The best winter cycling tights & bib-tights
A comparison of the best cold-weather biking pants for men and women
Thermal, insulated, waterproof, padded, suited for MTB
Looking for the best pants for winter cycling? You are in the right place. In this article, we’ll give you some advice on how to choose the best cold-weather cycling tights to get you ready for 2021/2022’s winter.
Should we give up our hobby or primary means of transport just because of some cold weather?
For some this is not even an option, many commuters in northern countries rely on their bicycle daily, and racers, even amateurs, cannot afford to give up training for three or more months (sure you could train indoor, but the real world is out there!).
Then there are long-distance bicycle tourers that will have to face all the harshest conditions, they also could use some good cycling tights to keeps themselves warm.
Choosing the right winter cycling pants is not too difficult, with this guide we hope to give you all the information to spend your money wisely and get the best tights or bib-tights for you.
In this article:
- Gore C3 Thermo Bib Tights – Best waterproof winter bib-tights
- Rapha Core Winter Tight – Best value for money
- Santic Compression Winter Cycling Bib Tights – Best cheap cycling bib-tights
- Castelli Polare 2 Cycling Bib Tight – Best for real cold-weather cycling
- AERO|TECH|DESIGNS ATD Bib Tights – Best Midrange
- Souke Sports Men’s Bicycle Pants 4D – Best Cheap Padded Road Bike Tights
- Pearl Izumi – Best Cycling Pants
- Przewalski 4D Cycling Tights – Best Midrange Budget Pants
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How we compile our gear guides: during the almost 10 years of cycloscope.net our team personally tested dozens of similar pieces of gear. For what we can't test personally, we involve other people in the cycling community to give their feedback and opinion about gear they have used. Our decade-long experience in bicycle touring enables us to find the key cons and pros of every product we mention.
5 Best Winter Bib Tights for Biking
Castelli Sorpasso RoS – New Entry 2021/2022
Best bibknicker for road and gravel biking
The Sorpasso Ros by Italian legend Castelli are real top-level winter bibs! With a 3/4 length, they’re not meant for the harshest conditions but work great for those rides in a chill and obnoxious weather.
The Nano Flex 3G fabric is indeed very warm, comfy, and most importantly water-repellent. The upper-front, tights, and backsides have an extra layer of Nano Flex Xtra Dry fabric, meant to provide additional protection from road splashes and sprays.
The lining is soft and breathable, the sweat evaporates fast also from the chamois, which is comfortable also on long rides and gentle on the skin.
The elastic grip at the bottom of the calf is strong enough to keep the bib tights in place, without pulling on the skin.
The best waterproof bib-tights for serious cyclists
Gore C3 Thermo Bib Tights
Best waterproof winter bib-tights
Let’s start with a brand that is synonymous with quality winter gear. The Gore C3 Thermo bib-tights are simply the best winter bib-tights you can get for all weather conditions.
They are constructed with GORE-TEX fabric, completely waterproof, windproof, and extremely breathable.
The seam-free mesh design avoids friction-caused skin irritation and improves comfort, while the pre-shaped knees ensure optimal fit and perfect performance.
The pad is one of the best available on the market, the ACTIVE VARIOUS seat insert is also manufactured using GORE WINDSTOPPER. Great comfort and warmth even during long rides in near-freezing temperatures (they might not keep warm in low subfreezing ranges).
The best waterproof bib-tights for serious cyclists
Rapha Core Winter Tight
Best value for money
Rapha is another legendary brand in the world of pro-cycling, the price tag of their products usually reflects that, but not in this case.
The Rapha Core Winter Tights are the cheapest cold-weather bib-tights in the company’s catalog, but still retain most of the features of their more expensive siblings at an affordable price point.
The fabric used for the back of the legs is a brushed nylon fleece, capable of keeping your muscles warm, while the bibs are made of lighter, stretchier material for comfort and perspiration flow.
The shoulder straps are wide and comfortable, and the added reflective stripes ensure high visibility on the road.
The padding is not the best Rapha has available, but still one of the most amazing on the market, Rapha knows how to keep your butt from sores.
