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  1. #1
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    Best cold weather fabrics

    Here are some hard data on fabrics insulation i've gathered from this link
    http://coldweatherclothing.ciehub.in.../ADA336776.pdf

    Here all fabrics have been tested when dry. So in wet environment things could be different. Doesn't say much regarding the ability to move the water away neither. Nor does it say much more about the durability


    CLO per inch before laundering best to worst
    Silk/wool 18.38
    Wool/thermax 12.27
    Pyroloft A 6.38
    Polartec 300 5.35
    Primaloft 4.67
    Microloft 150R 4.39
    Polartec powerstretch 4.3
    Thinsulate CS100 4.29
    Thinsulate CS300 4.20
    Thermolite 100 3.93

    CLO per inch after laundering best to worst
    Silk/wool ?
    Wool/thermax ?
    Pyroloft A 4.12
    Polartec 300 ?
    Thinsulate CS300 3.21
    Thinsulate CS100 3.14
    Polartec powerstretch ?
    Primaloft 2.07
    Microloft 150R 1.98
    Liteloft 96g 1.4
    Polarguard HV 4.4oz 1.26
    Liteloft 65g 1.16

    CLO per oz before laundering best to worst
    Pyroloft A 1.27
    Liteloft 65g 1.11
    Liteloft 96g 0.9
    Primaloft 0.89
    Microloft 150R 0.62
    Polarguard HV 4.4oz 0.5
    Thinsulate CS100 0.41
    Thermolite 100 0.4
    Thinsulate CS300 0.33
    Silk/Wool 0.32
    Polartec powerstretch 0.14
    Polartec 300 0.13

    CLO per oz after laundering best to worst
    Pyroloft A 0.78
    Liteloft 96g 0.43
    Primaloft 0.39
    Liteloft 65g 0.36
    Polarguard HV 4.4oz 0.33
    Thinsulate CS100 0.27
    Microloft 150R 0.26
    Thinsulate CS300 0.21
    Silk/Wool ?
    Polartec powerstretch ?
    Polartec 300 ?

    EDIT:
    no data available where the ? are
    Last edited by erig007; 11-07-12 at 10:43 AM.

  2. #2
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    Useful data but how do the numbers look after a few washes and some wear and compression.
    There is one value for wool but wool varies a lot in insulating capability according to fine-ness of fibre and type. Alpaca is a hollow fibre and there is cashmere and quiviut

  3. #3
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    Data for wool are from table 5
    Other values are from table 9, 11 and 12
    Last edited by erig007; 11-04-12 at 10:19 PM.

  4. #4
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    not sure how much it relates to cold weather riding gear..... in below freezing conditions, what's most important is a good wind shell layer combined with extremity and face protection. what is underneath the shell is pretty inconsequential in my book, as just about anything works.

    just like while cross country skiing, you don't need to wear much to stay warm while riding.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    not sure how much it relates to cold weather riding gear..... in below freezing conditions, what's most important is a good wind shell layer combined with extremity and face protection. what is underneath the shell is pretty inconsequential in my book, as just about anything works.

    just like while cross country skiing, you don't need to wear much to stay warm while riding.
    It relates in some way. I give you my example. I was looking for warm gloves for winter. My interest ended up on leather gloves. From there i started having problem with the way to guess how warm a leather glove will be based on its fabrics. Water is not important here as i will wear nitrile gloves directly onto my skin.
    So the remaining aspects are the quality of the fabric, the layers and the type of fabrics.
    From there i know that gloves have limited space available for insulation which by chance is related to CLO per inch. Secondly, on websites gloves insulation is presented in gram which is related to CLO per oz. And finally, if i choose a glove with a removable liner it means that this liner will probably end up in a washing machine which is related to before or after laundering. It's not an exact science but it will probably help.

    Another example is if you decide to go into an expedition/touring you then need to have the best insulation with the minimum weight (CLO per oz).

