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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 11-05-11, 10:26 PM   #1
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Where do you get your Winter Gear?

This is my first year with a serious (16 mile each way) winter commute and I'm trying to put together a kit that will keep me warm through an Indiana winter. The problem I'm having is that I can't seem to find stuff that is being recommended in the various winter gear guides that are floating around. I'm trying to spend as little as possible (college student) while still getting stuff that will keep me from freezing to death.

To make matters worse, I'm a big guy (6'3" tall, 260 pounds). Stuff never seems to fit me right, which is why I've always despised shopping.

Any advice or suggestions?
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Old 11-05-11, 10:44 PM   #2
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I get mine from all sorts of places, jacket from Goodwill, gloves from sporting good store, boots from garage sale, etc. Aside from the helmet, I don't think any of it is intended for cycling. My main suggestion is to get an ECWCS parka, I found mine at Goodwill for $8, or if you aren't that lucky, $60-$70 on ebay is possible. Aside from adding vents to the back of it (It does have armpit ones) I can't imagine it's possible to make a better jacket. I haven't used my pair yet, but I imagine the ECWCS trousers would be great too. With both of these, wearing a neon vest over it is a good idea, camo is not the best way to be seen on the road, lol.
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Old 11-05-11, 11:01 PM   #3
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You do not need a lot of specialized gear to ride in the winter and if you do other outdoor things in the winter you should find you already have much of what you need.

Cycling in the winter will keep you warmer than walking so a windproof layer is really important while your base and mid layers may need to be lighter than what you would use for lighter activities.

Wool could be your best friend as it has excellent insulating and wicking properties but is also quite good at regulating temperature due it's excellent breathability and you do live somewhere that you should be ready for more extreme cold and sub zero winter temperatures.

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Old 11-05-11, 11:01 PM   #4
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REI has the Marmot Precip in XXL on sale for $70. Dunno if that's big enough for you, but that's a GREAT shell. The local Dick's Sporting Goods has them in stock, if you have one nearby I'd check them to try one on.

I just got my boots for $40 off at Dicks. Just go check out the hunting boot dep't, check out what Goretex choices they have by Rocky, Wolverine, etc.

I got my tights from Nashbar a few years ago.

Rainpants I got at GI Joes a few more years ago.
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Old 11-06-11, 12:23 AM   #5
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Did a tiny bit of reading on ECWCS as I had never heard of it before, and it sounds interesting. I just wish it wasn't camo.

Gonna check out a Dicks to check out the Marmot Precip and to see what size would work, since my leather jacket from last winter is 3XL and is like a tent on me now (lost 120 pounds).

I've also been looking at winter cycling shoes/boots with clipless attachments, since I put some shimano a530 pedals on my new long haul trucker. I've never used clipless shoes before, but I definitely want to try them. Anybody have experience with winter cycling shoes?
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Old 11-06-11, 06:53 AM   #6
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I've been collecting my base layers from Target, their champion stuff is pretty good and cheap.
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Old 11-06-11, 07:05 AM   #7
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Thrift shops
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Old 11-06-11, 08:41 AM   #8
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If you're an odd size, you'd be better off getting something custom from Lou at

I had him make me some NeoShell pants and they are nothing short of amazing. He's truely a great person to deal with. It's not cheap, but spend the big money on the outer layers and go cheap with the inner layers. Champion C9 stuff from Target is great, combined with thrift store wool sweaters and wool socks.
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Old 11-06-11, 08:18 PM   #9
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Disclaimer: I live in a very rainy climate that rarely gets snow- so my goal is usually to stay dry.

