Goodbye summer haze, hello winter breeze
As the longest heatwave in recent memory comes to a definite close, attention quickly turns to keeping the rain out and the warmth in. Take note – we are talking about retaining warmth, not retaining humidity and perspiration! It’s no good if rain meets an impenetrable barrier in your jacket, but you are cultivating your own tropical rainforest on the inside of the same garment. You can only be both wet and warm for a short amount of time, unless you are wearing a neoprene wet suit and surfboarding rather than cycling. If your body is soaked in perspiration, eventually that perspiration will chill you to the bones. The longer you ride, the harder it becomes to generate heat, warmth and power, and you can go from wet but warm to frozen in about 30 minutes.
The Three Golden Qualities
So how do you have a piece of clothing that is (1) “waterproof” (2) “thermal” and (3) “breathable” at the same time? Well, the answer is that there is always a trade-off. The best way of ensuring you ride in maximum winter comfort is to understand that different weather conditions require you to balance these golden three qualities. Get the balance right, by having a variety of different garments for varying weather conditions, and you will hurtle through winter like a polar bear on ice skates.
So, how should you prioritize waterproof vs thermal vs breathable? Here are three rough categories that the vast majority of winter days fall into, listed from worst to best:
1) ABC (Appallingly Bad Conditions) – these are much rarer than you think in many northern European countries. Cold, even freezing but “mixed” conditions, the typical grey winter day with on/off rain in periods of 30 minutes or so, are what the cyclist is faced with most often. Riding in an unbroken torrential downpour of freezing rain for 3+ hours is a rare occurrence for most of us (it’s worth noting that London has less rainy days per year than Miami, Orlando, New York City, Rio de Janeiro, Sydney and Mexico City. Yes, really!)
So maybe in the depth of winter, you should think about garments that are very effective against the rain for periods of 1 hour or so (rather than permanently impermeable), but have great thermal and breathable qualities so you don’t get drenched from within? Step up the Stolen Goat Climb & Conquer range – these are made with a waterproof membrane all over, but with seams that allow the garment to breathe better. Excellent when worn with a single base layer, the Climb & Conquer jackets are your deep-winter go to.Shop Climb & Conquer Jackets >>
2) CBA (Cool & Breezy Autumn) – For the period that the British might optimistically describe as “Autumnal”, your go-to jersey should be something that is (1) long sleeved (2) resists the rain (3) is warm, but not designed for sub-zero temperatures, thus allowing better breathability. The Stolen Goat Orkaan Everyday Long-Sleeve range or Short sleeve version with arm warmers are just the ticket for this. These jerseys will save you from an unexpected drop in temperatures mid-ride and an unexpected shower of 20 minutes or so, but won’t make you feel big and bulky.Shop Orkaan Jerseys >>
3) NQS (Not Quite Summer) – for those “Indian Summer” days when the weather Gods have done us a favour, a lightweight, windproof gilet and a pair of thermal arm warmers that can be added and removed with ease during the ride are ideal, especially if you ride early in the morning but finish as the mercury is rising. These are also excellent pieces if you take a winter break to the sun – locations like Mallorca, Nice, The Canary Islands, Girona and Lombardy in late season are perfect for a windproof & arm warmers combination, where long descents can leave you cold even in otherwise warm conditions. Note that these will only protect you from modest rain showers, in exchange for excellent breathability.Shop Gilets >> SHOP ARMWARMERS >>
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