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Winter Commuting Attire

Old 11-22-19, 01:01 PM
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Necrohazard
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Winter Commuting Attire

I don't even have a bike that could get me anywhere in the winter (NE OH here), but I'm curious: for those of you who commute in cold/snowy weather, what sort of clothing/layering system do you employ? Brands and such would be appreciated. And how do you feel when you get to your destination? I am certain no matter what I wore my entire face would freeze off.
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Old 11-22-19, 01:08 PM
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Under low temperature conditions, you need to wick the sweat off your skin, you need an insulating layer over that, and finally a outer layer that blocks the wind. Add insulating layer as needed as temperature drops. That's not difficult.

Fingers and toes are a different story.
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Old 11-22-19, 01:21 PM
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I use the Lixada Men Cycling Jacket, Ynport MTB Pants, and a regular short sleeved jersey or t-shirt underneath. I also started using these Craft Hybrid Weather 2-in-1 Bike Cycling Mitten Gloves recently to replace the old work gloves I used to wear. I also have a sports skull cap that was meant for football players that I wear because it fits well under a cycling helmet, and a cheap balaclava I found at a gas station for when it's really cold.
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Old 11-22-19, 01:23 PM
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Originally Posted by liampboyle View Post
I use the Lixada Men Cycling Jacket, Ynport MTB Pants, and a regular short sleeved jersey or t-shirt underneath. I also started using these Craft Hybrid Weather 2-in-1 Bike Cycling Mitten Gloves recently to replace the old work gloves I used to wear. I also have a sports skull cap that was meant for football players that I wear because it fits well under a cycling helmet, and a cheap balaclava I found at a gas station for when it's really cold.
Thanks for the reply! Do you find that these items are sufficient? Is there anything you'd change?
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Old 11-22-19, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Necrohazard View Post
Thanks for the reply! Do you find that these items are sufficient? Is there anything you'd change?
Can't give you feed back on the gloves yet as they're a bit too new. Most of the time I ended up sweating with the jacket and once in awhile it's time for long johns under the pants. But yeah, for where I live (KY, USA) this seems to be more than sufficient, but our winter temps only run down to about 20°F at the coldest and you can expect high 30's and low 40's most of the winter. Water resistant rather than thermal is my main concern.
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Old 11-22-19, 01:32 PM
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one key is no exposed skin, check the winter sub-forum for tons more details from tons more ppl

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Old 11-22-19, 01:36 PM
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Originally Posted by liampboyle View Post
Can't give you feed back on the gloves yet as they're a bit too new. Most of the time I ended up sweating with the jacket and once in awhile it's time for long johns under the pants. But yeah, for where I live (KY, USA) this seems to be more than sufficient, but our winter temps only run down to about 20°F at the coldest and you can expect high 30's and low 40's most of the winter. Water resistant rather than thermal is my main concern.
Makes sense. I'd probably be needing thermal with the temperatures we get here - if I ever make the switch to commuting in winter.
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Old 11-22-19, 01:38 PM
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Also, Scotchguard - Winter is rainy season here, I'm scotch guarding my gear near constantly.
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Old 11-22-19, 01:55 PM
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"Winter"; as in below freezing I'll be wearing, in order head to toe:

-Helmet with a wind cover blocking the vents
-Ski goggles (stop eye tear-ing)
-2 balaclavas: A merino wool on with a mouth covering, and then a pearl izumi
-Voler winter rated jacket, got it on sale a while back and it is very warm on its own down to 10-15F
-Upper base layer
-Pair of gloves, I found a new favorite pair of fingered gloves that work on their own down to the teens F
-2X pair of therma-fleece bib tights, possibly with a windbreaker pant over them
-Lake MXZ400 winter SPD boots....depending on how low the temps are either basic athletic socks or merino wool socks. These boots are just too warm above freezing.
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Old 11-22-19, 03:09 PM
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Here, a typical winter day is, like, high thirties to upper forties and raining in the way it does up here. Which is to say, more of a hard sprinkle than a serious Texas rain. When that is the situation, I have on thermal/fleece long sleeve jersey and bibs/tights. No base layer because I will get too hot. Merino socks. Helmet, no cap. Ten year-old Novara rain jacket over the jersey. Some North Face gloves that work great, even though they are not for cycling. That's it. I am buying the Velotoze Tall Shoe Covers this season, but I don't have experience with them yet.

