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  1. #1
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    Touring in COLD weather- questions abut gear!

    Hi there-Im getting ready to leave for a 3 week tour from British Columbia to Baja California in two weeks.

    This is my second touring ride- but first one in cold weather.

    Being from San Diego there is little offered here as far as warm weather gear. I know I need a cap, shoe covers, a bib, a top and gloves. (to keep WARM and DRY)

    There is SUCH a big range of prices for these items- my budget is minimal to say the least- (the ride is a fundraiser for a nonprofit).

    My question is - will the lower end of these items keep me warm or dry?

    Or where can I buy used items of these- I'll literally only use them a week or two and never again.

    Or -are there riders out there with extra of these items that I can purchase?

    Help, advice and direction appreciated!
    Jacq

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    Gear Combo Guru Chris_W's Avatar
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    Check out the MEC store in Vancouver when you arrive - they have lots of decent quality bike clothing for very fair prices. I doubt you'll find anyone selling used bike clothing. A lot of cold weather gear doesn't need to be so cycling-specific as hot weather gear would be, so keep your mind open to any options you can find.

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Hit a Value Village (or other Op or Thrift shop) and look for merino wool and other wool.

    Go to Dollar Stores to look for headband, toques, gloves, mitts, etc.

    Go to Walmart to find thick wool socks.

    Go to MEC, REI, Target etc. and look for polypro or merino wool tops and tights.

    The one thing I wouldn't skimp on is a good quality rain jacket. Again, you can find such things at MEC.


    You are starting from BC in 3 weeks time, right ... it shouldn't be so very cold then. 3 weeks puts you well into February, and that's spring there. Daily highs should be around +10 or even +15C by then. You wouldn't need a toque or mitts for those temps, but the overnight lows might still be a bit chilly and if you're camping it can be nice to have some warm stuff to wear around camp.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jacquesvw View Post
    Hi there-Im getting ready to leave for a 3 week tour from British Columbia to Baja California in two weeks.

    This is my second touring ride- but first one in cold weather.

    Being from San Diego there is little offered here as far as warm weather gear. I know I need a cap, shoe covers, a bib, a top and gloves. (to keep WARM and DRY)

    There is SUCH a big range of prices for these items- my budget is minimal to say the least- (the ride is a fundraiser for a nonprofit).

    My question is - will the lower end of these items keep me warm or dry?

    Or where can I buy used items of these- I'll literally only use them a week or two and never again.

    Or -are there riders out there with extra of these items that I can purchase?

    Help, advice and direction appreciated!
    Jacq
    Welcome to the forum. Fellow native San Diegan here.

    I don't want to derail the thread or get it bogged down in a debate, but...

    While I'd echo our friend Machka's sage advice about buying gear, particularly in second-hand shops, I urge you to get your woolen socks anywhere other than Walmart. They're not the only ones who sell them, after all.

    Hope you have a lovely tour.

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  5. #5
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    i got Polar fleece stuff from Good will ..
    ive got some medium Patagonia capaline base layer stuff im to fat for. grown out to Lg to sell..

    ive used that stuff in my March 1st start Irish tour..


    you will probably , like I , live in your rain gear, most of the time..

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    You can also find the same good wool socks in places like Superstore or Sears .. but chances are you'll pay a bit less for them at Walmart.

    Get Kodiak socks, but check them because some Kodiak don't contain wool, some are cotton ... go with the ones that have 30% or 40% or more wool in them ... the big thick ones that come right up to your knees. They're the best for cold weather. I use them with a thin polypro layer underneath.

    That combination, with shoes that are slightly large, of course, and toe covers are good to about 0C, although probably not for more than a couple hours of riding. They'd be good to about 5C for a longer ride.

    Use booties instead of toe covers (which you can get at MEC), and you'll be at least somewhat protected from the rain and your feet will be warmer for longer.


    I'm assuming you'll be starting in the Vancouver area ... if that's the case you will want as much rain gear as you can get your hands on: booties, helmet cover, rain mitts, jacket, rain pants ...

