When people ask me about going snowbiking, the first thing that comes up is clothing. Here is a summary of what has worked for me in the Washington Cascades and south-west British Columbia. Winter weather in this area is typically mild but wet. Daytime highs are typically between 20 F to 35 F, with night time lows 10 F to 20 F. Sunny, snowy, perhaps a slight drizzle. Typically, it’s not very windy.
Riding at 70% heart rate at 3 mph is seriously heart warming, even when it’s 25 F. However, when flying down a 2000 ft. descent on bumpy snowmobiles at 15 to 20 mph, one potentially cools down very quickly.
Sweating is not an option – I will always stop to shed layers (down to next to nothing) if I feel that I might start sweating. For the descent, I put on windproof everything from head-to-toe, potentially without adding any insulation depending on how long the descent is. I carry a thin rain jacket and pants for that purpose. My feet and hands get cold easily. I have thin fleeze gloves and giant mitts. On my feet I wear tennis shoes, covered in 40-Below Simple Slippers, which are stuck inside Neos Adventurer (non-insulated) overshoes. Sometimes there’s lots of hiking, so a gaitor (which are part of the overshoes) is really nice when the snow is deep or there’s a bit of slush. I don’t use clipless pedals on my winter bike, and I don’t miss it. Sometimes I add chemical toe warmers inside my tennis shoes, if I don’t have to walk much.
On my head, I wear a thin fleece hat, and have a couple balaclavas (one windproof) for extra protection on long and fast descents, or if it’s rainy.
Layers on top are: 1) thin, mesh sleeveless shirt (think 80’s), 2) thin, long-sleeve wooly with zipper, 3) windproof yellow cycling jacket. 4) For extra insulation, or in case I did sweat through my wooly, I carry a thin fleece pullover. For the lower portion, I have cycling shorts, and choose from various tights based on the conditions. Cross-country ski pants work really well, as does anything that has a windproof front, and some ventilation in the back. If the daytime high is
For hydration, I have a thin 3 L Camelback close to my back to keep the water warm. It sits under the windproof cycling jacket/vest, and the tubing runs over my shoulder. I blow water back through the tube when done drinking. If I am out for a long ride, I melt snow with a tiny gas stove, which requires me to strip away the jacket to get to the Camelback (brr).