I’ve done some fairly exhaustive winter gear reviews in the past, so that’s not what this one will be. Instead, it’ll be a short list of things that I continue to absolutely love and a few new things that are part of my routine.
just how cold has it been?
We’ve had a viciously cold year so far this year, and all of my winter riding gear has gotten a thorough re-test. Many days, it’s been too cold to ride (I’m looking at you, two straight weeks below zero). But on the good days, I have been pretty darn happy with what I’m wearing.
2018 has so far been the year of Back on Track.
For Tristan, a saddle pad and hock boots.
For me, glove liners (which I’ve had for a little while, but only this year have I successfully integrated them into my glove rotation, underneath these knit gloves) and leggings (which I really just wear 24/7 sometimes. no shame).
I’m happiest with the saddle pad, by far. It has made an (anecdotally) huge difference in his warmup. He stretches down faster, loosens his back faster, and is overall more pleasant. I’ll do more detailed review in the future, but I think adding it in during winter especially has helped a lot.
2018 has also been the year of vests.
Two from the rotation; I have two more now.
I know it’s not exactly original to be an equestrian who is obsessed with wearing vests, but it never really hit me until this year. Now it’s like some kind of Biblical revelation. They’re kind of fashionable? They keep my core warm? I can embroider them with the barn logo? YES PLEASE.
Last but not least, the newest gloves to the lineup. I have a gloves thing. For years, I just did not love any gloves on the market. Now, as you can see, I have a Noble Outfitters Perfect Fit glove thing. From left to right up there are summer/mesh gloves, regular gloves, and the newest additions on the far right, the 3 Season Gloves.
These really are 3 seasons: they’re not good below 25F or so. BUT, they fill an essential ecological niche in that 25-40 range, and damn if they don’t fit me just as well as the regular ones! I can sometimes get them down to 20F, too, if I keep my hands really warm before putting them on, and I’m riding inside. (The trick to gloves in the winter is not to expect them to warm your hands up. Your hands have to be at least not-numb before going into the gloves; there are no gloves in the world that can help you once your hands are icey and numb.)
Finally, two standbys that I’m using obsessively. First, my custom quarter sheet.
I use it every day. Still love it. Yes, it gets staticky sometimes, but I am blessed with a horse who could not care less. He makes a grumpy face at me, sighs, and gets over it.
Finally, the true MVPs of the winter gear lineup.
Ariat Bromonts, the old style. Riding in the winter would not be physically possible without these wonderful things, which are going 9 years strong. The suede has rubbed down to leather on the inside, the velcro needs to be stitched back down, but they are still waterproof, windproof, and when paired with some decent insulating socks, I can wear them in any weather. I have comfortably hacked out in single digits in these. When (if?) they finally go, I’m going to give them a Viking funeral and probably cry. Okay, definitely cry. A lot.
Do you have any new gear this winter that’s really working for you?