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Best Winter Cycling Tights

There comes a time in the fall when your embrocation cream, knee warmers, leg warmers and cycling knickers just can’t keep your legs warm anymore. Fortunately, the easiest thing to keep warm in the winter is your legs—once you get going your legs become little furnaces and all you have to do is keep them dry, and as the outside temperature drops you switch to slightly better insulated tights. In this article I am going to briefly review my three favorite winter cycling tights (the links in this article will take you to the longer reviews that I wrote last year). I am also going to give the temperature range for each pair of tights—based entirely upon my subjective opinions.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

For temperatures from 28 to 50 degrees (Fahrenheit) I don’t think you will find a better pair of tights than the Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights. These tights are made with a very breathable wind-resistant fabric on the outside combined with a thin layer of thermal fleece on the inside. You can buy this tight either with or without a chamois. I would definitely buy one with Pearl Izumi’s Elite 3D Chamois. This chamois has 13mm of variable-density microfiber padding coupled with active carbon yarns to help reduce odors.

At the bottom of these tights you will find an 8-inch ankle zipper so the tights are very easy to put on (and take off). The zipper has a lockable tab to keep it closed. The tights also have silicone ankle grippers to keep the tights in place. You will also find reflective piping and logos on the legs to help motorists see you better at night. These tights retail for $125.

If you enjoy riding when the temperature is anywhere from zero to 30 degrees (and who doesn’t?), I would suggest the Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights. These tights are designed for extreme weather conditions—I am talking about very cold, wet and windy days. The fabric is very breathable and wicks water away your skin incredibly well. Even after several hours in snow and ice storms these tights kept me dry. The tights also have the 3D Elite chamois (like the pair above). The lower leg of these tights has an 8″ zipper with an internal draft flap and zipper garage. Around the inside of the ankles there is a silicone strip to keep the tights in place. Reflective piping, strips and logos make you visible to motorists from just about any angle.

The Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights are also available without a chamois and/or in a bib. Most people will tell you that bibs keep you warmer than tights, but I haven’t had any trouble keeping warm even in temperatures down to zero. Besides, if you are out on a bike trail in ten degree weather and have to answer the call of nature while in bibs you will need to look at your driver’s license just to remember your gender (if you catch my drift). Theses tights seem to be true to size and have a suggested list price of $155.

Craft PXC Storm Pants For Winter Cycling and Nordic Skiing

Craft PXC Storm Tights

For temperatures below zero I use Craft PXC Storm Tights. Last year fellow blogger Joboo suggested I try a pair of these tights the next time the Siberian Express visited my area of the country, and his advice was right on the mark. Craft PXC Storm Tights are primarily designed for Nordic skiing, but any winter cyclist or runner would benefit from them as well. These windproof tights are very breathable, and the articulated knees make them very easy to cycle in. The seams on both the front and back of these tights have reflective piping to help motorists (or snowmobiles) see you at night.

Joboo said he wore these tights in temperatures down to -50F with “no base layer and was toasty warm.” It never gets that cold in the Chicago area, so I can’t vouch for that myself, but I can tell you that they are the warmest tights I’ve ever worn, and if you do get cold you can always add a layer under them. Craft PXC Storm Tights are available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL), and seem to be true to size, but they do stretch a bit when needed. These tights retail for $130.

If you live in an area of the country that doesn’t experience such extreme winter weather, well, you have my sympathy. As I often tell folks, the hardest part of winter cycling is the first 500 feet once you leave your house. As other cyclists are fond of saying, there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. And, to paraphrase President Theodore Roosevelt, “Far better is it to cycle all winter, to freeze your body down to the bone, even though pelted by sleet and snow, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they ride their trainers in the basement all winter and know neither joy nor fresh air.”

 

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Craft PXC Storm Tights For Winter Cycling

Craft PXC Storm Pants For Winter Cycling and Nordic Skiing

Craft PXC Storm Tights

Staying warm on long winter rides is not all that difficult if you have the right clothing. Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights will keep you comfortable until the drops down to zero (Fahrenheit), but below that you are going to need something else. Last year fellow blogger Joboo (The Adventures of Joboo And His Trusty Pugsley) suggested I try a pair of Craft PXC Storm Tights the next time the Siberian Express visited my area of the country, and his advice was right on the mark.

Craft PXC Storm Tights are primarily designed for Nordic skiing, but any winter cyclist or runner would benefit from them as well. These windproof tights are very breathable, and the articulated knees make them very easy to cycle in. The seams on both the front and back of these tights have reflective piping to help motorists (or snowmobiles) see you at night.

These tights have a looser fit than most cycling tights (they are really more like pants). However, this looser fit allows you to layer other clothing under the tights when needed. Since a chamois is not available on these tights you will need to wear at least a pair of your summer cycling shorts under them. The waist on these tights close with a draw cord and there is also a credit card pouch attached to the inside of the pants. I was very pleased with the generous (long) ankle zippers on these tights.

