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Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

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Old 12-16-05, 07:59 PM   #1
Hezz
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Anyone willing to try a new upper body insulation approach

Hey guys,

I have this idea that I would like to try out for the upper body insulation in really cold weather but I don't have all of the stuff yet to try it.

I will explain what the idea is. I have read other's and I myself have a problem with getting chilled after about 15 - 20 minutes on the bike from the sweat that is suppose to be wicking away. Admittedly, because of the good wicking that I am getting the moisture builds up at the shell boundry and then acts to cool everything. It is something that I can live with but it is somewhat uncomfortable.

Here's my idea: Forget with trying to wick the perspiration and contain the warm moist air at the skin level using a wetsuit top as the first layer. No wicking layers are used but a neoprene wet suit top directly next to the skin. THen whatever insulation layer seems right for the conditions and then the shell or jacket.

Here is an example of an O'neil wet suit top for a reasonable amount of money.

I have used this approach with feet and it works very well and I would like to hear if anyone out there would be willing to try this and what thier experience is.
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Old 12-16-05, 08:34 PM   #2
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I suggest to try using wool as your insulation layer. It can absorb 40% of its weight in water before feeling damp.

I sweat like a cart-horse, but I use wool sweaters as my insulating layer and have had no problems with the cold.

I don't know anything about a wetsuit. I don't have such a thing available to me. If you've got one, it can't hurt much to try it, but if you don't, it will be a heck of a lot more economical to pick up a wool sweater from the thrift shop and put it over your base-layer top.
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Old 12-17-05, 03:08 AM   #3
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Umm - couldn't you test it? Or do you live somewhere where it doesn't get cold?
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Old 12-17-05, 04:19 AM   #4
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If your outer layer is acting as a vapour barrier then it is the wrong layer. Are you using a waterproof in cold/dry? Try using a non waterproof windbreaker layer.
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Old 12-17-05, 08:29 AM   #5
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try lighter layers
Like MW said, it sounds as if you're trapping the moisture in one of your layers or maybe your layers are too thick.

I ride in cold weather (MN cold) for 3-4 hours at a shot weekly and get by just fine with regular stuff and stay comfortable. You just need to experiment and see what works best.

PS - I would not try that idea, it may end up working fine but it sounds like a bad idea to me.
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Old 12-17-05, 10:46 AM   #6
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i recently tried a waterproof windbreaker on a cold dry ride & found that since the jacket didnt allow my sweat to evaporate at all, my body stayed warm but all my sweat ran down my arms & totally filled and soaked my gloves. that made for some very very cold and uncomfortable hands. im thinking the wet suit would do the same thing.
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Old 12-17-05, 03:11 PM   #7
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So you're going to buy this stuff for somebody and have them test it?
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Old 12-17-05, 06:30 PM   #8
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I just don't have any extra funds right now to try this but I thought that someone might already have a wetsuit top that they use for windsurfing or diving or other water sports.

The fit is too tight to allow pirsperation too run down anywhere. These things are designed to let in very little water even when fully submerged.

I had been using a waterproof but breathable shell but I think that it hasn't been breathing enough. Today I wore a snowboarding jacket which is lightly insulated. Over one lightweight thermal long sleeve wicking shirt and a polyester long sleeve turtle neck. The combination is the best I have used yet. It was 27 degree F and I stayed warm and dryer than usual. I think my previous shell was not breathing enough. THis snowboard jacket is rated as being water resistant. If only I could find a lightly insulated cycling jacket.
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Old 12-17-05, 06:46 PM   #9
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This sounds like a terrible idea. Seems to me that you're going to risk all kinds of unpleasant skin disease from stewing in your own sweat for hours on end. Ick!
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Old 12-19-05, 10:27 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by brokenrobot
This sounds like a terrible idea. Seems to me that you're going to risk all kinds of unpleasant skin disease from stewing in your own sweat for hours on end. Ick!


"stewing in your own sweat for hours on end"

yuck!
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Old 12-19-05, 10:42 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hezz
... and then the shell or jacket.
There's your mistake right there, Hezz. Unless it's raining (which isn't happening in extreme cold) you don't need a shell. All it does is trap the moisture no matter how "breathable" it's supposed to be.
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Old 12-19-05, 10:46 PM   #12
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You're going to lose a lot of weight and friends quickly.
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Old 12-19-05, 11:31 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by richardmasoner
There's your mistake right there, Hezz. Unless it's raining (which isn't happening in extreme cold) you don't need a shell. All it does is trap the moisture no matter how "breathable" it's supposed to be.
I agree with richard. I do not ride in the cold+rain, only in the cold, and none of my layers are completely windproof. I am a tad chilly at first, but within the first 10 minutes of riding my heat starts kicking up.

The lack of windproofing takes care of removing the moisture from my body. I am partial to wicking, mesh -you name it - layer for every 15 degrees starting from 70.


55 degrees - 2 layers - wicking
40 degrees - 3 layers - 2 wicking - 1 fleece (light) :/
25 degrees - 4 layers - 2 wicking - 1 insulating (regular thermal undies) - 1 fleece (non wind stopping)
10 degrees - 5 layers - 2 wicking - 1 insulating (regular thermal undies) - 1 fleece (non wind stopping) - 1 fleece (heavy)
-5 degrees - 6 layers - 2 wicking - 1 insulating (capilene thermal undies) - 1 fleece (non wind stopping) - 1 fleece (heavy)

Colder than that would be - 1 insulating (capilene thermal undies) - 1 fleece (non wind stopping) - ski jacket - lots of courage - ski gloves - 500 weight balaclava - thermal longs + fleece lined spandex - + ski balaclava - ski goggles - ski helmet - flat pedals - columbia snow boots - wool hiking socks - my nephew making fun of me and taking pictures - my cats running away from me

but under no cirscumstances would be any neoprene involved; that is for water.
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Old 12-20-05, 12:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by huhenio
...clip...

but under no cirscumstances would be any neoprene involved; that is for water.

