Winter (sorry I said the word) riding attire

Ok, after a very long break to have children, I am looking to take the plunge and start riding again a couple of times a week. I live in Ontario (Canada) and so riding in the cold weather is a fact of life. Back in my younger years of riding, my feet/hands would get very cold while grooming/tacking up to the point of it being pretty painful. Once I get working, and thaw out then I tend to sweat and get warm which means I freeze again when I am done. Looking for suggestions on how to better regulate my body temp to avoid this cycle, preferably without looking like a Michelin man. What have you found as far as layering, or can’t live without clothing items have helped you.

Considering the hot & humid weather we’ve been suffering for months, hearing the “W” word doesn’t scare me.
By January, that will change :persevere:

For layering, I find polarfleece is my friend.
Light enough to move around, warm enough so I need just a cotton t-neck underneath.
For gloves I get the stretchy ones from Dollar Tree that come with a fingerless pair layered on top.
A friend gifted me a synthetic cap meant for Hunters (camo print) that is also lightweight & warm w/o making my head sweat.
She gave me gloves of the same fabric, but I prefer my cheap ones.
Sweats layered over thermal long johns keep me comfortable for barn chores.
Boots are the TSC kids Winter ones - waterproof foot, over-the-ankle height, lined with synthetic fleece.
For around $20 they last 2 or 3yrs.
If I wasn’t so cheap, I might spend the $100+ for Muck brand or Bogs.

Layers. I like the grid tech one-sided fleece long underwear from Mark’s. Then fleece winter Breeches, Kerrits and Horze make nice ones. Then wool sweater or a fleece hoody. Down vest. Knee length down parka for the barn. Insulated paddock boots with wool socks.

Keep your head covered. Put on a toque when you take off your helmet.

The important thing is to keep moving and not stand around to get chilled. You will need to experiment how many layers you need to ride on and if you need to shed them during ride. Make sure your horse is OK with taking off your jacket onboard.

Footwear depends on barn conditiins, if you have mud or snow or its pretty clear.

Bring a big thermos of hot tea, and hand warmers if you need them.

The nice thing about being an adult is you can run out and buy exactly the gear you want and fine tune it. As a kid, it’s harder to source stuff and you’re more reliant on parents.


For New England winters:

t-shirt under a 1/4 zip polar fleece sweater, and a winter jacket. Depending on temp, a very light “puffer” jacket, or my Mountain Horse winter jacket (this one is so warm, I usually have to take it off once I start really working my horse).

Kerrits fleece-lined or WindPro breeches.

Fleece head band to cover my ears under the helmet.

1/2 size too big insulated, waterproof paddock boots (or waterproof hiking boots) with a thick pair of wool socks or 2 thinner pairs, but wool.

Cold hands are my nemesis in winter. I have Raynaud’s and when it’s really, really cold I still end up with frozen fingers at some point, but what works best is a silk glove liner under my regular riding gloves.
I tried the SSG 10 below but they don’t work for me, I end up with sweating fingers which freeze. And they are too bulky to ride in anyway.
I like the fleece-lined SSGs the best, for riding.

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I got a pair of the Roeckl winter gloves this year and was very impressed with them; usually I hate winter riding gloves because they’re too thick and bulky. These look like normal gloves and had such a thin lining of fleece I was skeptical they’d do much, but I loved wearing them. A bit on the pricey side, but well worth it IMO.

As for footwear, I think the best first step is wool socks. They do a good job of insulating but also wicking sweat so you don’t get that hot/cold cycle.

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Lots of layers. I put hot hands in my gloves, I wear the heritage winter ones that have a zip pocket that holds them. Kerrits windpro fleece lined tights are great for keeping the cold at bay, horZe makes fleece lined winter ones as well. I bought a balaclava that is designed to fit under a riding helmet (cannot remember the brand ATM). I can’t stand cold ears! I wear insulated riding boots and sometimes put toast toes in them, but it’s not really necessary. I also ride in my winter coat. It’s designed for riding and doesn’t bunch up or get in the way of the saddle. It also doesn’t restrict movement.