On the cheap, I buy my winter clothing gear at thrift stores. Look for nylon or polyester shells that have that slick, almost plastic feel to them. They breath terrible (but so does anything water repellent, including Gortex in my experience), but look for the ones that have vents in the armpits and full vents in the back and front. Look for pants made from the same material. These work great in the winter, and they keep you very warm with surprisingly little on underneath. If you wear wicking layers underneath (+1 base layers at Target- recently bought some on the clearance rack for $5 each) the vents do a pretty good job of keeping you from overheating. All of my cycling jackets cost me between $4 and $10 and my pants in the same range. No way I'd ever spend a lot of money on bike specific rain gear when the average cost for a waterproof jacket at the cheap bike shop in town is about $150.
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Old 11-06-11, 08:28 PM   #10
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All my cold weather hiking gear - Northface, EMS, Patagonia, etc, work perfectly for riding.
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Old 11-07-11, 07:30 AM   #11
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LL Bean - If you buy a returned item (especially if it's pre-embroidered) they run really cheap. There's also a balance between quality and cheap. If you buy too cheap, you'll just wind up having to buy new gear again next year, which will defeat the whole purpose. Really, all you need is a wind-proof, water-resistant outer shell with a hood (you can layer up underneath with whatever warm clothing you already have), wind pants (if it gets really cold), ski goggles, and a descent pair of gloves. The gloves are the one thing I splurged on ($70), but I was getting tired of cold hands...worth every penny
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Old 11-07-11, 10:45 AM   #12
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Performance ( has some decent stuff, priced at a couple pizzas apiece (trying to talk college way too late!). Good tights, balaclava, headbands at reasonable prices. You'll also need wool socks, a good jacket, and gloves. Ski gloves or lobster type cycling gloves are good for cold and wind (like Indiana); for 30-50F, I like Performance Century gloves -- good for 6-8 years, then they start getting cold.

Layers are your friend. Technical t-shirts, cheap cycling jersey, polypro long t, and a wind shell / rain jacket will work fine for your core, as long as everything else stays warm.
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Old 11-07-11, 11:35 AM   #13
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[disclaimer: I'm rightpondian, so I don't know Indiana weather]
IMO, wool for the torso and head. Dig out old felted pullovers, ask around for ones that people want to chuck out. Partner them with winter bib tights and wear thin wool *under* the bib tights - this prevents cold spots. get a windproof that you can pack away when not needed. Get some cheap thin 'waterproof' overtrousers for emergency weather - not for normal wear, but for when the weather turns partway home. I have a 25mile commute and can set off in ok weather, then hit terrible conditions halfway. You need to be safe for when that happens.

In the worst snow weather I've encountered, 1 thin wool pullover + one medium weight + one old felted pullover stopped the 25mph winds completely, and although I had a thick crust of ice+snow on my chest, I was toasty inside.

The best thing about this gear is that the perfect pullovers are the ones people want to chuck away.
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Old 11-09-11, 03:52 AM   #14
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I've bought under layers at TJ Maxx, Marshalls, Ross. For about $15 each I got an nice UnderArmor Cold weather, Nike DryFit and Asics. They all have nice warm necks. I did splurge for a pair of REI Novara Headwind pants. These are not skin tight, so I'll be able to wear a layer under them. I might splurge for a half way decent biking rain jacket.
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Old 11-13-11, 07:35 AM   #15
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i am a REAL big guy. I use stuff from Under Armer and get my rain gear from Areotech. Awesome stuff.
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Old 11-13-11, 09:20 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by TRH_42 View Post
I'm trying to spend as little as possible (college student) while still getting stuff that will keep me from freezing to death.
Goodwill is your friend here. Wool sweaters. Gloves. Windproof jackets. You should be able to find all this at your local second-hand store.
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Old 11-13-11, 05:56 PM   #17
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Goodwill. The only thing I spend big bucks on is my underarmor base layer.
For torso, I get a good quality nylon outer layer, and treat it with waterproofing spray. Make sure that all your upper layers have full front zippers, so you can open and close to regulate heat. I usually just use a thin fleece as a middle layer.
For the legs, I use underarmor, and usually just some nylon jogging pants, also waterproofed. If necessary I'll throw on some sweatshorts or pants.
For hands, I have a ton of gloves. My usual ones are a pair of Montana mountaneering gloves, but I've found that a pair of cheap jersey gloves inside some insulated leather work gloves is good to go.
Feet, I usually just wear wool socks in my shoes, and I'm good. If I need a little extra heat or waterproofing, I'll throw on some NEOS overboots I got for $5 at Goodwill.
On my head, I use sock hats and a scarf. I use two thin hats, so I can adjust the layers for heat.
It's nice if your outer layer has a hood for super windy days, but it's not a necessity.
If I had to estimate the total cost of my gear, I'd say
$60 for the underarmor set
$15-20 for middle and outer layers, both legs and body
$10 for hats and scarves
$20 for gloves
$10 for wool socks
Whatever for shoes
$5 for NEOS boots
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Old 11-15-11, 08:21 PM   #18
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Lou will custom make for you and bill you later. (no lie) I have been dealing with Lou for years he never disappoints.
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