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Seeking "Fabric of Death" Experiences

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Seeking "Fabric of Death" Experiences

Old 02-21-15, 02:52 PM
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mm718
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Seeking "Fabric of Death" Experiences

I am interested in hearing from people who wear cotton shirts on tour vs jerseys or shirts made of technical fabrics. How does cotton perform on very hot days? Is it the nightmare that people would have you believe or will a loose fitting cotton shirt dry quickly enough in the breeze? Other considerations? Harder to wash/dry overnight?
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Old 02-21-15, 03:09 PM
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I will say right from the start that I don't tour with cotton, but I have done a lot of outside work in it (orchards), and I will say that a good-quality lightweight cotton business shirt recycled from a Goodwill type of place does two things -- protects you from sunburn on the arms and neck, and actually is quite cool to wear. The evaporative effect of your sweat can be handy in certain conditions. It's also not quite so clingy, so air can circulate on the inside. I like my shirts in technical non-cotton fabrics to be a loose fit, too.

Bear in mind that I also commuted to and from work on a bike a lot in those days, and I found the cotton shirts to be OK then, too.
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Old 02-21-15, 03:50 PM
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Death By Fire? suit Up ..

Nomex is a Modified Nylon .. its what the race car drivers suits, gloves and fire resistant Balaclavas, under their Helmets are made of ,

and all the clothing the Forest Service issues to the people fighting forest fires .. Yellow shirts, Dark Green trousers .

Nomex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

if in a fearful mindset get that stuff ..


I didn't .. I Managed.. North Face tekwear was My Off the Bike tourist about town clothes its wicking Polyester such. ..

I just occasionally used My Petrol MSR stove. no Human torch stories ..


Edit: OK so no worry about Death By Fire and having your molten plastic wear burn you into the emergency ward..


Hypothermia , Death by Ice .. you guys take over..

Last edited by fietsbob; 03-07-15 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 02-21-15, 04:03 PM
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I've worn cotton T-shirts and cotton shirts with buttons on many tours. They're not usually the only shirts I bring, but when crossing protracted stretches in warmish (>100F) weather I find them to be a lot more comfortable than most other materials. Like Rowan, I wear them loose and let the wind blow while being protected from direct sun.
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Old 02-21-15, 04:10 PM
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I use my old linen dress shirts for cycling in hot weather. Much lighter and cooler than cotton.
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Old 02-21-15, 04:20 PM
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I'm a jeans and T-Shirt person.
This time of year I find cotton gets too sweaty, and prefer something like fleece. But in the summer, it is just fine. Not too hot, not too cold.
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Old 02-21-15, 05:48 PM
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get some stylish old linen or wool shirts from the salvation army or goodwill store. they work really well in the heat, and make you look like less of a cyclist and more of a normal person when touring....

thin wool though is what i wear for multi day stuff. doesn't develop the stink and funk, and can be hand washed on the go.
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Old 02-21-15, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob View Post
Nomex is a Modified Nylon .. its what the race car drivers suits, gloves and fire resistant Balaclavas, under their Helmets are made of ,

and all the clothing the Forest Service issues to the people fighting forest fires .. Yellow shirts, Dark Green trousers .

Nomex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

if in a fearful mindset get that stuff ..

I didn't .. I Managed.. North Face tekwear was My Off the Bike tourist about town clothes its wicking Polyester such. ..

I just occasionally used My Petrol MSR stove. no Human torch stories ..
There are a few occasions that I question my sanity and reasoning because I actually understand the point you are making in your post.

This time, however, I feel that I am still of able mind because I don't have the slightest clue as to what Nomex has to do with cotton or technical biking fabrics.

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Old 02-21-15, 06:46 PM
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i didn't read any of the other posts...

but, i tour frequently and in hot weather, above 80° i wear cotton to the exclusion of everything else. i soak it in water when it really gets hot, and it stays wet and cold for a long time. in fact, it's so cold initially after the soaking, even in tepid water, that i put it on very slowly and cringe in the process. it doesn't retain odor like synthetics either.

