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  1. #1
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    winter clothing advice

    I would like some suggestions for a warm top to wear in 10 to 30 degree weather.. Been mostly looking at cabela's store. They have some polartec tops, even (ECWCS) kind, as well as underarmor coldgear tops. Someone told me the best for warmth is microfleece or wool. I don't see many wool shirts at cabelas but polartec I think is like microfleece. My plan was to initially get a microfleece/underarmor base layer + a regular shirt. Or to get a lightweight base layer + wool shirt. Which is best?

    How would you guys rank these choices by which is the warmest? can add your own choices too. My budget is $80 to $120. I like duofold but underarmor is highly touted for its insulating properties. And polartec looks decent. But I'm not planning to do a lot of activity so a wool shirt could work.

    Underarmor Coldgear 3.0 - (reading reviews of some people saying it kept them warm in -20 weather or even -30 in michigan)
    Duofold Expedition Weight - apparently used in the army which makes it seem good
    Cabela's Polartec - looks like its warm because its microfleece
    Last edited by supremeone77; 10-28-11 at 02:30 PM.

  2. #2
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    anyone? I'm currently doing some research of my own. I did pickup some nuggets of information.. Such as:

    -polypro is a good option, and compares favorably to under armor. Duofold also is very good, but might be too warm. They have regular kind and the Varitherms (not sure which one is better). Some have a polyester layer inside and a wool one outside, others have cotton instead of polyester
    -some people said underarmor is between a light base layer and wool since wool is a bit too warm. So maybe better off getting a wool shirt + any old base layer for the compression insulating effect.
    -smartwool is a good choice..
    -underarmor is a bit warmer than target's c9 champion shirts and walmart starter shirts, and the coldgear 3.0 is the warmest they have.
    -theres also something from Walmart called Rocky which is good for below 30 degree weather. And something called a alertshirt.

    anyways i'm still looking into it. I'm probably going to go to Marshalls and see if i can find a wool shirt or underarmor or duofold thing here. If not, than I'll get one of the options i listed. Maybe even the polartec tops idk. Theres just so many options and I need to rely on whichever one i get to keep me warm this winter.

  3. #3
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    You're asking a question to which I could respond, except that you're excluding the answers I might give.

    Ignoring your restrictions (Marshalls / Cabelas), below 30F I'll usually go with wool socks, plastic bags wrapped around the socks, poly fleece tights, a technical tee shirt, and either a wool jersey or a long-sleeve bike jersey with poly long tee over that, all topped by a wind and water-proof jacket. Depending on the temp, I'll have either a skull cap or balaclava (polypro), a rain cover on my helmet, and lobster gloves.

    The poly stuff wears great -- I'm still using the first tights, long tee, etc. I ever got after 5-7 years. (I've worn out the zipper on my first cycling jacket). They don't feel as clammy to me as cotton-blend. And for things like tights, they don't restrict motion. I'm afraid you'll have to translate this into your preferred vendors/wear.

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    I wear plastic shopping bags over sneakers, wind pants, a good outer shell jacket with a sweater and a fleece layer underneath, and some mitt gloves. If snowing, ski goggles are invaluable as snow in the eye hurts, especially at speed. For really cold weather, I'll also wear a scarf, and a winter hat under my hood. This setup will has me overheating at -4oF so I'd imagine it's probably good to even lower.

    In short, wind-proof outer layer, goggles, and minimizing exposed skin will go a long way to staying warm.