Santic Compression Winter Cycling Bib Tights
Best cheap cycling bib-tights
If you are looking for some cool winter bib tights but don’t want your wallet to cry too loud, here is a great product for a very cheap price.
The materials are a usual blend, 85% Polyamide, 15% Spandex, with a highly elastic and friction-free mesh fabric on the back to fit all body types.
The cushion padding is not bad for this price, Italian materials, great breathability, and strong load-bearing capacity. While the 19cm-long lower leg zipper protects the ankle, and ensures easy wearing and taking off. The reflective strip seems visible enough to make you noticeable in the darkness.
These winter tights are capable of keeping you warm even in sub-freezing temperatures but they are definitely not mid-season pants, don’t wear them when is too warm outside.
The best cheap winter bib-tights for cycling
Castelli Polare 2 Cycling Bib Tight
Best for real cold-weather cycling
If you live in a really cold area or plan to cycle through Siberia in winter, the Castelli Polare needs to be your next bib-tights. These are some of the warmest cycling pants available, capable of keeping you comfortable way below the freezing point.
The Castelli Polare 2021, can fend off icy, biting wind gusts thanks to the Gore Windstopper X-Fast fabric, that is stretched across the front and wraps around the sides.
Across the back, Castelli uses its soft, fleecy Thermoflex Core2 fabric for a perfect mix of breathability and warmth.
The Polare 2 tights also feature Castelli’s high-quality KISS Air chamois, a really astounding pad capable of offering comfortable support without adding extra bulk.
The bibs are lightweight and minimal, with reflective accents across the legs to increase the rider’s visibility to other road users.
The best cycling bib-tights for cold temperatures (low 20sF/-6°C)
AERO|TECH|DESIGNS ATD Bib Tights
In between the cheap pants from Santic and the expensive ones from Castelli or Gore, sits these mid-range cycling winter tights by American brand Aerotech Design.
The usual mix of polyester and lycra fabric (88% Polyester/12% Lycra) is assisted by stretch fleece tights made of high-end Zirotek, a fabric engineered after (not from) the polar bear’s fur.
These cycling pants made in the USA can store the heat in the hollow core center to release it back to your body, their thermal insulating characteristics similar indeed to those of a polar bear fur.
The Aerotech ATD bib tights are comfortable and guarantee freedom of movement, the internal fabric is a brushed soft fleece that is pleasant on the skin.
The Black Pearl chamois pad is made from long-lasting open cell foam for anti-shock and anti-chafe comfort.
It lets the sweat and perspiration move away from the body, and its durable construction resists abrasion, gives a smooth feeling, and it’s wrinkle-free. It will not harden or soften with use. It’s not the densest pad ever but certainly ok.
The zippers are nice and work well in the ankle area. The legs are straight and are not contoured by the knee and the seam runs up the front and back and not on the side. These are somehow odd features for cycling tights but they work just fine.
The Aerotech Design ATD bib tights can keep you warm in the mid 20sF (-4°C), they are warm, comfortable, and hold up to crashes and trail work.
Best Cycling Waist Tights for Cold Weather
If you don’t like bib tights, and prefer the freedom of normal waist-height pants, we selected for you two great options.
Baleaf Woman/Man 4D Fleece Lined – NEW ENTRY 2021!
Best budget thermal cycling tights
BALEAF is a pretty interesting new entry in the sportswear industry, with an enormous catalog that’s probably among the biggest on the market when it comes to women – their shop is really worth a look ladies!
These winter cycling tights are available bot in man’s and ladies versions and are really great value for money.
The 4D gel padding is breathable and comfortable, but don’t expect the greatest chamois ever. The construction is good, and so is the fit, although the low waist can appeal to some but not to others.
The two deep side pockets and one back zipper pocket are very convenient, able to securely store items such as a 6.5″ mobile phone, or extra snacks.
Ideal for temperatures above freezing, but don’t trust them in sub-zero. As you could have expected from the price.
Great entry-level tights for those on a budget
Souke Sports Men’s Bicycle Pants 4D
Best Cheap Padded Road Bike Tights
The Souke Winter Cycling Tights are the best product on this list for those on a budget or for occasional riders who don’t want to invest a lot of money in professional cycling pants.