Joboo said he wore these tights in temperatures down to -50F with “no base layer and was toasty warm.” It never gets that cold in the Chicago area, so I can’t vouch for that myself, but I can tell you that they are the warmest tights I’ve ever worn, and if you do get cold you can always add a layer under them.

Craft PXC Storm Tights are available in five sizes (S, M, L, XL, XXL), and seem to be true to size, but they do stretch a bit when needed. They retail for $130, but numerous places online sell them for around $85.

 

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Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights For Winter Biking

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights For Winter Biking

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights

Out of the many fine clothing products for cyclists that Pearl Izumi makes, my absolute favorite is the Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tight. These tights allow you to have a comfortable ride on winter days that aren’t fit for either man nor beast. Though not truly waterproof (but highly water-resistant), these tights do offer fantastic wind, water and ice protection.

Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights are designed for extreme weather conditions—I am talking about very cold, wet and windy days. The fabric is very breathable and wicks water away your skin incredibly well. Even after several hours in snow and ice storms these tights kept me dry.

The body of these tights is made of 10% polyurethane, 12% elastane, 41% polyester, and 37% nylon. The 3D Elite chamois is made with a variable density microfiber that wicks moisture away and has active carbon yarns to help reduce odors. This is the same chamois that is found in the Pearl Izumi Elite Cycling Shorts and their Elite Thermal Cycling Tights. I have found this chamois to be very comfortable even on rides over 60 miles or more.

What is the best temperature range to wear these tights in? Some cyclists wear these tights in temperatures down to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. I’ve used them in temperatures down to zero without any problem. At the other end of the scale I find them too warm to wear in temperatures much above freezing, but some people have no problem using them all the way up to 50 degrees. Personally, for temperatures between 28 and 50 degrees I prefer to wear Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights.

The lower leg of these tights has an 8″ zipper with an internal draft flap and zipper garage. Around the inside of the ankles there is a silicone strip to keep the tights in place. Reflective piping, strips and logos make you visible to motorists from just about any angle.

These tights are also available without a chamois and in a bib. Most people will tell you that bibs keep you warmer than tights but I really haven’t had any trouble keeping warm even in temperatures down to zero. Besides, if you are out on a bike trail in ten degree weather and have to answer the call of nature while in bibs you will need to look at your driver’s license just to remember your gender (if you catch my drift).

Theses tights seem to be true to size, providing you use the sizing guide found on the Pearl Izumi Website (the size guide on Amazon.com has no connection with reality). The Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tight (with 3D chamois) has a suggested list price of $155, but you can buy them from Amazon.com for around $105. Once you’ve had a chance to try these tights out I am certain you will think they were worth every penny you paid for them.

 

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Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights

When the temperature drops down below 50 degrees it’s time to put away the knee warmers and get out the Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights. I started wearing these tights last year and they are awesome! For temperatures between 28 and 50 degrees I don’t think you will find a better pair of cycling tights.

These tights are made with a very breathable wind-resistant fabric on the outside combined with a thin layer of thermal fleece on the inside. The fabric is about as close to magic as you will find—it wicks moisture away from the skin to keep you warm, dry and happy! While these pants are not rainproof they are definitely water-resistant. I often ride half-centuries (50 miles) in these tights during light rain without any trouble.

You can buy this tight either with or without a chamois. I would definitely buy one with Pearl Izumi’s Elite 3D Chamois since it is the same chamois that is in the Pearl Izumi Elite Cycling Shorts, which is what I ride in all summer. This chamois has 13mm of variable-density microfiber padding coupled with active carbon yarns to help reduce odors. Within the past 12 months I have cycled over 6,000 miles and 99% of those miles have been while riding with this chamois. This chamois was designed with Pressure Relief Technology (PRT) for riding comfort and improved blood flow and I think they ended up with a perfect design!

At the bottom of these tights you will find an 8-inch ankle zipper so the tights are very easy to put on (or take off). The zipper has a lockable tab to keep it closed. The tights also have silicone ankle grippers to keep the tights in place. You will also find reflective piping and logos on the legs to help motorists see you better at night.

These tights are solid black, but you will notice in the photograph I played around with the lighting a bit so you could see a few of the 16 different panels that this pair of tights is composed of. The panel behind the knees is thinner to allow for needed ventilation and better leg movement.

The quality of these tights is superb! As for fit, I would say they are true to size. However, if you are on the border between two sizes I would definitely go with the larger size. Tight clothing in the winter is never a good idea.

Pearl Izumi Elite Thermal Cycling Tights retail for $125, but you can save a few dollars by buying them from Amazon.com. If you enjoy riding when the temperature is between zero and 30 degrees (and who doesn’t?), I would suggest you buy a pair of Pearl Izumi AmFIB Cycling Tights.

 

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