When it comes to winter riding, staying warm is one of your most important objectives. While you can add layer upon layer to stay warm on most of your body, your head can be a bit more tricky. Yes, staying comfortable is important, but so is staying safe, and jamming a winter cap beneath your helmet can often impair the fit of your most important piece of safety equipment. And given the options of riding unsafely, or freezing your lobes off, many, unfortunately, will choose to just stay off the bike.
Thankfully, whether your winter rides bring snow, or fog, mist and rain, many cycling companies make hats specifically for riding in weather that would make others curl up on the couch with a blanket.
For sub-freezing temperatures and biting wind, we love the Castelli Difesa 2 Cap. The Difesa Cap has a cut very similar to other short-billed cycling caps. Cycling caps have a variety of benefits. For those with longer hair, they keep your hair in place and out of your face. They also act as a barrier between your head and your helmet. This means the easy to wash hat absorbs your sweat rather than the pads of your helmet. And the brim is also great for a bit of sun protection without blowing off your head.
While other hats usually stop at the top of your ear, the Difesa has an additional band of fabric around the bottom of the cap that folds down to cover almost all of your ear. Don’t need the ear coverage? Just flip that band up and it tucks up over the rest of your hat inside your helmet.
But this fabric is not just standard cotton or nylon. Castelli uses Gore-Tex Infinium for the upper. The fabric is windproof and keeps any cold breeze from cutting through the vent holes of your helmet onto your scalp. The flap that covers your ears is made of Thermoflex, a soft and stretchy fleece that will keep your ears warm without irritating your skin. It has the comfort of a winter toque in the fit of a cycling cap.
On the East Coast, we pull this hat out of the closet starting in November. There is no reason not to enjoy the benefits of a bit of cycling warmth. It fits well with almost any helmet, has reflexive details to keep you seen, and an extremely comfortable fit, no matter the temperature.
If your winter riding involves more rain or wet precipitation than snow and low temperatures, consider the Velocio Rain Cap. This cap comes with all the benefits of a traditional cycling cap along with wet weather reinforcement.
This cap looks like a traditional cycling cap but is made of Polartec NeoShell. Velocio uses the scraps from their jacket production to make this hat not only useful, but environmentally friendly. The fabric is windproof, and waterproof. This will keep you from losing heat or getting a chill on those wet windy days. The cap fits easily beneath a cycling helmet, and has a soft exterior that will keep you from feeling like the Gordon’s fisherman. What’s more, the hat is also breathable, so when the rain clears, you won’t have sweat making your head wet from the inside.
Your head is a big piece of heat management and is essential to ride comfort, so treat it right by getting the appropriate hat for the weather.
Castelli Difesa 2: $50; castelli-cycling.com
Velocio Rain Cap: $49; velocio.cc