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Thread: Shell

  1. #1
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    Shell

    I need a breathable shell that won't break the bank. I am looking at the EMS NeoShell Polartec Helix on-sale for $179. What do you guys like to ride in for a breathable shell?

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    Marmot Precip gets great reviews and is only $120 @ REI

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    Foxwear could help you out. It is reasonably priced.

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    I'm using a Patagonia Gore Tex with pit & chest zip openings. I'll probably move to a Pearl Izumi option next year.
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  5. #5
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    I can't seem to find a shell that's actually breathable. They're always covered in sweat/condensation after a ride. So I've resorted to wool outer layer which has worked great. I also keep a very lightweight shell that I put on if the temps get too low or if there's an extended downhill.

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    What I've discovered is the amount of physical exertion you put out riding through snow is amazing and that produces a ton of heat. You've got to dress very, very light and basically anything that blocks the wind, no matter how breathable and wicking they claim the fabric is will still likely be to hot at slow speeds with no wind.

    I'm currently using an OR Ferrosi hoody and it was a bit too warm this morning at 18F with long sleeve polyester jersey underneath.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    I can't seem to find a shell that's actually breathable. They're always covered in sweat/condensation after a ride. So I've resorted to wool outer layer which has worked great. I also keep a very lightweight shell that I put on if the temps get too low or if there's an extended downhill.
    Same here.

  8. #8
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    Shell

    I wear a windfront solomon xc ski jacket. Back, under arms are breathable, zipper is doubled and has a vent. Only issue is my forearms get soaked as they are full windproof. Wish they wernt with the poggies its really hot. I got some vents put on them, helped a bit.

    My pants are wind front Louis Garneau and they have leg vents.

    Seems like all the brands have ditched wind front for "windproof moisture wicking" its all lies.

    My LBS started bringing in Craft stuff, i havent looked into it but they seem pumped on it.
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    I've been wearing the Powerline Hoodie from Revelate this winter. Pretty breathable yet still blocks the wind.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by homebrewtim View Post
    I need a breathable shell that won't break the bank. I am looking at the EMS NeoShell Polartec Helix on-sale for $179. What do you guys like to ride in for a breathable shell?
    For what? Rain, snow, etc? I find that for high intensity sports, there really isn't such thing as a "breathable shell", they can't evacuate moisture as fast as you can produce it, so for colder temps (not liquid precip) a soft shell is a much better choice for a wide range of conditions and temps, and frozen moisture (snow) that falls on you doesn't melt because your outer layer is below freezing. For much colder temps (like well into the -Fs) then you sometimes need a bit more insulation, sometimes a hard shell as an outer layer to trap some pockets of warmer air, but this is usually getting to the temps where a lot of people stop going outdoors. Otherwise that kind of clothing traps moisture. If it's for rain, then you'll need some kind of waterproof layer obviously, but given the warmer temps most likely your going to get kind of miserable and soaked one way or another with extended exposure to rain, it just kid of depends on how heavy the rain is and how hard you are exerting. The thinner hard-shells are better here because it's less volume to get soaked and much easier to dry when the rain stops, sometimes drying in place. For all of my winter riding though, a soft shell is always better, because it's almost always at or below freezing. You can actually see your frozen sweat on the outside of the fabric at times, as the vapor passes through and freezes on the outer layer, but you remain dry inside.

    Generally, we dress like XC skiers for maximum comfort, because the exertion levels are similar. Tonight's ride was 34 degrees though, caught me off guard because just 2hrs before it was 15 degrees, I was burning up, mainly my feet, as I was able to take off my thin neck warmer, roll back my pogies and unzip my soft-shell, but still damn warm.
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  11. #11
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    I find you need to have both chest & pit zips for fat biking. As another mentioned XC ski cloths might be the closest option
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  12. #12
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    I like turtles

  13. #13
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    Shells are only breathable if you're not moving. If you're active everything becomes as breathable as a garbage bag after a while. The more you spend, the later it turns into a garbage bag.

