Winter Head Gear: Robert’s Picks

Wow, my Blog has exploded (in a good way) even moreso after my post on winter cycling apparel.  I was fitting a client yesterday and when we talked about the post, he said he had ordered the Windstopper base layer 2 weeks ago and just read my post yesterday morning.  He was even more excited about his purchase after reading my review.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.06.39 PMI’ve received several questions on other winter items and one of those was about headgear.  How did I forget headgear before?  Sorry about that.  Well, in this post, I’ll walk you through the same way on headgear as I did on the base layers and gloves.  There are 3 levels of headgear that I have, depending upon the temps and wind.  For temps from 45 – 50 degrees, I’ll wear a basic headband but one that is designed to ergonomically cover my ears.  I have a few of these but one is the Craft Active band (see picture).

I usually don’t cover the top of my head until temps dip below 45 degrees.  Then, I’ll wear a skull cap, that again, is ergonomically designed to cover my ears.  Why am I stuck on the ergo part?  Well, I’ve owned countless caps where they were a straight cut all around the opening and if I wantedScreen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.06.52 PM my ears covered, then I had to roll up the front of the cap while unrolling the back part to cover my ears.  When wearing a helmet, this uneven in material, just doesn’t work; made me feel like I had a knot in my hair.  Save the hassle and just go with ergo designed caps and headbands.

So far, that covers 2 of my levels of head protection.  The final one is a full balaclava with…you guessed it…windstopper material around the neck area.  This bad boy is for the 30’s, even some 40 Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.23.31 PMdegree days that is super windy and especially if I am crazy enough to clip in when it drops in the 20’s (very rare).  The balaclava not only covers my entire head and ears, it totally protects my neck and if it’s really cold outside, just ride with one of these and then ride without one, and you’ll know just how toasty it keeps you.  The only negative on these is when you are ready to take a drink (yes, you still need to hydrate during cold rides—that’s another Blog post all in itself.

Though I am using only Craft pictures and mention only them as a specific brand, does not mean there are other brands out there that are just as good.  For me, when I stumbled upon the Craft Windstopper material, it sold me on their quality and I’ve never looked back.  I’m sure by now other brands have their own ‘windstopper’ type material that they use.  I’m just sold on Craft’s windstopper…and so are all those who I’ve recommended it to them over the last 10 years.  They all say the same thing:  it’s the BEST piece of winter clothing they own.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.33.27 PMOk, let’s move on a bit lower on the body; your legs.  Another question that came in was about winter shorts, etc.  I started out years ago wearing winter tights over my summer shorts but never liked slipping and sliding all over my saddle, so I put a stop to that real quick.  Now, all I wear is my summer shorts and then either lycra or fleece-lined leg or knee warmers.  For knee warmers, I usually wear them from mid 40’s to 52’ish degrees and then anything lower than 45, you will find me in my leg warmers.  When it gets below 40, then I’ll switch to wearing my fleece-lined leg warmers all the way down to the 20’s…which is not that often.  Great thing is I have them when I need them.  What’s the old saying:  “It’s better to have them and not need themScreen Shot 2014-11-06 at 4.33.39 PM than to need them and not have them”

I did cover winter socks in my last post but I’ll expand a little on that to highlight my 3 levels of feet protection.  First off, I wear my wind covers when it is typically in the mid 40’s to low 50’s.  I generally am still wearing summer socks at this point unless there is strong winds in this temperature range.  My second level of protection includes winter socks winter shoe socks; yes, there’s a difference.  The winter socks go on your feet while the shoe socks goes over your shoes; they look and feel just like a winter sock….they are just designed to be worn on the outside of the shoe.  For this second level, I find myself going back and forth between covering my feet and covering my shoes. No rhyme or reason on this one; generally comes down to how much time I have left to get ready for a ride.

My third level is the mc daddy foot/shoe protection; the neoprene, water-resistant, wind-proof booties.  Honestly, the ones I have are a Pearl Izumi brand that I’ve had for 10 years.  They are not ‘resistant’ anything; just plain neoprene booties, but that works for me.  When I pull these babies out, I’ll already be wearing my winter socks and ‘maybe’ I’ll pull on my wind shoe cover underneath, but that’s about it.  Oh, I did not mention Toe Covers, b/c I don’t own any.  Many cyclists love them; I just don’t use them.  Absolutely nothing wrong with them, it’s just the combination of protection that I’ve figured out, works really great for me.  That’s just it, there are all kinds of combinations and options for the top of your head to your feet.  You just have to figure out what works best for you and then stick with it.

One other item I didn’t mention when I was highlighting gloves.  I have basic glove liners that I use under my summer gloves when it is typically mid 40’s to mid 50’s.  Any colder than this, then I am switching to my RavX winter gloves.

OK, I think I’ve covered the whole gamut now.  I sure hope this helps your quest on figuring out what works best for you.  Of course, shoot me an email or a comment on this post on any other winter topics you would like for me to expand upon.

Here’s to staying WARM!!!!

Coach Robert…





4 responses to “Winter Head Gear: Robert’s Picks

  1. Hello Robert,
    Thanks for the sharing your experience.
    I wanted to ask a question. Which thermal insulated chamois tights would you recommend to wear in 30-40 degrees Fahrenheit temperature while riding outdoors? I feel I would need more than a leg warmer in this weather.

    • Hi Kamal,
      Great question. Let me give you my personal view on tights first, then I’ll share some brand recommendations.

      Personally, I don’t use tights for a couple of reasons. The most important one is it changes your bike setup. Really? Yes, really. The additional thickness of the tights, actually lengthens your legs…which now changes the appropriate ‘bend’ in your legs…which causes a power loss. This loss is caused by a loss of leverage from the leg bend change. Think of a curl bar in the gym. If you grab the bar, by keeping your elbows close to your side but widening your grip, then you’ll quickly realize you can’t curl the same weight as easily as before. You change your leverage point (by how wide your hands are on the bar) and it’s a game-changer. If you go back and grab the curl bar…but now you grip the bar where your hands are just inside your shoulder line…NOW you can curl SO much more weight and do it with no wasted effort. Bottom line, the same thing happens when you change your leg length.

      The second reason I don’t like tights is that I’ve never found a brand that didn’t feel like I was sitting on a greased saddle. In order words, tights have always made me feel like I couldn’t sit in a static position if I tried like crazy. I actually have the same pair of tights I got 17 years ago but only wore a few times. They look really cool (colors) but they just didn’t function well.

      Now, that leads me to brand recommendations. I honestly can’t offer any real hands-on experience b/c I haven’t worn them in 17 years. Personally, I’ve never gotten cold in my hip area, even in low 20’s, as this part of my body is constantly moving with every pedal stroke…which constants creates body heat. I focus on my hands, feet, chest, arms and face/head.

      I’m not sure this helps you in your quest on tights, but this is the same information I would share any time this question pops up.

      Coach Robert

      • Thanks Coach,

        Your knowledge was an eye opener. I understand and agree to how you have explained. I have experienced it while riding in fleece lined knickers (thick and affect the legs movement). I will follow your lead, acclimate to bibs and leg warmers. Thanks for taking time to respond.


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