Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Commuting
Reload this Page >

Cold weather clothing selection guide

Commuting Bicycle commuting is easier than you think, before you know it, you'll be hooked. Learn the tips, hints, equipment, safety requirements for safely riding your bike to work.

Cold weather clothing selection guide

Old 09-23-08, 05:19 AM
  #1  
Big Ron
Rim crusher
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Raleigh, NC
Posts: 290
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Cold weather clothing selection guide

I posted this a few years back, but thought I'd do it again. Some of you may find it of use. It is tried and true (for me, your cold tolerance may be different than mine, your clothing choices may be different too). I generally am a bit chilly starting out in the cooler temps, but have a light sweat going by the time I arrive to work, 13 miles later.

60F and up Shorts, jersey, socks, riding gloves, glasses
55-60F Add arm warmers (or long sleeve jersey)
50-55F Add lycra tights, Tshirt as base layer
45-50F Add wind vest and long fingered gloves
40-45 Replace riding socks with wool socks, add 2nd layer (or warmer) long fingered gloves
32-40 Add 2nd layer of socks, add 2nd layer of tights, add 2nd layer of long sleeves, add head band.

Above temps assume no heating from sun, no cooling from wind, and no rain.
Adjust accordingly for those conditions.
Big Ron is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 05:35 AM
  #2  
cyclezealot
Senior Member
 
cyclezealot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: Fallbrook,Calif./Palau del Vidre, France
Posts: 13,193

Bikes: Klein QP, Fuji touring, Surly Cross Check, BCH City bike

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1259 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
35-40.. I have not tried a 2nd layer of tights. Have to give that a try.. What can't be resolved in the cold air going into the nostrils. Don't like that. I've tried scarves, cycling baklava; but just don't like the runny frozen mess just below the nose.. The nose / mouth area is where I'd find the right protective clothing to make for a better ride...../ 35 is my mimimum temperature. Good in that , here 35 is just about as cold as it gets. Still....
__________________
Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living










^ Since January 1, 2012
cyclezealot is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 05:55 AM
  #3  
JMRobertson
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Morro Bay, CA
Posts: 346
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Maybe I'm off but I don't like your temperature ranges... I'd be a sweat bag in no time at some of your 50ish suggestions. My arm warmers don't come on until the 40s. It comes down to depending on what kind of metabolism you have and what kind of ride you're preparing for. Good list of clothing options though... and a resonable progression. I just disagree with the temperature ranges chosen.
JMRobertson is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 06:00 AM
  #4  
DataJunkie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 14,277
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The problem mentioned above is due to the fact that everyone is different. A T shirt as a base layer?
There are quite a few options listed in the winter forum. Especially considering that the temps listed here are late summer and early fall temps for denver. Perhaps I will post a list when I have time but I tend to wing it each year.
DataJunkie is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 07:49 AM
  #5  
Jarery
Senior Member
 
Jarery's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Location: Coquitlam
Posts: 2,538
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
As mentioned above, a T-shirt in winter as a base is a poor idea.
For base layers I prefer powerdry material made by maiden mills.
Jarery is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 08:05 AM
  #6  
DataJunkie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 14,277
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I use either jerseys or a compression base layer from nike or adidas. There is not one single cotton based item on my person especially in winter. Riding at 5F with something that will collect sweat and then freeze is an amazingly bad idea.
DataJunkie is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 08:17 AM
  #7  
d2create
Senior Member
 
d2create's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Houston we have a problem
Posts: 2,914
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Merino Wool as a base layer, if not as a second layer as well.
Regulates body temps the best.
I have a lightweight tank and one or two t-shirts.
Also have two lightweight merino wool jerseys as well as a heavier old school wool jersey.
No stink and you don't have to wash any of it for days at a time.