  5. #5
    Senior Member scoatw's Avatar
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    I've bought some of the polarfleece tops from Cabelas. Warm and comfortable. I was looking at that EWCS stuff also. It looked like it might do the trick. But I went to Cabelas instead of Under Armor mainly due to costs. I also have a few long sleeve jersey's from Aerotech Designs that are comfortable under my jacket. For winter wear I went with cross country ski clothing. I have two pair of the Sport Hill XC pants. Pricey but excellent in anything down to about 10f. Anything lower then I add thermals and maybe leg warmers. I have a Sport Hill Symmetry jacket under the Showers Pass Elite 2.0, that works below zero. Light and warm. The colder it gets, it seems the Symmetry jacket adjusts and keeps me comfortable. A thin Wickers balaclava and a pair of Loki mittens and a pair of LL Bean Snowsneakers rounds out my ensemble. That outfit (with some adjustments) keeps me warm and comfortable from 40f to -15.
    Last edited by scoatw; 10-30-11 at 08:49 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member triumph.1's Avatar
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    I imagine budget is the number one concern and will determine what quality you get. I learned a long time ago that buying nice stuff the first time usually saves double the money trying to be cheap and get by. I also try and stick to sport specific gear since it is usually specifically designed for the activity, again there are cheaper alternatives, but you may not be happy with the results. There a re million choices from a million different gear companies and I tend to stick with a company that I have found has good gear and stick to them. Gear, like anything is personal and what I like or what works for me may not be an option for you Under armour as a base is fantastic for anything. I wear the stuff year round and their cold gear is excellent. They are pricey, but worth it to me. I have a castelli jacket that is windproof in front and breathes in the back, has a couple vent zippers in front to let in air if I get hot. I love the thing and can wear a long sleeve cold gear shirt under it and nothing else down to 30 and still sweat. I also have a pair of showers pass roadie pants that I think are the best pair of cold weather pants I have ever owned for anything. They are lightweight, windproof, and warm as heck and I believe they would be good to single digits with the right base layer. Remember I am talking cycling. This morning I wore them with just cycle shorts @ 30 degrees and was perfectly warm. They are expensive, but again they are awesome. I am still out on shoes or covers. I ordered a pair of endura mt500 covers and they are warm, but my toes get cold quick and after 20 miles I feel the cold effects on my toes even with the covers. I would like to try some winter specific shoes, but they are real expensive for the amount of time I would really use them. So I think the covers with warmer socks will have to do. I use a head band that covers the ears for weather down to the 30's and have a thermal skull cap for windy cold weather. Gloves are simple. What ever keeps you warm and isn't to bulky to shift and hold on to the bars. I use cycling full finger gloves and am fine again into the 30's. I have no desire to ride outside below 30 and once the roads are super salted, snowy or have ice I won't be out riding. I'll be doing other things until I either get cabin fever or just absolutely need a ride. Whatever you decide to buy for yourself read reviews and research everything. Sometimes you do have to take a chance and buy blindly. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn't, but it is part of learning what will work for you. I do know if you have gear that fits, is comfortable and works for whatever activity you are doing, it will increase the enjoyment. IMO, Poor gear is the beginning of the end for any activity or enjoyment of any activity.

  7. #7
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    Okay well I agree, polartec seems like a better option than under armor. I keep hearing that under armor's cold gear is better suited when you are active. Anyways it seems to all come down to fabrics. Theres fleece, microfleece, wool or polypro..

    I also recently stumbled upton sportsmanguide.com and i can't believe the selection they have. Sometimes I'm debating whether I should go to Marshalls or Target, and than I think online usually has more quality. And when they do have quality at stores it is way more expensive.

    My current plan is to get a polartec shirt and a wool shirt from sportsmanguide. What do you guys think? I mean polartec seems warmer than polypro, and they have different levels and the ECWCS. I did a lot of google searching and everyone seems to come back to wool as being one of the best choices. But heres a dliemna im facing. I keep hearing that smartwool is good and keeps you warm. And they do sell wool base layers but they seem so light ;\. Polartec has to be better than those right? Also polartec is basically like microfleece right? Microfleece is supposed to be similar to wool.

    Anyways my main goal is warmth not wicking ability or else I'd go for one of the walmart wicking shirts or the polypro, over under armor. Sucks that the coldgear 3.0 is so appealing though. Theres someone selling one of those on ebay for $50 but still...... i keep hearing that polartec is really warm and coldgear sucks if you're not moving.

