Best winter gear?

Shawn K

Professional Cat Confuser
Premier Member
don't hold to much with the idea of heated gear, with my luck it'll fail when i really need it.
That sounds like you've never actually used heated gear before, or at least not in recent time.

As a man who has done LD riding both under the "layer method" you describe and also with heated gear, I can tell you with certainty that there is no substitute. No amount of passive heat retention will ever compare to the active addition of warmth.

You're entitled to your viewpoint, though, so continue with passive retention if that meets your needs. But as a guy who rides year-round and has done it both ways, I invite you to try heated gear. I've known of many riders who've switched to heated gear, but I've never known anyone who tried it, felt the benefits firsthand, and decided to go back.


Active Member
Heated gear is great. But figuring out how much is needed is based on how cold the weather is in which one intends to ride and for how long. As one becomes more comfortable in successively colder temps, better gear might be needed. Whatever is purchased ought to have a heated collar. My Widder vest does not have sleeves but does have the heated collar. My next purchase will have heated sleeves. It doesn't require a lot of heat if one has some way to conserve what is generated. Any windproof gear is good regardless of light weight if it seals well. My 1pc Roadcrafter Classic does a nice job all by itself down to about 55F degrees. It has foan-backed armor in the knees that does a great job of keeping the worst of off my knees. Shoulders too. Many of us old timers used an ordinary cheap rainsuit as a windblock if we could seal up the collar. cuffs, and any vents. Try a military surplus store to get a nice sturdy one that fits over all your gear.If a rider has a good wind shell, insulating it is pretty cheap. Cheap, big box, acrylic long underwear is a great base layer. The elec vest goes over the base layer. LD Comfort makes great base layers albeit expensive but work year round.

One can buy heated sox and gloves. I have alpaca sox which are so good as to defy description. Expensive but should last a lifetime. Some riders like to wear a very light sock as a base layer and add a heavier sock over that. If you can't wiggle your toes in your boots with heavy sox, you need to buy a bigger boot. Toes will not stay warm if blood flow in them is cramped regardless of insulation. Carhart makes good sox but still, toes need to wiggle. Some riders will cover the socks with a bred plastic bread sleeve or newspaper sleeve to make it easier to get the foot into the boot and keep any wet slop that gets thru the boot from soaking the dry insulating socks.

Some riders absolutely have to have a purpose-built moto-boot. I am not one of them. When it is really cold, I use a snowmobile boot. Sized for the warm sox. Reset shift lever to accommodate as needed.

Hippo-Hands type bar covers are the bomb. There are cheap ones around. Cut-to-fit as needed and re-seal with self stick velcro. The object here is to create a 'still air pocket' at the controls. The sill air means that a much lighter glove is needed to retain heat. Some riders use a silk glove inside their moto-gloves for cold weather. Try a light glove inside your moto-glove as a point of reference. I must have 30 pairs of winter gloves accumulated over the years. Some riders absolutely have to have a moto-glove. I am not one of them. Best winter glove I ever had (now lost) was a ski glove, light, flexible, and amazingly warm in the airflow. Insulated mittens with gauntlets work well and even better with a light knit glove under them. No hippo-hands? A very light inner glove plus moto-glove plus some sort of large cheap work glove or mitten on top. The work glove should be sealed to create the wind shell to keep any interior heat from blowing away and exterior cold from penetrating.

I have 2 pull-over fleece neck gaiters, light and heavier. Worn over the collar of my Stich, they keep the drafts out and any heated air next to my neck before it is lost thru the fleece. If you bike has a windshield with a good still-air pocket, all of the above works even better. Some riders have a 'winter' windshield for their bike.

Survival gear: Carrying some chemical heat packs is a good idea. Buy the ones special for boots as they work where air flow is minimal. Putting a pair in the back pockets is really nice. Putting a pair in the front pockets where the blood flows closest to the skin is better. The big box store sells heat packs in belt form designed to put heat on the lower back and keep it there for 8 hours and they are cheap. Buy 2. One for lower back. One for upper back or front or wherever. Biggest part of this survival gear bit is knowing when to activate the heat packs and proceeding to the nearest warm shelter. It is amazing how often a rider will go hypothermic while not using the heat packs that he is carrying. The brain tends to make very poor decisions when cold. If some small part of the body gets achingly cold while the rest is toasty, that is the clue that one should stop somewhere soonest and warm that spot while taking a few moments to hydrate, nosh, and ponder why one's gear is not working that well.

If sitting with warming coffee in a warm spot, open and remove as much clothing as possible. It lets the heat in faster and dries out any damp faster so that the gear will actually be warmer when put back on and trap as much warm air as possible. It is worth it to loosen boot laces and air out the tootsies for as little as 30min and gives one a chance to put heat packs in to heat the boot before inserting the toes. Some warming places like diners have free newspaper-grade flyers near the door. Take several and wrap thighs, calves, arms before putting on the top garment. Slide one down the back of your belt and front too. If your bike seat is really cold, sit on a couple of flyers. There is a reason street people use newspaper and cardboard to keep warm. Later, if you need to build a fire, you will have tinder. Read Jack London's short story/essay "To Build a Fire"

I have yet to put a heat pack under my helmet to stay warm. If anybody has done that, post up the fun story.
I ride year round, at least once a month. I used to bundle up in layers, but once I bought a firstgear heated jacket liner, I immediately wondered why I waited so long. Wear it from October to May at different levels. Only issue I find is that after the ride, it takes my body some time to start making heat again and I'm cold for an hour or two.