Once the temps drop into the 40's I'll add something to my legs like tights or swooshy running pants to block the wind. Heavier gloves and a light cycling rain jacket also help. I'm usually good into the mid to high 30's. Doesn't get much colder than that around here.
d2create is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 09:06 AM
  #8  
starla
my nose itches
 
starla's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: Temple, Texas
Posts: 579

Bikes: 1986 Specialized Stumpjumper, 2013 Redline Conquest Disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Is baklava a popular cycling dessert for the winter?
starla is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 09:29 AM
  #9  
Bikingtoteach
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Zionsville, IN
Posts: 103

Bikes: Fugi Allegro (retired, cracked frame), Sears 3-Speed, Trek 720, Raliegh Technium E-bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I would agree with JMRobertson. But it is a good list, i keep a similar list taped up in my garage. I always wear my reflective vest whenever I commute. The problem now is the difference in temp leaving at 6:30 AM at 50 and then returning at 4 pm at 80 degrees. I am already going with a thin pair of gloves under my fingerless gloves, two layers up top, and two pair of socks. On the way home all that stuff is packed away, or left to pile up at work.
Bikingtoteach is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 09:53 AM
  #10  
CliftonGK1
Senior Member
 
CliftonGK1's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Columbus, OH
Posts: 11,375

Bikes: '08 Surly Cross-Check, 2011 Redline Conquest Pro, 2012 Spesh FSR Comp EVO, 2015 Trek Domane 6.2 disc

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Most of the fall/winter/spring up here is rainy and cold, so I go for wool up top, and insulated fabrics on the bottom. I'll be getting my PI Gavia Plus tights this week (insulated, water/wind proof) and I'll bust out the long sleeve wool jersey when it really starts getting ugly out.
CliftonGK1 is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 10:16 AM
  #11  
lil brown bat
Senior Member
 
lil brown bat's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Boston (sort of)
Posts: 3,878

Bikes: 1 road, 1 Urban Assault Vehicle

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by JMRobertson View Post
Maybe I'm off but I don't like your temperature ranges... I'd be a sweat bag in no time at some of your 50ish suggestions.
I would be too, and at some of the lower ranges as well. I understand that we're supposed to cover the knees when it goes below 60, at least some people say so, but it just seems way too warm to me.
lil brown bat is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 10:29 AM
  #12  
uke
it's easy if you let it.
 
uke's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: indoors and out.
Posts: 4,124
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Too complicated. I just wear what I'd wear off the bike, with the exception of the thick winter coat.
uke is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 10:45 AM
  #13  
Torrilin
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Madison, WI
Posts: 1,522
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by lil brown bat View Post
I would be too, and at some of the lower ranges as well. I understand that we're supposed to cover the knees when it goes below 60, at least some people say so, but it just seems way too warm to me.
And it seems just way too *cold* to me . I'll usually swap to pants somewhere in the 60-70F range. But I'm always cold.
Torrilin is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 10:47 AM
  #14  
Quickbeam
Beer is delicious!
 
Quickbeam's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 549
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think it all depends on what you're acclimated to. I'm in Minnesota and I wear shorts when it's 45 degrees Farenheit or warmer. I also wear short sleeves once it hits the upper 50's. I've been doing this for years and as far as I know, I've suffered no ill consequences.
Quickbeam is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 11:03 AM
  #15  
DataJunkie
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 14,277
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
My knees can handle 40F without covering. However, I fear what could happen and keeping my legs warm makes them seem to work better. At the very least more comfortable.
65F still seems a bit warm to put leg warmers on. I am more around 60F.
DataJunkie is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 11:19 AM
  #16  
sauerwald
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: San Jose, CA
Posts: 1,838

Bikes: Bianchi San Remo - set up as a utility bike, Peter Mooney Road bike, Peter Mooney commute bike,Dahon Folder,Schwinn Paramount Tandem

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by JMRobertson View Post
Maybe I'm off but I don't like your temperature ranges... I'd be a sweat bag in no time at some of your 50ish suggestions. My arm warmers don't come on until the 40s. It comes down to depending on what kind of metabolism you have and what kind of ride you're preparing for. Good list of clothing options though... and a resonable progression. I just disagree with the temperature ranges chosen.
Agree more or less - although the temps for amount of clothing do seem high. I ride in temps down to 0F, and living in Maine, we do get some cold weather. One thing which I find that you have to pay attention to at low temps (for me <30F) is hands and feet. I wear cycling specific winter boots (lake) which are a size larger than my summer shoes, and wear heavy wool hiking socks under them, still after my 15 mile commute if the temps are single digits (F), my toes are cold when I arrive. For my hands, I wear a thin glove liner under ski gloves.