  7. #7
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Hit a Value Village (or other Op or Thrift shop) and look for merino wool and other wool.

    Go to Dollar Stores to look for headband, toques, gloves, mitts, etc.

    Go to Walmart to find thick wool socks.

    Go to MEC, REI, Target etc. and look for polypro or merino wool tops and tights.

    The one thing I wouldn't skimp on is a good quality rain jacket. Again, you can find such things at MEC.


    You are starting from BC in 3 weeks time, right ... it shouldn't be so very cold then. 3 weeks puts you well into February, and that's spring there. Daily highs should be around +10 or even +15C by then. You wouldn't need a toque or mitts for those temps, but the overnight lows might still be a bit chilly and if you're camping it can be nice to have some warm stuff to wear around camp.
    Sorry, but Machka is way off base here.

    I used to tour year round in the Pacific Northwest. Despite Machka's tropical forecast,
    February in the PNW is NOT spring, and you likely will want to wear a hat and gloves for much of your riding. If you're riding thru Seattle, there are used gear stores in which to buy used outdoor gear, very close to the route thru from BC to points south.

    I would suspect Vancouver has a used gear store, Seattle definitely does. there's a play it again sports right across the street from the flagship REI in Seattle. There's a VERY good used gear store about a mile from the bike route N/S thru seattle in Ballard called Second Ascent. it would be worth a ride to Ballard as you can get thru downtown Seattle in a most relaxed manner crossing the locks and taking the shorefront bike path from Ballard.....

    Find a used gear store if you want bike specific stuff. If you are on a budget, the thrift stores around Seattle, Bellingham, Everett are often stocked with very good outdoor gear in the PNW, due to its' unique combination of population, recreation, and affluence.

    not that you need that much, anyway. A warm sweater, a midlayer, some fleece leggings for camp, windshell top and bottom, a waterproof layer, a warm hat, gloves, warm socks, base layers, and you'd be good to go.

    One item I find INVALUABLE for touring in all seasons, and especially winter touring, is a windproof hat.

    I would spend time finding would be a windproof, thin beanie to wear under your helmet. Not that expensive, available from Mountain Hardware, OR, and the like, or Nashbar even. WINDPROOF beanie.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 01-22-13 at 04:51 AM.

  8. #8
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Dry = warm. Suggest you make a point of bringing duplicates for your extremities - socks, glove liners and balaclava or helmet liner. Those areas are the most problematic, and you can dry things out at a laundramat at any pit stop. In the meantime, in cold wet weather, the last thing YOU want to be is cold and wet.

  9. #9
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    I'd also make a strong suggestion to buy a tarp to use as a shelter for campsite time, if you're camping out. another INVALUABLE piece of off-season touring gear a rider really shouldn't do without. A 5' x 8' is sufficient, a 8' by 10' ample for a picnic table and bike parked underneath.

    This is a photo from a winter tour on the Olympic Peninsula on a bike from a few years ago. Wet and stormy and dark by 6.

    raintarp.jpg

    and here's another one from an off season tour in Washington state -wet and cold. Tarp over the picnic table makes a big difference in tolerating inclement weather IMO.

    rainycamotarp.jpg

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    It's been +10 in lower mainland BC this week ... nowhere near tropical of course (you'd have to come to Australia right now for that ) but definitely spring-like conditions compared with the Canadian prairies.

    As I mentioned, rain gear should be your main emphasis.

  11. #11
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    yes, and when it's 10 above Celsius during the day, suggestions a person (from San Diego, mind you) bike touring wouldn't need a warm hat are out to lunch in the icehouse.

    when it's 10C/50F, riding with a warm hat under a helmet or a hood is almost mandatory, especially on inclement days. a rider simply won't ride comfortably on their bike in february on a trip down the west coast without a warm hat.

    It would be right there with suggestions to not bring a stove on a winter tour - in the rubbish bin.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 01-22-13 at 06:27 AM.

