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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 11-23-12, 04:47 PM   #1
Bluish Green
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Order of layers? Mixing merino wool and polyester

It is looking like a nasty ride home tonight into a 20-25mph wind at 32F. I brought an extra layer, but my question is, should I wear a polyester longsleeve shirt with a merino shirt over it, or should I wear the merino next to the skin and put the polyester on top of it? Or does it not matter?

Looks like I will get to break in the new balaclava, too.

Thanks!
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Old 11-23-12, 05:18 PM   #2
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I like merino next to the skin, but I tend to only wear one shirt and then a wind barrier on top. Do you have a windbreaker or (soft)shell or something? I'm not sure that two shirts will give you enough wind protection...
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Old 11-23-12, 05:25 PM   #3
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I like merino next to the skin, but I tend to only wear one shirt and then a wind barrier on top. Do you have a windbreaker or (soft)shell or something? I'm not sure that two shirts will give you enough wind protection...
Yes, I have a thin windbreaker with pitzips. This morning, with 38F and tailwind, I wore the merino shirt with the windbreaker over it and pitzips open, and I was great. Tonight, it's colder and a lot windier, so I will add the poly shirt either under the wool or on top of it.
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Old 11-23-12, 07:42 PM   #4
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I prefer the poly before the wool but I don't know which way is best.
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Old 11-23-12, 08:07 PM   #5
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I wore the wool underneath the poly, then topped it with the windbreaker with pitzips open. It worked pretty well, I was a little warm and sweated a little on my back, but not too serious. All things considered, I would probably do the same setup again. The wind was more variable and gusty than expected, but it was about freezing temp and around 15-20 mph wind. The wool did its job in not making the sweat freeze me, so I will probably keep going with wool next to the skin (although I can see the poly first logic too). I may experiment if I run shorter errands, etc. in this kind of weather.

The balaclava and bar mitts made their debuts, and I like both of them.

Thank you charbucks and dramiscram, your replies were both helpful. It is my first winter commuting season, an I couldn't find this question in a search and really didn't know what to do, so I appreciate the help from my northern friends!

Last edited by Bluish Green; 11-23-12 at 08:12 PM. Reason: had a confusing double-negative to get rid of
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Old 11-23-12, 08:15 PM   #6
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Last winter I experimented switching my layers from wool base layer and polypro and polypro base layer and wool....and I really did not notice a big difference

I finally settled the same as you, wool base next to skin and 1 to 2 layers polypro and fleece jacket

I decided on the wool next to skin because it feels nicer and wicks away the sweat and doesn't keep odors so I don't have to wash as much
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Old 11-23-12, 09:49 PM   #7
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I decided on the wool next to skin because... doesn't keep odors so I don't have to wash as much
This.
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Old 11-23-12, 09:59 PM   #8
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IMHO, poly goes next to the skin better than wool. That's biased by one of my wool jerseys with stiff nylon thread; a layer of padding underneath is appreciated. Warmth-wise, I'm not sure it makes much difference.
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Old 11-24-12, 12:39 AM   #9
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"Polyester" is not a good descriptive term for sports apparel. There are many, many different fiber forms used in polyester garments and even more ways of weaving and knitting them. There is a world of difference between a "polyester shirt" and a purpose built wicking base garment typified by a Craft undershirt. My personal preference is to wear Craft next to the skin and one or more long sleeve wicking type poly jerseys over that. At 32░F I wear one heavy jersey and a windproof jacket. Even when feeling quite wet, either from sweat or rain, I can take off my jacket, go indoors, and be dry in minutes. Modern poly fabrics don't smell or retain body odor.
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Old 11-24-12, 08:15 AM   #10
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I wore the wool underneath the poly, then topped it with the windbreaker with pitzips open.
I'll try it on my next commute.
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Old 11-24-12, 09:14 AM   #11
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I find that cycle jersies don't layer very well in winter. All the cycling features such as rear pockets, zips etc cannot be used. If you use more than one cycling jersey, the rear pockets bunch.
I use a simple, but very high grade Merino T-shirt as a base layer then put polyester jerseys or wool sweaters on top, followed by a windproof or waterproof. In variable conditions I put a light padded zip-up gillet over my windproof. If I overheat, it is simple to remove the extra insulation.
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Old 11-24-12, 09:19 AM   #12
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I wear merino wool next to skin and then, if necessary, merino wool over that.

