The Rider Adapts: That One Essential for Winter

Okay, when I say “winter,” keep in mind I am in Texas. It’s horridly windy and 34F outside as I write this (Thursday evening). I didn’t ride in such conditions, plus precautions for a hard freeze had already been taken at the barn so delivering apples to Eli after work was my primary task. I didn’t even bother changing out of work clothes. Yes, Midwesterners and Canadians, I am a total pussy when it comes to the cold. Whatever, it hurts my bones. And we don’t have many indoor arenas here. 

BUT, let’s say it’s a chilly day, or a downright brutally cold day. I bet you all have that one thing you reach for on days like that. Maybe it’s lined gloves, thick socks, fleece tights, or that perfect coat that’s super warm yet not at all bulky … we all ride in the elements and we know what we like. So, for me, the one thing that I immediately think of for cold weather riding is not even something from an equestrian brand, but it is from an activewear brand: the Under Armour Cold Gear Cozy 1/2 Zip. 

Whether you ride in 64F or 24F, this top is perfect. By itself or layered, it keeps me as warm as any wool cashmere sweater I’ve ever worn but  offers all the benefits of performance fabric. Sweat is not an issue, nor is heat loss. The Under Armour top also wins out in one key category for me where other tops literally fall short — length. Both the body length and arm length of this top make it essential for tall people, or not so tall people with long arms and torsos, like me. (I really have orangutan arms and get stuck putting away everything that goes on any top shelf anywhere, like the kitchen or the work break room.) The arm length is especially helpful to me because the top also features thumbholes. How very 90s? So what, works great on cold days under my riding gloves!  I am a product of 90s alternateen angst, and thumbholes work for me.

It was probably in the 50s??

The Cozy Cold Gear 1/2 Zip supposedly retails around $60, but I don’t think I paid more than $45 for either of the two I have. I’d snap up a 3rd at that price if I find any on sale after Christmas. 

Ultimately, this is a sporty and utilitarian top for cool weather riding. I would recommend it in a second, although I am sure y’all have lots of other winter riding favorites from both non-equestrian and equestrian brands. What do you wear to stay warm in the saddle? 

26 thoughts on “The Rider Adapts: That One Essential for Winter

  1. Being a Texas gal, I have the same problems. Well, all except the height…I am not tall. I really like the Patagonia long underwear/performance tops. I have 3 different ones for different cold intensities. Patagonia is expensive, but I have had them for years and since I live down here, will prolly have them for many more years. I got them for college because they have ‘real’ winters up there. Real for Texas lol. Vests are my real go to for all winter. They are the perfect thing to me. Keeps your core warm, but not too warm. You still have the mobility. I also have a wool riding skirt…impulse purchase, but I love it. I mostly stare at it since it is rarely if ever that cold.
    Summer time I wear fishing shirts practically 24/7 (both the ones with vents and the ‘high tech’ newer materials. Protection from the sun and keeps you cool. Simms and Columbia are my faves.

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  2. Love UnderArmour! Great stuff. Here in the northeast it gets considerably colder and wetter, and the last few years I have been wearing Kerrits Sit Tight N Warm winter breeches almost daily to the barn. They are like wearing a soft-shell jacket on your legs, and the full seat is SUPER sticky – great for cold, slippery saddles! They definitely make winter a little easier for me!

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  3. Let’s see, yesterday I had on: long johns, breeches, Toasty Soles inserts in my boots, a merino wool sweater, a puffy vest, my long Kerrit’s jacket, and thinsulate gloves. I have no idea what all these northerners do when it’s actually below freezing, because all those clothes were just adequate for 38 degrees. I love the thermal tops from Old Navy (especially when they’re on sale for $5) for layering, but they’re more for normal Texas cold, not REALLY Texas cold.

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  4. This sounds like a great shirt! I will have to check it out and grab one on sale if I can find it.
    Lately I’ve been refusing to make the switch to my winter breeches but I think that ship has sailed now. Good thing they’re so comfy. My typical winter riding outfit consists of: A light underlayer, often one of my summer weight sun shirts for wicking, a cozy fleece-lined quarter zip, and a puffer vest, with fleece lined breeches (like the commenter above, I love my Kerrits! I have their Powerstretch Tights and they’re so comfy), with my favorite FITS ski socks, insulated paddock boots, half chaps, fleece lined leather gloves, a scarf, and a hat. And my dorky helmet cover that wraps my neck and lower part of my face in snuggly fleece. Looks absurd, but makes cold rides 1000% more bearable. On really cold days in midwinter I will add my Carhartt overalls and a huge Outback coat over the top. Usually I take those off for the actual riding part since they’re so bulky.

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  5. My current barn wardrobe is: fleece tights, jeans, long sleeved tshirt, Nobel Outfitters cowl hoodie (WITH THUMB HOLES YASSS), giant poofy carhart coat and the cold weather insulated muck boots with one pair of socks. I stay pretty warm in this get up when not in the wind. The muck boots are the best thing ever because my feet never get cold, even in just one pair of socks.

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  6. Hmm… I like I the Kerrits Ice Fil shirts for summer, and in the winter, I’m still kind of searching. I live in Idaho and have decided I HATE the cold. So, I change it up a lot. I did purchase a fuzzy Horseware vest that I really love. I wear it a lot. And wash it not enough….

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  7. I think I’ll be doing some after Christmas shopping for sure. I can’t say that the windy cold days keep me out of the saddle… But I live in New England so 34* isn’t that bad… And when there’s an indoor involved I’ve definitely ridden -4*. Talk about layers! It’s not too bad if you’re used to it though!

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  8. Canadian weighing in here: I have quite a bit of UnderArmour and I like how well it goes under clothes. A wind stop feature is critical as well. This hat is critical for me: https://www.marks.com/en/categories/workwear/accessories/headwear/facemasks/product/power-stretch-skull-cap-32045.html#32045%5Bcolor%5D=BLACK. It fits under my helmet and keeps my head and ears warm.
    These tights that fit easily under breeches are so very toasty: https://www.marks.com/en/categories/womens/accessories/view-all/product/t-max-tights-29578.html#29578%5Bcolor%5D=BLACK

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  9. I want this.
    I have a couple fleece 1/4 zips that I like to layer over sun shirts and if it’s really cold (like 50s) I will throw on a puffy vest as well. I am a cold-weather weenie, I’m not ashamed. I live in San Diego, it should not be cold. Ever.

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