  12. #12
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    yes, and when it's 10 above Celsius during the day, suggestions a person (from San Diego, mind you) bike touring wouldn't need a warm hat are out to lunch in the icehouse.

    when it's 10C/50F, riding with a warm hat under a helmet or a hood is almost mandatory, especially on inclement days. a rider simply won't ride comfortably on their bike in february on a trip down the west coast without a warm hat.

    It would be right there with suggestions to not bring a stove on a winter tour - in the rubbish bin.
    I said ... if you read very, very carefully ... that he probably would not need a toque or mitts. But I would suggest a headband, helmet cover, and gloves (full-fingered). That's what I was using when I was riding in lower mainland BC around Christmas.

    A toque, however, could be too warm. A person could overheat. Especially since within a few days he could be far enough south that he wouldn't need it. It's not like he's spending 3 weeks in the Pacific Northwest ... he'll be in Baja 3 weeks after he starts.


    jacquesvw, just to clarify, the type of headband I'm talking about is fleece and will cover your forehead, ears, and back of your head/neck. It's also quite small and compact so it won't take up much space in your panniers. You can get them for about $1 in a Canadian dollar store, which fits in with your budget nicely, and you could keep it to wear on those odd occasions when San Diego gets chilly, like it did recently. You may want to get a neck gaiter to go along with it, but a high collared rain jacket might do the trick as well.

    Of course, whether you will want to go with a toque or not might depend on how much hair you have. Personally, I don't like the things and much prefer headbands, but some people really like toques. And as I said in my first post, "the overnight lows might still be a bit chilly and if you're camping it can be nice to have some warm stuff to wear around camp." Once you're on the road, if you discover you might like a toque, you can pop into a Walmart or Dollar store to pick one up for a dollar or two.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Salvation Army/Goodwill for cheap used clothes. Keep your core warm, waist to top of head, and the rest will follow after 30 min of pedaling. You'll start shedding. Layers are good. Staying dry in persistant rain, now that's the challenge while riding. Wet from rain, wet from sweat. Pick one.

    Plastic grocery sacks, doubled, over shoes 'bout as good as anything for sort of keeping them dry and your feet warm. I mean for temporary use like you're talking about. Not for the PNW commuter or style concious. Can't beat the price.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member Ekdog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    I'd also make a strong suggestion to buy a tarp to use as a shelter for campsite time, if you're camping out. another INVALUABLE piece of off-season touring gear a rider really shouldn't do without. A 5' x 8' is sufficient, a 8' by 10' ample for a picnic table and bike parked underneath.

    This is a photo from a winter tour on the Olympic Peninsula on a bike from a few years ago. Wet and stormy and dark by 6.

    raintarp.jpg

    and here's another one from an off season tour in Washington state -wet and cold. Tarp over the picnic table makes a big difference in tolerating inclement weather IMO.

    rainycamotarp.jpg
    What kind of knots do you use to set up your tarp?

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    Stupid time of year to do this tour, you will be cold wet and suffer the entire time. Campgrounds may be closed. Days are short.

    Rethink.
    ...

  16. #16
    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I said ... if you read very, very carefully ... that he probably would not need a toque or mitts. But I would suggest a headband, helmet cover, and gloves (full-fingered). That's what I was using when I was riding in lower mainland BC around Christmas.

    A toque, however, could be too warm. A person could overheat. Especially since within a few days he could be far enough south that he wouldn't need it. It's not like he's spending 3 weeks in the Pacific Northwest ... he'll be in Baja 3 weeks after he starts.


    jacquesvw, just to clarify, the type of headband I'm talking about is fleece and will cover your forehead, ears, and back of your head/neck. It's also quite small and compact so it won't take up much space in your panniers. You can get them for about $1 in a Canadian dollar store, which fits in with your budget nicely, and you could keep it to wear on those odd occasions when San Diego gets chilly, like it did recently. You may want to get a neck gaiter to go along with it, but a high collared rain jacket might do the trick as well.

