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  1. #1
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    Winter commuting jacket - chicago

    It's going to start to get cold soon here in chicago. Already has been a bit chilly on some nights.

    I don't have a jacket suitable for riding a bike. So looking for some options.

    I really need something to block that cold wind. Under it I can layer up on hoodies, fleeces, etc.

    I was thinking some type of gore tex soft shell. But those are extremely expensive. If anyone can point me to some kind of soft shell, gore tex or not, that would be awesome.

    Was also looking at the gore tex pac lites, which seem to be more reasonably priced. Here are a few...

    http://www.backcountry.com/marmot-mi...SID=G234234234

    http://www.backcountry.com/outdoor-r...SID=G234234234

    Not sure if I am heading down the wrong path with those.

    Also someone had recommended this one..

    http://www.rei.com/product/794207

    Thanks for your help, would love to hear from people around the midwest near the lakes, chicago, milwaukee, detroit, etc.

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Those jackets are overkill. Des Moines has very similar winters to yours, so I'll tell you that I use an unlined shell.... no hood. Under that shell, I'll probably have a sweater and a base layer. That seems to be it. I ride down to about 0F and at the coldest temps, I might add a second baselayer or second light sweater.

    However, I do wear a balaclava, face mask (a good scarf might be sufficient), two pairs wools socks and my legs have two layers at least.

  3. #3
    Senior Member buffalo_cody's Avatar
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    I'm in Buffalo, and last winter I just ended up using my rain coat (lower end, unlined, Columbia) as my winter jacket, usually layered with a t-shirt, thermal, and wool sweater. It worked great, and I'll probably do the same this year. The base layers, and sweater kept me warm, and the jacket was enough to keep the wind/snow out.

  4. #4
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gerv View Post
    Those jackets are overkill. Des Moines has very similar winters to yours, so I'll tell you that I use an unlined shell.... no hood. Under that shell, I'll probably have a sweater and a base layer. That seems to be it. I ride down to about 0F and at the coldest temps, I might add a second baselayer or second light sweater.

    However, I do wear a balaclava, face mask (a good scarf might be sufficient), two pairs wools socks and my legs have two layers at least.
    +1

    The job of the outer layer is to keep the wind out. Any number of inexpensive shells can do that.

  5. #5
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    Can you give me some examples?

    Something like this?

    http://outlet.altrec.com/columbia/me...lPageAlsoWantA

    I really can't tell the material, but looks almost stretchy and soft.

    Or are you guys talking about like a scratchy windbreaker type material?

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ziemas's Avatar
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    Lou at Foxwear makes an incredible wind blocking soft shell, for an extremely good price. Plus, all his goods are custom made, so you get exactly what you want. I've been extremely happy with all my Foxwear items.

    Give Lou a call and discuss what you need. He's got a lot of different materials that aren't on his website.

    http://www.foxwear.net/index.html

  7. #7
    Senior Member buffalo_cody's Avatar
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    I used something like this.

  8. #8
    Seņor Wences jwbnyc's Avatar
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    Not cheap but very effective at dissipating sweat which is your #1 enemy in cold weather. It also does a good job of keeping moisture out:



    http://www.endura.co.uk/Product.aspx...22&prod_id=354

    I use the previous iteration of this jacket with a wool base layer and light wool vest over a long sleeve Jersey, usually a Pearl Izumi Yukon Light, for milder winter temps. When it gets seriously cold I'll use a Craft Windstopper jacket under the shell.

    If you are warm blooded the above might be too much.

    It doesn't help to pile on too much insulation when it gets cold. You end up sweating like a pig. Not good.

  9. #9
    Seņor Wences jwbnyc's Avatar
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    This one looks okay for the money:



    http://www.rei.com/product/786903

    The reviews are informative too.

  10. #10
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    Ok thanks. Going to visit REI tomorrow and see what they have.

