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Thoughts about warm mid layers

Old 09-02-22, 09:04 AM
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gauvins
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Thoughts about warm mid layers

What are you looking for when considering warm mid layers (i.e. comfortable in sub-freezing temperatures, say around -10C (10F)).

I was reading excellent comments on Timmerman's down sweaters. (900 fill minimalist sweater available in 3 variants, providing maximum warmth with minimum packed size. But perhaps missing an essential feature (front zipper) limiting its usefulness when we are active. My thinking is that I wouldn't need more layers than I currently carry on a flat or uphill course, and that a pull-over sweater would keep me warm during long descents or around camp.

There are cheaper options. There are excellent synthetics on the market. I also wonder if a vest might be a better choice.
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Old 09-02-22, 09:18 AM
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The responses will be curious. As someone who rides in the 30's, and 40's I have rarely ridden in anything that cold.
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Old 09-02-22, 09:30 AM
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In the winter (Chicago) for commuting I wear a poly t-shirt, short or long sleeved, thermal or not, with a cheap and thin wool sweater over it. I start my rides with a light compact down jacket (Eddie Bauer CirrusLite hoodless) and a thin, packable nylon windbreaker (Uniqlo packable jacket). If I think I'll warm up well (higher temps) I put the down on top and strip to the windbreaker when I get warm, or if it's going to stay cold I put the windbreaker on top and pull it off after a while, leaving the down. If it is just going to stay cold I leave both top layers on. If I warm up a lot I strip down to the sweater. Basically this gives me four temperature ranges with a couple of layers that are small enough to wad up and stash when I don't want them. If it's not that cold, I start with less, obviously.

I like this combo because it covers a very wide temp range with no holes. I'm covered no matter what happens, and I'm always "just right". This might be too much gear for you to carry, but I really like the idea of more thin layers as opposed to one fat one. The Uniqlo packable is a cheap treasure, and I even use it in the summer by itself, nothing under it for the sun protection it gives. It's not water resistant at all, unfortunately.

There are more compact versions of the down jacket but they are $$$. I run warm so the down gets a lot of use on its own for walking around in the winter, but the biking windchill calls for just a bit more than that.

The shell weighs 6.3 ounces, the down 10.5.

Last edited by mdarnton; 09-02-22 at 09:34 AM.
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Old 09-02-22, 10:45 AM
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mdarnton Thanks for the info. In to OP I was writing about the Timmerman, but less expensive alternatives (such as Decathlon or even Patagonia if snatched on sale) are perhaps a better decision. This spreadsheet is an eye opener.

Just for reference, on tour I carry 3 base layers (including a capilene Air hoody), and two outers (Houdini and OR Helium). Wearing everything works reasonably well, up to close to freezing rain. I assume that a 1" loft sweater would be (more than) enough to remain comfortable at quite lower temperatures, without adding much volume in my panniers.
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Old 09-02-22, 12:35 PM
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I say save the down for sleeping. I've never worn down on the bike. I've never spent much on brand names either. Just a couple of heavier synthetic jerseys as a mid layer.

Experience may be more important than the gear. If you wet everything out on a sweaty climb while wearing a raincoat, you'll freeze later no matter how much you spent on it. Knowing what to keep dry and how to keep it dry is hard. It's also hard putting on wet gear in the morning right before the ride, knowing you can warm it up and perhaps dry it off with body heat.

I depend more on doing work to stay warm than on clothing, and I need to support that. Good nutrition, rest, and hydration are important. When I'm not doing work, I can get in the sleeping bag.
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Old 09-02-22, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by andrewclaus View Post
I say save the down for sleeping. I've never worn down on the bike. I've never spent much on brand names either. Just a couple of heavier synthetic jerseys as a mid layer.
Totally agree, and this is more or less my current kit. However I am considering a trip where temperatures will drop below freezing, perhaps as low as 15F, so I'll very probably bring a down mid layer to wear post ride.

WRT brands - interesting comment. I'd probably not buy an unbranded jacket for a variety of reasons. This being said, some retailer brands excel at value per $ (Decathlon, REI come to mind), others have a meaningful social appeal (Patagonia is a B corporation and Chouinard an interesting fellow) and several cottage brands are run by apparently quite smart designers (Nunatak, Timmerman).

Hmmmm... One question, perhaps: how many degrees can I expect to gain if I sleep wearing a down pull over inside my sleeping bag? The pull is supposed to be sufficient at temperatures slightly above freezing. Is it just a matter of adding the pull's loft to that of the sleeping bag?
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Old 09-02-22, 02:01 PM
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I don't have the answers to down. I've lived where it can be wet so I stayed away from it for decades. (Now I sleep under LL Bean's best down comforter. Luxury plus!! But my opinion on down got cemented almost 50 years ago when my buddy and I shared an improvised tent in the Pacific northwest and a big puddle invaded us in the early morning. I woke with the sun to find my fiberfill bag very wet. My buddy didn't sleep a minute after his far warmed down bag got soaked.)