    Another example is that you could end up with gloves which don't have a removable liner so the before and after laundering won't be as important as there is little chance you put your gloves into a washing machine. The opposite goes if you're looking for a jacket for instance.

  6. #6
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    here's what happens: you buy lofty gear.

    if it's not down, no matter which insulation you get, after a few years it looses loft and becomes less effective. If it's pile, it loses it at the shoulders and wear areas. (it can take a decade or two to wear out a pile coat) if it's fiberfill batting, it flattens out.

    You give the less effective gear to charity, and get some more.


    The best cold weather fabric for solidly below freezing temps is uncoated pertex nylon. the MEC Super Microfit cycling jacket is a timeless, near perfect piece of cold weather gear made in one of the best performing cold weather fabrics.

    underneath, you can wear whatever you'd like. any baselayer and any midlayer and any insulating vest provide impressive levels of warmth for an afternoon ride underneath a MEC cycling coat.

    have you tried shell gloves? just like core layering, with a good shell you can put any old insulation underneath and get pretty good performance down to quite low temperatures.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-03-12 at 04:06 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post

    The best cold weather fabric for solidly below freezing temps is uncoated pertex nylon. the MEC Super Microfit cycling jacket is a timeless, near perfect piece of cold weather gear made in one of the best performing cold weather fabrics.
    .
    I thought about buying this one for a long long time but i had already bought another jacket when i learn about it. The massimo 2 jacket from louis garneau it's kind of heavy duty compared to the mec supermicroft, the later one being more versatile and I have another one in the same category than the mec supermicroft, a sugoi firewall 180 jacket. As i already bought the louis garneau jacket i decided to carry on with this way which is different than going with the mec supermicroft. I prefer my way now that i had time to try it. I think your way is similar to the gen3 ecwcs way of the US army my way is more like a gen4 ecwcs.
    Here is why.
    The mec supermicroft has few drawbacks, it lacks pitzips and other ventilation systems at the right places (and is not water resistant which is not really a problem below freezing temps except for frozen rain).
    With the louis garneau jacket for cold weather and the sugoi firewall 180 for transitional weather both have the same ability to adapt to the anatomy by limiting the wind from coming from the front and by allowing the release of excess heat on the front arm, under arm and the back. Both mimics the way the body works. Overall the comfort is then better than what it could be with the mec supermicroft because of that. It's quite of the futur of what garments will be. Anatomy adapted.

    Regarding the gloves, my problem is that i have big hands so common brands (black diamond, mammut, outdoor research, marmot, louis garneau, sugoi, hestra, north face, arc'Teryx, grandoe etc) don't works with me when it comes to layering so i have to go with snowmobile gloves which anyway are better for cold on the bicycle for the same reason than the jacket, insulation adapts to the anatomy (more insulation on the back than on the palm)

  8. #8
    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I have couple fleece shirts I'm very fond of. combined with base layer and outer shell they are quite versatile
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Quote Originally Posted by erig007 View Post
    The mec supermicroft has few drawbacks, it lacks pitzips and other ventilation systems at the right places (and is not water resistant which is not really a problem below freezing temps except for frozen rain).
    The mec supermicroft does have pit zips and dwr treatment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by voj112 View Post
    The mec supermicroft does have pit zips and dwr treatment.
    There is pitzips and there is pitzips. Look at the 2 jackets i was talking about and you will understand what i mean. But the best ventilation systems are the pitzips there is no garment on the market able to have the same results than pitzips. The mec supermicroft simply doesn't have enough of them.
    Same goes with DWR treatment. Just put the mec under 1hr rain. Anyway, here is the title of the first comment on the mec website for the mec supermicroft :
    Not water resistant at all

  11. #11
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    I put the microft jacket under 3 hours of rain and had somewhat wet shoulders. The point is that these aren't rain jackets. You can't expect to be dry wearing a water resistant wind breaker in the rain.
    Last edited by voj112; 11-03-12 at 12:41 PM.