  14. #14
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    Outdoor Research Ferossi hoody https://www.outdoorresearch.com/en/m...i-hoody-2.html

    Light, stretchy, breathable and very wind resistant. Light water resistance. I like the Ferossi pants as well, all year round. Light wool tights under them in winter. If it's raining or there's wet snow falling, I like a simple gore tex paclite jacket with long pit zips.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by sean salach View Post
    Outdoor Research Ferossi hoody https://www.outdoorresearch.com/en/m...i-hoody-2.html

    Light, stretchy, breathable and very wind resistant. Light water resistance. I like the Ferossi pants as well, all year round. Light wool tights under them in winter. If it's raining or there's wet snow falling, I like a simple gore tex paclite jacket with long pit zips.
    That's the coat I just started riding in and it isn't as breathable as I was hoping. But it kept the wind off me on the way home and worked better than on my slow ride in at 18F. Seems like all the clothing manufacturers have gone to wicking fabrics and eliminated zippered vents. I spent a couple hours looking for wind breaker style cycling or skiing jackets with zippered vents and couldn't find anything that didn't cost a ton of money. I bought a Foxwear E-vap lite jacket as well and it is too warm except for the single digits on me. The price was very reasonable, just a warmer jacket than I was expecting. It's been working really great for XC skiing with my dog.

    Anyone know of a zipper vented shell with a wind resistant front and a fleece back?

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    That's the coat I just started riding in and it isn't as breathable as I was hoping. But it kept the wind off me on the way home and worked better than on my slow ride in at 18F. Seems like all the clothing manufacturers have gone to wicking fabrics and eliminated zippered vents. I spent a couple hours looking for wind breaker style cycling or skiing jackets with zippered vents and couldn't find anything that didn't cost a ton of money. I bought a Foxwear E-vap lite jacket as well and it is too warm except for the single digits on me. The price was very reasonable, just a warmer jacket than I was expecting. It's been working really great for XC skiing with my dog.

    Anyone know of a zipper vented shell with a wind resistant front and a fleece back?
    Ferossi breathes great for me and I sweat a lot. I wear it from just below freezing down. Maybe my jacket is older and more worn in? It's been the best combination of breathable and wind resistant I've found. You could always have an alterations shop(or diy) add some side zips. What were you wearing under it? Is it possible you were overdressed? I just wear a light baselayer and the Ferossi down to about low single digits before adding a light insulation layer. Above 20 and the jacket is mostly open except on long downhills.

  17. #17
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    I've been wearing this wicking polyester shirt under the Ferossi jacket.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...TF8&th=1&psc=1

    I was riding on a packed snowmachine trail that had some resistance from the snow being slightly chewed up and was borderline overheating even with it unzipped. I almost took it off but made it to the plowed road and the higher speed helped cool me off a bit. The wicking shirt isn't very thick. I was just hoping the jacket would breath better.
    Last edited by ak-rider; 01-31-2017 at 11:35 PM.

  18. #18
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    Shells prevent evaporative cooling, that's good or bad depending on your needs.

    I have an awesome stretch breathable jacket from Endura, it sees use only when temps go below 10deg F. It was $400 and it gets used rarely.

    The rest of the time I use a PearlIzumi nylon vest over poly or a PearlIzumi MTB shell over poly.

    The Pearl stuff is not expensive and lasts a long time.

    Get the lightest weight shell you can find, water resistant will be more breathable than waterproof.

  19. #19
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    I'll check out the Pearl clothing.

  20. #20
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    There is no one shell...

    But for lightweight, breathable, and waterproof I find the alpine houdini by patagonia and the essence by marmot are about the most breathable lightweight shells that are actually close to waterproof. Although the latter is pretty fragile.

    The standard houdini will not be as waterproof, but not trap as much moisture since it has no wp/b liner. All depends on your conditions and how wet you are worried about getting from the outside. That defines which jacket you should get to stay dry from the inside...

    g

  21. #21
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    I have the EMS Helix and it is a fantastic rain jacket, that breathes well for what it is, but unless it's raining I wear a soft-shell. I used to have a simple, very thin, uncoated nylon cycling jacket that was good across a wide temperature range with various layers underneath. Below freezing waterproofness is not desirable to me, wind protection and breathability are.
    I got some bad ideas in my head.