    Okay to sum it up... I'm thinking this:
    Base layer (for warmth) - polartec > underarmor coldgear 3.0 > duo fold thermal tops with polypro inner layer and wool iouter player> smartwool lightweight tops
    Midlayer - wool shirt from sportsmanguide (hard to argue with wool?.. unless I got a 2nd polartec/microfleece shirt)

    I'm pretty much dead set on the midlayer. Just a little torn on the first 3 options for the base layer although I think I will end up with polartec, it just seems more customized fot the cold, and the whole ECWCS. I think duofold would be 2nd option actually because coldgear is still more about wicking and being active. So basicaly polartec vsl duofold. And theres some duofolds that are thicker and maybe even more warm than polartec. So what do you guys think, polartec or duofold (any version should be affordable).
    Last edited by supremeone77; 10-29-11 at 05:46 PM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member triumph.1's Avatar
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    I suppose the use of under armour is personal choice. I have been wearing it for quite a few years and I am not active in the winter in general and it has worked the best for warmth and wicking out of anything else I have used, but to each their own. I personally have never felt the benefits of fleece products, but apparently a lot of people do.

  9. #9
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    I've had difficulties with fleece being too warm, and have ended up with just polypro. I have a light weight short sleeve T and long sleeves in light, medium, and heavy weight. Those four, along with a wind breaker, can be layered in various combinations for a range from 5-60F. Below 5, I throw on a heavy cotton T over all four polypro, good for another 10-15 degrees.

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    my base of choice is coldgear. no if ands or buts. as far as cold gear only working while you are moving, that has not been my experience. I wear it to commute and I wear it at work, and I'm outside in maine winter everyday. I do a cold gear top, long sleeve riding jersey, with a wind proof jacket. cold gear pants, under wind proof pants, specialized neoprene shoe covers with wool socks, and a cold gear balaclava, wind proof ski gloves. this worked for me down to 5 degrees. not going to lie, it was damn cold but it got me through my 17 mile commute

  11. #11
    Senior Member a1penguin's Avatar
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    I like in CA where there isn't a real winter. I went to TJ Maxx, Marshalls, etc and got a variety of undergarments. I have Underall, Nike, etc. On top will be a windbreaker. I broke down and bought real biking pants, Headwind from REI. They are not tights, so I can wear tights underneath them. I'm going to put some wet weather tires on the mostly unused MTB and try to commute some this winter. I hate being cold, so I don't know how soon I will give up. It's going to be mid 70s tomorrow. Brrrr!

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    hmm just realized it's kind of hard to find someone who has tried both polartec, under armor and duofold. So really all I can do is guesstimate how warm each one wlil be. But tomorrow i'm going to go to marshalls and see if I can try on some cold gear stuff if they have it. I'm thinking of getting duofold, maybe the expedition ewight top. But if I combine that with a wool shirt it might be too thick and super warm. But maybe that's what I'd need.

    Under armour also has these shirts called Evolution for $50 which some people say they are less form fitting so maybe they don't wick as much and are made to be warmer. The price for that is $50. It's nice to narrow things down to only 3 choices but it's still a pain in the ass to decide. Think I'm going to google about how thick polartec is because if its thin, maybe I can eliminate that.

  13. #13
    Senior Member triumph.1's Avatar
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    At least with winter clothing when a mistake is made purchasing something that doesn't work as you thought, you can just wear it as everyday clothing to keep warm.

  14. #14
    Senior Member MNBikeCommuter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triumph.1 View Post
    At least with winter clothing when a mistake is made purchasing something that doesn't work as you thought, you can just wear it as everyday clothing to keep warm.
    Exactly!!!!!!!

  15. #15
    Senior Member scoatw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by supremeone77 View Post
    hmm just realized it's kind of hard to find someone who has tried both polartec, under armor and duofold. So really all I can do is guesstimate how warm each one wlil be.
    I'm sure either would work out for you. To me it would come down to which is better priced. When it comes to baselayers I'm not too picky. That's why I went with the polarfleece. But the outer layer, I made sure I was getting a good quality product that wasn't going to fail when I needed it to perform.

