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Winter Weather Gear

Old 09-09-09, 03:02 PM
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fmvapp
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Winter Weather Gear

HI,
I am wondering how to layer for winter riding? I am looking to get a new jacket and some other winter gear but there are so many options it is a bit confusing. I live in Philly and the weather gets pretty cold some days. I am looking for some gear that will keep me warm but not make me sweat b/c that is the worst, so some layering tips would be great.

Thanks
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Old 09-09-09, 03:07 PM
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Try the winter forum. There are just about limitless options.
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Old 09-09-09, 03:42 PM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by fmvapp View Post
HI,
I am wondering how to layer for winter riding? I am looking to get a new jacket and some other winter gear but there are so many options it is a bit confusing. I live in Philly and the weather gets pretty cold some days. I am looking for some gear that will keep me warm but not make me sweat b/c that is the worst, so some layering tips would be great.

Thanks
Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
Try the winter forum. There are just about limitless options.
Don't bother to search; here's the definitive answer.

Originally Posted by agarose2000 View Post
What clothing do you use reliably to stay comfortable for temps of:

50-70F

30-40F

10-30F

<0F?

Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
I think of my degrees of dress in six levels. Adopting to your table for my 14 mile commute (temperatures in parentheses):

50-70F
Level I (>70): Shorts, short sleeve shirt.

Level II (60): Add thin long legged tights and/or long-sleeve jersey
(50): Add fleece shirt, maybe a wind proof cycling jacket, and long legged cycling tights over thin tights;thin fingered gloves, thin balaclava

30-40F
Level III (40): Heavy cycling jacket and long sleeve jersey; two layers of tights as above; thin balaclava, maybe a woolen cap; heavier woolen gloves
(35): Add safety glasses (as goggles) that fit over my eyeglasses; extra pair of neoprene socks; balaclava and woolen cap

10-30F
Level IV (30) Add fleece jersey; thin, fingered gloves and thick wind-proof fingered gloves; neoprene extra socks and neoprene booties over shoes

Level V (25): Add windproof thin cycling jacket over fleece and under heavy cycling jacket

Level VI: (<20): Thin and thick woolen socks instead of neoprene socks; additional windproof pants over two pairs of tights, add neoprene face mask

<0F?
My personal best has been leaving at 8 degrees in Boston and arriving at my suburban destination at minus 9

I don't like being cold, so I tend to overdress a bit, but I have a rear trunk bag and can remove layers. Recently I've been looking for reasonably priced mittens for level VI.
I think sweating is inevitable, but as long as you keep moving, and are appropriately dressed you should stay warm.
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Old 09-09-09, 03:54 PM
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Except that what I wear is completely different than you.
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Old 09-09-09, 04:16 PM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
Except that what I wear is completely different than you.
Everything you wear is wrong.
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Old 09-09-09, 04:36 PM
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*cries*
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Old 09-09-09, 04:44 PM
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My first winter of riding everyday. I did extensive searches on the "Winter Cycling" forum and elsewhere on the Internet. I took other peoples' advice on what they did. Over a short period of time after adapting to the weather and trying to figure out what worked and what didn't. I've found a combination that works for me. In short, It's Sporthill and Showers Pass. Along with the other stuff for the feet , hands and face. I also keep a clothing log of what I wear in different temperatures. It's become helpful after a year or so of riding. So when I get up in the morning, if I'm not sure what works, I can look at that and pretty much be comfortable when riding.
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Old 09-09-09, 04:59 PM
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Jim from Boston
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Everything you wear is wrong.
Originally Posted by DataJunkie View Post
*cries*
Sorry. I couldn't resist. It was a parody quote: "Everything you know is wrong; I was right about the comet." (Firesign Theater).
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Old 09-09-09, 05:52 PM
  #9  
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go with thin layers.

upper body: thin merino wool base layer, softshell for exterior. add thin fleece if it's really cold. no gore-tex unless it's just above freezing and raining a lot.
lower body: The most convenient I find is gore-tex pants on top of normal wear (quick dry hiking pants and wool underwear)

Yes gore-tex doesn't breathe as much, but your legs don't sweat very much and you NEED as windproof as possible for your... vulnerable areas.
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Old 09-09-09, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Jim from Boston View Post
Sorry. I couldn't resist. It was a parody quote: "Everything you know is wrong; I was right about the comet." (Firesign Theater).
lol
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Old 09-09-09, 06:55 PM
  #11  
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Pasting in the reply to a similar question that I answered on another forum…

Disclaimer: A lot of it depends on how cold is cold, the wind and humidity. Perhaps more importantly, is your sensitivity to it and how well you've acclimated . And of course, how hard you're pedaling counts. No matter what the temps, you can always warm up by pedaling harder.