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Old 02-21-15, 09:52 PM
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Cotton is really good for holding the sweat and so you will stay cooler in hot temperatures. Its the colder temperatures that cotton will be detrimental. I'm definitely gonna bring some cotton shirts for my hot weather riding.
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Old 02-21-15, 11:35 PM
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I used to ride in cotton, did a tour on the C&O a while back and ended up taking off the shirt. I always disliked being soaked in sweat and chafing and that tour was no exception. Wearing something wicking is much nicer. Hack you can get light fabrics that even help cool you down in hot temps (I have a few and they work great) or get cycling jerseys and if you get really hot you can ventilate by opening up the zipper at the front.

I guess cotton-poly blends are a little better but I try to avoid cotton for most active pursuits these days.
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Old 02-22-15, 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
I am interested in hearing from people who wear cotton shirts on tour vs jerseys or shirts made of technical fabrics. How does cotton perform on very hot days? Is it the nightmare that people would have you believe or will a loose fitting cotton shirt dry quickly enough in the breeze? Other considerations? Harder to wash/dry overnight?
In hot weather, cotton can be quite nice ... you can soak a lightweight cotton in a service station washroom sink and you'll create an air conditioning effect.

I used to do that on long hot and humid randonnees in Manitoba.

However, I did discover that a heavier cotton can feel quite heavy when wet.


But cotton is not a good choice in cold weather.
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Old 02-22-15, 03:40 AM
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For years I rode in 100% cotton shirts, both woven oxford cloth and the pique knit polo shirts. They were always cool and comfortable and held up well. I never rode in the type of cotton knit typical of T shirts which would stick to my skin and get clammy. These days, I wear mostly bike jerseys, but still wear pique knit polos a fair amount.

My main objection to cotton isn't the heat, it's the rain where it becomes a sodden mass and sags and stretches under the weight. If touring in cotton pick your fabrics carefully, and consider testing on a hot hill climb, and a "hose" test for how they'll perform in the real world.

BTW - I live part time in Cozumel, MX where it can be brutally hot and humid. I wear 100% cotton shirts exclusively down there. 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.
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Old 02-22-15, 03:51 AM
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People lived quite happily with cotton for millennia before the nylon based fabrics. People tend to have affection the fabric that is currently trendy. And trends tend to follow ether fashion and/or technology advances. The glut in wool has reduced manufacturing costs and made for the current trends to favor wool. But any properly designed and well fitting garment should work. There really isn't any seasonal fabrics.
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Old 02-22-15, 07:34 AM
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I am interested in hearing from people who wear cotton shirts on tour vs jerseys or shirts made of technical fabrics. How does cotton perform on very hot days? Is it the nightmare that people would have you believe or will a loose fitting cotton shirt dry quickly enough in the breeze? Other considerations? Harder to wash/dry overnight?
Thanks, Rowan. This is helpful. What do you wear on the bike and why do you choose that over the shirts you describe above?
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Old 02-22-15, 07:39 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
I've worn cotton T-shirts and cotton shirts with buttons on many tours. They're not usually the only shirts I bring, but when crossing protracted stretches in warmish (>100F) weather I find them to be a lot more comfortable than most other materials. Like Rowan, I wear them loose and let the wind blow while being protected from direct sun.
That's good to hear about the hot temps. I have worn cotton shirts on some of my short tours in warmer temps but not as hot as you mention and that's what I was curious about. I don't like the feeling of long sleeves so I think I'd probably go with a T-shirt or polo and sunscreen for the arms. If I didn't get adequate sun protection this way I might try long sleeves but that wouldn't be my first choice.
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Old 02-22-15, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
get some stylish old linen or wool shirts from the salvation army or goodwill store. they work really well in the heat, and make you look like less of a cyclist and more of a normal person when touring....

thin wool though is what i wear for multi day stuff. doesn't develop the stink and funk, and can be hand washed on the go.
You can find wool shirts at the goodwill? What kind of shirts are they? Dress shirts?
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Old 02-22-15, 07:43 AM
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Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
i didn't read any of the other posts...

