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Seeking "Fabric of Death" Experiences

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Seeking "Fabric of Death" Experiences

Old 02-22-15, 08:53 AM
  #26  
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Not sure if you mean cotton dress shirts or tees, but tech tees can be found pretty cheaply. I typically find Nike or similar for $4-6 at Ross. New C-9 ones are $10 at Target. So they don't have to break the bank. As far as fit... You can wear either cotton or tech shirts as tight or loose as you want.

I have never have taken them on tour, but I can see where a button up dress type shirt made from cotton or a cotton blend might be nice in the heat. Cotton tees are just a complete non starter for me.
I was referring to jerseys. I think some people when first getting into cycling think that multiple $25-$120 jerseys are just part of the cost of getting into cycling. For me they are ill-fitting and not all that comfortable so if I can get by with a $10 cotton shirt that's appealing. The tech tees you mentioned would be my second choice. The price is right and the fit for me is much better than a jersey. I prefer loose fitting clothing so they work well for me on the front.

Maybe it's because I don't sweat all that much or haven't toured at temps over 80 but I haven't experienced chafing the times I have worn cotton.

Regarding being instantly recognized as a cyclist that's a good point but not all that important to me. I bump into enough people while on my bike, near my bike, in camp, etc. My helmet hair should give me away some of the time too... The main thing I'd be giving up if I moved away from jersey's is visibility on the bike but I could add a lightweight safety vest for that.
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Old 02-22-15, 08:59 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
IME- there's a staggering range in comfort among cotton fabrics with some being light and cool, even when damp, and others being brutally uncomfortable. So IMO not all cotton shirts are created equal.
that certainly reflects my experience. When we used to car camp with the family at a beachy sort of spot, I once bought a white cotton dress shirt at a thrift store in the nearby town as a "sun shirt"--this particular one is light cotton and it works great out in the sun and when humid and clammy--must be due to the looseness and the weight of cotton. Other cotton t shirts I've worn can be clingy and irritating, so I certainly agree with FB's comment.

for riding, I've never used this dress shirt, but I have thought that if I were somewhere where I could not have access to 50 sunblock, a shirt like this would be great despite not being quite as cool as a biking type shirt that will breathe better and not have any rubbing issues going on.

Ps, I have had a synthetic "sun shirt" for years that works great, dries super fast, but in really humid weather feels more clammy than the forementioned used white dress shirt.

In any case, if you had to economize sun screen use or didnt have any, a light long sleeve shirt and brimmed hat thingee would certainly save your keester if out in strong sun all day.
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Old 02-22-15, 09:09 AM
  #28  
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cotton tends to hold moisture rather than wick it away from your skin. In hot weather it may not be a big deal. Having said that I don't like the feeling of being wet. Where cotton is most dangerous is in cold weather where it contributes to hypothermia. once wet it does not dry out and has no insulating properties. The only time I found cotton to work in cold weather was with a product called Norse Knit. Not sure it is even made any more but we used it in Alaska as an undergarment for cross country skiing.
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Old 02-22-15, 09:11 AM
  #29  
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As a teenager I toured in cotton shirts and had a bad experience in the rain on the North Yorkshire Moors so when I got back into cycling I looked for another shirt fabric. I settled on merino wool because I was reading a lot of Grant Petersen/Rivendell stuff at the time. I like merino wool, but it is expensive, not very hard wearing and heavier than the alternatives. I now ride in EMS Techwick long sleeve, zipped Ts and anything like Calpilene would be good too.

EMS Men's Techwick Essentials 1/4 Zip - Eastern Mountain Sports

I find the modern base layers with long sleeves and quarter zips have the best combination of features and work well in warm and cold weather when layered. They dry quickly, are light and compress well.
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Old 02-22-15, 09:15 AM
  #30  
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I like bike jerseys just fine but I've toured extensively in t shirts. Why not get the best of both worlds? They make all kinds of t shirts from various fabrics like coolmax; they wick well and they dry very fast.
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Old 02-22-15, 09:27 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by RISKDR1 View Post
cotton tends to hold moisture rather than wick it away from your skin............
Actually... wicks are generally made from cotton (or some other natural plant fibers). Cotton does wick. But ventilation is required and it best to prevent wetness (particularly with volumes of cotton) than try to vent and dry a garment while wearing it. Back in the old days before dope-head spinning had advanced to where nylon-based fabrics could be finely woven almost all long underwear was cotton. It was what we used in sub-zero "camping" in the Army and it worked well.