  12. #12
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    the pitzips on a mec microfit are about two feet long, plenty ample for ventilation.

    and the jacket rocks in cold weather, best i've found.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    the pitzips on a mec microfit are about two feet long, plenty ample for ventilation.

    and the jacket rocks in cold weather, best i've found.
    I'm not saying there isn't enough ventilation where there is pitzips the problem is where there isn't, the forearms and the middle back.


    But if i had bought the supermicroft rather than the sugoi firewall 180 i would see no point going for the other one. It's just 2 different ways to solve the same problem. The sugoi firewall 180 is more a middle layer in a multi layers softshell approach and which can be used as an outerlayer and react like the supermicroft, when the later one is more a light outerlayer.

    But if there is little differences with one layer. When looking at the whole system my way is better overall.
    Let's compare what one of the best systems would be:

    outerlayer : supermicroft jacket
    midlayer : smartwool phd divide full zip top
    baselayer : merino icebreaker 200

    outerlayer: louis garneau massimo 2 jacket
    midlayer: sugoi firewall 180 jacket



    Above freezing temps:

    supermicroft jacket + light baselayer vs firewall 180 jacket

    wind resistance : front panel, arms, neck and shoulders: advantage firewall 180; forearms: advantage supermicroft; overall: advantage sugoi
    breathability: back and forearms: advantage firewall 180; shoulders and underarms: advantage supermicroft; overall: advantage mec
    waterproofness: front panel, arms and shoulders :advantage firewall 180; forearms and back: advantage supermicroft; overall: advantage sugoi
    ability to dry: advantage supermicroft; overall: advantage mec
    sweat: advantage firewall 180 (supermicroft dry, breath better but the breathable areas are better placed on the firewall 180); overall: sugoi
    cold resistance: advantage firewall 180 (warmer where needed(front,arms, shoudlers) and colder where not needed); overall: advantage sugoi
    visibility: advantage supermicroft; overall: advantage mec
    fit: your choice (slim fit vs relaxed fit)
    smellproofness: advantage supermicroft; overall: advantage mec
    practicality: advantage firewall 180 (one pocket each but 2 layers vs 1); overall: advantage sugoi
    price: advantage firewall 180 (85$ sugoi, 105$ mec (75$ supermicroft + 30$ base layer); overall: advantage sugoi
    so to sum up:
    supermicroft + light baselayer: breathability, ability to dry, visibility, smellproofness
    firewall 180: wind resistance, waterproofness, cold resistance, sweat, practicality, price

    So from those results the firewall 180 jacket seems better equipped for colder temperatures than the supermicroft jacket + base layer combo
    Taking into account that at hotter temps a simple t shirt is enough.

    Then in colder temperatures (around freezing)

    combo merino icebreaker 200 top + mec supermicroft jacket vs louis garneau massimo 2 jacket + light baselayer
    The same goes here as the design of the louis garneau jacket is quite similar with the sugoi firewall 180

    wind resistance : front panel, arms, neck, shoulders and forearms: advantage massimo 2; overall: advantage garneau
    breathability: back and forearms: advantage massimo 2; underarms : equivalent; arms: advantage equivalent; overall: advantage garneau
    waterproofness: advantage massimo 2; overall: advantage garneau
    ability to dry: advantage massimo 2 (merino is slow to dry); overall: advantage garneau
    sweat: advantage massimo 2 (merino is better when wet but massimo 2 is better in wind resistance, breathability and ability to dry ); overall: advantage garneau
    cold resistance: advantage massimo 2 (massimo 2 jacket beat the combo in wind resistance, sweat, breathability etc.); overall: advantage garneau
    visibility: advantage combo; overall: advantage combo
    fit: your choice (slim fit vs relaxed fit)
    smellproofness: advantage combo; overall: advantage combo
    practicality: advantage massimo 2 (2 jacket vs 2 but more pockets and better designed pockets ); overall: advantage garneau
    price: advantage combo (176$ garneau (146$ + 30$ base layer), 119$ combo(75$ mec, 44$ icebreaker); overall: advantage combo

    so to sum up:
    combo supermicroft jacket + icebreaker 200 top: visibility, smellproofness, price
    massimo 2 jacket + light baselayer: wind resistance, breathability, waterproofness, ability to dry, sweat, cold resistance, practicality
    So from those results there isn't much to say as it is pretty obvious


