Heated gear can do wonders in improving your comfort in cold weather. Heated gear can do wonders in improving your comfort in cold weather.

Touring Essentials blog: Got Heat?

Written by  on Friday, 10 October 2014 16:48

On October 5, a group of 12 people went on a ‘Ride to Eat’ to Red Deer, AB, a one-way distance of 155 km from Edmonton along Highway 2. Since a big part of a Ride to Eat is the riding, most of us put on close to 500 km on what turned out to be a gorgeous sunny day with a high of 19. One of the regular crew bowed out of this little excursion, stating it was getting a little late in the year.

And that is true. It is getting a little late in the year and you can never tell what the weather is going to be like. It is always up to you as a rider to determine your comfort level and ride, or not, accordingly. For myself, I usually shoot for the end of November as the time to park the bike. As long as there is no snow on the ground I’m good to ride.

However, maintaining a normal body temperature while riding is important in order to stay alert and safe. You need to avoid getting too hot or too cold. We’ve previously looked at ways to keep your cool, so how do I—and how can you—extend the riding season by staying warm?


Early in the spring and later in the fall, heated gear is almost essential to help maintain your core body temperature. There are plenty of options when it comes to heated clothing and my wife and I have found that an electric vest is an essential piece of apparel, even in summer. We’ve ridden over Highwood Pass, Canada’s highest paved road, at only 8 degrees near the end of June and ‘enjoyed’ 2 degree temperatures through the Rockies on the August long weekend. A sudden rain storm can cause the temperature to plummet from mid-20s to single digits, which is not really fun without some accessible heat.

I’ve also got a pair of heated gloves to take the chill off early morning rides and allow me to extend my riding into the shoulder seasons. While I’ve never ridden a bike with heated grips, they are an accessory that many riders swear by.

I don’t like long sleeves and my albatross-like wingspan makes it hard to buy properly fitting gear, so I stick with the vest. Pairing the vest with gloves requires a harness, whereas a jacket liner has the connections built into the sleeves. While the extra wiring can seem rather cumbersome at times, the benefits of being comfortable when riding are huge.

Mary was certain she didn’t need any heated gear since she doesn’t ride as much as I do. That trip over Highwood Pass convinced her of the value of the gear but, while she only used it on the low setting, she said she did not want to ever be on the bike when she would need the high setting. When the temp dropped to 2 on a subsequent summer trip she did crank it up to high, was very comfortable, and has been a devoted user of the gear ever since—and has enjoyed many cool rides without hesitation.

Sadly, this year, I think that ride to Red Deer will be my last of the season. I have to fit in time to change my oil and to put a new rear tire on and I’ve got some serious rehab scheduled for my right ankle. As much as I’ll miss the fall riding season, I’ll be ready come March and April to get out and ride… and my heated gear will be ready to keep me comfortable and safe.

Ride responsibly and enjoy your travels.

-- R. Bruce Thomas

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Last modified on Friday, 10 October 2014 16:56

Graeme Jones

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