell Stealth jacket is an example of the type of modern, all-purpose garment that might be considered in such conditions. Despite its credentials as a last line of defence against the elements, in temperatures nudging zero degrees or even falling below, you’re likely to want an insulating mid-layer, such as the Roubaix-lined jerseys previously described. A different route to the same solution might be found in a ‘rain proof’ (note: not fully waterproof) jersey, such as Castelli’s Gabba, which has a treated fabric, but not sealed seams. With adequate layering beneath – perhaps a combination of sleeveless and long-sleeved base layers – this style of jersey might offer the required combination of insulation and protection from light rain.

There is a host of other rain jackets on the market, and you can find detailed advice on each of the many types in our buyer’s guide. Chief among the concerns in the context of layering, however, and the conditions under discussion here – cold as well as wet – will be heat management. Garments covering a spectrum from lightweight race capes and entry-level fully waterproof jackets typically have poor breathability. A softshell jacket is likely to offer the best compromise.

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