They are warm enough to keep your legs comfortable and dry in cool temperatures but for freezing weather, you might need an extra layer.
The material, 85% Nylon, and 15% Spandex, together with the 4D high impact perforated pad, add a good level of breathability.
The Souke Winter Cycling Tights comes in many different sizes, for a maximum height of 6′ 5” and 230 lb of weights without slipping out of position thanks to the wide elastic waistband.
Souke cycling pants feature a 360-degree reflective print to help visibility on the road and ankle zips to make it easier to wear them.
Best Cheap Padded Road Bike Tights
Pearl Izumi – Ride Elite Thermal Cycling Tights
Best cycling pants
From leading brand in professional cycling clothing Pearl Izumi, here’s a great pair of biking pants for those who are allergic to bib-tights.
This mid-weight waist-length tight utilize ELITE Thermal fabric for insulation and warmth, with just enough breathability to keep you comfortable and dry in cool temperatures.
The construction is a mix of 56% Nylon, 30% Polyester, 14% Elastane, just right from around 40-50F, to a few degrees below freezing.
The built-in ELITE 3D Chamois pad stands up to Pearl Izumi’s high standards, comfortable, durable, and breathable you don’t have to layer it over cycling shorts. The contoured leg opening provides additional coverage at top of the foot and features 360-degree reflectivity.
Best winter cycling tights overall
Przewalski 4D Cycling Tights
Best budget tights
Another cheap product if you’re on a budget and do not want bib-tights, our mention of honor for the best cheap waist-height cycling tights goes to Przewalski.
The two-layer construction consists of a stretchy external fabric and a fleece inner layer, making these tights pretty warm and capable of keeping you dry even for long-distance rides in the cold hearth of northern winters, more than warm enough to ride in temperatures as low as 25-30F.
The compression level is optimal and the chamois padding, also multi-layered, fit tight into all of the curves of the crotch area for an ergonomic fit.
How to choose the best winter cycling tights for your needs
Not all winters are the same, if you’re fortunate enough to live in the temperate zone and at low altitudes, you probably don’t need a fully insulated pair of tights.
Riders living in areas where the winters are unforgiving should go for a pair of tights featuring wind protection and maybe some water-resistance.
Bibs tights offer more coverage protection from splashes and wind sneaking in by eliminating any chances of exposed skin around your midsection. The downsides are the added layer of difficulty when suiting up, and make going to the loo quite a pain.
Luckily, many companies nowadays offer bibs with some sort of easy access for when nature calls.
The padding is also important, as we all got to know from personal experience. You could use a pair of cycling shorts underneath your tights or go for pants with built-in pads (we recommend the latter) There are two ways to wear a chamois with winter tights.
Buy a pair with a chamois already built-in, or layer non-chamois tights, like the 7Mesh Hollyburn, with your favorite pair of chamois shorts.
Layering increases your chances of chafing, but opting for a pair of tights without a chamois can save you some dough—the Pearl Izumi Elite Escape AmFib sans chamois costs $20 less than the padded version.
Don’t forget visibility, most cycling tights in this list have more than adequate reflective elements for you to stay visible in low light conditions.
What to consider before buying your next winter bike gloves
- Type of fabric. There are many waterproof fabrics, the best known is Gore-Tex. If you live in areas where winter is dry then you can opt for cheaper, but very warm, merino wool gloves.
- Touch screen. Some winter cycling gloves are equipped with touch screen technology that allows you to use your mobile phone or GPS without having to take off your gloves.
- Handlebar type. The winter gloves specifically for cycling have an ergonomic design on the padded part. These pads are placed in the area where the most pressure is exerted. Racing handlebar gloves may prove uncomfortable for a flat handlebar and vice versa.
- Average temperature. It seems obvious but it is not. The temperature during the winter varies, wearing gloves that are too heavy or too light could limit the use of the product to a few days a year. Pay attention to the guaranteed temperature or consider buying different gloves for the different phases of winter.
Do you really need bib tights?
Bib tights might look awkward, but they are really the best option when it comes to serious cycling, ever wondered why the pros only use bibs? They are the firmest and comfortable option, thanks to the high level of compression.