If it is dry and really cold for us (20s or teens), I will add a base layer top and bottom of el cheapo stuff from Target. A Proviz vest over the jersey. It's more than enough for me. If it is snowing or if the temp. is hovering around freezing while raining, I usually do not go out. We don't get a lot of snow here, but we do get ice and I have one big spill on it already.
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Old 11-22-19, 03:57 PM
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It's kind of the same stuff you'd wear doing any physical outdoor activity. If it's pretty darn cold -- base layer, insulating layer, shell layer. I don't buy cycling specific winter gear when I already have hiking and outdoors winter gear. It's pretty much the same stuff with a longer cut tail, a slightly closer fit, and at least 2x the price. Often the cycling gear doesn't even work as well and still costs more.

If you want to burn money, there are plenty of brands for cycling specific gear. If you also hike, you can reuse a lot of your good gear from companies like Outdoor Research, Marmot, Mountain Hardwear, etc. If you want a good layering system and want to get it dirt cheap, search ECWCS, look at the layers, and go find the gear on eBay and at surplus stores.

My idea for cold is typically a base layer and softshell jacket. If it's just stupid cold, I'll add a fleece and soft shell pants and potentially use a thicker base layer. Wrap the cycling shoes in neoprene booties, and wear wool socks. Keep your skin from being exposed with a balaclava or combination of hat and face mask and googles.
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Old 11-22-19, 08:40 PM
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I commute in work clothes ("office casual") as the longest leg of my multi-modal commute is about 2.5 miles.
When the temperature goes below about 60 F, I wear a shell (Showers Pass "Syncline" https://www.rei.com/product/896068/s...ke-jacket-mens).
Below about 50 F, I add a long-sleeve Polar Fleece shirt.
In the mid-30s F, I add a balaclava.
Below 30F, I add water- and wind-proof pants (North Face; can't find the exact ones now...)
Below 20F, I add a thinner base layer shirt (Under Armour).
Below 10F, I add Polar Fleece pants (Under Armour) over my work pants and under the shell.
Below about -10F, I will put up the hood of my shell.
On the hands, once it gets below mid-30s I wear Pearl Izumi "lobster mitts" (https://www.pearlizumi.com/US/en/sho.../p/14341508428)
The coldest I've commuted in is -20F, and the equipment ^^ keeps me comfortable.
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Old 11-22-19, 11:36 PM
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Winter Commuting Attire
Originally Posted by Necrohazard View Post
I don't even have a bike that could get me anywhere in the winter (NE OH here), but I'm curious: for those of you who commute in cold/snowy weather, what sort of clothing/layering system do you employ?

Brands and such would be appreciated...
Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Under low temperature conditions, you need to wick the sweat off your skin, you need an insulating layer over that, and finally a outer layer that blocks the wind. Add insulating layer as needed as temperature drops. That's not difficult.

Fingers and toes are a different story.
I have posted about my generic winter dress with adherence to those principles.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
On several threads, I have posted my slogan for winter riding, “Gear and Gumption,” obviously mostly clothing.

For me, it takes a while to make the transition between warm and cold and vice versa.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
The way I organize my winter dress is by levels (link), 1 to 6. (I got that scale from whitewater rafting, where difficulty of a river is rated from 1 to 6, and it works for me). The levels do not mean layers, but the combination of gear for temperature intervals, in increments of about 10 degrees F

The level makes the job of selecting clothing very easy for that decision to be made on the morning of a commute, without going outside. Sometimes I may bring along a piece of apparel from a higher level just in case.

The scheme is particularly useful at the change of seasons to remind me of what works. Also, I choose by ambient temperature and usually ignore the reported wind chill temp, because there always is a wind chill on the moving bike.
For me and others, particularly those who wear prescription eyeglasses, eyewear with attendant fogging is a special problem.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I perennially post about my winter eyewear for my 14 mile year-round commute, from about 35° down to as low as 0°. I must wear my prescription eyeglasses, and fogging is one of the worst dangers of winter riding.

