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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 11-11-08, 08:22 AM   #1
schu777
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What "types" of clothing to use/avoid for winter clothes (Cotton/Wool...)

I'm looking at getting more winter clothes - pants, possible another jacket or two. My budget is extremely tight, so going to Goodwill is the choice available.

I know that Cotton should be avoided and wool is a good thing, but I'm wondering about the "other" types that is used to make clothes - what should be okay and should be avoided?

I took a quick look at the FAQ sticky, but didn't see anything right way pertaining to this. Although I might be blind too...

Michael
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Old 11-11-08, 08:23 AM   #2
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terrycloth bellbottoms should be avoided
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Old 11-11-08, 10:05 AM   #3
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Avoid silk underthings. They feel great. They are very warm when dry. But they suck the heat right out of you when wet. I have a pair of longjohns and a long-sleeve undershirt that I love to wear around the house under other clothes on cold days. But they are miserable for active use.

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Old 11-11-08, 10:09 AM   #4
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You seem to have it right...

wool = good

cotton = bad

Synthetics like polypro are also very good but unlike wool, it does not have the same antibacterial properties and will not release heat when it gets wet.

Polartec fleece is a favourite because of its relatively low cost and high insulation factor.
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Old 11-11-08, 10:46 AM   #5
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Anything that stops the wind is tops in my book. Cotton is bad. I love merino wool...
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Old 11-11-08, 01:10 PM   #6
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Wool = good
Merino wool = good and comfortable
Polypro = good
Coolmax (or whatever the standard summer jersey material is) = good as a base layer.


Cotton = bad, except on hot summer days
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Old 11-11-08, 04:02 PM   #7
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You can get light wool sweaters at most thrift shops for around $3 each.
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Old 11-11-08, 04:50 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schu777 View Post
I'm looking at getting more winter clothes - pants, possible another jacket or two. My budget is extremely tight, so going to Goodwill is the choice available.

I know that Cotton should be avoided and wool is a good thing, but I'm wondering about the "other" types that is used to make clothes - what should be okay and should be avoided?

I took a quick look at the FAQ sticky, but didn't see anything right way pertaining to this. Although I might be blind too...

Michael
Wool is okay but caring for it is generally more difficult than synthetics. You have to be careful about drying it. Usually machine drying is out and some items will need to be dried flat. Items made with lycra in them benefit from machine drying.

Something to consider, however, is durability. Cycling specific clothes are expensive. However, they tend to last forever. I have clothing for all layers that are over 15 years old and still going strong. Often they are worth the investment in the long run.
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Old 11-11-08, 07:09 PM   #9
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Cycling specific clothes are expensive. However, they tend to last forever. I have clothing for all layers that are over 15 years old and still going strong. Often they are worth the investment in the long run.
Some of the clothes, however, are just expensive and without build quality. For instance, i see fancy bicycle gloves made of some latest wonder fabric (and usually made overseas by some brand name factory), when cheaper all-weather mittens work just as well for me. of course, some stuff *is* really made well (and domestically). So definitely shop around, check out the reviews from respected sources as well as buddies riding in the same environment (since winters in CO, NY, MN, and MI are all different enough). You might very well find that a cheaper non-bike-specific article of clothing serves better than an object marketed in Texas sold in SoCal and made in south China.
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Old 11-11-08, 07:55 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by schu777 View Post
I'm looking at getting more winter clothes - pants, possible another jacket or two. My budget is extremely tight, so going to Goodwill is the choice available.
Cotton is ok if you have *very* short rides. Most of the time, I end up in a cotton long sleeved dress shirt as my "undershirt". Wool sweater over that, and winter jacket on top. I'm rarely doing more than 8 miles at at time, and in winter it is often much less. Silk is better than cotton, and also works as an underlayer. It is easier and cheaper for me to find silk underlayers than polypropylene or wool. If I am wearing either, I'm careful to keep my effort down. Sweating in summer is no big deal. In winter, you *really* do not want to end up soaking through your clothes with sweat... and it is much easier to do than you might expect. From there, it's a short trip into hypothermia. Wet clothes allow a lot more wind through, so cold related injury is very easy.