    Of course, whether you will want to go with a toque or not might depend on how much hair you have. Personally, I don't like the things and much prefer headbands, but some people really like toques. And as I said in my first post, "the overnight lows might still be a bit chilly and if you're camping it can be nice to have some warm stuff to wear around camp." Once you're on the road, if you discover you might like a toque, you can pop into a Walmart or Dollar store to pick one up for a dollar or two.
    Gotta agree. Even in the dead of winter at -30C I wear at most a thin fleece balaclave or an ultra-thin polyester/elasthan one. And in rainy weather gloves are whatever, inside Goretex mitten shells. The biggest issue I have to deal with is perspiration - same as for downhill skiing, and the most effective method is to change out whats in contact with the skin at the extremities. I also have non-cycling specific Goretex shells with full hoods large enough to go over a bicycle helmet. None of this is cold weather specific - its all wet weather specific. Its how you layer that makes the difference.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    I'd also make a strong suggestion to buy a tarp to use as a shelter for campsite time, if you're camping out. another INVALUABLE piece of off-season touring gear a rider really shouldn't do without. A 5' x 8' is sufficient, a 8' by 10' ample for a picnic table and bike parked underneath.
    +1. Twice I rode from Seattle up to the NT and then over to Glacier N.P. starting in late May. Many rainy days. My 5'x8' tarp was very useful.

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Stupid time of year to do this tour, you will be cold wet and suffer the entire time. Campgrounds may be closed. Days are short.

    Rethink.
    LOL Foresight takes more experience than hindsight!

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    I toured in Norway at 10C, heavy rain. I'm used to riding in these conditions and I never wear a hat, only my helmet, which, being cheap, is "poorly ventilated". I suspect that if you are wearing a high end, heavily vented helmet you would need a beanie or something. I carry a woolly hat for evening camp wear.
    Bibs may be nice to wear but a PITA to use at toilet stops. I don't see the need for them, I wear heavy duty leggings over shorts and tuck my base and midlayers into the leggings. Also, padded bibs need to be washed after every ride. Drying the extra material in damp conditions is problematic. Getting shorts dry is hard enough.
    +1 on warm woollen socks and lots of them.
    A foam sitting mat in invaluable in damp conditions. I cut up an old sleeping map.
    A small area of ultralight tarp is good, even as a vestibule extension.
    Hiking style base layers are better than cycling ones for cold-weather touring. The rear pocket fetish of cycle jerseys makes them bunch up at the rear.
    Take a windproof and a waterproof top. Use them separately or together for extra versatility.

  20. #20
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Always best to error on having too much warm clothing then not enough. And don't take average temps into consideration, take record low temps into consideration unless you are getting an immediate forecast. And Machka mentioned 10-15C... But the worst case of hypothermia in a marathon happened in 10C weather in the UK where several people died of hypothermia during the race. And if you are planning to go over mountain passes or inland from the coast, that will have to factor into the equation (massive snow and colder temps, by a lot) And as was pointed out, staying dry is the critical thing, above all else.

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    I used Hostels in Ireland, when it stormed, .. Pac Coast, being Few, here,
    plan to use Motels , many nights.

    Camp when you want to/must stop, at dusk between indoor overnights.. to dry out..
    NB: 6th month is 'Junuary',

    "Summer" starts on the 5th of July.

  22. #22
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpsblake View Post
    Always best to error on having too much warm clothing then not enough. And don't take average temps into consideration, take record low temps into consideration unless you are getting an immediate forecast. And Machka mentioned 10-15C... But the worst case of hypothermia in a marathon happened in 10C weather in the UK where several people died of hypothermia during the race. And if you are planning to go over mountain passes or inland from the coast, that will have to factor into the equation (massive snow and colder temps, by a lot) And as was pointed out, staying dry is the critical thing, above all else.
    Which is why Machka also mentioned (a couple times) having warm things to wear after the ride. While you're riding, it's usually not too bad. You can maintain warmth by pedalling. But when you get off the bicycle, you've got to change into warm, dry clothes immediately (and that is where stuff like toque and mitts might come in handy).

    I would imagine the route the OP is planning to take will follow the coast ... to Olympia, across to Astoria and down ... so there shouldn't be any big mountain passes or massive amounts of snow. The climate down to California should be relatively moderate ... wet, but moderate. But you never know ... San Diego has had some unusually cold temps recently.