I don't go to a second pair of tights, but do sometimes wear a pair of ski pants over the tights at single digit temps.

I wear a thinsulite cap which covers my ears in the winter, and my winter cycling helmet is a hockey helmet - better warmth, and easier to mount a light to than a bicycle helmet. When really cold, a thin balaclava.

Another problem in the winter is having your water bottle freeze - filling a polar insulated bottle with hot water helps, also putting it in the bottle cage upside down (close the spout) so that ice forms on the bottom first helps. Otherwise the spout freezes and even if the water inside is not frozen, you can't get it out. I have stopped at coffee houses on my commute in, and asked them to steam open the spout of the bottle with their steamer thingy - that works too

I probably underdress my core for the temp - it is often F****ing cold for the first couple miles in the morning, but once I start working, I warm right up. My commute to work starts with a 1 1/2 mile downhill, which is really unfortunate since it is hard to get warm until I hit the bottom of the valley and start up the other side. Personally I would rather be a bit cold than over-hot.
sauerwald is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 11:27 AM
  #17  
ax0n
Trans-Urban Velocommando
 
ax0n's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Lenexa, KS
Posts: 2,400

Bikes: 06 Trek 1200 - 98 DB Outlook - 99 DB Sorrento

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The best advice I can give is for each person to figure it out scientifically. I just tried stuff last year and logged the results. Take notes of the temperature (and other conditions such as snow, light rain, freezing fog, etc). Head too hot! Eyeballs frozen open! Core fine but legs are freezing! Fingers numb!

I numbered my successes and failures on a scale of 1 (just about perfect) to 5 (what was I thinking?!) and then sorted them by success and temperature so I can take a glance at the top of the chart, find something resembling the current conditions, then dress like I did in the past.

The first few chilly days are the hardest. I have a tendency to over-dress. This chart keeps me in check, but it likely only works for me. You have to do one for yourself to really get the hang of cold-weather clothing.
ax0n is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 11:30 AM
  #18  
Doohickie 
You gonna eat that?
 
Doohickie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Fort Worth, Texas Church of Hopeful Uncertainty
Posts: 14,681

Bikes: 1966 Raleigh DL-1 Tourist, 1973 Schwinn Varsity, 1983 Raleigh Marathon, 1994 Nishiki Sport XRS

Mentioned: 5 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 140 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I guess I'm doing it wrong. I just put on a sweatshirt, maybe some jeans, maybe a windbreaker.

I have yet to buy any bicycle-specific clothing.
__________________
I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.


Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
Doohickie is offline  
Old 09-23-08, 12:17 PM
  #19  
d2create
Senior Member
 
d2create's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Houston we have a problem
Posts: 2,914
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
maybe some jeans
That makes me cringe just thinking about it.
I can't even walk the dogs in jeans for at least half the year down here.
d2create is offline  
Old 09-27-08, 06:03 PM
  #20  
Gonzlobo
Red light runner
 
Gonzlobo's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Albuquerque
Posts: 226

Bikes: Seven Sola

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Never listed this stuff, but it sounds right for my cool, dry winters.

50F and up Shorts, jersey, socks, riding gloves, glasses
45F - 50F => Silk gloves under my riding gloves, add leggings
40F - 45F => Arm Warmers
30F - 40F => Add a jacket & winter gloves (my hands get cold quickly)
20F - 30F => replace leggings with full bottoms
0F - 20F => REI water socks, balaclava, long sleeve jersey and a sock stuffed in my crotch (gotta keep the boys warm)
Gonzlobo is offline  
Old 09-27-08, 07:27 PM
  #21  
uciflylow
Look Ma, NO hands!
 
