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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 02-17-08, 06:50 AM   #1
dydst
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The Best Wicking Top for Heavy Sweaters?

Hello,

For a number of reasons, I sweat tremendously, even in the winter. It is by far, the worst thing about my winter riding. Can any other heavy sweaters out there recommend a top/base layer/jersey that absorbs sweat and wicks it out quickly?

I have a Columbia polyester base layer that takes the sweat off the skin quickly, but is too thin. I have a no-name merino wool/polyester blend base layer that is warm, but sucks up the sweat and holds it like cotton does.

Looking forward to advice and recommendations. Thanks!
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Old 02-17-08, 07:19 AM   #2
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You probably need something made of Power Dry fabric, such as the Capilene 4 from Patagonia. You can also find PD baselayers at places like Cabelas.

Having said that.....

Sometimes wool is best for these conditions because, the wool wicks and spreads the moisture into the fabric thus allowing evaporation to happen while still somewhat in contact with your skin. This provides the evaporative cooling effect which, theoretically will mitigate the sweating (your body will sweat less). Polyesters on the other hand, tend to take the moisture off the skin in blotches making evaporation a slower and less efficient process unless there is plenty of air moving around it. Also, since the perspiration is detaching itself, when you move on the bike and contact a wet area you receive a dose of cold shock.

I think you're one of those type that will be difficult to satisfactorily address. I would try a true Power Dry baselayer and, if that doesn't work to your satisfaction then try a mid weight wool garment like the Ibex Skyline or, the slightly heavier Shak top. Or the Rivendell Zip-T wool midlayer is a great baselayer. Another good option is the Baked Alaska top by Ground Effect. It is basically wool with a windshield front. The back of it is specifically designed to move perspiration quickly though the fabric. Whatever you wear for an outer layer (jacket), be sure it breaths. I specifically like the Ibex Hybrid jacket for this very reason (and a bunch of others). You need as much evaporation taking place as you can get. The plastic (polyester) jackets, generally don't breath as well (though much of this depends on the specific jacket).

Poeple have talked of getting nice custom cycling garments from Lou at Foxwear.net. This is also a good option. I believe Lou is well versed in these subjects and, his prices are no more than mid-line products you get on the internet.
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Old 02-17-08, 07:25 AM   #3
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Rnhood knows his fabrics. Powerdry is my favorite synthetic. But my favorite base layer for cool weather is a midweight Smartwool

https://www.smartwool.com/default.cfm#/Mens/Apparel/Baselayer/_/264/?title=Official%20Site:%20%20SmartWool%C2%AE%20feels%20good.%20(%20Product:%20Men's%20Midweight%20NT S%20Solid%20Crew%20)
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Old 02-17-08, 07:34 AM   #4
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I broke down and bought the Craft Windstopper, best $70.00 I ever spent. I sweat pretty profusely as well and with the Craft I can wear lighter mid and top layers helping wicking all around.
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Old 02-17-08, 07:37 AM   #5
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Cool! I never heard of Power Dry, and it sounds like what I might need! Thanks to the poster below about Smartwool. I'll check out all of these suggestions!

Thanks so much!!!!
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Old 02-17-08, 07:56 AM   #6
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Forget wool or wool blends and go with polyester fleece like polarfleece for your insulation layer. Wool absorbs too much moisture.
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Old 02-17-08, 10:33 AM   #7
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Wool also keeps you warm even when it's wet though. I've never had a synthetic fabric do that.

If you're interested in the Power Dry fabric, dydst, you should check out Foxwear. Their prices are reasonable, and they get very good reviews on the forum. They will do custom stuff too, so if they don't have exactly what you're looking for, call them up.
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Old 02-17-08, 11:08 AM   #8
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Powerdry is the best base layer I've found, some inexpensive ones are sold at mec.ca.

A base layer is also supposed to be thin. Its purpose and function does not include thermal properties, thats what the other layers are for. Wool feels best against the skin, and keeps you warm when wet, which is good because it also holds the moisture so you will get wet.

The best base layer is thin and fits close to the skin. That allows it to absorb the sweat, transfer it to the other side of the material, and spread it over as large a surface area as possible where it is either evaporated or transfered to the next layer. Thats what keeps you dry.
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Old 02-17-08, 09:00 PM   #9
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heavy sweater

if you really sweat a lot I think you'll have to just get used to being somewhat damp, i don't think there's anything out there that will do the job. I've went to wool base amd mid layers as it does keep you warm when damp. I also bought a "Showers Pass Elite 2.0" jacket that has a back vent, pit zippers and a two way front zipper; and I believe this jacket has helped the problem a lot!
It helps get rid of the sweat with all those vents, keep the wrist cuffs loose so you get plenty of air coming up your arms and out the pit zippers.
Works great for me.
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Old 02-18-08, 01:10 AM   #10
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North face ultrawick works for me
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Old 02-18-08, 08:24 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Wind View Post
Wool also keeps you warm even when it's wet though. I've never had a synthetic fabric do that.
I suspect you don't have any experience with polar fleece. Wool keeps you warmer than cotton when wet, it does not keep you warm by any stretch of the imagination.

