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Cold Weather Clothing

Old 11-11-11, 07:57 PM
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chefisaac
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Cold Weather Clothing

I know this has come up before but I would like to rehash the cold weather clothing so I can start to get some stuff. I have:

cycling bibs
cucling shoes
Jerseys
gloves

I know I need more:
I do have an underarmer shirt that will go under jersey
just bought a Balaclava
clear glasses.

I need:
full gloves
underarmer for my legs
winter coat

What else do I need?

helmet cover?
cover for outside of my shoes? (I have clipsless set up)

What else?
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Old 11-11-11, 10:17 PM
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How cold do you plan to ride? How far? Snow? Rain? Riding style? What is the normal weather you will ride in? It really is hard to give you an idea without a large number of variables sorted. I can tell you what I have, but that really is irrelevant to you in particular. If you are looking to commute all winter, you need multiple layers (I often wear 2 underarmor-type shirts plus a jersey or light jacket, same with a pair of tights and long underwear), as each day is different, and the weather can change during a ride.

The one thing I can say looking at your list is that I would eliminate the winter coat if you are referring to a heavy coat. I carry a down jacket in the dead of winter in case I break down or am in a crash, but the heaviest coat I wear while biking is a windproof fleece jacket (and I have commuted down to -20*F). It's all about the layers, and a winter coat is overkill for me.

Give us some more details, and hopefully you can get some useful suggestions.
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Old 11-12-11, 12:52 AM
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Yes. It's about layers, and not necessarily thick ones.

1. Base Layer (like Under Armor)
2. Warmth Layer (fleece is good)
3. Outer Layer (something windproof like a shell)

Wool and some synthetics are good. Cotton is not.

For shoes you probably want something larger than what you'd normally wear to leave room for thicker socks. Tight shoes means cold feet. I have shoe covers. A lot of people skip the cycling shoes altogether in the winter and wear boots of some sort. There's not very many choices when it comes to winter cycling boots and they tend to be expensive. Covers wear quickly and they're kind of a hassle. I've got a good durable set that I bought from Performance a couple of years ago. The ones they sold last year were not nearly as nice. Hopefully they'll go back to the older model.

Bibs are fine if they're something like PI Amfibs. If they're just normal bibs then they aren't going to be of much use once you get into the 20's unless you wear something both under then and over them. I have fleece lined tights that I use as a base/warmth layer and I wear tights with a windproof front on top of them.

People vary a lot as far as cold tolerance and what parts of their bodies are the most sensitive. To me a balaclava is almost always warm enough on its own with no helmet cover. When it's really cold I'll put a thin hat on over the balaclava.

Fingers and toes are often the toughest to keep warm.
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Old 11-12-11, 12:58 AM
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Have you considered a full face helmet? Some people use them in the winter for their insulating qualities.
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Old 11-12-11, 01:03 AM
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Wool is your friend. A wool jersey over a wicking shirt can eliminate a couple of layers of synthetics. However, you can find merino wool sweaters at various clothing discounters(Ross, TJ Maxx, etc) for a whole lot less than a cycling specific jersey. Fleece jacket over that, or even a nice cycling jacket. Performance Bicycle's house brand of clothing is fairly affordable and of good quality.

Cycling tights are better, I think, than Under Armour. Winter tights are thicker, and there are even ones that have windproof panels on the front. I hate to say it again, but Performance(or Nashbar/Price Point) probably have something on sale that will work for you.

Even though I live in Florida, temps can get down into the teens. Wool socks , sometimes a neoprene sock over that, and my regular cycling shoes gets me through temps down to the 30s. Colder than that and I'll put on the shoe covers. Toe covers are easier to deal with here, as it's rarely as cold on the ride home, and they're less to pack.

Fotooutdoors is right. A heavy coat may be overkill. Wicking shirt, wool jersey, and windbreaker works down to freezing. A fleece jacket with the windbreaker over should be good for down to zero.

You will figure out what works for you. You may find you want to put platform pedals on and ride in Timberlands.
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Old 11-12-11, 02:03 AM
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I just had my first ride of the season in 35 to 40 degree weather here in Northern Florida. My face, fingers and toes are the most sensitive to the cold. Here's my temp ranges and what I wear.

