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The Right Stuff

The Right Stuff

Cold Weather Gear for Women

Living in Ontario can leave a girl in the cold, but if you're looking for affordable, stylish, and practical options to stay cozy, read on.



Many motorcyclists will agree that one of the greatest pleasures of riding a motorcycle is the sensation of being a part of the landscape and experiencing the environment with all your primitive senses. You know when you’re passing a body of water even if you don’t see it because of that slight drop in temperature. You smell changes in the air and in a second can touch down on the ground beneath you. Being immersed in your surroundings can be a wonderful thing, but come on, no one would happily choose to be wet, cold, and tired because you’re wet and cold. Fending the cold off for half the year is our fate, and with such a short riding season in Ontario, we often start up the bikes when snow mounds still dominate parking lot landscapes and ride well past Thanksgiving. My mission as a girl who shops at Winners and keeps fleece in some shape or form nearby year-round, was to find cold-weather gear that offered quality and style at an affordable price.

Two years in a row I stupidly suffered through the frigid and waterlogged early spring and needling chill of late fall.[Why spend $150 (before tax) on a pair of gloves when you could buy a new dress and a pair of sandals and then celebrate that with a bottle of wine! With more and more women joining the ranks of the two-wheeled, you’d think well-made, modern, and bachelor apartment-priced options would abound, but as I searched and searched, I began to think swaddling myself in a few Snuggies and garbage bags wasn’t such a bad option. I could wear multiple layers and two scarves, but if my hands weren’t working, the bike wasn’t going anywhere, so after suffering through one final spring, I finally purchased an $80 (on sale) pair of plainly-styled leather gloves with Thinsulate lining and knuckle protection.

My journey to these gloves is a long and well-storied affair. Shop after shop, hours spent browsing online, my then boyfriend and now husband can attest to it all. In the past, I bought gloves after a few seconds of pulling them on and off because they looked nice and were a good price. HUGE mistake. I had fallen prey to that clean-cut hair and crisp suit without even asking what they did for a living and refused to make that mistake again. I realized that the teeniest bit of discomfort (like that niggling seam at the tip of the pinky finger) can turn into a hostage situation after an hour or two on the road. It’ll also land your acquisition in the darkest corner of your closet beside that pink wig from last Halloween. Lesson learned: try it on for more than ten seconds or wear it around the house for half an hour or more to get a true feel.

There are plenty of in-store options for those who live in the city but for those who live north of Parry Sound where things start to thin out, stores like Carlson Sports and Mid City Motorsports offer a healthy selection of cold-weather options.

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Wendy Gasparetto from Mid City Motorsports in Sudbury is an advocate of the Victory line of women’s gear in addition to the stash of regularly stocked Polaris and aftermarket products like the Gerber electric jackets, vests, and socks which are unisex but also come in women’s sizes. The Victory line offers a women’s tour jacket that boasts a slew of attributes like waterproof, windproof, breathable, removable fleece liner, shoulder and elbow protectors (sold separately), and removable storm collar to keep out the draft. When purchased with the matching pants, you get what they call the “ultimate performance” package. It comes in at $640 for the set, so if you’re looking for bang for your buck, the extremities are where you want to focus. As Wendy says, “once your hands and feet are cold, the rest of you freezes.” Wendy’s been riding for about 20 years and one of her favourite things to keep warm is an under the helmet balaclava. "I'm a real nut on eyewear too," she says. “When you have proper fit and air doesn’t get through, it makes a big difference . . . choose ones that have a foam seal and are anti-fog,” she advises.

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Off of Lake Nipissing in North Bay, Tania Madigan from Carlson Sports tells me that many of her staff actually have three sets of gear to deal with our changing seasons. That form-fitting, non-lined jacket you bought for summer to look cute while riding to the ice cream shop just won’t do when it’s 12 degrees outside and your liver starts to freeze over. As Tania says, “nylon mesh jackets are not warm on cold, wet nights.” With 5800 total square feet of showroom and 20% of it dedicated to cold weather gear you’ll be sure to find plenty to try on and choose from. They also carry aftermarket cold weather gear by Kimpex, Motovan, Parts Canada, Gamma, Joe Rocket, and Alpinestars. In addition to these brands, they carry the Yamaha Divas line of cold weather clothing specifically for women, so if you’re looking for some sleek base layers to go with those foot warmers, you’ll be in luck. Both stores also offer online or call-in ordering and front-door delivery.

So, back to our wardrobe options. If you have a smaller budget, start with focusing on the extremities. For your core, investing in a 3-season jacket like the ones produced by Klim, Olympia, and Scott among other brands is also a great way to take care of Mother Nature’s mood swings in one fell swoop. All said, I think the most useful advice I can give is to make triply sure the garment fits well and to look out for sales on last season’s products. Finding the perfect item for you and your wallet isn’t a waste of time. In the long run, your warm toes and nose will thank you, and you can sit back and enjoy it all with that great bottle of wine.  

 

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