To be comfortable (or just survive) when stuck in the cold being aware of your environment is essential. Take action to remain/stay/be dry. Don't depend on magical properties of some popular or fashionable fabric/product to keep you comfy... and alive.

Last edited by Dave Cutter; 02-22-15 at 09:32 AM.
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Old 02-22-15, 09:57 AM
  #32  
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Actually... wicks are generally made from cotton (or some other natural plant fibers). Cotton does wick.
But does cotton wick better than other fabrics like merino or synthetics........I find I can combine light-weight and mid-weight synthetic baselayers to cover a wide range of temperatures. For a long time I used natural fibers, but once I actually changed over to synthetics I realized that they were more convenient and better performing, the shorter drying time is a big plus over merino and cotton as I was my clothes every night.
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Old 02-22-15, 10:27 AM
  #33  
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thing is natural wool does absorb some water, where polarfleece its on the surface..

Ive taken a sweaty fleece layer off, flung it against a hand rail , which shook most the moisture out of it,
then put the much dryer thing back on ..

and also unlike wool there is no Insect that has a larval stage that Feeds on Polyester.
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Old 02-22-15, 10:39 AM
  #34  
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"Cotton Kills" only in cold weather. Cotton clothing is particularly dangerous in wet conditions at temperatures between freezing and 50 F. We have a full sized plastic skeleton with a sign hanging from its neck that says, "Cotton Kills" displayed in our ski patrol's cabin. It is used to remind visitors that jeans may not be the best ski wear for backcountry skiing.

There is some debate about the value of cotton in hot weather, but from what I could tell from some cursory research it works very well in hot weather and low humidity. My wife and I have toured on 3 different tours in temperatures of 109 F. On our first encounter with those hot temperatures I had a synthetic T, but picked up a cotton T about half way through the hot zone. I did this based on what I had heard about cotton in hot weather. It might have been the placebo effect, but the cotton seemed more comfortable.

Do a search and you can find a lot of contradictory information about the pros and cons of cotton in hot weather.

Having said that, I only packed synthetic T's on the other 2 occasions and they did a good job in similar conditions. I believe color is also an important factor; white is a good warm weather color. My warm weather touring jerseys are white which seems to help.

On the other hand, my wife wears a light weight, almost a mesh, wicking long-sleeve T during hot weather. Note the "bloomers beneath the legs of her shorts. She also bought a 2X cotton T shirt and cut off the sleeves. She then put them on like leg warmers, tucking them under the legs of her shorts. This gave her upper legs good sun protection. She cut the rest of the T open and used it to sleep under when it did not cool down in the evenings. She has carried these on every summer tour since that trip.

Last edited by Doug64; 02-22-15 at 01:43 PM.
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Old 02-22-15, 10:59 AM
  #35  
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in the humid South, the only effective way to evaporate your sweat and cool your skin is to have the wind directly onto your skin. cotton button shirts will be unbuttoned like tight cycling clothes will be unzipped.
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Old 02-22-15, 11:34 AM
  #36  
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Years ago I went on a one week MTB tour in the tropics and it rained every day for a few hours, we rode in the rain. I had cotton tee shirts to wear all the day riding and relaxing in the evening. Even though it was always above 70*F, I was miserable. The next year I bought REI synthetic fabric tee shirts and the difference was amazing. After the rain stops I'm dry in a few 10's of minutes. I switched to synthetic fabric clothing 100% since that trip.
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Old 02-22-15, 12:43 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Mr IGH View Post
Years ago I went on a one week MTB tour in the tropics and it rained every day for a few hours, we rode in the rain. I had cotton tee shirts to wear all the day riding and relaxing in the evening. Even though it was always above 70*F, I was miserable. The next year I bought REI synthetic fabric tee shirts and the difference was amazing. After the rain stops I'm dry in a few 10's of minutes. I switched to synthetic fabric clothing 100% since that trip.
where are you riding now?
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Old 02-22-15, 01:40 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
But does cotton wick better than other fabrics like merino or synthetics.
Wool... from (any part of, or any wool producing animal) does not wick. The scaly kinked fibers in wool traps it's contents (ether wet or dry) and insulates. In other words... if you sweat in wool the sweat gets trapped in the wool and then heats up (because it doesn't wick/evaporate and cool) and then the stagnate warm sweat feels warm.

Most people find wool at least slightly on the itchy side so they wear a cotton under garment. Because the wool provides a moisture barrier.... the under garment becomes sweat saturated. Always... the solution is active moisture/temperature management.

In the wild... wool producing animals also produce large amounts of lanolin in the wool... which makes it rain repellent.