I have three winters under my wheels, in Rochester, NY, on the shores of Lake Ontario. We have snow, wind and damp along with cold, usually in the teens and 20s.

What works for me may be too warm or not warm enough for you. YMMV, but here's what works for me in my climate.

In general, I've found anything that's not windfront, wind-resistant or windstopper isn't worth the money and effort. In motion, the chill blows through.

Sweat management is perhaps more important in winter than in summer. Getting sweat-soaked in winter can kill you. So when layering, remember the three-mile rule: You should feel chilly for the first three miles. If you warm up before that, you're wearing too much. If you're still cold after three miles, you're not wearing enough.

Further on in the ride begin to ventilate at the first sign of sweat, even though it makes you feel chilly again. If you wait until you're soaked, you're dead.

Be not afraid of a little chill to start. This also applies to the season. If you really want to be warm in January and February, accept a little more chill than is comfortable in October and November. Think of it as training. Your body will acclimate to the cold, and that's just as important as what you wear.

Finally, I'm hard to fit. I have to try on everything before buying. So I buy my clothing at the LBS, which limits my choices to what they have. I've been very happy with what they have, so it's not been a constraint for me.

Head, hands and feet are hardest, so I'll start there.

I wear Cannondale Windfront gloves, in a size too large. By themselves they are okay to just below freezing. Below that I add a pair of long-fingered summer-weight cycling gloves before slipping on the Cannondales. That's good to single-digits.

Below that, I have a pair of lobster gloves that are too warm for me to wear in the teens and above. When buying lobster gloves, be aware that some makers (Louis Garneau, for instance) use fingered (non-lobster) liners. This defeats the purpose. I tore out the seams and stitched the finger liners together, so the liner is now lobster as well as the outside. That made a huge difference.

Booties are effective only to the mid-30s. Below that, I wear Lake winter cycling shoes. They are *dearly* expensive, and worth every penny. Get them a size larger than you usually wear. There are other ways to keep your feet warm and dry through the winter, but for commuting, the convenience of not having to layer my feet is important. It keeps me from building a sweat under my upper layers before getting outside, while I layer my feet. I can just slip on my Lakes, and step out the door. I don't need to add heavy socks until the single-digits.

I waterproof them with Kiwi's boot waterproofing, I forget the specific name, but it comes in a tin like shoe polish and has the color and consistency of earwax. It's cheap, it works, and I can buy it at the grocery store.

I wear a winter-weight cycling beanie down to the teens, then I switch to a cycling-weight balaclava. I sweat too much from the head to use a helmet-cover. My new helmet came with an insert to reduce ventilation in the winter. I'll try it and see.

Tights: For below 40, don't waste your money on anything that isn't windfront, wind-resistant or wind-stopper. Bib tights are a godsend. Not having a second elastic waistband squeezing my middle is worth the extra effort it takes to make yellow snow. For layering underneath, be sure your tights have articulated or contoured knees. This keeps the binding and bunching to a minimum. Finally, get tights without a pad and wear your regular cycling shorts underneath. This adds a layer in the privates and you don't wash out the waterproofing from your tights.

I have a pair of Sugoi Windblock Bib Tights that get me to freezing. Below that, I wear Endura Thermolite bib tights. Both pairs of tights benefit from occasional treatment with Camp-Dry. I add knee-warmers under the Enduras in the single-digits. My kneewarmers are also articulated-knee. Between the two, there's no bunching or binding, and pedaling effort is about the same as when wearing shorts alone.

Jacket: I wear the Endura Gridlock jacket in hi-viz. It blocks wind, rain and snow effectively. It's non-insulated so I can wear it into the 50s. I layer beneath it to the single-digits without issue

What works best about it is the gorilla-length sleeves that don't ride up when I'm on the hoods and in the drops. They're long enough to tuck into the gloves too. The contoured neck seals out wind without choking me. The long tail keeps my butt dry. It's a breathable fabric and it has back ventilation and pit-zips.

Layering underneath is up to you.

Hope this helps!
Thing is, it's all real personal. Jim is happy with what he wears, but it would drive me nuts.