I'm pretty sure it's not legal to mix polyester with wool. You guys better quit doing it before you get in some kind of trouble.
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Old 11-24-12, 10:34 AM   #13
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I'm pretty sure it's not legal to mix polyester with wool. You guys better quit doing it before you get in some kind of trouble.
I do it only with my balaclava on so the cops will have to catch me if they want my true identity.
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Old 11-24-12, 01:53 PM   #14
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I decided on the wool next to skin because it feels nicer and wicks away the sweat and doesn't keep odors so I don't have to wash as much
Doesn't keep odors well i put a clean merino jersey the other day over an odor resistant polyester baselayer , the merino smelled so bad, kind of wet wool, until it dries. I'm sure people could smell it 20 feet away. My whole place was filled with this odor and it stayed like this for a few days, until the merino dries, horrible. I'm traumatized

Last edited by erig007; 11-24-12 at 02:05 PM.
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Old 11-24-12, 03:30 PM   #15
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I'm pretty sure it's not legal to mix polyester with wool. You guys better quit doing it before you get in some kind of trouble.
LOL ! I break that rule all the time and never get caught.
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Old 11-24-12, 10:47 PM   #16
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My preference is a polypropylene base layer next to the skin with a wool over it. BTW, I don't have a wool jersey but have merino wool sweaters in tall that were designed for hiking, etc. The tall size is long enough to give jersey-like coverage.
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Old 11-25-12, 10:37 AM   #17
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Last winter I experimented switching my layers from wool base layer and polypro and polypro base layer and wool....and I really did not notice a big difference
I've never done the experiments, but that would have been my guess too. I tend to use my merino base layers a lot more than I do my merino jerseys (middle/outer layers), but I think that says a lot more about the fit & functionality rather than the effectiveness of those jerseys.
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Old 12-02-12, 07:30 AM   #18
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I am looking forward to my first winter with merino wool.
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Old 12-30-12, 06:25 PM   #19
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i have experimented several systems with the same wind resistant outer layer and i definitively see a difference.

S1 warmer compared to S2 (when no wind burst and no period of inactivity) (wet-dry-dry):
Icebreaker 200 merino jersey, MEC T3 hoodie over it, LG 3400 zip neck over it etc..

S2 colder than S1 (dry-wet-dry-dry):
LG mesh carbon tee (coconoa mixed with polyester), Icebreaker 200 merino jersey over it, MEC T3 hoodie over it, LG 3400 zip neck over it etc..

S3 warmer than S1 overall. As warm as S1 and sometimes warmer (cold wind bursts and temporary but long enough period of inactivity to go over inertial heat) (dry-dry-dry):
LG mesh carbon tee, MEC T3 hoodie over it, LG 3400 zip neck over it etc..


A good article here
In the study they have found out that dry-dry > dry-wet > wet-dry > wet-wet

Non-evaporative effects of a wet mid layer on heat transfer through protective clothing
http://link.springer.com/article/10....0629-y?LI=true


Last edited by erig007; 01-07-13 at 10:07 AM.
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Old 12-30-12, 06:55 PM   #20
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I like the merino as a base layer
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Old 12-30-12, 11:30 PM   #21
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Merino leaves me a little clammy if used next to skin while riding, so I prefer a poly base layer first. Even as a mid-layer I find it doesn't transfer moisture as well as I'd like but its still warm. Part of the problem might be that I don't have any tops designed as a base layer. My Icebreaker merino thermal underwear work great as a base layer on my legs.

I've had good experience using wool as an outer layer at colder temperatures. Water vapor freezes into snow on the outside of the sweater. Though since I have no large wool tops with zippers, it is difficult to make adjustments on the go.
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Old 01-04-13, 03:56 PM   #22
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I find synthetics like the polyester wick the moisture away better than wool. I wear the polyX undershirts against the skin for this reason.

Last edited by LarDasse74; 01-04-13 at 08:54 PM. Reason: replaced the word **** with the word shirt.
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Old 01-04-13, 04:46 PM   #23
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I am having good success with this:

- midweight merino wool shirt baselayer,
- loose (ie. one size larger than normal) polyester longsleeve running shirt as a midlayer
- nylon windbreaker on top.

This has become my go-to setup for temps from upper 20's down to single digits degrees F.

I've also been wearing a merino wool baselayer on my legs under my polyester track pants. I was having some issues with tight hamstrings and calves (that might have been related to my switch to winter tires and resultant incease in rolling resistance) that I have mostly solved with warmer leg apparel and with pre-ride and post-ride stretching and gearing down my bike and spinning easier. It seems to be more important in the colder weather, at least for this old body.
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Old 01-05-13, 09:36 AM   #24
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Commuting I use a coolmax liner then a uniform shirt that blends light wool and poly. Mostly poly. On club rides I use the liner then long sleeve cotton/wool blend with outer jacket of suitable kind. I don't own a merino wool jersey or sweater yet. I will soon as I believe they are the most efficient warmer in my conditions. We
have lots of humidity here. This AM it was 82% and rising two% points /hour.
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Old 01-07-13, 12:51 PM   #25
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I've been using the same method in MN for all of my riding here.

Poly base layer (Helly Hansen is nice)
Merino Wool midweight turtleneck (goodwill)
Light/Medium Softshell

I've never cared too much for wool next to my skin no matter what it is made of it, they all make me itch and have an interesting smell. However I am interested in Target's Champion brand midweight base layer which is silk and only $12 a piece.
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