65F and up: Jersey, shorts, regular socks and cycling shoes.
50F to 60ish: Jersey, arm-warmers, leg-warmers, full-fingered gloves, shorts, and cycling shoes, maybe a cotton shirt over my jersey.
Below 50: I'll swap the cotton shirt for my cycling jacket, add the balaclava, and throw a pair of actual shorts over my cycling shorts.

Plus, when I'm cold, I just ride harder. It works; Sometimes.

My gloves are leather-dress gloves so I'm looking at getting something better keeping my fingers warm. The Planet Bike Borealis looks like a good bet. As for my feet, aside from wearing another pair of my normal white cotton socks, I just try to keep moving my feet and toes. I need toe covers and maybe some socks specific to cold weather.

It's taken me a couple winters to really get it down to knowing how I should dress for certain temps. The key is layering and adding a bit more to the extremities than the core where most of the body heat is coming from. Through time, trial and error, you'll figure out what you need.
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Old 11-12-11, 02:38 AM
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i'm dialed in pretty good and i ride in NJ in any temp - down to 0 degrees for a couple days last year
basically - wicking at the base (ie - under armour) - NO cotton - that wetness will just sit on u and chill u to the bone
then add warm wicking layers
i have a spyder jacket that i love
and this goes for legs too - wicking then windbreaking material on top - very important to keep the leg muscles warm
as for hands - spyder gloves
feet - i wear - get this - scuba / surf boots - i dont clip in so no biggie there - 7mm
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Old 11-12-11, 02:54 AM
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Thanks all!

My commute will be 11 miles one way and I would like to get to the point where I can ride in any weather. I dont want to be scared about the weather forcast or cold or rain. I want to ride, have fun, and just do it. I will be commuting on my mtn bike set up with city slick tires.

Will be getting this coat I think: https://www.aerotechdesigns.com/cycli...erproof_jacket

I feel better clipped in so perhaps I will try to find a boot in which I can do so. I suppose wool is the way to go for socks in the winter time?

And if it rains going to work, is your stuff dried out when you need to ride home?
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Old 11-12-11, 08:24 AM
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I don't know tons about New Jersey weather, but I am guessing there are a number of days each year where its raining and 35*F. Considering the lenght of your ride (it isn't short enough that you can just get wet and be fine), make sure that in addition to a coat that you have rain pants and a way to keep you feet warm and/or dry (if they are dry, they will likely stay warm). I have goretex shoes (there are a few mountain clipless shoes with goretex) and use leg gaiters between my rain pants and shoes. It works wonders on that weather.

I find that my stuff usually dries during the day. However, I have plenty of space to let my stuff dry at work, and there is good circulation. I always stuff gloves with newspaper, but otherwise just hang it on hangers (they minimize bunching together of fabric). Shoes probably won't dry if the inside gets wet.

Good luck!
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Old 11-12-11, 08:36 AM
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I know little about extreme cold but I find Ski gear is the most effective and cheap for head and hands and a light breathable jacket with layers beneath is better than a heavy non breathable jacket. Except for head hands and feet your workout will keep you warm.
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Old 11-12-11, 02:38 PM
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The biggest thing I learned when I started riding through the winter is that everything I already knew about keeping warm in the winter was useless on a bike.

Riding in winter, my biggest issue is the same as in summer--sweat management. Bundling up to "keep warm" only causes more sweat. And in winter, sweating through your clothes can be deadly due to hypothermia.

It helps if you think, not of keeping warm, but of managing heat and sweat. The idea is to remain cool enough that sweat does not become an issue. In that regard, cycling at 10F is no different than cycling at 110F.

You will build up heat as you ride. The trick is learning how to dissipate just enough. Dissipate too much, and you become cold. Duh. But dissipating not enough can be worse--much worse. Sweating through your layers is the first step towards hypothermia. Unless you're wearing wool (which I can't afford), your clothes rapidly lose all insulating properties when wet. The goal is to not let this happen.

The general principle is to underdress slightly, then use the heat generated by pedaling to keep warm. The standard advice is that when you step outside, you should feel a chill. If not, you're already dressed too warm.

Then, you should feel cool for the first two or three miles. If you warm up before that, you're dressed too warm.

