Survive the Montana Winter with These Essential Biking Gear Reviews and Recommendations

mountain biker on fat bike in winter

Gearing up for winter riding can seem daunting, but we’ve got all the essentials for staying warm, dry, and comfortable all winter. Once you’ve got the proper gear, getting out the door won’t be such a chore. Whether you are hitting the trails for a fat bike ride or getting out on the roads on a dry afternoon, it is important to dress appropriately.

Winter Biking Gear

You’ve heard the famous saying, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.” Or one of our favorites, “Could I BE wearing any more clothes?!” Whether you’re a Norwegian outdoors enthusiast or a Friends fan, both sayings hold true for winter cyclists.

Too many layers, and you’ll feel miserable and have very little mobility on the bike. The wrong kind of winter mountain bike gear, and you’ll be so cold you won’t be able to operate your brake levers. We’re not going to name any names (you know who you are), but we’ve heard stories of riders who have to walk their bike down the trail because they can’t feel their hands on their brake levers.

Starting From The Top

It is important to find a hat or ear warmer that fits comfortably underneath your helmet. When considering under-helmet warmth, we grab the performance hat and headbands by Mio Mi. Mio Mi Climbing is a local woman-owned business that delivers the performance winter gear that Bozeman demands.

owenhouse cycling team member wearing mio mi performance hat
mio mi performance winter hats at owenhouse cycling
owenhouse cycling team member wearing mio mi headband

Pro Tip: Consider Helmet Size

If you have an especially form-fitting helmet, you may consider buying one large enough to accommodate a thin Merino wool hat covering your ears or an ear warmer. If your helmet is too small, you may get headaches from pressure points on your helmet.

Invest in a Winter Cycling Jacket

It is crucial to select the right jacket for every ride. Wind resistance is one of the most essential components of a winter riding jacket, but it should also still be breathable. You probably already have a reliable winter/ski jacket for extreme winter rides, but when it comes to transitional days, we love the Troy Lee Designs Shuttle Jacket. This versatile jacket will keep you warm when you need it and pack down when you don’t. The best part? There are huge vents in the rear to help regulate body temp!

owenhouse cycling team member in troy lee designs shuttle jacket
owenhouse cycling team member in troy lee designs shuttle jacket
owenhouse cycling team member in troy lee designs shuttle jacket giving thumbs up

Keep Those Hands Warm!

Hands are especially tough to keep warm when winter riding. When considering riding gloves, keep in mind the balance between warmth and dexterity. Too thick of a glove, and it will be tough to feel the brakes. Too thin, and you will be turning around 5mins in.

pearl izumi winter riding gloves

If you’re looking for a great all-around option, we like the AmFIB® Gel Gloves by Pearl Izumi. These cold-weather gloves are optimized for handlebar comfort and confident bicycle control, with enough sensitivity to hit every shift.

pearl izumi winter riding gloves

Hand Protection From The Extremes

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have the wind-blocking capabilities of the warmest gloves but grip control of a lightweight trail glove? Well, my friend, I believe Pogies are for you! These bar mits by 45NRTH are an excellent solution for winter mountain biking, fat biking, and even commuting! Just slide these babies over the ends of your mountain bike bars or drop bars, and you will have protection from the cutting wind all winter long.

45nrth winter riding pogies for mountain bike
45north winter bar mits

No Pants? That’s a problem.

Cycling-specific winter biking pants are a game-changer for winter cycling and mountain biking. Riding with one layer on the bottom makes for a super comfortable ride, but it is important to pick the right pair for the conditions.

Many winter riding pants come with built-in chamois, so you don’t have to deal with multiple layers. Colder conditions may warrant a fleece-lined pair of pants with a wind-resistant exterior shell to keep the warmth near your body.

Waterproof winter riding pants prove especially useful on days when it is actively snowing or if you are hitting the fat bike trails and take a tumble. On especially mild days, knee warmers may be enough to keep you warm on an afternoon road ride.

Don’t Get Cold Feet!

You have to keep your toes warm! There is nothing worse than freezing toes on a ride, so you must have the proper gear for the occasion.

Cold Weather Riding Shoes By Shimano

When considering good winter riding shoes, we look to Shimano’s MW702 and MW501. These SPD shoes are made for the cold and wet! Each shoe has a waterproof membrane with a fleece liner and a neoprene ankle collar. (It’s like a wet suit for your ankles!) These shoes go a long way in helping prevent the dreaded numb feet. Order them through Owenhouse Cycling, and not only will we help you decide on the right pair for you, but we will also ensure they are the right fit.

shimano winter riding shoe
shimano winter riding shoe in action
shimano mountain biking shoes for winter

Pro Tip: Warmers

If you have naturally poor circulation or have especially cold feet, try putting some toe warmers on the tops and bottoms of your socks.

Layer Up

Layering is probably the most important part of getting dressed for your winter ride. The best way to stay warm and dry during your ride is to start with a wool base layer. Not only is wool exceedingly comfortable, but it also keeps you warm and dry. Wool helps regulate body temperature and can soak up moisture without losing its insulating properties. On a warm and sunny afternoon, you may only need one wool base layer, and on colder days, you could stack multiple layers for a cozier ride.

Patagonia R1 Air

Patagonia R1 Air

When considering cozy layers, look no further than the Patagonia R1 Air. We recently highlighted the R1 Air in our 10 Gifts for the Mountain Biker in Your Life blog. This stylish fleece is an excellent insulator! The R1 is designed with a welted pattern that enhances its insulating properties. The R1 is great for winter rides, skiing, and even nights out with friends.

Get Outside this Winter

Bundling up before a winter ride can be a chore, but your legs, lungs, and heart will thank you! With the correct winter biking gear, the fresh mountain air never felt so refreshing. At Owenhouse Cycling in Bozeman, MT, we not only sell winter cycling accessories, but we also ride in the winter! Visit us in the bike shop to chat!

We’d love to share our thoughts on which pants, gloves, and jackets perform the best in our Bozeman winter weather. Got all the gear but need a bike? We also have a mountain bike rental program and fat bike rental in Bozeman, MT, to help keep you active over the winter! Rent a fat bike during a snowy weekend this winter and test all your new gear!

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