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  1. #1
    500 Watts kill.cactus's Avatar
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    Preferred base layer (wicking layer)

    I'm in Michigan, so pretty soon I'm going to be an icebiker (yay!). I'm pretty up to dressing in layers, but the base layer that needs to wick sweat that I generate - I'm confused. I mean Polypro. is supposed to wick sweat away from your skin, yes, but don't you also use it when exercising when it is hot? I suppose that when protected from the wind by other layers, it allows you to stay dry and thus warm though... is this correct?


    Most importantly, though, which brand/material do you guys prefer? Anyone use underarmour? (the summer variety)

    Thanks!

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    Wicking is good no matter the weather. Riding in a soggy shirt is no fun, riding in a soggy shirt that's freezing cold is less fun.

  3. #3
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    In Colorado I was car-free through 4 winters with a 6 mile ride to work. One or two layers of polypro (all there was back then) with wool over it to serve as a moisture sink and an outer wind shell. At work the wool tights and Jerseys would dry out for the return trip. I never found a windshell, Goretex or otherwise, that could pass water vapor fast enough. In sub-zero weather some areas of wool would start to freeze. It has been twenty years so something has to be better by now. www.foxwear.net has some interesting stuff custom made no less.
    This space open

  4. #4
    Tail End Charlie Ritehsedad's Avatar
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    Last winter when it was in the 30's or lower I would wear 2 polyester shirts (long & short sleeve) & wool sweater under a nylon windbreaker. Below 20 I added a fleece vest. That worked down to 0 degrees.
    Why isn't 11 pronounced onety one?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kill.cactus
    Polypro. is supposed to wick sweat away from your skin, yes, but don't you also use it when exercising when it is hot?
    Most importantly, though, which brand/material do you guys prefer? Anyone use underarmour? (the summer variety)
    You hit the nail on the head. armour all is great for heat...But I tried the under armour as a base layer on my (then) 9mile inbound route to work. Even @40F (not that cold), as soon as I go into a decent, the wind would just chill that wicked sweat. Adding layers made things worse.

    For starters, you'll probably need (new or used):

    * a long sleeve thin wool undershirt
    * 1 medium wt or light wt wool zip down or button down sweater
    * 1-3 pairs of thin wool socks
    * thin wool cap
    * soft shell or wind breaker style jacket
    * emergency bail out plan if you get too cold or if the weather 'turns'

  6. #6
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    A base layer has one purpose.
    Get sweat off your body, and push it thru to the other side where it is spread out so it can evaporate fast, or push it thru so and spread it out so it can be picked up by the next layer your wearing.

    Thats it. Thats its only purpose. A base layer does not need any any thermal properties at all in order to be a good base layer.

    A secondary trait thats often looked for is 'next to skin comfort'. Wool base layers shine here, since even if they dont work the best at the main purpose of wickign sweat away, they feel great even when their soggy with sweat !

    Very best fabric I have found so far is silkweight Polartech Power Dry. Nothing I have seen matches this stuff in its ability to pull sweat off you, spread it out, and get rid of it. Its disadvantage is it doesnt have the nice snug fit of undermor, nor as much money in marketing and fasion appeal.
    Underarmour works so so, but as vrkelley mentions above, if your not wearing a windproof, your gonna freeze on the downhills.

    http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_d...=1157268349335

    Best advice on a base layer, silkweight powerdry. (look for the ones with silver thread added for anti bacterial, ie no smell)
    best advice on a mid layer, wool.
    Best advice on an outer layer, a softshell made with no membrane.

    G'luck
    Jarery

    -If you cant see it from space, its not a real hill
    -If two bikes are going in the same direction, ITS A RACE!

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    thin silk undershirt. really thin like a nylon stocking. super tough, won't rip, warm warm warm...get at llbean

    then wool on top of that


    silk and wool do not build up a funk...no need for techno fabrics

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarery
    A base layer has one purpose.

    Best advice on an outer layer, a softshell made with no membrane.

    G'luck
    Jarery, when you say "no membrane", what does that mean?

  9. #9
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vrkelley
    Jarery, when you say "no membrane", what does that mean?
    Some of the softshell materials have a membrane, like a sheet of expanded plastic (similar to a waterproof jackets expanded ptfe), as a layer. Then they put fleece or something on the inside, and a tough wearing layer on the outside. Polartech's Windstopper material is one example thats popular.

    The reason I say to stay away from a membrane sytem softshell is the same reason people dont like waterproofs, they dont breath enough for aerobic activities. More and more softshells are being made with bi component weaves. Where the fabrics themselves and how tight they are sewn block the wind and moisture. For us cyclists, these work a LOT better. They are usually referd to as stretch woven materials. My favorite is schoeller dryskin. (mec's ferrata is made from this, or ibex climawool is a version of this also)

    The non membrane ones always rate at the very top end of any breathability test, and the membrane ones rate at the bottom.

    Edit : i've not tried silk base layer myself. I definatly need to try it this winter
    Jarery

    -If you cant see it from space, its not a real hill
    -If two bikes are going in the same direction, ITS A RACE!

  10. #10
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    Because I tend to bike long and hard, the silk layer left me pretty chilly on the decents. Wool with a schoeller dry skin shell seemed to work the best.