but, i tour frequently and in hot weather, above 80° i wear cotton to the exclusion of everything else. i soak it in water when it really gets hot, and it stays wet and cold for a long time. in fact, it's so cold initially after the soaking, even in tepid water, that i put it on very slowly and cringe in the process. it doesn't retain odor like synthetics either.
I do that with my water bottles (evaporative cooling) using socks so I might as well do it with me. Seems like this would work better with cotton than technical shirts.
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Old 02-22-15, 07:48 AM
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Originally Posted by burtsbees View Post
On my round-the-world cycling trip, I took along all sorts of technical shirts made from various materials. But when temperatures rose above 80, the most comfortable shirts I wore were those 3-pack cotton shirts I bought at the supermarket for $5.
I always good to hear when a low tech, low cost piece of gear or clothing wins out over expensive/hi-tech choices. I really don't like the feel of technical shirts. Also, I am in decent shape but jersey's don't flatter most middle aged bodies. I like the look and feel of a loose fitting cotton shirt.
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Old 02-22-15, 07:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
However, I did discover that a heavier cotton can feel quite heavy when wet.
Yeah a wet t-shirt is heavy and not the most comfortable but maybe worth it when you are overheated and I would imagine the heaviness would go away fairly quickly with a little movement and wind?? Or if not at least it would provide extended cooling.
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Old 02-22-15, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by FBinNY View Post
For years I rode in 100% cotton shirts, both woven oxford cloth and the pique knit polo shirts. They were always cool and comfortable and held up well. I never rode in the type of cotton knit typical of T shirts which would stick to my skin and get clammy. These days, I wear mostly bike jerseys, but still wear pique knit polos a fair amount.

My main objection to cotton isn't the heat, it's the rain where it becomes a sodden mass and sags and stretches under the weight. If touring in cotton pick your fabrics carefully, and consider testing on a hot hill climb, and a "hose" test for how they'll perform in the real world.

BTW - I live part time in Cozumel, MX where it can be brutally hot and humid. I wear 100% cotton shirts exclusively down there. 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.
Lots of good info here. FBinNY. I don't like the feel of the pique knits so I might go more on the soft side and have to deal with the possibility that they would get clammy. I don't sweat a whole lot compared to others so maybe it would be OK. Testing makes sense or maybe just bring different shirts on tour and test as I go...
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Old 02-22-15, 08:19 AM
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
and make you look like less of a cyclist and more of a normal person when touring....
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.

Originally Posted by bmike View Post
thin wool though is what i wear for multi day stuff. doesn't develop the stink and funk, and can be hand washed on the go.
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.

Originally Posted by veganbikes View Post
I always disliked being soaked in sweat and chafing and that tour was no exception.
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.

Originally Posted by mm718 View Post
I always good to hear when a low tech, low cost piece of gear or clothing wins out over expensive/hi-tech choices. I really don't like the feel of technical shirts. Also, I am in decent shape but jersey's don't flatter most middle aged bodies. I like the look and feel of a loose fitting cotton shirt.
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.
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Old 02-22-15, 08:32 AM
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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.

On tour, synthetic T shirts wash and dry quicker and pack smaller. Merino T shirts need a bit more care (than synthetics) for wash and dry but work well.
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Old 02-22-15, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by bmike View Post
and make you look like less of a cyclist and more of a normal person when touring....
Don't bike tour with your bike and you'll blend in like a good weave.
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Old 02-22-15, 08:49 AM
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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......
LDL

Whenever exerting yourself in the cold remember Loose Dry Layers. unzip, unbutton, and/or remove layers as needed to stay DRY. When cycling remember that on most jackets the rear pocket is designed to allow air flow when unzipped (inside pocket fabric is mesh). controlling the air flow can allow cyclist to evaporate away the sweat and avoid the wetness that most often causes hypothermia.

My best asset for winter cycling is a rear rack with a trunk bag so I can easily carry extra items and also have room to store what I may want to remove.

Last edited by Dave Cutter; 02-22-15 at 09:01 AM.
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