Somewhere around three or four miles, I notice all traces of cold vanish. That's just about right for me. A few miles further on and I'll start unzipping and loosening to let a little bit of air through.

CAUTION: Since I'm underdressed, I always, always, always carry extra clothes in my trunk bag in case I flat or have some other emergency.

I also think acclimatization is key. If I want to be warm in February, I start by letting myself feel chilly in October and November. Our bodies are amazingly adaptable--if we let them do what hundreds of generations before us did.

I find, that for the way I ride, cycling-specific clothing works best. I have winter cycling boots (clipless), medium and heavyweight windfront, water-resistant tights, I use a hi-viz vented and breathable cycling jacket as my outer layer from about 45 down to zero. Under that I choose from baselayers and long-sleeve wicking t-shirts depending on the conditions. An assortment of windproof gloves, a helmet with a liner and a winter-weight cycling skullcap finishes things off.

It's amazing how little I have to wear to keep warm on a bike. And If I get cold, I just pedal harder.

About winter cycling tights

Choose unpadded bib tights, in a wind-front or windproof fabric with articulated knees.

It's cheaper to wear padded shorts since I don't have to buy seven pairs of padded tights, and it's easier since I don't need to wash tights after every ride. Plus it's another layer to keep the boys warm.

With bib tights, you don't have two sets of elastic waistbands squeezing your middle, and they stay up better. I learned both these the hard way.

Wind-front or windproof tights are the only kind I'll buy. Plain tights simply filter the breeze as it passes through. Learned that the hard way too.

When adding layers, I've found it's important to buy tights and kneewarmers that have an articulated knee. This helps maintain freedom of motion in the knees, and eliminates binding across the front, and bunching in the back.

About shoes

On the feet, there are two things to consider about your regular summer cycling shoes. First, they're designed to keep your feet cool. You have to work against their design to keep your feet warm.

Second, you probably have a nice, snug fit. This eliminates the possibility of wearing extra or thicker socks. It's the extra air space that keeps your feet warm. Compress that out, and you get cold feet. Plus, extra socks inside tight shoes compresses the blood vessels that supply heat to your feet. Double whammy.

I advise a second pair of cycling shoes for winter. I went full boat and own a set of Lake MXZ-302s. They're clipless winter boots purpose-designed for cycling well below freezing. They keep my tootsies toasty well into the single digits, before adding extra socks. They're actually too warm to wear above freezing.

You may be able to get by with a cheaper (read: less well ventilated) three-season shoe, a size or two larger to accommodate warmer socks, then booties to keep the wind and wet out. I like Endura's MT500 and new Waterproof Road booties. Think too about replacing the insoles with insulated ones (Like Toasty Feet) so the cleats don't suck heat out from the bottom.

Last edited by tsl; 11-12-11 at 02:42 PM.
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Old 11-12-11, 02:40 PM
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I have fallen in love with Gore bike wear. I have gore winter gloves and a jacket with the windstopper shell. I have ridden in 30 to 40 degree temps.
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Old 11-12-11, 03:26 PM
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+1 on wool

Originally Posted by Schwinnrider View Post
Wool is your friend. A wool jersey over a wicking shirt can eliminate a couple of layers of synthetics. However, you can find merino wool sweaters at various clothing discounters(Ross, TJ Maxx, etc) for a whole lot less than a cycling specific jersey. Fleece jacket over that, or even a nice cycling jacket. Performance Bicycle's house brand of clothing is fairly affordable and of good quality.

Cycling tights are better, I think, than Under Armour. Winter tights are thicker, and there are even ones that have windproof panels on the front. I hate to say it again, but Performance(or Nashbar/Price Point) probably have something on sale that will work for you.

Even though I live in Florida, temps can get down into the teens. Wool socks , sometimes a neoprene sock over that, and my regular cycling shoes gets me through temps down to the 30s. Colder than that and I'll put on the shoe covers. Toe covers are easier to deal with here, as it's rarely as cold on the ride home, and they're less to pack.

Fotooutdoors is right. A heavy coat may be overkill. Wicking shirt, wool jersey, and windbreaker works down to freezing. A fleece jacket with the windbreaker over should be good for down to zero.