    One tip that I learned here was to keep a clothing log of what worked and what didn't. Every year you're going to learn more and more of how to handle the cold comfortably. Eventually you'll make better decisions from what you've learned. For example: That's how I learned that Primaloft insulation has twice the R value than Thinsulate. That helped me purchase a good winter boot that is going on its fifth winter.

    Quote Originally Posted by triumph.1 View Post
    I imagine budget is the number one concern and will determine what quality you get. I learned a long time ago that buying nice stuff the first time usually saves double the money trying to be cheap and get by.
    I agree. Buying good stuff will last longer and perform better. Everything I learned about dressing for winter I learned here on BF and surfing the web. Reading reviews. And then googling for the cheapest price. I probably saved over 50% doing that.

    I was going over my stuff and I've probably spent $600 on clothing. But most of it is going on its fifth winter. The XC pants I've had for 4 and 5 years now. They should last another 10 or 15 years unless I wipe-out and rip them up.
    The first Showers Pass jacket lasted me almost 4 years before I wore it out and replaced it with another one.
    Last edited by scoatw; 10-30-11 at 09:01 AM.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by scoatw View Post
    I agree. Buying better stuff will last longer and perform better. Everything I learned about dressing for winter I learned here on BF and surfing the web. Reading reviews. And then googling for the cheapest price. I probably saved over 50% doing that.
    Yeah, reading reviews is what i just ultimately decided will help me with this decision. At first I was googling for comparison results like under armor vs. polartec etc. But I realized i can search for reviews for coldgear or polartec or smartwool tops.. and keep notes when people say "good down to 20 degree weather", or this shirt has more compression for adding extra layers etc. But mostly focused on the weather related comments. So yeah just started doing that. It is really effective. I'm finding out that wool products are hard to beat, even as base layers (smart wool). They are a little more pricey though. Someone said polartec or papilene products don't come close. But there are some polartec products that are expedition weight or polar weight, so have to take that into consideration too.

    Going to keep looking at some reviews. So far not much has changed, although now that I think about it, the coldgear stuff never says what weight it is. At least the polartec stuff does so maybe just forget about that stuff. So polartec or wool for a base layer + wool shirt from sportsmanguide. And I agree with scoatw that the best part of this is either option should work out fine as its not like I'm in Alaska.

    I also have to get some fingerless gloves for using a computer and some new wool socks, and a bacaclava and I should be all set. My main goal for this whole thing is to not let the cold weather make me its puppet, and to be more able to do the things I'd want to do.

    P.S. theres this one shirt by columbia with omni heat, something to do with silver reflecting your body heat back to you. I doubt it helps that much but thought that idea was cool.
    Last edited by supremeone77; 10-30-11 at 08:51 AM.

  17. #17
    Senior Member matimeo's Avatar
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    I would tell you to just check outlocal thrift stores, but I want to keep all of the good stuff for myself.

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    well, i'll probably order something tomorrow. can't wait to wear something other than cotton.

    Btw icebreaker or smartwool tops are all in the $70-$80 range. Although can find some icebreaker stuff cheaper at around $60 but only the lightweight stuff. I see this other thing thats recommend by some people, called Minus 33 wool. So now i'm thinking of getting that or polartec for base layer. What would you guys pick out of those 2? Maybe some votes can help me decide. Wool is hard to beat but polartec ecwcs top looks great. And I heard someone a polar weight polartec top is very similar to wool. Also it seems more well known than this minus 33 stuff.

    Also for the wool sweater top i was considering from sportsmanguide. The only one that doesn't look weird is the italian one, the others all have these patches on them so idk about that. I looked at sierratrading post and cabelas and it's hard to find any good wool sweaters. cabela has some rag wool one. Any ideas on where to find a wool sweater? Might just end up getting that locally or getting the italian sweater i guess. There is this decently priced smartwool sweater but its light weight and I want something thicker for a top layer.
    Last edited by supremeone77; 10-30-11 at 07:06 PM.

  19. #19
    Senior Member silmarillion's Avatar
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    Yes indeed, it's starting to get cold. Even at 40deg it feels like freezing.