  22. #22
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    This one. Does everything you need and doesn't break the bank. I also wear their cycling pants which are just as good.

    https://www.amazon.com/4ucycling-Win...cycling+jacket

    Some other options to consider...

    https://www.amazon.com/Fleeced-Athle...cycling+jacket

    https://www.amazon.com/Arsuxeo-Winte...ds=arsuxeo+16h

  23. #23
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    I have an OLD beat up Marmot Precip jacket I might use a couple of times a year.

    Under most conditions I ride in, I don't even look for anything especially wind blocking. I just build up layers of wool and synthetic fabrics in crucial places (like my core). I get more use out of a lightweight fleece vest (old EMS 100wt fleece) than I get out of any softshell jacket I have. There is a point where I'll pull out a softshell for more protection from the weather.

    I bought some Bontrager softshell tights last spring, and those have been getting extensive use this winter. FWIW, since wind-front stuff has been brought up, these have softshell-front and fleece-back. They work awesome, even if the fit is weird. I usually wear medium sized stuff, but with these, my legs wouldn't fit in the mediums. So I had to size up to large. But then, the waist comes up too high (giving me an urkel look until I put on my jersey/jacket), and I have to cinch them down a LOT. I have taken to wearing them with suspenders made for ski pants.

    But the hardshell jacket? The only time it comes out is when it's both really cold AND really windy. And I'm not using it so much for its thermal capabilities, but simply for the fact that it blocks wind better than anything else I have. I'm also using it with all the other layers I typically wear, with the vents wide open, and the layers underneath keep me warm. Not the hard shell. In fact, my sweat usually freezes on the inside of the hardshell. Haven't even considered pulling that out yet this winter. Only pulled out my softshell once for a single ride around 0F.

  24. #24
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    I concur, wind blocking jacket is overkill.

    In winter I basically put thermal underwear (zero layer pants and t-shirt labeled for minus 10C, fully breathable and very moisture moving), regular summer shorts and a more or less standard sport hoodie. They all breathe and allow moisture to move away. In summer I skip thermal underwear and replace hoodie with a t-shirt.

    The only moment where I think about wind protection in winter is when I ride on a sea beach and its heavy wind or storm-like. But its easier then just to change a route to be inside woods as even with a shell stormy sea riding is questionable experience both in summer or winter (moving against wind, sand going into mouth, chilling wind in winter etc).

    Need to confess though that I am trying bib-tights instead of thermal underwear right now as thermal pants with no suspenders tend to move constantly down when moving/climbing on the bike. But these should be with no wind protection too, or have limited protection (like knees only).

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    Pearl Izumi MTB Barrier Jacket - Men's | Backcountry.com

    MTB Barrier, on sale, $59. Slim fit, good for a 100wt poly plus a jersey, sometimes I wear a vest so I can strip the jacket once I'm warmed up.

  26. #26
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    THANK YOU FOR THIS THREAD!

    I was suffering in silence with my current jacket setup. I followed a few of the links here, and went with essentially the same jacket as what nyrr496 linked to. This is the one I just ordered:

    Aero Tech Designs - Men's Windproof Thermal Cycling Jacket



    With a 5% off coupon I got from the site, it worked out to $76 shipped. I hope to have it for this weekend, and will report back with my findings.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney Jekyl View Post
    THANK YOU FOR THIS THREAD!

    I was suffering in silence with my current jacket setup. I followed a few of the links here, and went with essentially the same jacket as what nyrr496 linked to. This is the one I just ordered:

    Aero Tech Designs - Men's Windproof Thermal Cycling Jacket



    With a 5% off coupon I got from the site, it worked out to $76 shipped. I hope to have it for this weekend, and will report back with my findings.
    I wish they made that jacket in all black OR the one I linked to you in a tall. I love their stuff and have a lot of it but I want a black jacket in XXL Tall and have no luck.
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  28. #28
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    You can buy similar jackets for half the price on Amazon. Just type in "Windproof Cycling Jacket" in the search box.

