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  1. #1
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    Suggestions for winter riding wear

    What clothing do you recommend for winter riding??? What do you guys use?? I'm hoping to get on the bike this winter weather and family permitting. I just want to be prepared.

    Thanks
    Mike

  2. #2
    GIT-R-DONE!
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    Everyone is a bit different you just have to pick and choose and find what works best for you. For me this is what I ended up with.

    The key is circulation not insulation, on foot wear I use a pair of Sorrels two sizes to big with felt liners. Another thing I found helpful was to go with a large platform pedal. For my feet I use a pair of Polypro Liner Socks followed by a pair of Merino Wool Socks. Light Weight Long Johns, Novara Headwind Pants, Midweight Balaclava, Lightweight Wicking Top, Gore Tool Jacket, and Pair of Ski Gloves for those really cold days, and a pair of cold weather gloves from Rei for the moderate days. On the jacket go a size larger so that you can throw it on over your camelbak if you ride with one. It helps to keep the water from freezing up on you. Oh and one more thing: STAY AWAY FROM COTTON
    Last edited by aka bubba; 11-13-2006 at 11:30 PM.
    Checking Out The Big Phenomenon

  3. #3
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    This is my first year of winter riding and I have learned that layering is the key.I have been riding in temps from zero to 30 this winter,(mostly teens and single digits latey).Since it has gotten cold I always wear polys with tights for my legs,a long sleave poly top and long sleave Pearl Izumi winter jersey on top,I have a cover for my helmet and a poly balacava for my head.when It drops below twenty I add another layer on top,either a bike Jacket for the teens,or a Colombia shell for the single digit days.I have two pairs of gloves I use one specialized winter glove,and a Pearl Izumi lobster claw pair for the below twenty days.The main thing to remember is to stick with quality gear whenever you can ,it does make a diff.Also avoid putting on to much,if you start to sweat stop and shead a layer.I comute ,so I have had alot of experince in a short time,(along with the trial and error).Drop me a line if you want any more info on particular peices . Oh,almost for got the Feet ! I wear gortex hiking boots with good winter socks and have swithed from clipless to petals with straps for winter.Next year I will probably get some official winter riding boots.

  4. #4
    Caveman
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    What they said...and
    Stay away from anything waterproof/breathable, go for light wind layers instead. Soft shell pants are nice. With Poggies you can usually use the most simple fleece liner gloves which are super breathable. Malden Mills wind-pro fleece is sweet and has better breathability over standard windstopper.

    Feet - stay away from anything with a fit even close to snug, lots of those winter boots are so packed with insulation that they seem really cold buy cutting off blood flow. Lots of folks use NEOS overboots with some kind of random inner shoe ranging from running shoes to sorel liners glued to stiffer soles..

  5. #5
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    My two bits...

    I'm a commuter too, and most of the time you can wear a pair of microfleece pants, but sometimes it takes two pairs to cut the wind. For the top I wear a merino wool zip-up long sleeve turleneck, and a Bezerkley windproof fleece. That fleece is amazing stuff... and the zip pulls are long enough to grab with gloves. I've commuted with one for 5.5 years and the windproof membrane finally croaked and now I die in it. So I bought another. Gloves... go Old Navy el cheapo, get the double layer fleece for $10 and throw them away in the spring. I wear "ear condoms" those little things that snap onto your ears and they work great with a helmet. Get the cheap "Head" wool socks from Costco, 3 pair for $10 and they work great. Pia's down at 4th and E has these amazing "possum" wool socks that are thin and amazingly warm.

    And for the question nobody else is willing to answer (grin) for the BOTTOM layer get Patagonia windproof briefs. I've frozen The Most Important Part too many times to count... the Patagonias are the answer.

    Don't forget sunglasses for the ride home in the afternoon... the cold wind is tough on eyes, often you'll encounter blowing snow or ice crystals, and it can get BRIGHT out.

    Cheers!

  6. #6
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    Anyone have experience with vapor barrier clothing? I'm thinkng of trying it out this winter when it gets below the donut. Any info would be greatly appreciated.

  7. #7
    Wood chips are stupid
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    breath

    There is a saying among winter people...cotton kills. It is steeped in truth. Being cold and wet sucks more than all that sucks. Layers of non cotton type stuff under some sort of a windbarrier works really well. The outer shell should not be waterproof or even resistant! For the feet at least two sizes too big. I like wool socks. Windstopper gloves are my favorate.Try not to sweat too much. Eat and drink lots of water, at least more than you would consume during the summer. A rule of thumb...if you are warm just standing around, you are over dressed.


    akdeluxe
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  8. #8
    Bill M
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    Not for Me!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by FOX8000
    Anyone have experience with vapor barrier clothing? I'm thinkng of trying it out this winter when it gets below the donut. Any info would be greatly appreciated.
    Works for some. I would just as soon wear a plastic garbage bag. Never been so hot and so cold at the same time as when I wore a vapor barrier shirt. Bill M

  9. #9
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    I often arrive at work with frost on the outside of my fleece from the "breathing" action. If it was still saturated into my clothing I'd lose the insulating value and freeze. Dry clothes are warm clothes... it's the trapped air that's keeping you warm.

