Essentials for Extreme Cold Weather Riding: Charley’s Top 5
Riding in extreme cold can be what you make of it but if not dressed properly it will be the most miserable ride of your life. Dressed properly though a cold winter ride is one of the best and if your lucky it will be cold enough where you are the only one on the road with 2 wheels. It's not uncommon to see me riding late at night when it's 20 or less outside but it's all in the gear you wear and not just what you can see on the outside like leathers. All the gear you see here is what I personally wear and there are a ton of great ideas to keep you warm but this is what is in my personal arsenal of the cold weather riding gear in addition to my leathers. The only piece I did not list is a pair of goggles. I only break out the goggles when it's REALLY cold of 20 or less. By wearing the goggles, it will give your face and head a complete seal from the elements. I just don't like wearing them so I don't unless it's that cold!
Let's face it...if the ears are cold so are you! We have been taught since we were small kids that most heat escapes through our head so keep it covered in your favorite warm knit hat, or two.
This is the exact same mask I use for extreme cold weather riding. It's critical to cover that portion of your forehead in addition to your neck. My Schampa Skullgaiter goes over this article of head gear and the my knit hat. This will be the first piece you put on, followed by your Schampa then a stocking hat.
This is probably one of the most single important pieces to my cold weather arsenal. This is a MUST! There are many designs and the Balaclava is another fine choice and all a personal preference but this is article of gear is a must to keep the wind off the back of your neck, add another layer to your skull and ears. This will go on over your Neoprene facemask as your first skull layer followed by a stocking hat, or two.
Another obvious key is keeping your hands warm and this too may be the single most important piece. Each person will rank their own top 5 but this is right up in the Top 3 for me. Invest in good gloves and to be honest, don't pinch pennies on any of your cold weather gear because you usually get what you pay for.
Ok, THESE are the most critical elements to your cold weather gear. If you have spent anytime in the great outdoors hiking, camping etc, you know that it starts with your 'base layer." If you don't have a base layer your leathers won't make much difference, eventually. This is one of the items you want to spend good money on. Get the best set of thermals you can afford...you will be grateful you did.