I am not particularly pro or anti any of the fabrics... natural or manmade. I used to be very pro natural fabric but I found I really like many of the synthetic fabrics. The nylon based and/or slit sheet-goods fabrics can't absorb moisture in a conventional way. So when properly designed and worn can evaporate moisture very well. The nylon/plastic based fabrics can not serve as a food source for bacteria as does "natural" fabrics. Although many of the softer synthetics do hold plenty enough residue to smell bad... just like natural fabrics.
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Old 02-22-15, 01:58 PM
  #39  
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What you wear outside today may be perfect for today. But it may be crapola for tomorrows weather. The variation in temperatures, humidity, wind, sun.... all make a difference in what will be comfortable... or even in some cases... safe.

There is no "killer" fabric or any "miracle" fabric ether.

There are only educated equipment users. It's just like bicycles! You need to select the right bike and proper fit for the ride you have planned. There is no one size, one style, for everything and everyone. And also like cycling... being properly outfitted/dressed means active continued awareness. There is no magic fabric that will alleviate the cyclist from the task of monitoring and adjusting. Just as there is no magic bicycle accessory that allows cyclists to discard their situational awareness.
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Old 02-22-15, 01:59 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
where are you riding now?
I moved to the Denver area 1.5 years ago, before that, the Chicago suburbs.
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Old 02-22-15, 02:36 PM
  #41  
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
On tour, synthetic T shirts wash and dry quicker and pack smaller.
This as an answer to mm's question to me as to my touring preferences. A synthetic T-shirt packs down to half the size of a cotton T. Wool I am not so impressed by, but I do use it occasionally for layering.

I also have gone to synthetic shirts for work, as well as trousers... the latter because they are somewhat windproof and dry very quickly compared with denin jeans or cotton drill pants.
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Old 02-22-15, 04:05 PM
  #42  
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Originally Posted by MichaelW View Post
Cotton is only the Seal of Death if you are working hard and sweating in cold conditions. The wet fabric loses all insulating capacity and conducts heat away from your core, leading to hypothermia and inevitable and horrible DEATH.
In practice, you can wear cotton safely in the cold if you abstain from hard work. Even synthetics can get cold when wet and I have been known to change baselayers at the top of a hard climb on a cold day.
In hot conditions, you can't get hypothermia so cotton is not the Seal of Death.
I wouldn't say you can't work hard during the winter months and wear cotton. I ride in cotton during the winter months and have no trouble, I just make sure to have the ventilation set up so I can stay dry. You are correct in saying that wet cotton is the killer. As long as you keep it dry through proper ventilation you can wear cotton year round and have no trouble at all. I'm amazed at how long I can stay off the bike and still stay warm wearing nothing but a long sleeve cotton tshirt and a wind jacket. At 10-15F, windless location, cloudy or sunny, I can stop and stand around outside for 20-30 minutes and still be warm...as long as the tshirt is dry.

With that said, another idea that the OP, and probably a lot of other people will protest against, is the simple of idea of taking the cotton tshirt and wrapping it around the handlebars and going topless during the summer months. Granted this would depend on where you are riding and how much sun protection you might be dealing with/no having the benefit of. Two of the past three years I pretty much never wore a shirt while riding. I would ride topless and put the shirt on whenever I stopped and went inside. I would let myself get all the sun I could get. I don't get any sun this time of the year and I know I, like everyone else, needs the Vitamin D that you can only really get through exposure to the sun. By going topless my upper body was fully exposed to the sun. No, I wasn't using suntan lotion as it prevents Vitamin D absorption. Start off and build up your tolerance to the sun so you don't get burned and then you can ride all day long topless and soak up the Vitamin D to fight off the cancer.

If you are talking riding somewhere in true desert country than I would say take the cotton tshirt and soak it in water and ride that way. The morning hours just ride topless and than ride with the soaked shirt during the hottest time of the day.
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Old 02-22-15, 04:38 PM
  #43  
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Touring 1970's = I toured in cut-off jeans & cotton t-shirts, with wool & down for warmth --> It worked

Touring in the new millennium = I tour in tech shorts & tech t-shirts, with wool & down for warmth ---> It works

Last edited by BigAura; 02-22-15 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 02-22-15, 04:42 PM
  #44  
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I guess that is a plus for some, but I prefer to be instantly recognizable as a cyclist. People are more likely to cut you some slack or even offer hospitality when they realize you are that guy they saw on the bike earlier that day 50 miles down the road.



Maybe I have weird body chemistry, but I have never found wool to be especially stink free. I find that synthetics vary. Some of mine get pretty funky and others not. I leave the ones that tend to get funky at home. Also I find that a hot water wash once in a while helps keep them funk free.



