Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed by the change in seasons? Me too. Suddenly I need hats, mittens, scarves, light coat, normal coat, medium coat, and a heavy goes-to-the-floor coat. It’s also disheartening to have to store my summer riding clothes for the next five months. To combat this particular type of winter blues, I’ve perfected a system of making my favorite summer essentials work even in chilly temps.
Start with your favorite regular brand of riding breeches. Technical fabrics are exactly what you should wear in the winter. It’s just as important your winter layers wick away moisture as in the summer, or else you’ll find yourself freezing as soon as you finish your ride (Pro-tip: never wear cotton shirts to the barn in the cold).
Get a good liner. Or 15. Layers are key to this equation. Layers can wick and dry faster than a single insulated pant. Even if you can comfortably fit a liner under your normal breeches, I recommend sizing up in your pants because a thin layer of air can work as yet another insulator. As far as finding a base layer that works for you, I recommend experimenting with a few different brands. I’ve had the best luck with Heat Holders, Uniqlo HEATTECH, and 32 Degrees. I tend to be a minimalist about most things, but you can never have too many base layers. I get more rides out of my breeches when I wear a base layer. Less laundry? That’s always a win.
Lastly, don’t skimp on the socks. You can achieve the perfect pant-baselayer-combination, but if you leave your socks as an afterthought you’ll still find yourself in the cold. When looking for socks it’s essential you pick a tall, knee-length style that can provide another layer up to your boot. Next, be sure their not too hot. Although well intentioned, one winter I bought many pairs of thick SmartWool socks. I found not only were my feet uncomfortably wedged into my boots, but the socks at times could make my feet too hot which meant eventually they got incredibly cold. I opt for a sportier SmartWool style on the super cold days, but to be honest I’m happy with my year-round investment in copper socks that keep my feet cool in the summer and happy in the winter. You also can’t lose with a temporary warmer for your toes as needed.