    I'd recommend avoiding any kind of vapor barrier.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the suggestions guys. From what I've read it sounds like you wear it over a wicking layer and under your insulating layers. This is supposed to keep your insulating layers dry and therefore warmer. Is it all hype? Here is a link to RBH Designs expeditions page. Sounds like Rocky Reifenstuhl and a couple others used VB layers on the Alaska Ultrasport race last year. Just trying to see if its worth trying. Thanks again.

  11. #11
    Diaskeuast
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    keep it simple

    Quote Originally Posted by AkMike
    What clothing do you recommend for winter riding???
    I'm a commuter, not a long-distance winter rider. I do fine with the following.

    Lower body: Bike shorts under fleece-lined, wind-blocking tights. When it gets below 20F, I'll sometimes wear polypro longjohns between the shorts and tights.

    Upper body: Fleece or polypro shirt under a fleece vest and/or fleece jacket, as needed, and a standard cycling jacket as a wind-blocking outer layer.

    Gloves: Weight and thickness varies, based on temperature, but always under a cheap pair of Polaris poagies from a snowmachine shop. The poagies block wind and make an enormous difference.

    Head: I use, in various combinations depending on wind and temperature, a skull-cap helmet liner, a thin polypro balaclava, and a thicker balaclava with a long neck and some type of moisture-wicking synthetic material. (My wife found it on sale in the children's department at Wal-Mart, and it's fantastic.)

    Feet: My toes freeze easily. I wear huge Baffin boots with room for thick socks (I also like the cheap Head socks from Costco that Nanuq mentioned).

    This variety of layers give me plenty of flexibility to add or subtract items as necessary.
    Enjoying the meaningful pursuit of meaningless fun.

  12. #12
    Beware of Doggerel
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    What they said

    Everyone really summed it up nicely.

    Be really careful with the VB stuff. I love it on my feet but have been unable to make it work anywhere else. And when its not working it can be dangerous. Try it out on cold days around your home or some other shelter. Although I've never gotten the VB shirt stuff to work I am still trying it out, but it is for folks who like to tinker and definately outside the world of tried and true basic gear stuff.

    I would add that any outer shell should have lots of zippable vents. On long winter rides you could easily change clothes several times to stay comfy, to avoid this it is good to have a shell that you can open and close the vents on while riding. I also like those tights that are windblock in the front only. They really add warmth where it is needed.

    I think how you dress also depends on what kind of riding your going to be doing. If I'm only going out for a few hours I'll tend to overdress a bit (because I like to be warm), but if I'm going out for a day, or more, I try to dress "just right" or even a little on the cold side so that I don't overheat and sweat into my clothes. On my commute I tend to dress overly warm so that I don't get cold a stop lights etc. I get to work sweaty, but I'm never cold on the ride.

    Adam
    I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.

  13. #13
    Caveman
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    Vapor Barrier - I can only speak about my experience. I use VB socks with any winter footware that can absorb sweat and I'm out all day in single digits or below. I've used bread bags to marginal success but the real deal are the integral design VB socks $30. The main problem with VB socks are your feet sliding around due to the low friction. I've also had problems with my insulating sock constantly getting sucked down into my boots. wrapping duct tape around works but is a ***** to remove at the end of the day when you're tired.

    This is getting more into mountaineering but if you're using liners made of closed cell foam like thermo molded and such you dont really need them but it helps a bit.

    Another thing I might add is that with VB socks, your insulating socks last longer on mulit-day trips since you are just compressing them and not sweating into them. VB's are great for when it warms up and is sunny in the day and you are sweating, but then it drops to 20 below at night- your sock are still pretty much dry and keeping you warm...

    Anyway I used them to Mcgrath and lots of cold climbing trips. Some people also have luck with VB gloves.

    For a very pro-VB view check the stevensons warmlite website

    http://www.warmlite.com/vb_shirt.htm

    lots of people use VB liners for their sleeping bags on cold places like Denali, It reportatly adds a bit of warmth and keeps frost from accumulating inside your bag (like in the down), BUT you can only sleep in your base layers and you wake up all clammy. A good down bag that you can lie in the sun to air out for a bit is way better in my opinion.

    I'll shut up now...
    Last edited by Bearbait; 11-15-2006 at 09:30 AM.

  14. #14
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    A secret for avoiding VB socks altogether, even on multi-day trips... use antiperspirant on your feet. It really helps.

    A good down bag will breathe enough to vent the humidity out through the shell... mine has a gore shell and it is always covered in frost in the morning but even on multi-day trips it never packs up with ice. I know you can go gonzo with too much down fill and then it can't breathe... packs up with ice and you're a popsicle.