    We also don't know if the OP is planning to camp. He could be planning to use hotels or B&Bs along the way, and that would be a good idea at least until he gets into California. As valygrl mentions, campgrounds will be closed, and bush camping doesn't provide hot showers.

  23. #23
    Banned. Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    Which is why Machka also mentioned (a couple times) having warm things to wear after the ride. While you're riding, it's usually not too bad. You can maintain warmth by pedalling. But when you get off the bicycle, you've got to change into warm, dry clothes immediately (and that is where stuff like toque and mitts might come in handy).

    I would imagine the route the OP is planning to take will follow the coast ... to Olympia, across to Astoria and down ... so there shouldn't be any big mountain passes or massive amounts of snow. The climate down to California should be relatively moderate ... wet, but moderate. But you never know ... San Diego has had some unusually cold temps recently.


    We also don't know if the OP is planning to camp. He could be planning to use hotels or B&Bs along the way, and that would be a good idea at least until he gets into California. As valygrl mentions, campgrounds will be closed, and bush camping doesn't provide hot showers.
    just make no mistake, February's not spring riding on the West Coast, and a warm hat isn't an optional 'might need' item for a person choosing to live on a bike on the west coast in February - It can be cold camping in the hills outside San Francisco in June, fer crissakes. One Easter I rode Seattle to Portland to hang out for a week, and it snowed.

    I guess, a warm hat would be optional if the person wasn't thinking this bike touring stuff thru, or listened to pollyannic suggestions about equipment choices over the internet.

    At least, it will be easy for the rider to fine tune their rig as they ride south. there are good thrift stores en route to points south starting in Canada. The thrift stores will still have out warm hats to sell to, you know, people living outside on their bikes in the wintertime.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 01-22-13 at 11:52 PM.

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    Certified Bike Brat Burton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    just make no mistake, February's not spring riding on the West Coast, and a warm hat isn't an optional 'might need' item for a person choosing to live on a bike on the west coast in February - It can be cold camping in the hills outside San Francisco in June, fer crissakes. One Easter I rode Seattle to Portland to hang out for a week, and it snowed.

    I guess, a warm hat would be optional if the person wasn't thinking this bike touring stuff thru, or listened to pollyannic suggestions about equipment choices over the internet.

    At least, it will be easy for the rider to fine tune their rig as they ride south. there are good thrift stores en route to points south starting in Canada. The thrift stores will still have out warm hats to sell to, you know, people living outside on their bikes in the wintertime.
    The OP has stated they'll be leaving on an organized three week fundraiser ride for a nonprofit organization. There has been no mention of camping or questions about tents or cooking equipment. I'm not sure where you got the info that this was an unsupported tour and that the riders would be responsible for their own food and accomodations. It might be - but it wasn't posted as such - care to share your inside info?

  25. #25
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Burton View Post
    The OP has stated they'll be leaving on an organized three week fundraiser ride for a nonprofit organization. There has been no mention of camping or questions about tents or cooking equipment. I'm not sure where you got the info that this was an unsupported tour and that the riders would be responsible for their own food and accomodations. It might be - but it wasn't posted as such - care to share your inside info?
    +1

    And the OP is hardly "living outside on his bicycle in the wintertime".

    We're still waiting for the OP to clarify the situation, but the way I read it is that on about Feb 6th, the OP will be starting an organised charity ride (probably from about the Vancouver area) ... and 3 weeks later the OP will be in Baja, which, if I'm not mistaken, is south of San Diego ... and by the end of February should be relatively warm.

    Vancouver to San Diego is about 2200 km. 2200 km in 3 weeks is a little over 100 km/day.

    If the OP is setting off from Vancouver, in 1 week's time, the OP could be a little past the Eugene area. Another day or two and the OP could be in northern California ... a few more days, San Francisco.

    The OP could very well be using hotels (not every cycletourist camps). For all we know, he could be staying in 5-star accommodation. And yes, if the OP figures he needs something, there are shops along the way.

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