    Now way below freezing temperatures

    combo supermicroft:
    outerlayer : supermicroft jacket
    midlayer : smartwool phd divide full zip top
    baselayer : merino icebreaker 200

    combo massimo:
    outerlayer: louis garneau massimo 2 jacket
    midlayer: sugoi firewall 180 jacket


    wind resistance : front panel, neck, forearms: equivalent; arms, shoulders: advantage combo massimo; overall: advantage combo massimo
    breathability: back, forearms : advantage combo massimo; underarms: equivalent; overall: advantage combo massimo
    waterproofness: advantage combo massimo; overall: advantage combo massimo
    ability to dry: advantage combo massimo (merino is slow to dry); overall: advantage combo massimo
    sweat: advantage combo massimo (merino is better when wet but the combo massimo is better in wind resistance, breathability and ability to dry ); overall: advantage combo massimo
    cold resistance: advantage combo massimo (the combo massimo beat the combo supermicroft in wind resistance, sweat, breathability etc.); overall: advantage combo massimo
    visibility: advantage combo supermicroft; overall: advantage combo supermicroft
    fit: your choice (slim fit vs relaxed fit)
    smellproofness: advantage combo supermicroft; overall: advantage combo supermicroft
    practicality: advantage combo massimo (2 jackets vs 3, more pockets and better designed pockets ); overall: advantage combo massimo
    price: advantage combo (235$ combo massimo (146$ garneau, 85$ sugoi); 318$ combo supermicroft (75$ mec, 199$ smartwool, 44$ icebreaker); overall: advantage combo massimo

    so to sum up:
    combo supermicroft: visibility, smellproofness
    combo massimo: wind resistance, breathability, waterproofness, ability to dry, sweat, cold resistance, practicality, price
    So from those results there isn't much to say as it is pretty obvious again
    Last edited by erig007; 11-03-12 at 05:26 PM.

  14. #14
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    hehe. yeah, i had a coat like that. A remarkably similar, fancy stretch softshell of latest cut from Endura. Got it in 2011 gratis as a shwag sample from the shop, 250 bucks new or something.

    Wettest thing i'd ever ridden in.
    .......promptly got rid of it as it was a swampmachine.

    How much have you ridden in the coat? What are you comparing it to in your own kit? Have you ever used a windshell in the winter for any winter sport?

    I started winter riding in the 1970's, so have a lot of baseline data to refer back to.

    Thinking a stretchy waterproof softshell is somehow the 'best' cold weather fabric for cycling is barking up the wrong tree.

    More power to you figuring it out. you may someday discover what truly constitutes the best cold weather fabrics, but it won't be from a spreadsheet of R-values.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-03-12 at 08:04 PM.
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    I have been wearing a goretex paclite jacket for 10 years, have an event jacket, a rain jacket, a bunch of softshell jacket and other cycling gears (mec included). Have been wearing the louis garneau jacket for more than a year last winter included under rain, frozen rain, cold weather, very cold weather at -36C, wind, cool weather and even hot weather.
    Under rain conditions it is the closest waterproof jacket from the goretex paclite jacket that i have ever been wearing. Above 55F it's usually too hot to wear
    Last edited by erig007; 01-14-13 at 05:32 PM.

