Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Staying Alive: Riding Through Winter Weather

As any winter-activities (in COLD climates) knows, the trick to staying active in the winter is LAYERS. Good layers. I've been keeping Courage in consistent work with sub-20f temps, and here's how:

Mostly I freeze to death.

HAHA actually it's true.

I also layer up. Here's the key elements of my winter wardrobe:

i want this color

A good base is absolutely critical. On top, I really love the Noble Outfitters Hailey Long-Sleeve Crew. It's light weight and perfect for layering. It has long sleeves (YAY LONG ARMED PEOPLE REJOICE) and thumb holes that keep it in place. I'm seeing it listed for $30 online, but I'm pretty sure I paid $20 somewhere. I have two and they're great.

so hideous
On the bottom, I have the Kerrits Geothermal capri. This picture is hideous--I have cute black with a pretty design on it. The cut is kind of awful--The waistband comes up to my ribs and I am long-waisted and long-torsoed. The great thing about these is they don't add bulk under your boots and the elastic under your knee keeps them from sliding up and being useless. WIN.


I guess this is the mid layer? On top, I go with the FITS shirt I got on consignment a few years back for like $15. It's got this hideous grey pattern. I can't find it available now, but it slides right over my silky base layer and adds some warmth without bulk. I like that it's soft and stretch and moves with me. I cannot stand stiff clothes that restrict motion.

she's happy because this vest is awesome

Again on top, at this point I go with the Kerrits Cross Diagonal Quilted Vest ($80 new, but I had a gift card!). This is a really great vest--it's cute, it's reasonably flattering, and it has stretchy side panels that let you jam ALL THE LAYERS under it because it expands. The front zips up like a mock scarf, which holds your real scarf in admirably. I definitely do not regret this purchase.

Noted: I frequently stick a light weight tech coat that's stretchy in between my shirts and the vest. I got it free from a friend and it closely resembles the Romfh Princess Jacket, but I have no idea what it really is.

ugly pants
On the bottom, I go with Irideon Wind Pro Fleece Lined breeches. Fun fact: I kind of hate these pants. They're bulky and shapeless and unattractive, but I've had several different brands and they're all kind of the same. Also, shapeless means stuff fits under them easily, so that's a plus. A bigger plus would be pockets, but apparently that's impossible. Just don't hold stuff in the winter, obviously.

I do have over pants that I bust out if I'm doing barn chores, but I LOVE BOARDING and I don't do those right now. It's not the prettiest look ever (and I really, really want winter boots), but it gets the job done for me.

What are some awesome winter riding pieces I should know about? Any suggestions from people in the cold frozen northland?


  1. As it's currently in the 50s and 60s on the east coast, I'm usually sweating in my sunshirts when I ride. BUT. When it does return to normal winter weather (clearly Mother Nature is drunk right now), I'm a big fan of the Under Armour HeatGear collection, that I got for a great price off of LL Bean. I also like doing a fleece vest over the UA top, with a technical shirt in between. I don't have any winter-specific breeches right now, but I usually layer a pair of the ADE leggings under regular breeches, and that keeps me pretty warm. Oh, and the Noble Outfitters Ultimate Boot Socks are the best ever.

    Stay warm!

  2. I am a big fan of layering as well. My two most go to winter items are Mountain Horse Stella insulated winter boots and winter fleece (inside) breeches from that have a cargo pocket to clip my phone on my thigh. The Stickyseat breeches were a purchase from a Facebook ad and I have become a real fan of the brand. As comfortable as yoga pants but with great adhesion to the saddle...

  3. Replies
    1. Or south. It was 34f this morning with an iced over windshield when I left for work at 7am. Temps here in the desert (Phoenix) can get down into the high teens. I have seen 19f here already this year and several times last year.

      Don't be fooled by our hotter than hell temps in the summer. Winters here have their moments too, although we don't have to shovel snow on top of it being so freaking cold.

  4. Minnesotan here! I have the ugly kerrits long johns pictured, and they are even uglier in person. I kind of love them, even if they aren't the best for the really cold weather. For the coldest days (below zero, or above zero and windy) I wear Cuddl Dud full length long johns, held down with coolmax liner socks. Kerrits Sit Tight and Warm full seats, wool socks, Ariat brossard boots (thinsulate is important) and sometimes add a toe warmer if it's really cold. Top is usually a cuddl dud shirt (they have a four way stretch line that wicks and is pretty cheap), fleece/Columbia Omni heat 1/4 zip, vest (fleece or Omniheat depending on temp) and usually a jacket over top - I have a few of different warmth levels. I may be slightly obsessed with Omniheat but their hats, in particular, are fantastically warm. Gloves with thinsulate are also the bomb dot com. Add to the mental image you've built a skull cap with a red and green silk and riding ear muffs attached to the harness, and possibly a face shield/fleece tube thing if the air is too cold for me to breathe comfortably, and you have my barn outfit from December - March (at least). Yayyyyy winter. At least we have an indoor... it's not insulated or heated, but it blocks the wind!

    1. I forgot about cuddl duds! You can get them on sale at Kohls too! Cozy!

  5. This is hilarious. Below 40 or so, I ride in an UnderArmor 3.0 shirt, fleece, down vest, usually with a ski parka on top. I lose the parka about 10 minutes into the ride. I also have this awesome turtleneck scarf thing. Bottom half is UnderArmor 3.0 base, Kerrits windproof fleece tights, and two layers of wool socks. Oh and I put a ski cap over my helmet because with the vents it's much too cold.

    I'd probably freeze just walking out the door up there.