You will figure out what works for you. You may find you want to put platform pedals on and ride in Timberlands.
I eliminated all synthetics from my upper wear. Use merino wool base layers and a sheep's wool outer. I don't use any wind barriers and have ridden down to 8 degrees. Plus, you don't have to clean wool too frequently -- dry clean once a year for the merino wool base layers -- no they don't get stinky unlike synthetics which reek after one ride. I don't like wind proof barriers as they don't allow moisture to escape and you just end up soaked.

I bought most of the wool I use at consignment shops or Goodwill. For winter riding, I'll probably never use anything else.
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Old 11-12-11, 04:30 PM
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Ditto on post #11. Especially the part about having something warmer to put on if you have to stop.

I have a pretty high tolerance for the cold when riding at a brisk pace down to freezing temps and usually arrive home hot and sweaty.
Had a flat last winter when it was pouring rain, temps in the low 30's, dark, middle of nowhere and did not have any warmer clothing to put on while I fixed it. In the 20 min. it took to fix the flat I was near hypothermia. Warmed up pretty quick once back on the road but the situation could have actually become serious.
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Old 11-12-11, 04:42 PM
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I do day hikes in a couple synthetic, wicking layers and a Northface shell during the winter, and that's been working beautifully for biking during our cold spell so far. Also use a merlon wool Buff for the head and face.

Last edited by Easy Peasy; 11-12-11 at 07:24 PM.
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Old 11-12-11, 07:17 PM
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Long sleeve cycling jersey w/a hood for base layer. Sometimes, I'll add arm warmers or a women's cycling 'shrug' depending how cold. Don't scoff, guys the shrugs make perfect sense as most of the wind generated hits the head/shoulders area straight on. 2nd layer is always close-knit 100% wool or cashmere sweaters. Found them all at a thriftstore for 3.00 per...5.00 for the cashmere. Pearl Izumi Barrier jacket completes the upper body.

Hands are wool liners w/3 different pair of Gordini gloves and 1 pair if Marmot mittens. Even w/liners the mittens/gloves always take 2-3 days to dry out. When's someone going to release a 3 layer modular mitten system w/a windproof outer shell?

Legs get the bib-tights w/knee warmers or winter specific tights. Cycling shorts w/a windblocker panel underneath is usually enough.

Like post #11 I went all out and bought the road version of the same winter cycling shoes. Lake 301. One size larger than my regular cycling shoes. Allows for one pair of cycling socks and knee-high Smartwool socks. They have an extra layer of material on the shin area that allows warmer blood flow to the feet, ultimately keeping the toes warm.

In addition I wear a medium weight balaclava and helmet cover. My head area never gets cold.

When starting out I'm a little cold, but .5 miles on the road and I'm beginning to warm up. Depending on the temps I wear a variation of this layering system all fall/winter and into spring. If it rains I swap out the PI jacket for a breathable rain jacket from J&G Cycling.
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Old 11-12-11, 08:12 PM
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I've been using the following system for more than a decade:

HOW I DRESS FOR BICYCLING

 
70 and above short sleeve shirt/jersey shorts
65 long sleeve shirt/jersey shorts
60 1 layers shorts or pants
55 2 long sleeve layers pants
50 2 layers, long finger gloves pants
45 3 layers, gloves, balaclava, wool socks pants
40 3 layers, etc. pants
35 4 layers, etc., + 2 pr. socks pants + 1 pr. long underwear
30 4 layers, etc. + extra glove liners pants + 1 pr. long underwear
25 5 layers, etc. + ear band (over balaclava) pants + 2 pr long underwear
20 5 layers, etc., + 3 pr. socks pants + 2 pr long underwear
15 6 layers, etc. pants + 2 pr. long underwear
 
1 layer = breathable long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, cycling jersey, sweater, etc.
 
layer = breathable short sleeve shirt, cycling jersey, wool tee-shirt
If its cold, the first two layers should be wool (which I prefer) or polypropylene -- cotton is used, if at all, only in outer layers. Socks are also polypropylene or high wool content.
Non-breathable layers, such as nylon windbreakers, count as up to 3 layers. So, at 40, you might get away with a nylon shell and a short sleeve jersey. I dont wear nylon shells because I sweat too much.
The faster you ride, the less you wear.
If you arent cold the first 5-10 minutes, youre likely overdressed.
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Old 11-12-11, 08:24 PM
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do everything tsl says. he is the man! his tip on buying ONE pair of winter tights and putting them OVER your cycling shorts is right on. bib tights are crazy expensive and then you need multiple pairs, whereas I can wear regular tights for a week without washing.

the only thing I will add is that for your long 11-mile commute, you may find some additional problems. my commute is 13 miles each way, and I am mostly okay for the first 7-8 miles and then two things happen.