But, yes, I am a fan of wearing warm clothes inside sleeping bags. With that lightweight bag above, I wore nearly everything I had on the coldest nights of my cross Wisconsin October ride and slept well. (First night was a learning experience., I had to fluff the bag every time I rolled over to get the loft back. Second night I knew I was close to the limit and woke kinda scared to see zero frost. Greatly relieved to find my WBs frozen at breakfast. No frost? I slept among pines. Those trees and their needles don't show it.)

I'm a skinny guy who doesn't sweat a lot. Not enough clothing - bad but I don't have to worry so much about being too warm. Big fan of the layer concept. Big fan of the various Patagonia thermals, vests, jackets and the like. Their stuff lasts forever, works really well and is very comfortable. The harsher the conditions, the more I like their stuff.

Sailed the North Atlantic wearing their then brand new Capilene expedition weight full thermals next to my skin for 10 days of the 12 day crossing. First 5 days, the last 36 hours of which were in a full storm where everything was wet. Took them off and put on clean polypro. 24 hours later, I couldn't stand it any more, put the still soggy Capilene back on, promptly sailed through another 24 hours of storm and kept wearing it until 24 hours from the Irish coast. And every time I went on deck, my soggy Patagonia pile jacket went back on. I was never cold. Since then, Patagonia has gotten steadily better and the rest of the outdoor fabric makers have caught up. All good. (Oh, in those storms, everybody brought several gallons of water with them when they came in from on deck. In spray and slash, on their foul weather gear and in the cloths underneath. 60 mph winds, breaking seas to 25' and horizontal rain/spray, water goes everywhere and finds every corner. (Except those bags we sealed before we left Newfoundland and didn't open until Ireland.)
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Old 09-02-22, 07:57 PM
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Originally Posted by gauvins View Post
... One question, perhaps: how many degrees can I expect to gain if I sleep wearing a down pull over inside my sleeping bag? The pull is supposed to be sufficient at temperatures slightly above freezing. Is it just a matter of adding the pull's loft to that of the sleeping bag?
In order to add the R values, neither can be compressed. That's unlikely to happen. It could help, but probably not additive. One can overdo sleeping clothing inside a bag, and end up with constricted motion. The few times I've worn a jacket in a sleeping bag didn't turn out well. But there are mountaineering sleep systems that are designed around wearing a jacket to bed.

My first winter camp I even wore my shoes to bed, after burning them in the fire. I learned a few lessons on that trip.
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Old 09-03-22, 10:25 AM
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The Patigonia Nano Puff or the Micro Puff might meet your needs. I've used both, and prefer the Micro Puff. It goes on most of our tours especially during the shoulder seasons , or where cooler temperatures are expected.

My wife in her Nano Puff.

Last edited by Doug64; 09-03-22 at 10:56 AM.
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Old 09-03-22, 11:39 AM
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Originally Posted by Doug64 View Post
The Patagonia Nano Puff or the Micro Puff might meet your needs. I've used both, and prefer the Micro Puff.
Makes sense. I have a nano vest (probably not enough warmth) and paid a visit to our local Patagonia store to take a look at the micro jacket. As it happens, they were at regular price whereas some alplight pulls were on sale. They are warmer that the micro, lighter and more compressible. Other than the odd color (which is why they liquidated that specific model), perhaps a great find. I'll know in a few weeks

(The puff line is really great. Perhaps the one thing that turned me off is the notion that compression will reduce expected life to 3-4 years according to some reviews. Not a factor if used around the home - i.e. rarely compressed - but something to consider on tour where they'd be compressed daily)
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Old 09-04-22, 09:31 AM
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I have a ten year old Patagonia Retro Fleece, and you don't need much under it for warmth. The newer ones are even better made....($4 at one of the local thrifts, shrug)

I have used that fleece for 7 Winters........very warm.

I use it with a Kuhl interceptr, and basic short sleeve shirt. I have three of those interceptr's. Great sweater. Does tend to pile on the front over time but none of mine have worn out remotely. The oldest one also being 7 years old.

You catch that puff-n-stuff jacket on something kiss it good by.
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Old 09-04-22, 03:14 PM
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I have an old OR down hoody, that's really thin-looking, like that, but seriously warm. The sleeve has a 700 on it, for fill power or whatever that is, which used to be what a really thick down jacket was rated at. Funny, how progress progresses like that. 😁
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