  16. #16
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    how well do the primaloft layers fit under the Louis Garneau shell?


    out in nearly 40 below in that LG stretchy thing? impressive. I can see why you're concerned about more warm layers!



    here's a tip: when it gets really cold, waterproof starts to work against the rider.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    how well do the primaloft layers fit under the Louis Garneau shell?
    Well i have a polar fleece from quechua that i was using with the goretex paclite. With the louis garneau shell it will go all the way to -40F. But it defeat the purpose of having a breathable part on the back. The polar fleece don't have one. And with only two big layers. Sweat is guaranted and there is no way to use the polar fleece alone under heavy rain.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post
    out in nearly 40 below in that LG stretchy thing? impressive. I can see why you're concerned about more warm layers!
    Well, i found out that the only way to not sweat much on a bicycle is to be cold. Without a windproof front panel it's quite impossible to get there. Because you get a pneumonia before being cold. I nearly got sick with the mec thermal vertex that i was wearing last month at 65F due to the lack of windproof front panel. Those gears are well made for climbing, mountaineering but not for cycling


    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist View Post



    here's a tip: when it gets really cold, waterproof starts to work against the rider.
    I agree 200%. For the 10 years that i have been wearing the goretex paclite jacket i must have sweat enough to fill a lake

  18. #18
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    Wool.

    /thread


  19. #19
    Senior Member digibud's Avatar
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    My stuff is way simple. When it's warm I wear a cycling jersey or a cotton tshirt. When it gets cool I add a thin, very thin windbreak jacket. When it gets a bit chilly I put on a thin polypro long underwear and that's never worn with cotton over it. A regular cycling jersey would go over it. Add the thin windproof jacket as needed. Still cooler and I'll probably add thin polypro gloves under my cycling jacket. Cooler yet and I may add stretch leggings that I can remove if I warm up enough. From there I add another thin polypro layer. By the time I get to two polypro layers with a thin windproof jacket I'll be swapping the thin windproof jacket for my only real cycling upper-outer layer, a Bellweather cycling jacket with a windproof front and open weave back. Two long john tops and a jersey with the Bellweather jacket with Craft pants and gloves with a thin polypro balaclava and I'm good to +20F. At +10 I simply add another layer of Polypro. At zero to -10 I swap a layer of polypro for a thicker synthetic layer and swap my balaclava for a medium weight balaclava. At -20F I add another thin shell over my bellweather or remove the Bellweather and swap it for another synthetic layer of med weight and use a large windproof jacket. I like the Bellweather because it allows perspiration to go out the back side. I don't want "wet but warm". I want warm and dry. I do get sweaty but if I stop or reduce my effort my own body heat will dry me out. The perspiration won't remain in my clothing to any great degree and I can stay in the same clothes (needing more layers if my work effort drops) without concern. I much prefer that to warm, wet, wool. Just a preference. Wool also rocks and some conditions make it shine but in general I prefer pure synthetics and simply adding layers on layers to mix and match while letting my sweat escape as best as possible.
    Agreed that overheating is the way to sweating. When I leave the house in the winter I know I need to be quite chilly as I start. If I'm not almost uncomfortably cold as I start, I'm dressed too warm. Alternatively, when it's very cold I'll start out comfortably and then stop within 15-20 min and remove a layer. Either way works.

  20. #20
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    Am I the only one using leather with breathing room as a primary wind-break with often little underneath? Specifically soft leather chaps with a loose fit around the legs. I'm a practical-ist commuter not a stretch fabric shaved and oiled legs and arms roady and this year after getting really sick and tired of having to change before and after work for the commute especially in the wet soppy weather with wet road grime being thrown onto my legs by four wheeled motor vehicle traffic I started wearing motorcycle chaps to cover my legs while riding my pedal bikes and it has worked out great keeping my legs warm, dry, and clean. I might possibly wear out the leather in the knee bend area over time due to the pedaling action but so far I'm very pleased with the results. So pleased in-fact that on the really cold and windy days I've started wearing a leather motorcycle jacket as well with just a T-shirt underneath and the collar not zipped up tight and the bottom belt on the jacket not cinched down tight so it can breath around the waist and up through the front of the collar and that is really working well although it hasn't gotten into the F-scale sub-zero yet. Just using the leather as a very effective wind break that is pretty much water-proof and road grime proof as well seems to be working very well for me. I always figured motorcycle leather would be too heavy and bulky on a pedal bike but so far it has been worth it for me although both my chaps and jacket have been broken in and are soft and pliable might be different if they were brand new and stiff.
    Last edited by turbo1889; 11-04-12 at 01:16 AM.