  11. #11
    xtrajack xtrajack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buffalo_cody View Post
    I'm in Buffalo, and last winter I just ended up using my rain coat (lower end, unlined, Columbia) as my winter jacket, usually layered with a t-shirt, thermal, and wool sweater. It worked great, and I'll probably do the same this year. The base layers, and sweater kept me warm, and the jacket was enough to keep the wind/snow out.
    All the above: except, substitute J&G rain jacket, for lower end, unlined,Columbia jacket.
    2008 Kona Fire Mountain/Xtracycle
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  12. #12
    on by skijor's Avatar
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    Agreed, no hoods.
    I don't bother with a full windbreaking layer until it gets down to the low-40's. A mid-weight sweatshirt + a wind vest is sufficient right now. Anything more and I'm sweating. BTW, I'm ~1 hour north of Milwaukee right along L. Mich. Get something with reflective piping and/or logos too, if you'll be commuting during low/no light conditions.
    This one converts from vest to full windbreaker:

  13. #13
    Senior Member no motor?'s Avatar
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    I'm in Chicago, and I wear a windblocking vest over 2 baselayers until it gets down to about freezing. A balaclava is a great addition too. If I were going to get a jacket, I'd get one like this with removable sleeves.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    +1

    The job of the outer layer is to keep the wind out. Any number of inexpensive shells can do that.
    ...which ones? My comfort level in sub-freezing weather improved dramatically when I switched from a cycling jacket that appeared to have a windproof front to an "event" rain jacket (not cheap though). It's totally possible the previous jacket I had was just crappy, just asking.

  15. #15
    Senior Member envane's Avatar
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    I use a cycling-specfic softshell I got on clearance at the REI in Lincoln Park (last year). Haven't had to use it yet this fall.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Seattle Forrest's Avatar
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    Any soft shell will be too warm for cycling, unless you're only planning to go down hill.
    Don't believe everything you think.

  17. #17
    Single-serving poster electrik's Avatar
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    Popular and cheap jacket.

    For rain? i dunno.. with a dwr wind jacket like that it's fine, but important tip - you need to brush the snow off you before it melts.

  18. #18
    I wanna go fast!!!!!!!!! ebrake's Avatar
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    http://www.mountainhardwear.com/Wind...efault,pd.html



    For the past 2 winters I have used an older version of this mountain hardwear jacket^^^ 90% of the time. Under it I put a light under-armor like base layer, with either a regular shirt or a light sweater as insulation. This type of jacket is nice because while water resistant and damn near wind proof it still breathes and lets moisture out. I also always keep a cheapo REI windbreaker with a hood that I can throw on if the weather turns nasty. My only gripe with this jacket is that the cuffs have no Velcro, major pain sometimes. Make sure your new jacket has cuff closure!!

    Other set ups that I have used dependent on temperature and type of ride: windbreaker with base and insulation layers underneath, and vest with a base layer and a Northface insulation layer fleece pullover.

    For everything but training rides I usually use/carry ski goggles, clear glasses, lightweight helmet balaclava, extra hat(or bandanna, depending on what is on my head when i leave house) , neoprene half face mask, base layer under pants, extra pair of socks, extra pair of either lighter weight or heavier weight gloves than what I am wearing when I leave.

    This winter I will be changing up my base layer top to a Forcefield Action Shirt that has CE rated soft armor in the shoulders, elbows and chest. I have been having some shoulder issues; surgery 7 weeks ago and then a hard fall on said shoulder a couple days ago. doooohhhhh. I figure since I'm piling on clothes for winter one layer might as well be armored so I can protect my investment in my shoulder. Plus I can use it for skiing this winter as well, and motorcycles when I get around to buying one.

  19. #19
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    I seem to be in the minority, but I don't use a windbreaker unless it's really cold. If I don't have some airflow, I get sweaty -- a breathable jacket can let the sweat out, but it doesn't stop me from overheating in the first place.

    These days, I usually wear a light cotton track jacket as my outer layer (it's a bit thinner than your average sweatshirt, full zipper, no hood). It partly cuts the wind, but lets enough through the keep me comfortable. I'll wear that over a wool base layer down to at least the low teens (Fahrenheit).

