GUIDE TO LAYERING
One of the most effective ways of tackling changeable winter and spring conditions is layering for it. Making best use of different clothing layers that can be shed and added back when required can make a world of difference. Get your layering correct and you’ll be riding in almost any weather, get it wrong and you’ll be burning unnecessary energy just trying to keep some semblance of warmth within the engine. We’ve put together a quick and simple guide on the art of layering and different elements you’re looking for.
This is the first and probably most important layer. The base layer forms the foundation of any layering combination, as the first contact point with the skin they serve two primary functions; keeping you dry by transporting moisture away from the body (wicking) and keeping your core warm in colder conditions by insulating against the elements.
Depending on the weather conditions you’re riding in, this will impact the choice of base layer. Colder conditions will have you reaching for a long-sleeved base layer made from thermal materials, such as the Altura Thermocool Base Layer. While warmer conditions allow for a lighter base layer with a mesh design that aids in moisture management, for example our Altura DryMesh Base Layer.
On colder days your jersey will act as your mid layer, while in warmer conditions it’s likely to be your top layer. This is the layer you’re looking for with thermal properties, it’s the buffer against the piercing cold, while in the warmth it needs to be breathable in order to let heat escape.
These are also layers that have the ability to open and close, most likely through the use of a zipper to allow you to adjust your body temperature on the move. For colder rides we’d recommend using either the Altura Race Long Sleeve Jersey or one of our Altura Thermo Long Sleeve Jerseys. On a warmer day, we’re talking Altura Airstream Long Sleeve Jersey or even a short sleeve jersey like one of the Altura Icon Short Sleeve Jerseys.
Depending on just how cold the weather is going to be, you could also add additional mid-level layers in the form of further jerseys.
This top layer is where you add protection against the elements. If you’re expecting torrential down pour, you’d be looking for something waterproof, where as if it is expected to be bitterly cold but dry, you will need something with windproof properties.
It’s this outer layer where you’re looking for a high level of detail, not only does it need to provide the protection from the elements that you’re riding in, but it needs to be as light as possible, durable, packable and look good too. More often than not, during winter and spring you actually looking for something both windproof and waterproof, for example our Altura NV2 Jacket on the road or the Altura Thunderstorm Jacket for your daily commute, that is just as useful off the bike too.
Even during those warmer spring time rides it’s wise to take a packable lightweight waterproof shell jacket like the Altura Pocket Rocket 2 or the Altura Airstream Vest, in case conditions change rapidly, which we all know is often the case.
Often the layering element in legwear comes down to personal preference. Some riders prefer full bib tights, some ¾ tights (knickers) and some bib shorts with leg or knee warmers. A key point is to never layer chamois over chamois, this can often lead to you sitting incorrectly on your saddle or the chamois sitting incorrectly on each other, which if you’ve ever experienced this you will know just how painful this can be.
During the colder periods you’d be looking for bib tights or warmers that use a brushed fleece lining thereby adding a layer of insulation by trapping the warm air closer to your legs, our entire bib tight and leg warmer range offer brushed thermal lining. For those wetter rides you might want to consider a tight that offers some sort of waterproof protection such as the Altura Repel or Altura Race Nano Bib Tights, which are treated with DWR and Nano Technology respectively. On the wettest commutes a popular choice over your standard clothing is to use a waterproof over trouser.
As with a base layer and effective outer shell, accessories like gloves and overshoes can make or break your layering combination. You could have your upper and lower body completely dialled, but if you’re using inadequate gloves, or the wrong overshoes, you could be spending the entire ride struggling with numb hands or cold wet feet.
Choosing the correct glove and overshoe to tackle the weather you’ll be riding in is key. On wetter rides you’ll need something waterproof, like the Altura Thunderstorm Glove or the Altura NightVision 4 Overshoe. Another consideration for wet weather riding are neoprene gloves and overshoes, these don’t keep the water out, but instead hold water that is then warmed up by body heat, these are often very effective.
On cold but dry rides, windproof accessories are the go to staple, on the coldest of days these can be used in conjunction with liners to give you that extra layer of insulation and another level of adaptability.
Make the right layering choices based on the weather you’re expecting to be out in and you’ll be riding in almost all weather. When in doubt, add layers as they can always be removed, consider taking spare gloves or even a dry base layer to swap into at the café and you’ll be the smug one in the group during the return journey!