In the past, I tried the multiple pairs of tights, and it just didn't work for me. The wind still blew through and the binding and bunching at the knee and hip were annoying. I much prefer the windfront stuff and a single pair of heavier tights below freezing. And make mine bibs!
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Old 09-09-09, 07:02 PM
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eshvanu
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Keep in mind layering is the way to go. You can always take off layers, but can't take off one big item if that's all you have. Also, you can't put on layers if you don't start with them either on yourself or in your packs.
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Old 09-09-09, 07:03 PM
  #13  
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Unfortunately there are no easy answers for this. I'm 5'9 and 240 so some of the cycling specific gear doesn't fit me, my choice of clothing, or my dimensions. If you commute in your normal clothes my suggestion would be to get the thin arm and/or leg warmers to go underneath your normal clothing to see how you do for a little while.

Here is a sample of what I rode in at around 20-25 degrees during the winter last year:
For the top I wore: an A-Shirt, T-Shirt, Merino wool long sleeve, Hooded sweat shirt, and a windbreaker or softshell jacket.
For the bottom I wore: Boxers, Basketball shorts, Athletic pants, and the Pearl Izumi leg warmers.

The only thing I bought that might be considered cycling specific would be the Merino Wool long sleeve ($20) and the PI leg warmers (bought on clearance for like $25).

I also wore a skully hat, gloves, and the occasional gator.
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Old 09-09-09, 07:19 PM
  #14  
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Don't know if anyone else experiences what I have, but I'll throw it out there.

When it first gets cold weather, I seem to need more clothes to maintain a certain level of warmth. As winter progresses, I seem to need less. I'm supposing that it's just my body acclimating, but it's definitely a case for layers you can peel at will.

That said, toes and fingers are the hardest things I work at to keep warm regardless.
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Old 09-09-09, 08:11 PM
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Add it all up:
Thin base layer. Polypropylene, Merino wool, or silk works good,
Micro fleece or thin fleece mid layer until really cold, then heavier fleece,
Outer shell for wind block.

I also wear polypro base socks and fleece on top. Over size shoes (I change my cleated shoes for PowerGrips in Winter)

In Kansas City, I start shopping at thrift stores late Summer for Fleece. It's cheap and there is lots of it. Almost all of my winter riding clothes came from thrift stores. I even scored two Eddy Bauer 100% silk long sleeve under shirts for $3 ea. Both pair of my fleece socks came from thrift stores as well as my tights (they aren't biking tights but they polyester and they work great).

Just my .02

Jerry H
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Old 09-09-09, 09:17 PM
  #16  
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It's all very personal. Error on the side of over dressing. Start with a thin outer shell and layer under that. Your shell is to break the wind, not to keep you warm.

I have no problem keeping my body warm, but my feet and hands get cold. Assume that beyond what I say I'm wearing appropriate clothing (like pants).

>40
I'll ride shorts and short sleeves and sandals. Not comfortable, but for 20 minutes out there I'll be fine. Generally if it's close to 40 I'm gonna put shoes and gloves on, maybe a shell.

< 40
Shell, thin gloves, regular shoes. Nothing else special.

< 30
Shell, extra dress shirt, regular shoes, regular gloves, balaclava.

< 20
Shell, extra dress shirt, long underwear, insulated boots, fleece mittens, balaclava.

< 10
Shell, fleece jacket, long underwear, another pair of underwear, insulated boots, extra pair of wool socks, heavy mittens, balaclava, ditch the helmet in favor of a stocking cap.

< 0
Shell, extra dress shirt, fleece jacket, long underwear, another pair of underwear, insulated boots, extra pair of wool socks, heavy mittens, chemical foot warmers, chemical hand warmers, balaclava, ditch the helmet in favor of a stocking cap.

If it got below 0 very often I'd find a better solution than chemical warmers. But, for 2-3 times a year I don't worry about it.

Again, everyone is different. My main focus is extremities. My hands get cold in mittens meant for -30 in 10 degree weather.
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Old 09-10-09, 11:35 AM
  #17  
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Originally Posted by eshvanu View Post
Keep in mind layering is the way to go. You can always take off layers, but can't take off one big item if that's all you have. Also, you can't put on layers if you don't start with them either on yourself or in your packs.
Another benefit of layers is that when it is 30 degress warmer on the ride home than the ride to work, you have clothes for both temperatures.