    When it gets into the single digits, I'll put on a windbreaker with a light base layer underneath, but I do tend to get sweaty at that point. Temps that cold are uncommon here (Boston), usually just a few days each winter -- I'm not sure how bad Chicago gets.

  20. #20
    Come here often? <wink> exile's Avatar
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    Only for the coldest weather will I wear a softshell. I mostly use a windbreaker I got from a discount store. I do layer my clothing, but the amount depends on the temperature that day.
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  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziemas View Post
    Lou at Foxwear makes an incredible wind blocking soft shell, for an extremely good price. Plus, all his goods are custom made, so you get exactly what you want. I've been extremely happy with all my Foxwear items.

    Give Lou a call and discuss what you need. He's got a lot of different materials that aren't on his website.

    http://www.foxwear.net/index.html
    +1000 I am a VERY happy customer of Lou's creations. They cost a lot less than what is in the local store, AND it is made to your exact requirments. Lou will take the time to find out how a normal size fits (do you have problems with sleeves being too long, to short, etc). Where else can you get custom made clothing. It doesn't look as flashy as the fancy brand name stuff, but it works! I have the E-Vap coat and that plus a T-**** is all I wear down into the low teens. Once I get into the single digits I'll add a thin shell. I can use the coat all the way up into the low 40's. The highly venting, but wind resistant fleece is fantastic. I also had a pair of his Powder Shield Pants made for me. Those are amazing. No more cold legs. They also work fin down into the teens. For temps down to the mid 30's I have a light set of tights I wear, but from the mid 30's down to 0 I wear the Powder Shield tights. What is truly shocking is that he'll send you the stuff and then asks you to send him a check. Lou is a class act who knows what his is doing and actually providers personal attention to a customer. That is rare find in today's world.

    Happy riding,
    André

  22. #22
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Neon Lime Parka with wide reflective bands, La Crosse Brand, Has a Back vent, but as its a worker's coat.
    they put the zipper vent across the back to tie into a safety harness, worn under the coat.
    but it works to let excess heat out of , while cycling..

  23. #23
    pedalphile
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    If you are pressing at all when you ride, you'll want plenty of ventilation. I think a fleece or two provides this. I start my commute in a windproof shell when it gets below 30, but, that's because a good chunk of my first 2 miles are downhill. As soon as I hit the flats/uphills, the shell is off or at least unzipped before I become a sweaty mess.

    You definitely have more wind than I, but, not much in the way of hills. I think you should experiment with varying layers of fleece. Make sure the outer most is zippered and not a pullover so you have some temp control. As for big $$$$$ waterproof stuff, no thanks. When it's real cold and wet, I wear a different outter garment. It's called a '91 accord.

  24. #24
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    I'm in southern Michigan, so exactly the same weather. I use a waterproof/breathable rain jacket from J&G cyclewear (www.bicycleclothing.com), and put various layers of clothing on underneath it. I have not yet found the conditions that this was not suitable for, though so far I've only cycled down to -25*F.

    BTW, Meijer has some blaze orange thinsulate hunting gloves that they put on sale in October/November every year (deer hunting season). They cost like $5 or $10 (depending on whether they're on clearance or not) and they're extremely warm and weatherproof. They're actually too warm lots of the time but I use them when the weather drops below 0*F. Above that I use either Kohl's waterproof/windproof/breathable gloves (0*F up to about 25*F) or just some fleece gloves (25 up to perhaps 40*F). Above 40 I just use half finger gloves like the rest of the summer.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  25. #25
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    Thanks all. Keep them coming if you can

    I'm totally down with that Lou guy, but the only problem is I am very picky with clothing. I like looser clothing, plus with something like this will need it loose enough to be able to layer under it. Need to try it on before I buy it. Some brands don't feel right no matter what size I try out. I do want to try him out though, what I will probably do is find something that fits me well and then send him the measurements.

    Didn't get a chance to get to REI today. It's supposed to be nice, but rainy this week. Maybe later in the week or on the weekend.

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