If you can afford warm when wet fibers like polypropylene, polyester fleece and wool, I would go for them first. Wool is very affordable in the form of thin sweaters and twill dress pants, and both work very well on a bike. Finding good wool underlayers at low prices is more difficult. Polyester fleece (aka polarfleece) is also pretty easy to find. Warm long underwear can be difficult to find.

My big splurge for winter gear was a water resistant jacket. I have a history of hypothermia, and my last run in was after a winter rain storm soaked me to the skin while I was wearing a down jacket. A water resistant jacket would have slowed things down considerably, and it would have continued to insulate even when soaked. Down doesn't.
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Old 11-11-08, 08:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by schu777 View Post
I'm looking at getting more winter clothes - pants, possible another jacket or two. My budget is extremely tight, so going to Goodwill is the choice available.

I know that Cotton should be avoided and wool is a good thing, but I'm wondering about the "other" types that is used to make clothes - what should be okay and should be avoided?

I took a quick look at the FAQ sticky, but didn't see anything right way pertaining to this. Although I might be blind too...

Michael
An upper body method that should work well for biking in under 32F temps that you can do at the Goodwill for cheap: Nylon wind breaker as outer layer. Wool ski sweater or polar fleece jacket as middle layer. Wicking thermal underwear top or polyester long sleeve knit shirt (snug fitting). As the base layer.

For legs: Synthetic polyester running or track pants under breathable nylon shell type of running pant. Wear cycling shorts under this.
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Old 11-11-08, 08:12 PM   #12
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wool ftw
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Old 11-11-08, 08:40 PM   #13
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Plenty of thin layers
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Old 11-12-08, 09:46 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pwdeegan View Post
Some of the clothes, however, are just expensive and without build quality.
I've never run across any article of bicycle clothing that was poorly made with the exception of some gloves. Most all of it is of very high quality because of the limited market. If HellMart sold bicycle clothing, I'd expect shoddy workmanship
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Old 11-12-08, 09:51 AM   #15
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After this morning's ride, I'll add that bicycle specific clothing has more venting capability than regular sweater too. Most bike jerseys have long zippers in the front that allow you to open and close them as needed to manage heat. This can be as important as layering. Sweaters that you'd find at Goodwill, HellMart, Target', etc. can't be opened as quickly and easily as bike clothes. Most bike clothing zipper can be operated one handed while riding.

I'm not saying you should run out an buy a complete bike outfit, but buy a few items a year (mostly on sale) and you'll soon have more clothes than your wife...like I do
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Old 11-12-08, 10:46 AM   #16
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As a counter point:

Early explorers went to the poles in ventile cotton shells; Shackleton's men wore wool under cotton outerlayers. the norwegian military makes some of their arctic wear out o new, high tech fabrics with a cotton component. A ventile cotton anorak is a much more appropriate and comfortable garment in very cold conditions than a WB laminate coat.

just sayin... I like wool and bicomponent weave knit softshell fabrics, epic encapsulated winter shells and weather shells from Patagonia (sometimes), Wild Things, and ORC industries.

one of the better winter riding boots for very cold conditions if you're not riding clipless, the USAF mukluks (made with cotton uppers) are like riding in lightweight, warm slippers, comfortable, keeps the pants out of the chain, breathable, good stuff.

Cotton can have its place in the winter environment.

and here in the northwest, for the last 7 or 8 years I've ridden a LOT of commutes in typical northwest winter conditions (wet) in quick drying flat woven cotton pants with a DWR and these doggies perform off the bike even after you get drenched on the ride in. dry by noon just wearing them.
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Old 11-13-08, 05:39 PM   #17
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As a counter point:

Early explorers went to the poles in ventile cotton shells; Shackleton's men wore wool under cotton outerlayers. the norwegian military makes some of their arctic wear out o new, high tech fabrics with a cotton component. A ventile cotton anorak is a much more appropriate and comfortable garment in very cold conditions than a WB laminate coat.

just sayin... I like wool and bicomponent weave knit softshell fabrics, epic encapsulated winter shells and weather shells from Patagonia (sometimes), Wild Things, and ORC industries.

one of the better winter riding boots for very cold conditions if you're not riding clipless, the USAF mukluks (made with cotton uppers) are like riding in lightweight, warm slippers, comfortable, keeps the pants out of the chain, breathable, good stuff.