    Oddly, what worked the previous year, doesn't seem to work the next year. Part of that is due to our winters (sometimes, snowy, other times rainy, other times clear, dry and cold).

  11. #11
    Senior Member euroford's Avatar
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    base layer:

    patagonia lightweight capalene top and bottom, smartwool liner socks

    insulation layer:

    nothing, midweight or heavyweight patagonia capalene top and bottom, midweight or expedition weight capalene socks. mountain hardware andonista or phillips head hat, sometimes a thin balaclava.

    softshell layer:

    rei mystral pants or arcteryx gamma mx pants, the north face apex softshell jacket

    gloves:

    black diamond powerstretch, black diamond drytool or some big fat black diamond mittins

    rain protection:

    marmot precip pants and jacket

    severe rain protection:

    mountain hardware beryllium park, precip pants and black diamond frontpoint gaitors

    added insulation while standing around:

    mountain hardware sub zero (just pulled over top of everything else)



    this basic strategy has served me without fail for years, from inspections on chicago skyscrapers, mountain biking in michigan, commuting in chicago, snowmobileing in wisconsin and the up, ice climbing north of lake superior and in the colorado rockies, mountaineering on mount ranier and bigwall climbing the diamond on longs peak in colorado.

    climbers depend on their clothing systems for survival, and take this stuff seriously. i find this getup to be comfortable, versitile, lightweight and bombproof.


    also expensive

  12. #12
    Senior Member Jarery's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by euroford
    patagonia lightweight capalene top and bottom
    My second favorite base layer, good choice
    Jarery

    -If you cant see it from space, its not a real hill
    -If two bikes are going in the same direction, ITS A RACE!

  13. #13
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    I live not far from you.
    Not much experience in biking in the cold here, but I have been hunting as far north as the Central Yukon in February and let me tell you, that gets cold.
    I plan on wearing this as my base layer this winter as I am now going car-free.
    Thermal Shirt
    Thermal Pants
    The pants have a raised seat and the shirt has longer arms and a drop tail which makes them perfect for cycling. I'm sure that these, plus the rain gear I got from bicycleclothing.com as an outer shell will be perfect up until mid November. Then I'll add a layer of wool.

  14. #14
    Senior Member euroford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jarery
    My second favorite base layer, good choice
    i doubt there is much of a real performance diffrence between the two. but patagonia stuff tends to be very high quality. in having met the infamous coonyard and knowing about the company's philisophy i tend to feel good about giving them my money.

  15. #15
    Senior Member
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    I just picked up some Merino wool sweaters from Costco for $20. I'll give them a try this winter as a mid or perhaps base layer.
    Craig

  16. #16
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    wool.
    ibex.

  17. #17
    Senior Member nick burns's Avatar
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    Long sleeve Smartwool shirt. Bought two a few years ago for about $40 each. Now they only seem to have a zipper front style for almost twice that. Hopefully I can get another season or two out of them before I need to seek a replacement.

  18. #18
    Senior Member jschatz's Avatar
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    Target has a great line of sweat wicking shirts for about $10 each. I think they're made by Champion. They are 100% polyester, are a tight smooth mesh and transfer moisture very well. Use these as your base layer with light weight Polartec as the next (add another Polartec jacket over this if it's really cold) and a Gore-tex type shell as the outer layer. I've used this combination cycling, XC skiing, running and winter fly fishing for years and it is bullet broof.

    FYI: Synthetic fleece is far superior to wool in my experience.

  19. #19
    littlecircles bmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jschatz
    FYI: Synthetic fleece is far superior to wool in my experience.

    Disagree.
    Wool doesn't hold the stink like synthetics do, and wool will keep you warm when damp and wet.

  20. #20
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I use either polypro or wool ... or both! Using both together actually works quite well.

  21. #21
    Senior Member borderline's Avatar
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    Last winter I used a underarmour winter baselayer (not the same as the summer variety). It was very warm. I really liked it. It was pretty expensive though ($50).

  22. #22
    Senior Member RomSpaceKnight's Avatar
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    Helly Hanson for me. Downhill skiing, xc-skiing or mtbing love my HH.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by edzo
    thin silk undershirt. really thin like a nylon stocking. super tough, won't rip, warm warm warm...get at llbean

    then wool on top of that


    silk and wool do not build up a funk...no need for techno fabrics
    LL Bean silk undershirt or turtleneck works great. And dries fast. Then I try long sleeve jersey, followed by lightweight (or midweight, depending on weather) polyester fleece. For bottom half, silk/wool tights (women's, like heavy pantyhose) followed by "regular" tights (if cold enough).

  24. #24
    Daily Rider hairlessbill's Avatar
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    Icebreaker or Arc'Teryx merino wool shirts are great. Expensive but great breathability and warmth. Almost as soft as cotton. Not plastic/static feeling as polypro. I hate static cling so I have never been happy with the whole synthentic shirt world. Ick. Always feels like I have a plastic bag stuck to my chest.

  25. #25
    Senior Member zoridog's Avatar
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    Whatever you do, don't wear cotton thermals! Merino Wool is expensive but you only cry once.
    I miss bicycle commuting.

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