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  29. #29
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    When it was like this recently:

    20*F, moderate wind and medium wet snow
    Shell-wint8.jpgShell-wint2.jpgShell-wint4.jpgShell-snoangl.jpg

    I had on a regular Champion poly wicking base layer long sleeve shirt I got from Target. T-shirt, and a Novara Headwind rain jacket. Regular cargo shorts. Salomon hiking shoes and Giro biking gloves. Helmet and balaclava on my head. the only thing that really wasn't working were the gloves. I was very warm and comfortable for the 2 hours I was out. When the temps are above 40deg, I just wear the base layer and the jacket. Above 60 and raining I don't even weart hat...just a t shirt. I am already going a be wet, so who cares

    I have definitely found that the less I wear underneath when it is cold and/or wet, the better. I actually wished I hadn't put on the t-shirt cause it soaked up all the sweat that had wicked away from the base layer
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  30. #30
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    wool and then put the shell on for the downhill and take off for the uphill.

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    You can buy similar jackets for half the price on Amazon. Just type in "Windproof Cycling Jacket" in the search box.

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    You've got to be careful about what you are buying though. I personally wouldn't want windproof as it doesn't breathe well. Years ago I ordered a cheap pair of nylon windpants from Cabelas that were in close out. They were horrible! They didn't breathe at all and while hiking up a hill in warm, springtime conditions with my snowboard, my legs got soaked. It was the wearing a garabage bag feeling.

    Standard fleece breathes really well. That's why it sucks in the wind because the wind cuts right through it. I'm still thinking that'd be the best type of cycling jacket for me in cold temps. I want a wind resistant front and unlined fleece back. Yesterday while riding home at 15F, my OR forossie hoody had droplets of moisture all over the inside of the jacket on the back panel.I knew was overheating in my OR hoody but since I was going home I didn't care and there was a breeze so my shirt I was wearing underneath would have been to cold. I'm kinda over it with these high tech, wicking, soft shell jackets that seem to be all anyone sells anymore. They are not working for me.

  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    I want a wind resistant front and unlined fleece back. .
    I have this one arriving tomorrow. Blocks wind in front and breathes in back.

    https://www.amazon.com/Arsuxeo-Winte...rds=arsuxe+16h

    I also own this one which works well in colder temps...

    https://www.amazon.com/4ucycling-Win...cycling+jacket

  33. #33
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    I love my wind front stuff. My stomach i find will be frozen after a ride im fairly comfortable on. Just wish they made just the front body wind front, back and arms breathable. All i ask. I guess i could do a wind front vest but hey are all short and tight for winter drop bar riding.
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  34. #34
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    I don't know about not windproof(at least the front). Realize how your body temp tanks when you descend for any length of time. Wind proof front and softer back is a good combo. Especially when it gets colder like single digits and below, the cold can just cut through you without some wind protection. There's also a balance between race wear and normal riding pace.
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  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    You've got to be careful about what you are buying though. I personally wouldn't want windproof as it doesn't breathe well. Years ago I ordered a cheap pair of nylon windpants from Cabelas that were in close out. They were horrible! They didn't breathe at all and while hiking up a hill in warm, springtime conditions with my snowboard, my legs got soaked. It was the wearing a garabage bag feeling.

    Standard fleece breathes really well. That's why it sucks in the wind because the wind cuts right through it. I'm still thinking that'd be the best type of cycling jacket for me in cold temps. I want a wind resistant front and unlined fleece back. Yesterday while riding home at 15F, my OR forossie hoody had droplets of moisture all over the inside of the jacket on the back panel.I knew was overheating in my OR hoody but since I was going home I didn't care and there was a breeze so my shirt I was wearing underneath would have been to cold. I'm kinda over it with these high tech, wicking, soft shell jackets that seem to be all anyone sells anymore. They are not working for me.
    Most XC ski stuff is windproof front, soft rear.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Most XC ski stuff is windproof front, soft rear.
    Last winter I was hoping that was the solution so I ordered an LL Bean XC ski jacket. The back is made of polyester and spandex which I assume is supposed to be breathable as it is different material than what's on the front and sleeves. The problem is it doesn't work worth a sh!t, I've found ice droplets inside the back in cold temps and when it is warmer the inside back panel of the jacket will be covered in condensation. I can't find it on their site anymore so maybe other people also had complaints? It's a nice jacket, just doesn't work for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    I have this one arriving tomorrow. Blocks wind in front and breathes in back.

    https://www.amazon.com/Arsuxeo-Winte...rds=arsuxe+16h

    I also own this one which works well in colder temps...

    https://www.amazon.com/4ucycling-Win...cycling+jacket
    The first one seems similar to my LL Bean jacket but the price is way better. The bottom one appears to have the same kind of material my Baleaf cycling pants have. My legs get sweaty in them while they don't in my OR radiant hybrid tights.