  21. #21
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    i use leather gloves with liners underneath for most conditions. have to get a new set of deerskin choppers, lost my last good set somehow.

    I'm a fan of the lighter fabrics for shell pieces. Epic encapsulated fibers work great. In the snowstorm just last week I rode in a mil-spec wind pant. full conditions, high winds, driven snow and sleet, legs totally dry at end of commute.

    I'm become very impressed how well these encapsulated, non laminate fabrics perform in most conditions. I even have a mountaineering tent made out of uncoated Epic encapsulated nylon that works admirably well.

    I just got a pair of lightly insulated Nike golf pants for twenty bucks that should be the bees knees for cold weather riding around town while still looking presentable.



    -----------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by erigoo7
    For the 10 years that i have been wearing the goretex paclite jacket i must have sweat enough to fill a lake
    right. (so close) 10 years?

    Has anyone told you about the value of riding in non-waterproof layers like windbreakers in wintertime yet?
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-04-12 at 04:04 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  22. #22
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    Yes, 10 years. Now that i look at this, this jacket was (still is) indestructible. I gave it to charity because i wanted to change not because it wasn't wearable anymore. This jacket beat my willingness hands down. My guess is 100 years from now someone will still be wearing it.
    I understand what you meant by timeless mec supermicroft cycling jacket.

    Windbreaker panels at the right places (front panel, arms, shoulders, neck) are perfect for cycling but not at the wrong places. The body works dynamically it needs areas to release excess heat and moisture. Usually it is the head but the back is a bigger surface.

  23. #23
    Bicycle Repair Man !!! Sixty Fiver's Avatar
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    I have a Columbia Omni tech jacket with a waterproof shell and interchangeable liners... the fleece liner was not nearly as good as the Omnishield liner I picked up but then, the jacket was designed to handle the weather of the Pacific Northwest and also works very well in our colder drier climate.

    Neither of the insulating layers in this system is as good as my trusty military issue wool sweaters which are superb insulators and because they fit very close to my body are almost like a second skin and will wick moisture from my base layer. With this a simple t-shirt can be worn under the wool and I will stay warm and dry in a wide range of temperatures. When it gets into extreme cold that base layer becomes Merino.

    We were speaking to this at our winter cycling class the other night in that there are many excellent man made fibers, but my partner (and an expert in textiles and materials) also pointed out that there is no man made product that can match wool for warmth, wearability, bacterial resistance, and function under fire as wool retains it's insulating properties even when it is nearly saturated.

    The biggest downside of wool is that quality wool gear costs much more than synthetics.

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    Senior Member wolfchild's Avatar
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    Wool is probably one of the best, I love wearing wool... the only downside I can think of is that it's not windproof. When the temps drop below freezing and wind starts blowing , wool needs to be layered with something that is windproof. As much as I love wearing wool, I also love wearing my North Face synthetics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver View Post

    Neither of the insulating layers in this system is as good as my trusty military issue wool sweaters which are superb insulators and because they fit very close to my body are almost like a second skin and will wick moisture from my base layer. With this a simple t-shirt can be worn under the wool and I will stay warm and dry in a wide range of temperatures. When it gets into extreme cold that base layer becomes Merino.
    Yes but like i was saying before the design of the garment is as important if not more important than the choice of fabrics itself. You could choose the best insulation fabrics in the world but if the design tend to make the cyclist overheating (for instant due to a lack of pitzips) then overheating will mean sweat and sweat with cold wind will mean cold

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