Good advice huhenio. Neoprene traps a very small amount of water, lets your body warm it up, while in water. Water can get very cold but, it's not freezing. If it's freezing, it's ice, and you aren't in the ice. Well, ok, you might be able to swim in ice, but, I can't. Point here is: air can get below the temperature at which ice freezes (esp at windchill temps), thus, the logic applied to neoprene in water doesn't apply in air.

Nice try though. I use neoprene booties to keep water out of my shoes, and as an extra special bonus, it acts as a wind-breaker and heat-trapper. If my shoes didn't fit so tight, I'd prefer gortex socks+ a thin wool layer for my feet in the winter. Waterproof and windproof and oooo so warm.
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Old 12-20-05, 08:48 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by As You Like It
I suggest to try using wool as your insulation layer. It can absorb 40% of its weight in water before feeling damp.

I sweat like a cart-horse, but I use wool sweaters as my insulating layer and have had no problems with the cold.
Wow... Seems I rarely sweat in the Winter.
My "full" core layering is:
Under Armour Mock longsleeved Cold Gear
Moisture wick Sweatshirt
Marmott (fleeced lined) nylon shell
Performance illumiNITE Cycling Jacket (water-resistant Teflon-coated poly microfiber)

Everything is pretty tight on me, I have been out in -20 (F) {@ -29 (C) 'eh?** and stayed nice and toasty. No Sweatin' though. I am a big guy, 225 lbs 6'4" Riding hard these days with the Knobby Studs on! I luv a gooooooood workout! Like your page Burley!
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Old 12-27-05, 09:45 PM   #16
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OK guys, I can see that most of you would not want to try this but some of you are being nuerotic about sweat. Now if your commuting to work or cannot take a shower immeadiately after or are going for more than two hours, OK I see the point.

Since I have posted I have found a better solution but it does not follow the conventional wisdom that is usually given.

Also I must state that I have to have total or nearly total wind block when it gets significantly below freezing. I have tried the semi-wind block approach and it only works for me above say fourty degrees F.

Also, when I have too many layers on I feel so heavy that riding is no longer fun.

It turns out that the best approach for me is to use only two thinnish wicking layers and then use a lightly insulated nylon jacket. Thinsulate works well. The jacket is damp when I get back but I don't get cold. My thinking is that because with the conventional approach the last layer is typically a wind shell only with no insulation. When the body vapour gets close to this non insulated boundry it chills very fast and because it is so cold it doesn't evaporate very well.

The thin insulation combined with the outer shell allows a wider airspace around the body and is warmer and allows the sweat to slowly dissipate through it's layers in a more predictable manner. It is very important that all of the jacket is breathable. Waterproof breathable fabrics don't work as well and frankly if it's below freezing waterproof shells are not necessary.

As regards the wind stopping outer layer. I see the point about not having one but I have not found highly breathable fabrics that are both thin and warm. So you end up having to put on too many layers to cut the wind chill.

I used to wear two polar fleece pullovers when working outside and I liked the freedom of movement that they offered and they kept me very warm but I have not tried that in a high wind chill situation. I will give it a try on the bike and see how it works without the wind breaker. I can always carry that along in the pack.

Last edited by Hezz; 12-27-05 at 10:03 PM.
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Old 12-28-05, 02:41 PM   #17
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I tried once riding in a 3mm wetsuit with wind shell jacket and pants over it. I did get soaked inside the suit, but I stayed comfortably warm. What did cause a problem was the sweat running down into my gloves and especially into my socks and shoes. My feet absolutely froze. If you were to wear only a wetsuit top, then you would likely soak your pants and end up with a very cold crotch and butt, or even farther down onto your thighs. It seems like a good idea at first, but the leaking sweat can turn out to be a major problem.
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Old 12-28-05, 03:22 PM   #18
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Don't use the neoprene-- my experience--just with neoprene booties is that my feet sweat a lot--then when I stop, they cool down and they get really cold and hard to warm up. If you need a windproof barrier, get a Gore Windproof fabric jacket (not gore-tex per se, but it's made by the same people and it is 'thicker').

You can always stuff newspaper in your shirt (like they do at 'Le Tour')
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Old 12-29-05, 07:59 AM   #19
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The most important factor with an outer shell is good ventilation. I have a Louis Garneau jacket that is windproof/waterproof and wear it when temps are below 10C or about 45F, with more stuff underneath the colder it gets. This jacket has big pit zips, adjustable cuffs (they can make a surprising difference in how much your arms sweat) and a big vent in the back of the jacket. The back vent is the key, I have thinner jackets without a back vent that are not nearly as comfortable.
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Old 12-30-05, 10:59 AM   #20
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I used to wear neoprene gloves and after about a month the fungus build-up made the stench on my hands unbearable. The smell wouldn't go away all day. Even after washing them routinely the problem just got worse. Moral of the story? Screw neoprene, man.
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