    What I think would work best is a jacket with a nylon front that is soft and doesn't get crinkley in cold temps. The back would be a light weight polar-tech fleece. I think companies used to make coats like these maybe 20 years ago? I think my wife had a North Face jacket that was made like that. My assumption is the new fabrics and designs should be better but for me, I'm more comfortable wearing my old, inexpensive Columbia fleece jacket as long as it isn't windy. The wind cuts right through it so I keep thinking if it just had a wind resistant front and sleeves it would work pretty well.

    My LL Bean XC ski jacket below.
    Last edited by ak-rider; 02-02-2017 at 08:21 PM.

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    You might want to try the REI in town. LLBean is ok, but their reputation is more on hunting and comfort, rather than active gear. I kind of wait until I see something in the price and functionality that I want, as it's hard to know when you order stuff. All I can say is the majority of riders get along well with a soft shell, the racers go a little lighter when they are outputting and it's not cold, breathable jersey as the outside layer.

  39. #39
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    That's a good idea. The next time I'm up in Anchorage I'll stop by REI and see what they've got. I must be buying the wrong thing. My Foxwear jacket has the hi-tech wind resistant, wicking materials and it worked quite well on one night ride when it was around 5F. I wasn't going at a very fast pace and the trail was nice and hard so there wasn't much resistance. I was amazed that the back of that jacket wasn't coated in frost like what happens with my Columbia fleece jacket. It must have been wicking the moisture away? I like that coat but it is too warm for pretty much all of my riding and it was the evap lite model.

  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Most XC ski stuff is windproof front, soft rear.
    ^^^^^^This ^^^^
    Keeps my Jimmy Johnson from freezing.
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  41. #41
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    Lots of good info here so far. It seems most of us are coming to a similar conclusion.

    The best "shell" type jackets I have found for high activity tend to be made of thin and stretchy soft shell material. Wash them with Nikwax Soft Shell and they will shed moderate moisture. I have given up on hard shell jackets for all but really nasty weather or low activity use / back up shell for emergencies.

    Another option I really like for light moisture are the Marmot Driclime wind shirts or vest as a top/mid layer. They offer a few versions that all breathe very well.

    Speaking of vests, they are a go to for me when I am riding. I have multiple vests that go from wafer thin up to fleece with wind blocker in front. Vests allow easy customization with base or mid layers to fit the conditions you are dealing with. Solves the majority of overheating issues for me.
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  42. #42
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    I wanted to like my Marmot Driclime for winter, but it doesn't work for me. Moisture makes it through the inner brushed taffeta lining but not the outer fabric when it's single digits or below. I end up with a bunch of loose frost stuck between the layers, often accumulated at the bottom. I'm also not a fan of coil zippers, especially not small gauge ones like my Driclime has.

  43. #43
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    got the Aero Tech shell today. planning on wearing for tomorrow's ride. unsure what base layers to run yet, as it should be about 30~32 degrees for the duration of the 4 hour ride. model pic:



    fit was a little on the larger side, which worked out for me. collar and sleeves are both taller/longer than i think is needed. i will be rolling back the sleeves a bit and not zipping it fully up.

    i will give a better review tomorrow. thanks again for the thread!!!