    Try a microfleece bag liner. It's super cozy, heats up quick, fills all the dead air space around your bod, keeps your bag a lot cleaner and drier ... you can pull it out to air during the day.

    You'd think the same reasoning would apply to socks, huh? Not so. Use antiperspirant, thin wool socks next to the skin, then thick wool socks outside those. Bring along a couple extra pairs of thin and thick wool socks rolled up and compressed in ziploc bags and use them ONLY for sleeping in, then on the last day.

    Now I'LL shut up! :-D

  15. #15
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    I ride in the Aleutians where we do not see the cold temps of the mainland, but have plenty of wind and rain. For a typical ride in the low 30s to low 20s I wear mid-weight wool socks, Sporthill XC pants over my cycling shorts, Patagonia mid or expedition weight shirt, Pearl Izumi Barrier jacket and AmFib gloves and a Sugoi headband under my helmet. If it's really wet, I will wear a light shell of some sort also. Oh, and Trek neoprene shoe covers. This works out here and would probably be fine anywhere on the southern coast, but may be a little light for the mainland.
    Last edited by AleutianMTB; 11-15-2006 at 11:23 PM.

  16. #16
    I'm from Utah
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    No waterproof shell?

    Regarding in riding where it is warm and wet, Is there anything else you can do besides wear a waterproof shell (top and bottom)? Even warmish snowstorms (20+ degrees) cause the top layers to become really wet, and then the inner layers, and so on. Even the best moisture-wicking fabric (with the exception of VB, I'm sure, and also wool) becomes as useless as cotton once it gets wet in continuously wet weather. In the Southeast, this is definitely a larger concern than below-0 temps. I'm just curious if anyone has found good waterproof alternatives.

  17. #17
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    Staying dry when it is raining or dumping wet snow is a tough proposition. A shell that keeps you dry from the elements tends to trap perspiration and soak you from the inside. Most of my winter rides in really nasty weather are two hours or less in length and I find that the soft shell front of the Barrier jacket and the XC pants do a decent enough job for me. I will add a light hard shell on top if it is really cold.

  18. #18
    KuskoRiverCruiser
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    Qualify this thread...

    Lots of good discussion...BUT

    For the sake of the in state 'Cheechakos' and 'Outside' readers...I think we need to qualify the use scenarios...commuting in Anchorage is NOT commuting in Bethel is NOT weekend expeditioning on the Knik is NOT UltraSporting to McGrath....etc.

    And the 'winter riding wear' requirements are NOT the same...your system design, uses and needs are very very different.

    Hell...I commute to school and back here in Bethel in Carharts and a cotton union suit...is that the norm? Does it work for me? Is it right?

    It would also be nice to have some of the winter riding, hardware AND software, outfitting described as some common generalities that apply across the board...i.e. the thermal engineering concepts surrounding VBL use and how that applies to all winter sport!

    Generality 1...your system considerations and use strategies change the further you bike, and the longer you stay, away from a warm stove / drying rack.

    any more...?
    Last edited by qayaq_alaska; 11-18-2006 at 09:09 AM.
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  19. #19
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    Good points. Here's another...

    2) Clothing needs are highly dependant on level of exertion. A hard training ride will require a different system than a commute to work.

  20. #20
    Beware of Doggerel
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    I like the idea of some general rules for winter riding.

    I don't really have a rule to offer but, as a concept, it is good to keep in mind that everything about winter riding is extremely personal. Some folks can ride at zero in running shoes and heavy socks and others need Neos at that same temp. The key is to gather as much infor as possible and then experiment as much as possible in a safe environment.

    Also your body can change from year to year, or even month to month and stuff that once kept you warm may not work all the time, don't force stuff to work just becasue it "should".

    Adam
    I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.

  21. #21
    Caveman
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    sorry guys but did I hear right "Rules for winter riding??"

    take it back...

    seriously though, Yes this thread has good information, but it is exactally that, a forum thread. People can take what they want from it just like any other internet site. Its not our job to say what work for one will work for another. Like Adam said they key to it all is getting ideas and experimenting.

  22. #22
    Beware of Doggerel
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bearbait
    sorry guys but did I hear right "Rules for winter riding??"

    take it back...

    seriously though, Yes this thread has good information, but it is exactally that, a forum thread. People can take what they want from it just like any other internet site. Its not our job to say what work for one will work for another. Like Adam said they key to it all is getting ideas and experimenting.
    Good point E this is a little silly. I think a good rule would be "always carry a lot of rocks, in case you need to start a fire, this way you can use the rocks to make a fire ring, softball sized rocks for a fire ring can be hard to find in deep snow".
    I wanna say I'm sorry for stuff I haven't done yet, things will shortly get completely out of hand --T.M.G.

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