Paul
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Old 09-10-09, 11:50 AM
  #18  
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Had two sets of gloves I bought from a bike catalogue 12 years ago.
They were great and were warm well below zero. Bought 3 pairs of
bike catalog replacement gloves and they can only handle the 30s'.
This year I'll get a pair of ski gloves.
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Old 09-11-09, 05:55 PM
  #19  
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Originally Posted by jharte View Post
Add it all up:...Almost all of my winter riding clothes came from thrift stores...
Me, too. Found a pair of Sealskinz socks for 0.49US from a thriftstore. Found Cashmere/100% Merino Wool blend, close knit sweaters for 3.00US ea. I bought 5. They're great. Countless other winter gear, etc. all from thriftstores. Only my outer layer is 'cycling specific' stuff. An IP Barrier jacket(a size larger to accomodate layers), Craft winter tights, Gordini Summit 2 gloves, mid-weight balacava, wool beany, Lake winter road shoes(again a size larger for layers) and for really cold days a ski mask works great in terms of NOT fogging up. Found IT at a thriftstore, too. Paid 0.99US. And as someone else mentioned a pair of Craft windblocker shorts for less than obvious, but VERY important reason(s).

For rainy/cold days I've got J&G waterproof/breathable jacket, pants and helmet cover. Performance neoprene booties and Home Depot rubber gloves w/cloth liners(brown garden gloves). Oh, yeah and a baseball hat to keep the drops off my goggles as much as possible.

Basically, I try to max out at 3 layers even for the coldest days. Here in middle Tennessee, sometimes it gets as cold as 10-12F at night. Working 2nd shift meant that I rode in sub-freezing weather much of the winter. Now I'm on 1st shift(6 AM) and the ride in @ 1.25-.50 hrs means I'll need to carry my extra layers home now instead of into work.

As previously mentioned trial and error, the Winter forums here on BF and there's a website: http://www.icebike.com They have great suggestions and links to products. http://www.campmor.com http://www.sierratradingpost.com Both have great deals on closeouts. Not 'cycling specific' per se, but they DO carry some bike/ski stuff.
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Old 09-11-09, 07:58 PM
  #20  
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Don't forget the Balaclava...
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Old 09-11-09, 08:20 PM
  #21  
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Originally Posted by Matt1972 View Post
Don't forget the Balaclava...
That always makes me hungry.. No wait.. that's baklava!

Good tips so far. You need to trial-and-error your layering and you'll quickly know what to wear by checking the temps.
As a rule of thumb, you should feel "chilled" for the first mile or two. If you're warm riding out of the gate, you will likely overheat.
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Old 09-13-09, 09:56 AM
  #22  
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I ride in Madison, WI until it hits -5-10deg Fahrehneit and commute ~3-4 miles each way. For the top, I have a really old winter pullover coat (insulated, waterproof?) and my work clothes with an occasional sweater. for bottoms, I just wear my rainpants (REI brand) over my usual work pants. I wear thin leather gloves under my snowboarding gloves. I wear wool socks with regular cycling shoes (clipless) with the Pearl Izumi AmFib shoe covers. I also wear a balaclava under my helmet. I have not tried the ski goggle look yet.

My hands are usually numb by the time I get to work. My toes are rarely cold. That said, the shoe covers are a pain and I'm thinking of just riding with my winter boots and flat pedals or pedals with clips this winter.
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Old 09-13-09, 11:16 AM
  #23  
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I'll just see what happens along the year. I have a few thermal longsleeves, a thermal shortsleeve, and a nice Rabobank winter jersey. If it's raining I might get a regular raincoat. Either way I'm getting wet from my 1hr bike ride.
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Old 09-13-09, 04:14 PM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by fmvapp View Post
HI,
I am wondering how to layer for winter riding?
This is going to be hard for you to figure out if you're one of the many people who doesn't do outdoor activities in cold weather. People who do cold-weather hiking, kayaking, skiing, splitting wood, whatever, have it pretty well figured out, but the "it" is different for everyone. Don't go buying a bunch of gear, just try different common-sense things as the weather gradually gets colder -- it won't get into the 20s in a week.
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Old 09-13-09, 05:57 PM
  #25  
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Okay I love wool. the merino wool stuff from Smartwool or IBex. It is expensive though, not $20 for long sleaves :-) I find wool has a wider comfort range also, and the big plus, it doesn't smell ... ever. I like the Springhill XC sking stuff as an outer layer. Bibs a big plus when it is real cold outside. Ease on into winter, buy only as needed.
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