Cotton can have its place in the winter environment.

and here in the northwest, for the last 7 or 8 years I've ridden a LOT of commutes in typical northwest winter conditions (wet) in quick drying flat woven cotton pants with a DWR and these doggies perform off the bike even after you get drenched on the ride in. dry by noon just wearing them.
Although the above is true and I sympathize with using more BIO friendly fabrics I think the demands of the cyclist is somewhat different. Since in extreme cold and altitude an attempt is made to keep from sweating too much because it can kill you. At high altitudes you have to go easy so as not to raise your blood pressure too high. That being said I think you could use the Shackleton approach if you were careful. The outer shell is a tightly woven lightweight cotton gaberdine canvas. DPM "Riptstop" Cotton Gaberdine Windproof Combat Trousers are of a similar material. It's possible that they make military wind jackets of the same material you could get at a war surplus store. Shackleton's may have been treated with some kind of oil. Thin loose fitting wool layers are built up underneath. You wouldn't need this kind of warmth on a bike. Just some wool long johns and a wool sweater or heavy wool shirt as an insulation layer.

However, bear in mind that this method was meant to be used in temperatures that were always below freezing. Above freezing the cotton wind shell is probably not as effective at keeping you dry as water resistant synthetic materials.
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Old 11-13-08, 05:46 PM   #18
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I'll second that. Cotton is the most breathable outer shell windbreaker. Cotton should *only be used as a outer layer because it does not insulate. It stops the wind, holds in the warmth and lets out the moisture. The moisture freezes on the outer surface of the shell, and because of all your movement in biking, simply flakes off as it forms so it stays dry. Just shake it off once you come inside. I don't even pull out my cotton anorak until its around 0 deg outside because with my wool midlayer I'll be too warm. I paid $15 for it on eBay and when I wear it out it will biodegrade.

Beke- thanks for the suggestion for my next winter pants. My Ibex climawool (as an outerlayer to jeans) are only good to about 0 deg. Any good links for specific products online? I'm interested in the Mukluks, but I need them to have a sole...
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Old 11-21-08, 04:39 PM   #19
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check out SportHIll.com Google search for the cheapest prices on anything you have your eye on.
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Old 01-17-16, 10:51 AM   #20
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Patagonia has treatments to the polyester they use in their base layers to enhance wicking.. & reduce retained smelliness after washing.
polar fleece can be flung over a hand rail and the water wicked up from below, shaken off (like a dog coming out of a lake)
and put right back on .. & unlike wool no moth larvae have evolved to eat holes in your poly-pro/polyester.

Note: dense woven wool Navy bell bottoms Are a Flotation devise..

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Old 01-17-16, 11:04 AM   #21
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The key question : Will you sweat a lot ? If not, like for a short flat commute use any kind of warm clothing, ( be shure it extends Down over Your lower back). If you are riding hard or have some serious climbing to do it's a totally different game. Warm shoes and gloves, due to sweating a lot my feet and hands are my most vulnerable bodyparts in the cold.On my upper body I now wear a woolen T-shirt and a thin woolen longsleeve sweater under a Windstopper Cycling Jacket. Below I have a Winter Cycling pant , legs produce a lot of heat once you get going. I now Wash all my clothing With a woolspecific soap so no hassle there.
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Old 01-17-16, 03:12 PM   #22
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Just an FYI.

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Old 01-19-16, 04:59 PM   #23
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Just an FYI.

This 7 year old Zombie Thread was recently resurrected by a Spammer account.
HA! I didn't look/notice the date and was 90% done with my post when I saw this. Thanks!
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Old 01-19-16, 06:06 PM   #24
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You may want to try, military surplus. I've just pick up a Gore-Tex jacket for $35.00! German Police GORE-TEX Winter Parka with Liner, Waterproof - 223097, Insulated Jackets & Coats at Sportsman's Guide
urplus
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Old 01-19-16, 06:19 PM   #25
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Wow, it's almost as bad as V-brakes vs. Cantilevers.
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