  6. Replies
    1. Seconded! I live in Smartwool socks all winter. They aren't bulky and fit under boots really well.

      I also live in Patagonia's Capilene lightweight bottoms. They're thin enough to go under regular breeches and they block the horrible wind pretty well.

  7. 50s+ - long sleeved shirt + regular breeches.
    40s-50s - long sleeved shirt, hoodie, regular breeches.
    30s-40s - Under Armour Cold Gear shirt, hoodie, fleece breeches. Sometimes Under Armour 4.0 shirt with no hoodie.
    20s-30s - Under Armour 4.0 shirt, fleece breeches.
    I don't ride below 20s - too hard on the lungs/joints imo.

  8. Canadian here. My best winter riding find has been the Aerion 3/4 Length Jacket ( Even though it's listed as a mid-weight jacket, I've worn it down to -20C/-4F. It's a flattering fit, nicely made, and has useful pockets. The greatest thing though is the length; it comes down to mid-thigh, so is really warm when standing around/grooming etc. and the gusset in the back actually makes it really nice to ride in. I also found it on sale for 50% off so bonus!

    The other essential is my Muck Boots (the tall ones with a sole for riding). They aren't pretty and I do lose a bit of sensitivity with my leg, but when it's below freezing, my tight leather tall boots with thin socks just don't work for me in the unheated barn/arena. With the Muck Boots, I'm warm and dry, and the boot is stretchy enough to fit wool socks and layered pants inside.

  9. Like the others said, you need under armor, girl!!!! The cold gear line is so so so warm and its moves like a dream with your body as you ride. There's no comparison. I also like a good pair of ski socks, winter tall boots (like mountain horse) and a fuzzy ear warmer headband.

  10. I have transplanted to the South and our winter is a summer in the high elevations. On our "cold" days I ride with the running tights under my breeches (regular ones not winter ones) and a knockoff under armor shirt with either a t-shirt or a lightweight long sleeve. Sometimes I keep a light jacket on for the initial walk up to the ring.

  11. Layers are amazing. I hike in the summer in White Mountains so I have gear that does double duty. Mount Washington is cold year round! REI has some amazing base layers that blow the equestrian specific stuff out of the water. I use my hiking thermal pants under my breeches and can ride at 15 degrees comfortably. Silk liner sock, then wool socks with a thermal insole in my boots to keep the tootsies warm. Silk under shirt, thermal shirt, regular long sleeve shirt to block wind, then a vest. I wear a jacket around the barn and for warm up, but usually ditch it once we're moving. I'm a firm believer in riding year round and only stop when it's too cold to be safe (sweat freezes or the cold affects breathing).

  12. I'm a HUGE fan of the UA ColdGear and UA ColdGearInfared. I love that they are form fitting and don't add a lot of bulk but are super duper warm. They also wear like iron, my original mock neck shirt and tights are going strong after 10 years of multi-purpose use (riding, hunting, skiing, running). I usually layer my Noble Outfitters vest over that and I'm good to go!

  13. Two pairs of socks, Muck boots, yoga pants under my jeans (if it's that cold) an undershirt, long sleeved tee, sweatshirt, sometimes a jacket and sometimes two or possibly three layers of gloves (yes I can undo Velcro still), fleece ear warmer and knit cap on top.

    I might look like the kid bundled up in A Christmas Story (I can't put my arms down...) but I don't like being cold. Yet if I'm off to the slopes, I can get by with a light layer under my bibs and light jacket, ski all day and no complaints. Go figure.

  14. I was the queen of layering as well. I would usually start out with several of those $2 at Forever 21 type camisoles because they were a nice start without adding any bulk. I also learned that tucking shirts in made a big difference, even if you have a coat over them.

    Now I wouldn't be able to function. Even before I got to a point of not riding below 20. Just too miserable at that point!

  15. my aunt gave me fleecy stretchy pants called "Mopas" that sell for $5 on ebay and seriously changed my life. they are SO WARM i just love them and wear them under everything all winter long.

    i also like to hit up the active wear sections at discount stores like marshalls, tj maxx and the like since they usually have tons of cheap sweat-wicking thin technical long sleeve shirts geared towards runners etc

  16. NEED the purple shirt. Also TOTALLY agree about the Irideon Wind Pro beeches. Most unflattering ever, but totes warm.
    Also, I just got the Irideon Icelandic Fleece Vest on major closeout and LOVE it.

  17. I need me some fancy long underwear. And electric clothing. Like an electric blanket, but as a snuggie and battery powered.

  18. Honestly, I go old school. Regular breeches with old panty hose underneath. A pair of thin socks, then thick wool socks. Same theory with gloves. Under armor base layer above (oldest set going on ... Omg. 8 yrs old?!), covered by a vest, or a fleece, or both, then a coat.

    All that is usually too much, even in the negatives. And I end up sweating and wishing it was colder.

  19. for your holding-things pleasure, may I suggest a fanny pack? I think we've all accepted that winter riding is not flattering, and being able to have things in a zip pouch that stayse close to your waist is extremely handy.

  20. UNDER ARMOR. Yes. The Kerrits Sit Tight 'N Warm are my FAVE winter breeches ever, like a soft shell jacket for your legs. I also often wear my Sorel winter boots (not riding boots) with the thick felt liners and just ride bareback or in my western saddle when it's sub-20. A scarf or some sort of neck gaiter is also essential, and I layer tons of clothes under my LL Bean men's "warm up" jacket, which is the best barn coat in the universe.

  21. I love that vest. We have a few in the store that I have been eyeballing.


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