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: UC Tennessee
Posts: 988
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
The problem I have, especially this time of the year in Tennessee, is, the ride in is usually 45-55 and the ride home is 85! I also ride to work very early in the morning, 3:30am and it is usually very damp to go along with the cool. I have learned that 50 with the sun shinning on black tights and low humidity, is different than 50F in the black, damp mornings here.

My knees like to be warm, so it's knee warmers below 70.
Below about 60 the arm warmers come out, followed by a wind jacket down into the mid 40s.
If I am looking at below 45 the whole ride I go to the wind front tights and start adding layers accordingly. No cotton for me either, and I have found wool socks are the bomb for my feet in the cold weather. I also use a balaclava and ear warmers in the very cold temps.

Has anyone ever used ski goggles while on the bike?
uciflylow is offline  
Old 09-27-08, 07:31 PM
  #22  
icedmocha 
There's time now
 
icedmocha's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: On a stack of books, PA
Posts: 760
Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3522 Post(s)
Liked 11 Times in 10 Posts
I use 3/4's down to the 20's, with a ski jacket and a fleece or sweater up top, preferably with pit zips. I purchased gore tex pants with zip-off capability that should rock come snow however.
Do those of you using arm and knee warmers find that they slide down? I purchased some leg warmers a few years back (PI) and could not stand them.
icedmocha is offline  
Old 09-27-08, 07:54 PM
  #23  
ZombieButcher
So Cal North County Rider
 
ZombieButcher's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: North County San Diego
Posts: 170

Bikes: 2008 Giant OCR2

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think it all depends on where you are from and what you are accustomed too.

In San Diego (north county) Pretty much no matter what day it is I am in either long or short sleeve wicking shirts and bike shorts. But during the Months between Oct-March it can drop from a nice 80f to a cool 40f. Most of you would agree that 40f isn't that bad but when there is a 40 deg drop its pretty significant. I basically will just keep a pair of gloves, tights and a Nylon jacket or Lycra/Fleece shirt with me to layer on top of things. Also keep a beenie under the helmet but I am looking for a better option then that for this year.
ZombieButcher is offline  
Old 09-27-08, 07:58 PM
  #24  
joejack951
Senior Member
 
joejack951's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Wilmington, DE
Posts: 11,844

Bikes: 2016 Hong Fu FM-079-F, 1984 Trek 660, 2003 Specialized Hardrock, 2004 LOOK KG386i (RIP), 2005 Iron Horse Warrior Expert, 2009 Pedal Force CX1, 2016 Islabikes Beinn 20 (son's)

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1120 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Length and intensity of commute can factor a lot into what gets worn at a certain temperature. I can get away with wearing a lot less for my relatively short commute than I could for a longer ride. For instance, down to about 50F, I wear only shorts and a short sleeve shirt. I'd wear tights and long sleeves at those temps for a longer ride though. My commute is hilly with quite a few stop signs which means I've never going fast for very long but I'm working hard most of the time. This keeps me warm as I can keep the intensity up the whole time.

My biggest challenge is not overdressing when it really cold (15F or less for my body). When I start out, I'm ready to just pull over and stop because I'm so cold but I'm usually soaked up top by the time I get to work. The last 0.75 mile hill before work always ruins it for me. I just get too warm while climbing it.
joejack951 is offline  
Old 09-28-08, 03:55 AM
  #25  
ncscott
cyclist
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: vermont
Posts: 351

Bikes: road bike, mountain bike, touring bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 19 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Has anybody else noticed the regional variations here. The OP is from raleigh, nc and the people who aggree with the temp range is from the south. The people who dissagree are from northern states . When I lived in Durham, nc, I may have agreed. Now in boston, the list is way to warm.
I tend to go in this order. Arm warmers, knee warmers, jacket, glove liners and warm socks (I normaly go sockless), wind pants, shoe covers and a second wind jacket and a fleece cap under the helmet.
A trick I learned last year was to cover most the vents on your helmet with packing tape.
Scott
ncscott is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.