Winter Cycling: 10 Ways to Keep Your Head Warm

Nowhere is winter more cruel to an intrepid city cyclist than to the extremities, with the head and face perhaps most vulnerable. After all, you can cocoon and shroud hands and feet, but above the neck the need for unobscured vision and breath on a bicycle opens the door to wintery drafts and discomfort.

In this connection, we recently received a question about winter warmers from a velojoy reader, Ken. He wanted to buy his sister, a year-around bicycle commuter, a new balaclava for her birthday. Reportedly, the one she owns is on the tight side, making her head look like “a stuffed grape.”

Well, that won’t do! We found a cozy alternative with more give in the SmartWool model below. However, while one size may fit all in balaclavas, individual needs regarding cold-weather sensitivity and style vary. So check out the slide show below for more great solutions to keep the comfort and joy in your winter ride:

Before you buy, here are the ranges of cold-weather layers to consider as temperatures plunge. In the most frigid or snowy weather, hearty commuters often add ski goggles.

The Brrrrrr Index:

  • Low 50s to low 40s: From helmet only to light cap beneath helmet
  • Low 40s to low 30s: From helmet and cap with wind cover, as needed, to balaclava or neck gaiter
  • Below 30: Skull cap, helmet cover, ear coverings, balaclava or gaiter

P.S. The cold-weather combo that I count on for both city and road cycling: a synthetic or wool cap under my helmet, a wool gaiter that I can pull up over my face as needed during the ride, sunglasses, sun screen and limitless applications of Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1. How do you keep your head warm on your winter ride?

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