Equating the performance of all synthetics is like equating the performance of all natural fabrics - it makes no sense.

Wool is for fashion - if you need to stay warm in extreme conditions, polyester fleece as the insulation layer is the answer. OTOH, biking in the cold is normally not "extreme" conditions compared with other activities like winter camping, hunting, ice climbing, etc. You won't find many of those guys messing with wool, except on their feet.
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Old 02-18-08, 08:42 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
I suspect you don't have any experience with polar fleece. Wool keeps you warmer than cotton when wet, it does not keep you warm by any stretch of the imagination.

Equating the performance of all synthetics is like equating the performance of all natural fabrics - it makes no sense.

Wool is for fashion - if you need to stay warm in extreme conditions, polyester fleece as the insulation layer is the answer. OTOH, biking in the cold is normally not "extreme" conditions compared with other activities like winter camping, hunting, ice climbing, etc. You won't find many of those guys messing with wool, except on their feet.
Ehh?

So if you're riding your bike and plan to sleep all nite on it, don't use wool.
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Old 02-21-08, 08:30 PM   #13
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Polypropelene is my fav for wicking material.
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Old 02-21-08, 09:29 PM   #14
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I have been wearing UnderArmour Heat Gear or Cold Gear tight-fitting long-sleeve shirts playing hockey for a long time. Long enough that my first set of UA stuff was cheap, as it was bought before they were popular. It does a great job of wicking moisture away from your skin.

This year, I started playing broomball as a goalie. When it is below zero, you don't want to be wet and cold while you stand around after you were sweating when the ball was in your end. The UA base layer under a smartwool long-underwear top worked perfectly.
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Old 02-22-08, 05:13 PM   #15
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I wear an old cycling jersey as my base layer when playing goal in floor/street outside winter hockey. I wear full goalie equipment. A long sleeved t over the jersey is always soaking wet but I feel warm and dry.
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Old 02-23-08, 06:16 PM   #16
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I suspect you don't have any experience with polar fleece. Wool keeps you warmer than cotton when wet, it does not keep you warm by any stretch of the imagination.
And I suspect you don't have any experience with the materials other poster mentioned. Have you tried any of the stuff other posters mentioned? I never use polyester fleece for cycling (and I have 6+ polyester fleece from Polartec in 200 weight and 300 weight), it is not the answer for insulation while cycling.


Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
Equating the performance of all synthetics is like equating the performance of all natural fabrics - it makes no sense.

Wool is for fashion - if you need to stay warm in extreme conditions, polyester fleece as the insulation layer is the answer. OTOH, biking in the cold is normally not "extreme" conditions compared with other activities like winter camping, hunting, ice climbing, etc. You won't find many of those guys messing with wool, except on their feet.
Merino wool has its use, although it's not on par with Power Dry in the breathability category, it's close. In case you didn't know, merino wool does come in ultra light baselayer version just like Power Dry and they are a lot more expensive. These clothes are hardly fashionable, we are not talking about crappy cashmere wool sweaters here. They don't stink up like polyester does and they keep you warm much better. Hunters, winter campers, and ice climbers do still use lightweight merino wool, it's a lot more bearable to put on day after day unlike synthetics.
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Old 02-23-08, 10:03 PM   #17
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I wear an old cycling jersey as my base layer when playing goal in floor/street outside winter hockey. I wear full goalie equipment. A long sleeved t over the jersey is always soaking wet but I feel warm and dry.
I think you're on the right track here. I will wear a light wicking T, an optional cashmere or merino sweater over that, and a long sleeve COTTON jersey over that. The cotton absorbs the moisture and holds it away from my skin. This works for me even if I wear a waterproof shell on top in a cold rain or wet snow situation.

I know this goes against the conventional wisdom that you shouldn't wear cotton in cold weather, but it has worked well for me for years.
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Old 02-23-08, 10:17 PM   #18
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I suspect you don't have any experience with polar fleece. Wool keeps you warmer than cotton when wet, it does not keep you warm by any stretch of the imagination.

Equating the performance of all synthetics is like equating the performance of all natural fabrics - it makes no sense.

Wool is for fashion - if you need to stay warm in extreme conditions, polyester fleece as the insulation layer is the answer. OTOH, biking in the cold is normally not "extreme" conditions compared with other activities like winter camping, hunting, ice climbing, etc. You won't find many of those guys messing with wool, except on their feet
.
I think you're forgetting the distinction between active sports like cycling (or running), where your muscles are putting off many watts, and relatively inert sports like camping, hunting and even climbing. In cycling the issue is getting too warm and sweating, not sitting around and getting cold. Wool is a good choice for cyclists in most weather conditions, because it does wick sweat and retain warmth even when wet. Polar fleece does the same, and is also good for cycling, but is more useful in very cold weather, IME, and too hot for most winter cycling conditions.
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