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney Jekyl View Post
    got the Aero Tech shell today. planning on wearing for tomorrow's ride. unsure what base layers to run yet, as it should be about 30~32 degrees for the duration of the 4 hour ride.
    That can be a tough temp for me on climbs, because it's warm enough that under max exertion, I can run with just a jersey, so it's usually too much to have a soft shell closed up and I can only do a light short-sleeve base layer under. I found a super-lightweight softshell columbia jacket at the outlet a few months ago, about as heavy as a jersey, wind blocker, soft panels, perfect for those warmer temps. Most of the time, down to about 0F, I run only one base layer and vary the soft-shell between thicker and thinner ones that I have. When I do start to use more than one layer beneath, it's usually something like a vest or heavy short sleeve over the thinner base, OR pulling out a puffy jacket for an extended downhill. The warmer it is, the more ventilation you need. Those temps shouldn't take much insulation, I'd concentrate more on breathability, throw a heavier layer in a pack for "just in case".
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  45. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rodney Jekyl View Post
    THANK YOU FOR THIS THREAD!
    I was suffering in silence with my current jacket setup.
    [/QUOTE]

    I'm glad I'm not the only one looking for the right outer layer. I currently wear a Marmot rain shell (Precip maybe) I bought 3-4 years ago and its a great rain coat but honestly traps all mositure inside. So, I have a few EMS and Smartwool base layers and figured what I needed was a breathable shell. I saw a lot of newer coats with advertised abilities like the Helix.

  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nurse Ben View Post
    Pearl Izumi MTB Barrier Jacket - Men's | Backcountry.com

    MTB Barrier, on sale, $59. Slim fit, good for a 100wt poly plus a jersey, sometimes I wear a vest so I can strip the jacket once I'm warmed up.
    Which one do you like? There are a bunch of Barrier jackets it seems. Is the Elite Barrier the one you prefer?

  47. #47
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    A bit expensive but the best winter cycling jacket I own:
    https://www.amazon.com/Gore-Bike-Wea...re+tool+jacket

    It's great for sub 25F on higher effort rides with a wicking layer or two. I rode in in yesterday at 12 degrees and was comfortable. It fits me perfectly, has good pockets and no air leaks in at the wrists. It's also really well made and durable, I've had mine for years. You can find them on sale often.

  48. #48
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    Just got back from a 1.5 hr ride at 15F with my wife and she said I had stream pouring off me while riding in the OR Ferrossi jacket. I ran an experiment, wore a poly t-shirt and started off with an REI poly and nylon windbreaker I use in the summer. It didn't breath well at all and I felt clammy, kinda like the riding in a garbage bag feeling. There was no wind today. I switched to the Ferrossi jacket which was lighter weight material and it was noticeably more comfortable even though I was pouring sweat. When we got home both my shirt and jacket were wet with sweat but I never felt uncomfortable except when we stopped for a bit to rest and I started getting cold. I guess if your level of exertion is high enough you are going to sweat in anything. I continue to be amazed at the modern wicking fabrics ability to not form frost on the outside of the clothing. My non windproof fleece jackets become frost covered.

  49. #49
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    Just did a nice 5hr ride up into the mountains in back of where I live. Started out at 4F this morning, but we've been having some strong inversions with the high pressure. Up at Glen Alps, the top of the ride, it was around 32F. I did a few laps up there and some extended descents. Wore a Performance Bike jacket that I inherited several years ago. It has wind-blocker panels, but under-arms and on the back are stretchy. Wore my 70oz camelback classic under the jacket. Wore a thin long-sleeve wicking base layer under the jacket. Unfortunately, couldn't find my lighter balaclava, so I kind of suffered a bit with the heavier one. Used a neck-warmer on the descents to "plug" my neck area, as the balaclava is kind of short. Had to roll up my pogies a few times, but always used them while descending. I was experimenting with my camelback hose (inside my jacket), but given the temps, I could have opened up my jacket on the climbs a little more. Still, I was pretty comfortable the entire time. The descents took me back to colder temps, so that makes it a little more critical to button up, but I didn't have to add the windbreaker I was carrying over everything. It was 25F degrees when I got back home, as the freezing fog had burned off for the most part. Some of the cold spots on the map this morning were near 0F though and you can find those temps in valleys and cold spots that trap the air pretty well.