The chafing is the worst for me. Cotton tees are a non starter for that reason. Also I like to take one tee, wash it out and immediately re-wear it. If there are cool times on the tour where you want it to dry cotton takes forever.



Not sure if you mean cotton dress shirts or tees, but tech tees can be found pretty cheaply. I typically find Nike or similar for $4-6 at Ross. New C-9 ones are $10 at Target. So they don't have to break the bank. As far as fit... You can wear either cotton or tech shirts as tight or loose as you want.

I have never have taken them on tour, but I can see where a button up dress type shirt made from cotton or a cotton blend might be nice in the heat. Cotton tees are just a complete non starter for me.
The Chiller shirt from Mountain Hardwear is one of my favorites for the the summer. I wear it all the time at work, very comfortable, lots of stretch and cools you down a little bit when you sweat. A classy shirt for the summer heat.
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Old 02-22-15, 05:16 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Wool... from (any part of, or any wool producing animal) does not wick. The scaly kinked fibers in wool traps it's contents (ether wet or dry) and insulates. In other words... if you sweat in wool the sweat gets trapped in the wool and then heats up (because it doesn't wick/evaporate and cool) and then the stagnate warm sweat feels warm.

Most people find wool at least slightly on the itchy side so they wear a cotton under garment. Because the wool provides a moisture barrier.... the under garment becomes sweat saturated. Always... the solution is active moisture/temperature management.
So the whole merino wool athletic wear industry is built on a lie.
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Old 02-22-15, 05:28 PM
  #46  
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
So the whole merino wool athletic wear industry is built on a lie.
Absolutely not. My favorite property of good light wools is that they are slow wicking and offer decent wet insulation. Some of the high tech fabrics offer similar properties, and anyone who's ridden rolling tough terrain knows that the wrong clothes have you cooking on the rise and freezing on the descent. Wool (and some high tech fabrics) do a better job keeping you at a more constant temperature.

I still wear wool for riding when it's not too hot, but not for multi-day touring because of upkeep issues. As others have pointed out, today's better synthetics are lighter, pack smaller, easy to care fore and dry almost instantly.
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Old 02-22-15, 05:44 PM
  #47  
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Most people find wool at least slightly on the itchy side so they wear a cotton under garment.
This is untrue for MODERN merino wool. It is NOT itchy to most people. Most people do not wear cotton underneath. This may have been true with wool from 40 years ago but is totally untrue with merino wool made today.
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Old 02-22-15, 06:52 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post
Actually... wicks are generally made from cotton (or some other natural plant fibers). Cotton does wick. But ventilation is required and it best to prevent wetness (particularly with volumes of cotton) than try to vent and dry a garment while wearing it. Back in the old days before dope-head spinning had advanced to where nylon-based fabrics could be finely woven almost all long underwear was cotton. It was what we used in sub-zero "camping" in the Army and it worked well.

To be comfortable (or just survive) when stuck in the cold being aware of your environment is essential. Take action to remain/stay/be dry. Don't depend on magical properties of some popular or fashionable fabric/product to keep you comfy... and alive.
I have a bit of experiencwe with this. I was in the US Army in Alaska for two winters. When I wasn't a member of an infrantry unit is was assigned to biathlon and then at the mountain warfare training area at Eklutna glacier. I know high activity and I know cold and I know hypothermia. I have alpine skied, cross country skied and show shoe in recent years, having bagged several high altitude peaks in the winter. I have warn everything from cotton to wool to synthetics. Yes, cotton wicks. It wicks the heat away from your body, holds moisture and sets you up for hypothermia in the winter landscape. No one I know who hikes in the winter landscape wears cotton and I know and hike with very experienced hikers. Having said that, the OP was really not concerned with winter as much as summer and I doubt he is endangering his life by wearing cotton on a tour.

Yes, wicks are made from cotton, but you have to light them on fire to make them work.
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Old 02-22-15, 06:59 PM
  #49  
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Cotton has worked great since 1850... However, it is 2015 and technology marches on. Enginered synthetics exist and work better.
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Old 02-22-15, 07:13 PM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by nun View Post
So the whole merino wool athletic wear industry is built on a lie.
I don't recall anyone in that industry... and I know some people in the wool industry... telling any lies.

I think what you're asking is: Is fashion based on truth. Fashion is just fashion. It's marketing, it's giving gifts (and more) to celebrities because people will emulate their behavior. Fashion is promotion, fashion is popularity. Is fashion a lie? No.

Wool is a fine product/material/fabric. And currently... it is also VERY fashionable.
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