Make sure to stick to wicking fabrics! Absolutely zero cotton. As someone else said, it’s great to be an adult and be able to buy and try what you want. It took me probably 2 - 3 winters to get my perfect winter outfit down and I couldn’t be happier to ride in the winter.

Rule of thumb is 3 layers (base layer, mid layer, outer layer). I wear 4 because I run extremely cold.

  • Base layer #1 is always a Under Armour gold gear turtleneck unless it’s very mild when I will wear a sun shirt or similar wicking fabric shirt.
  • Base layer #2 is a merino wool quarter zip of any brand. If it’s extremely cold I wear an Under Armour Base 4.0 shirt here.
  • Mid layer is a full zip so it can come off if needed. This can be a jacket or vest.
  • Outer layer is your coat, waterproof if needed.

I don’t wear winter breeches because I find I don’t need them. I have a few different weights of long underwear, the warmest being Under Armour 4.0. Those things are amazing. I don’t wear them unless it’s very very cold. If I wear both top and bottom of that set together I very easily get hot, I might wear them together once a winter when it’s 15F.


Wanted to add:
Lightweight but Oh, So Warm!
I have a 30yo coat that was DH’s & this may be its last Winter :tired_face:
Smartpak used to sell a Thinsulate blanket under their own label.
I wish they still did.
Bought for my pony & long ago given away when he outgrew it, I miss it to this day.

layers with natural fabrics like merino wool or silk, always take off a layer before you get sweaty…
because I hate the cold but live in Manitoba with -40 being common I have heated glove liners and a heated jacket

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I love, love, love my Ororo heated vest. I get cold very easily and have a hard time warming back up. The external heat source does a great job at keeping me warm.

The negative is that the battery doesn’t last very long if you have it on medium or high. It’s also a bit big and bulky. And it takes a long time to recharge. I see that Ororo now has a smaller size battery that I may spring for.

I actually just bought my second one. I had purchased a down one when they were still pretty new and got a small, which ended up being too big actually as you want the vest to be close to your skin and then layer on top if you need it. I then decided I wanted another battery and decided just to get another vest as the price differential wasn’t great. I got one of the fleece ones in an XS and it’s the right size for me. I see myself this winter using the fleece one for riding and keeping the down one for use in the house.

(I work at home most of the time and get chilled sitting at my desk all day. Wearing my heated vest on low all day is great!)


Thank you so much for this explicit list! I was thinking of something along these lines, and really appreciate the tips!

I found some winter Bogs on for a pretty good price. About $60 I think.

Last winter I bought two rechargeable handwarmers. We didn’t have a very harsh winter, so I didn’t need them as much as expected, but when I did use them, they worked well. What I did was turn them on when I was leaving the house, so they would be warm when I got to the barn 10-15 minutes later. Stick them in the toes of my riding boots with a riding glove on top of each one. Then go about grooming, tacking and whatever, and come back to warmed boots and gloves (I wear thicker gloves when not riding, some down-filled Horze ones are really warm).

For other, I have a TurtleFur thing that is like a Buff that I can wear scrunched up like a headband, or on my neck, or as a balaclava under my helmet to keep my neck and ears warm. Really handy since I can just move it around depending on how cold it is and whether I have a helmet on or not.

I wear a longer coat around the barn to keep my legs warm, and then have a shorter shell that I can ride in if I end up outside in a cold wind. If I’m riding in the indoor, by the time it’s cold enough to need more than an UnderArmour shirt and light vest, IMO it’s too cold to work the horses anyway.

On bottom, I just have some footless, seamless winter tights that I buy and TJMaxx and wear under my regular breeches. Have yet to find winter breeches that I actually like, but I have thought about buying chaps.

Perfected over years of riding in the early AM or evening in NJ winters as a person who runs very, very cold and hates to feel cold…

-Thermal long underwear, top and leggings as a base layer - I get anything cheap that isn’t cotton
-Fleece-lined breeches (I like Kerrits) and mid-weight fleece 1/4 zip or full zip over that
-Thin puffer jacket… PLUS I wear a long parka over it to tack up
-Roeckl Polartec gloves
-Thin polar fleece headband to cover my ears
-Ariat insulated, waterproof tall boots & good wool socks. You might want to size up 1/2 size in the boot to accomodate a thick sock and a heating pack
-Hot Hands for pockets & stuffed into my boots - look for the insole-type ones for your boots

Lots of layers and ventilation is key - I also get quite hot while riding and am freezing while tacking up, so I dress to be comfy tacking up and then shed layers once I’m on the horse and warmed up.

