How To

How to layer clothing for winter cycling

The art of layering for cold days, dry and wet


Footwear can be layered to a degree, although you’re unlikely to wear two garments from the same family, as you might with a base layer, for example. Keeping the feet warm and dry in winter will involve a heavier sock than for summer, and an overshoe to wear, well, over the shoe. As with all cycling garments, different ‘weights’ apply, and different fabrics will offer protection variously from the cold, wind, or rain.

Merino wool is the ‘go to’ fabric for socks and a ‘tall’ design like the Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Wool Sock pictured will provide a nice overlap with tights/leg warmers

Merino is the ‘go to’ fabric for socks of any weight. Its natural wicking properties make it an ideal choice for any season, and its insulation ensures its suitability for winter. Additionally, merino remains warm when wet or dry. Look for additional material in the heel and sole to provide padding and greater insulation, but be aware that too much could create a tight spot in the shoe that could cut off circulation, leaving you colder, rather than making you warmer. A ‘tall’ sock will provide an insulating overlap between tight/leg warmer and sock.

Neoprene has increasingly become the first choice for designers of the ‘heaviest’ winter overshoes. Like gloves made from the same material, the panels are likely to be united with a ‘blind’ stitch (one that doesn’t pass entirely through the material) and bonded. Two types of neoprene overshoe are prevalent: double lined and single lined. The first uses nylon only on the lining, leaving the exterior with a rubberised appearance, such as Endura’s Road Overshoe. These are warm and highly effective at keeping out water (from the top only – cleat holes in the sole will allow some water ingress).

Endura’s Road Overshoe is made from single-lined neoprene, with a rubberised exterior that rain will run off

The second type, such as Castelli’s Diluvio, has a nylon finish on either side, the better to protect the neoprene. The fabric can retain water, however, which could lead to windchill, making the double lined neoprene overshoe one for dry days only.

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