I am entirely satisfied with my system:...
See also this post:
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
IME, and from reading numerous posts on the subject, there are three basic methods for preventing fogging, caused by exhaled moist air onto the cold surface of the eyeglasses and goggles:…
Then there is always that rule of thumb that you should not be warm for the first mile or so, because your body heat from exertion will soon kick in.
Originally Posted by Necrohazard View Post
And how do you feel when you get to your destination? I am certain no matter what I wore my entire face would freeze off.
Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
…I have also often suggested that any recommendations for winter riding include description of the conditions in which they are employed, i.e. lowest temperature and distance.

Last edited by Jim from Boston; 11-22-19 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 11-23-19, 09:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
"Winter"; as in below freezing I'll be wearing, in order head to toe:

-Helmet with a wind cover blocking the vents
-Ski goggles (stop eye tear-ing)
-2 balaclavas: A merino wool on with a mouth covering, and then a pearl izumi
-Voler winter rated jacket, got it on sale a while back and it is very warm on its own down to 10-15F
-Upper base layer
-Pair of gloves, I found a new favorite pair of fingered gloves that work on their own down to the teens F
-2X pair of therma-fleece bib tights, possibly with a windbreaker pant over them
-Lake MXZ400 winter SPD boots....depending on how low the temps are either basic athletic socks or merino wool socks. These boots are just too warm above freezing.
Two pairs of fleece tights? Seems excessive, but how low is the temp? For me, when the temp is below -10C, I have a pair of fleece lined rights, but I will put a pair of wool leg warmers under it, just above the knees...okay, yeah, pretty much the same strategy.

Two balaclava, though?😀
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Old 11-23-19, 09:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006 View Post
Two pairs of fleece tights? Seems excessive, but how low is the temp? For me, when the temp is below -10C, I have a pair of fleece lined rights, but I will put a pair of wool leg warmers under it, just above the knees...okay, yeah, pretty much the same strategy.

Two balaclava, though?😀
I have a Pearl Izumi "Barrier" one is only good on its own to 5C....a merino wool one that is good down to just below freezing...and below that I layer them.

Maybe $200 MSRP P.I. fleece bib-tights are warmer than the $50 softshell/thermafleece cheapies on Amazon...but I need two much below freezing or I start feeling my thighs go numb. Either way, I don't want to spend the money on enough garments for a winter commuting wardrobe to buy the "real" non-El-Cheapo deal.

These parts, in winter, it gets down to -10C easily during winter, also we have strong surface winds which makes it worse.
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Old 11-23-19, 09:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Marcus_Ti View Post
I have a Pearl Izumi "Barrier" one is only good on its own to 5C....a merino wool one that is good down to just below freezing...and below that I layer them.
Actually, I sometimes have to put on a second layer on my face, like when it gets down to -20C. The one that I normally wear is a synthetic one, and is great all around up to about that temperature, but colder than that I feel like it's necessary to add an extra fleece layer that also covers the neck more.

When the temp gets down that low, sweat is no longer an issue. I'm not riding hard enough to produce sweat or generate heat, so layering is essential.
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Old 11-23-19, 10:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Falkon View Post
..... I don't buy cycling specific winter gear when I already have hiking and outdoors winter gear. It's pretty much the same stuff with a longer cut tail, a slightly closer fit, and at least 2x the price. Often the cycling gear doesn't even work as well and still costs more.......My idea for cold is typically a base layer and softshell jacket. If it's just stupid cold, I'll add a fleece and soft shell pants and potentially use a thicker base layer. Wrap the cycling shoes in neoprene booties, and wear wool socks. Keep your skin from being exposed with a balaclava or combination of hat and face mask and googles.
I subscribe precisely to @Falkon 's principles as described above. The three things that I would add:

  1. I find a balaclava too warm in temps above 12F. I find that a polyester bandana over my mouth and nose is adequate above that temperature, and it is easy to adjust as things warm up during my commute.
  2. A light-weight breathable rain shell makes a good wind shell when you need it during winter, and packs up nicely in the pannier or backpack.
  3. Overdoing the hands and feet for warmth doesn't lead to overheating. I aim warm with the neoprene shoe wrap with aerogel footbed (down to 20F), a winter cycling boot (below 20F), and ski gloves. Lobster style ski mittens with a trigger finger are nice below 15F, others like permanent bar mitts. The key is to have a liner glove in an outer shell in case you need to remove the bulky part for dexterity when stopped.
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Old 11-24-19, 11:37 AM
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Originally Posted by bpcyclist View Post
We don't get a lot of snow here, but we do get ice and I have one big spill on it already.
Hi bpcyclist. Just moved to Portland 3 weeks ago and was wondering if there's enough ice to justify studded tires here? All of my biking/commuting is on the East side, and mostly east of 205.
Thanks
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Old 11-24-19, 12:10 PM
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Hey, billy013. Best avatar of all time!!