First, my toes get cold. this happens about 45 minutes in, even though I'm wearing the same Lake boots and have expensive wool socks. There are only two ways I can avoid this. First, get off for a minute or two and walk around at about the 45:00 mark. Second, skip clipless and wear some HUGE regular boots with two pairs of wool socks.

Second, I get headaches. I get really bad headaches when riding in the cold. I think the #1 thing to do about this is force yourself to drink water while you ride. if you drink a whole bottle when you arrive it's too late. you won't be thirsty, and it'll be a pain to move your balaclava, but you have to do it or you may get really nasty headaches.

oh - one more thing. lobster mitts keep my fingers warm under 20 degrees.
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Old 11-12-11, 10:55 PM
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It's all about the fingers and toes baby. Take care of that issue and you're good to go.

Keeping the core warm is easy, just ride harder.
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Old 11-12-11, 11:12 PM
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Rode today when it was 0 / 32F and put down 20km... was packing a good deal of stuff too.

Was wearing a wicking t shirt, wool sweater, and a windproof shell, blue jeans (with no long underwear), and my light waterproof hikers with a pair of wool socks.

Had my toque and my wool flip mitts with a wool liner glove which works well in all temperatures and was carrying my nylon shell pants but did not need them.

For me it is all about the layers and although I live in a place where I can look forward to riding at -40 I do not use a winter jacket and do not change much on my upper body when it gets this cold save for switching to a merino base layer.

Will throw on the fleece underwear and use the shell pants, adding a base sock under wool socks and witch to warmer boots... I can use clipless shoes (with covers) down to 20-25F and these are weatherproofed and sealed to prevent water from shooting up through the bottom.

One thing I can buy here that might be hard to get are felt insoles for my shoes / boots... a winter shoe should be a little larger to allow for a thicker sock / insole and if you can;t wiggle your toes your shoes / boots are too tight.
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Old 11-13-11, 12:21 AM
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Thank you all. I dont understand this statement:

"It's cheaper to wear padded shorts since I don't have to buy seven pairs of padded tights, and it's easier since I don't need to wash tights after every ride. Plus it's another layer to keep the boys warm."

Are we talking about mtn bike shorts? So do you wear the bibs and then the shorts?
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Old 11-13-11, 12:27 AM
  #22  
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thinking about ordering from here for winter shoes:

https://www.wintercyclingshoes.com/co...ake-mxz302.htm

do you find that wearing the winter shoes are too hot when it is a little warmer out?
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Old 11-13-11, 12:41 AM
  #23  
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Thanks for all the posts here, folks. It's great info for those of us that are new to cycling.
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Old 11-13-11, 01:45 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by chefisaac View Post
Thank you all. I dont understand this statement:

"It's cheaper to wear padded shorts since I don't have to buy seven pairs of padded tights, and it's easier since I don't need to wash tights after every ride. Plus it's another layer to keep the boys warm."

Are we talking about mtn bike shorts? So do you wear the bibs and then the shorts?
No. Not MTB shorts, regular padded spandex cycling shorts. He wears the padded shorts underneath the bib-tights. Since the bike shorts are between him and the bibs, the bibs don't get as nasty and don't need to be washed as often as the shorts. Getting multiple pairs of shorts is cheaper than getting multiple pairs of bib tights.
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Old 11-13-11, 01:57 AM
  #25  
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I use little specific bikie duds in the winter, shell, my rain gear insulating layer Polar-Fleece.

Current warm gloves came from 'performance', but if it were colder, I'd go for mittens.

Winter here is mostly rain, It does that in Buckets for a while then lets up..

I got a rain cape made for cycling ..I works really well , British know rain ..
cape is based on their basic design, a cone you stick your head thru.
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