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The Brooke Parka. I absolutely love it. It’s the warmest coat I’ve ever owned.

Thanks for the silk liners tip, I too suffer with Raynauds and haven’t found a great solution! Im generally ok if I’m moving in temps above 20-25F, anything lower or with a major wind chill and its a quicker trip to the barn! I dont have an indoor so its trails or outdoor ring if the ground is decent enough.

I second everything @Scribbler said, I do pretty much the same deal and its works pretty good, especially the long coat which I will ride trails in too. Hot tea is a MUST!

A word of caution on these, I bought a pair of Ovation Winter Highlander boots on sale at Dover for like $60. They aren’t that great for cold cold temps; anything above 30’s with good socks is ok but I wasn’t terribly impressed with them. I have a pair of Winter Ariat Terrain boots that do the trick with the colder days better. Im also considering a pair of the Mountain Horse winter breeches for this winter that are heavier duty and waterproof. I had a pair as a kid and they were great, esp with the shorter boots.

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To continue the echo chamber–layers.

I actually use a lot of my winter running gear as a base layer. Fleece lined shirts and running tights are fantastic base layers.
Wool (my favorite brand is Smartwool) socks.
Winter paddock boots (I use Ariat). These were a game changer for me not having extremely painful feet after a ride.
Snow boots. I use these pretty much all winter in the barn and they keep my toes cozy when I’m on the ground doing chores. I admit they aren’t super stylish.
I use a biking helmet liner hat (just bought via Amazon).
I use the cheap, knit gloves from WalMart/Dollar General/Etc. The kind you can buy in a pack of 10. They don’t last super long, but are surprisingly warm for still being able to actually use my hands. Can even layer them together or with my riding gloves.

Vests and polar fleece pullovers are great layering options as it gets colder. I find vests good for actually riding as I get ventilation but my core stays warm.

I do own a pair of the snow pants style riding pants that go on over your breeches. Never actually used them for riding but they are AMAZING for things like sitting at a clinic in the winter where you get a deep chill. And look more professional than my coveralls.

I do have a long, trainer’s style coat as well. I only use it when it’s really really cold, but like the added heat that it gives my legs while mounted (or on the ground for that matter).


I second the vest recommendation. They do come in quite handy for riding on a cold day.

I am resurrecting this thread as the last two winters I was fairly miserable. I have lived in NYC for going on 20 years, but have only been back in horses for 3. I spent the other 17 years huddled inside with heating and blankets.

Having spent two winters miserable, I must say I did have a better winter last year with Uniqlo’s HeatTech base-layers, which barnmates recommended… and especially love the whisper thin tights I can wear under breeches, but am wearing the heattech in November and already fearing January/February!

I do adore my Roekl winter gloves. Not perfect, but keep my hands from freezing once I am working.

This year, I have invested in multiple pairs of wool (primarily, Bombas) socks and am considering those neoprene toe warmers I heard about here. I hope that helps, but am looking for other tips.

I got a pair of semi custom winter boots out of Europe but measured wrong so I have never used those. Just those that I use year round. And my toes suffer. Need to list the ill fitted semi-customs on eBay. Oof.

Am on the hunt for a good jacket (lost mine). Any reccos there? Riding-purposed jackets are so pricey… but am considering the LeMieux one that is long with the faux fur collar. Spendy, but looks practical and likely to get me through the low teens. Thoughts?

I live much further south but I do love my Milwaukee heated vest.

Also my Irideon Wind Pro full seats. They’re sold as breeches but they are pull-ons, no zipper. Nice thick fabric and they do block the wind.

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My heated vest was a game changer. I can change the temp or turn it off easily while riding so I can keep it cranking when walking around and turn it off before the real work starts. I’m amazed that by keeping my core warm the rest of my body is good. I do still have winter breeches and roeckle winter gloves but I don’t have to worry as much about socks/boots or upper body layers. Now if the battery isn’t fully charged it’s a really really sad day lol