Yeah, I'm out there several times a week myself. In my opinion, no, we do not get enough even toward Gresham or The Gorge (these two areas tend to be colder than the rest of the metro area and sort of have their own weather). It does happen, but there is always fair warning, It is virtually never a surprise. So, you may just have to drive that day. Or, when we get serious ice (every so many years), there will be no work. The city just shuts down.

Anyway, welcome to P-Town. I grew up here, then went away to school/training for 16 years and then came back to take a good job. It has changed a lot. Much bigger. Pretty good for cycling, though. I do miss aspects of NYC and the South. Boston, though you can have it this time of year. Anyway, I hope you get settled in. If there is anything I can answer for you, just let me know.
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Old 11-24-19, 08:40 PM
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I commute year-round in Madison WI. Since it's "only" commuting, and I don't sweat a lot, I don't really need an elaborate system. I wear snow pants over my regular work pants, hiking boots, a ski jacket, and ski mittens. I have a neoprene face mask and a beanie that goes under my helmet. At the coldest temps (i.e., below zero), I might add a sweater and switch to my downhill ski helmet and goggles. A ski helmet is typically not ventilated, and has built in ear muffs, so it's much warmer. There are always a few other cyclists on the paths, and most seem pretty happy to be out there.

I think it's important to get acclimatized gradually. Don't try to start winter riding for the first time in mid January. The same temps that seem cold in December will seem warm in the spring.
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Old 11-25-19, 10:11 AM
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Layer up and add / remove as needed during your commute. Be careful not to sweat. Better to be a bit colder than too hot.
Hands and feet is a whole different ball game. Some, myself included, are very sensitive to cold. My hands quickly go numb in the cold and I have very very warm gloves and bar mitts.
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Old 11-25-19, 10:34 AM
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In addition to "how cold?" you also need to specify "how far?" I've got a graduated system of clothing for my current 10 mile commute. When my commute was only 5 miles each way, I usually managed to get by with clothing about 10 degrees warmer than what I wear now.

Significant thermal mass also plays into things, along with metabolism. Some people are so thin, and their metabolism is so low, that they're wearing full skin covering while I'm riding around in shorts and short sleeves.
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Old 11-28-19, 11:47 AM
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I've been riding in snow for nearly 60 years. This link on winter cycling matches my experiences:

Copenhagenize.com - Bicycle Urbanism by Design: Overcomplicating Winter Cycling - Why It's Bad

I wear normal office clothing (suit or trousers/sport jacket). Over them I use a LL Bean Stowaway Gortex hooded coat, Lands End 2.5 Layer rain pants, Grandoe ski gloves, and NEOS Villager overshoes. It's good down to 0 F and I just unzip for cooler conditions. Best of all, it goes on or off in just a few minutes. If it is above 20 or not snowing/raining, I'll forgo the overshoes and over pants.
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Old 11-29-19, 02:50 AM
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The same clothes I'd wear if I'd walk to work, i.e. regular clothes, army style boots, skiing jacket. Below -10C I'd wear thicker (ski) gloves. -15C is my lower limit for riding - mainly because I don't have any special winter attire (face mask being the main needed thing), which in turn stems from the fact that temps below -15C have been very rare here in recent years.
That said, my commute isn't very long - 9.5km one way which takes roughly 30 mins or slightly longer in bad weather, so I don't really start to freeze yet.
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Old 11-29-19, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by PaulH View Post
I wear normal office clothing (suit or trousers/sport jacket).
In all honesty, that's been how I handled things most of my riding life. It's only been the last two years or so I've broken down and started getting actual cycling gear. I rode many winters in work boots, jeans, work gloves, and my regular coat using standard MTB knobbies for my tires. Again, I usually had more problems with over heating than being overly cold.

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