    I have been at wal-mart, and I scooped up some medium weight poly compression shirts. I have a poly base layer I used to use in my dry suit, It's lightweight and wicks sweat away.

    I wear patagonia lightweight long-jons, and heavy tights on the outside. Lobster gloves, balaclava, Smartwool socks, usually top it off with long sleeved jersey and a jersey-like pullover that breathes.

    The advice I would give is this...Whatever you use, dress for conditions. Whatever you wear, make sure it's breathable. If you trap too much heat and have to stop, like to repair a flat or something, the sweat will get cold. Once your cold, it's hard to get re-warmed if their is too much trapped moisture. Then you are miserable and miles to go.

    Another thing to consider is the ol' lung freezer burn. Not too much you can do about that. After breathing in freezing air at max VO2, I start to cough. Almost like an exercise induced asthma. When I stop riding, it goes away pretty quickly. Wish I knew how to deal with that better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by silmarillion View Post
    Another thing to consider is the ol' lung freezer burn. Not too much you can do about that. After breathing in freezing air at max VO2, I start to cough. Almost like an exercise induced asthma. When I stop riding, it goes away pretty quickly. Wish I knew how to deal with that better.
    A wool buff. Pull it up over your face so you are breathing through it. Makes a massive difference.
    Ordinary buffs get soaked with condensation from your breath and freeze to your face. The wool one still gets soaked, but wicks it through to the outside (where it freezes).

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    +1 on wool buff, much nicer than the synthetic ones and either are much nicer than no buff.
    My feeling on extreme winter garb is to concentrate on the base and the shell (and extremities) and make do with any old mid-layers.
    I am totally sold on Merino wool baselayers, but the genuine superfine grade ones, not coarse itchy ones that pill and wear out.
    Outer shell tech is full of vodoo and black magic. Basically, the colder and dryer the conditions, the better your shell with work. This is fine if you ride in cold, dry conditions but if it is damp, raining, wet snow or intermediate temp, the performance of a shell degenerates.
    Given a good base and shell, then I dont see much difference in the performance of mid-layers, be they wool, fleece or padding. You need a system which is versatile and easy to adjust and I find that sleeveless gillet style is good as an add/remove layer. I think it is more versatile to wear 2 thinner midlayers than one thick one, and adjust according to temp.

  22. #22
    Senior Member late's Avatar
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    You want to layer.
    Get a medium weight thermal undershirt for the base layer.
    You want a variety of things for the mid layer, and wear the one
    that suits the conditions. Sweaters are good.
    Then you want a shell or jacket, preferably one with pit zips.
    A backpacker's rain coat works for me, but then I used to be a backpacker.

    http://www.coldlizard.com/product/me...AE-core-warmer

    Feet are tough. I just get some heated innersoles to try this year.
    http://www.bestinsoles.com/WINTER-PRODUCTS_c_206.html
    Last edited by late; 10-31-11 at 06:36 AM.
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    so just realized u can definitely find some wool garments on ebay. Just ridiculous. I went to marshalls and only cheap wool stuff they had was $20 and only S or XXL size. All other sizes were $30 and the wool was really thin. I go on ebay and find all sorts of thick sweaters for around same price. I mean yeah some are preowned but who cares. I'm just glad I never went the $70 for a coldgear 3.0 route. I can probably get like 3-4 sweaters for that price and layer some of them.

    But i did buy this layer 8 performance shirt from marshalls. It was only one that seemed the most dense and not see through. Works pretty good, keeps me at least 5 degrees warmer. I'm thinking I might get a thick sweater and a lightweight layer and I should be set. A coat can be my 4th layer if needed. Thinking I don't need to get more complicated than that with layering.

  24. #24
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    I only wear poly pro and Merino Wool in layers if it's raining or light rain I wear pertex quantum

  25. #25
    Senior Member triumph.1's Avatar
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    I would be interested in knowing how the insoles work. I've seen them, am a bit skeptical, but at the same time hate it when my feet get numb. Cycling shoes with covers is at best marginal for keeping the feet warm and ride pleasant.

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