    My inclination is to say that many people still over-dress for winter riding. If I were to get more specific, I'd say they over-do the legs and torso and under-do the extremities. It's not that you don't take additional layers with you, depending on the temp and what you plan to do (additional layers for rides with big climbs and descents, but not so much for ones that are mostly level riding, of course depending on temp and how far out you intend to go). I think most people's experience with temperatures above freezing is rain, and to get any kind of significant rain resistance (waterproof is kind of a stretch), you need a pretty "hard" shell for rain. For those of us that spend all winter in sub-freezing temps, we realize that most of the time, a soft-shell with only one layer beneath is pretty optimal. If there's a lot of descending or the wind is just ripping combined with cold temps, then you might need a bit of a harder shell, but back to the soft shell, it can be dumping snow like crazy and you just are not going to get wet due to the snow. I've spent hours riding while it's pissing snow and in the teens or 20s and it's usually some of the most comfortable riding due to the temp and not getting wet. The outside of your soft shell is below zero, like the ambient temp, so snow just sluffs off or packs in creases and doesn't do anything. Generally, the amount of clothing on your torso and legs doesn't change radically with big differences in temperature, as opposed to just standing around in 32F, 0F or -15F.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  50. #50
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    I found the same thing to be true riding while it is snowing, I don't notice it getting me wet. I've found I tend to undress my lower half, especially when it is windy. While I don't mind my legs getting a bit cold, if that's happening then I've got bigger issues like my dick getting cold and that makes me nervous! 😀

    I'm starting to wonder if I should shove the shell in my bag and just try some non wind resistant shirts and just layer when there isn't a strong breeze when it's really cold? I don't often get cold from the speed of the bike. I think I'll try that for my commute to work tomorrow.

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    I found the same thing to be true riding while it is snowing, I don't notice it getting me wet. I've found I tend to undress my lower half, especially when it is windy. While I don't mind my legs getting a bit cold, if that's happening then I've got bigger issues like my dick getting cold and that makes me nervous! 😀

    I'm starting to wonder if I should shove the shell in my bag and just try some non wind resistant shirts and just layer when there isn't a strong breeze when it's really cold? I don't often get cold from the speed of the bike. I think I'll try that for my commute to work tomorrow.
    Either that or a light shell vest? I use a light Novaro jacket when commuting for the shoulder seasons and the sleeves can be undone in a few seconds. Much of the time in the warmer temps, I will ride with a base-layer and the vest, to get some visibility with the yellow color and reflective strips of the vest. I also have a slightly heavier race face one that I rarely use.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  52. #52
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    I did some more experimenting with clothes this past week and learned that unless it is pretty windy, a wind resistant shell, no matter how thin, causes me to get too hot and overly sweat. I'm still going to pack a shell but I found that wearing either a single or two layered wicking type shirts are much better at regulating temperature. Even if there is a slight breeze it helps to keep you cool. My goal is not to sweat as I'm riding to work. I think I've got a decent system finally figured out.

  53. #53
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    We rode out to Knik Glacier today, 20 miles each way. Was -11F when we started. Below zero for the entire ride as far as we can tell. One guy wore a "hard" shell on the outside, got drenched in his on sweat. No such problems here. I went back and forth between my performance jacket with wind panels on the front side and putting on a light puffy insulated jacket over it (but leaving it mostly unzipped). We were breaking trail and pushing in a few places, but it was pretty cold. A few times I'd start overheating and take off the puffy and store it. I kind of get a bit of warning, because my glasses start to fog, which means I need to take a layer off. Anyways, this was a cold ride, slightly different protocols, but as evidenced by today, your body still has to breathe. That guy was pretty chilled at the end and spent a while trying to warm up in the restaurant, the car-ride back, the hot shower he said he intended to take, etc. Heck, I'm still wearing the same clothes I wore right now sitting on my couch, because they are dry Shell-01ff17826f4249f4409f326fa1b6a4ea2535d7f4be.jpg
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  54. #54
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    One thing I've noticed in the last few days (because of your thread) is that the base layer needs to be tight. Not constricting tight, but it needs to be form-fitting and not loose, to effectively transport the moisture and regulate temperature. This is why it's the base layer, and not the "trap heat between the base layer and outer layer"-layer. Seems obvious possibly, but in the past I "just did it" and never really thought about it, till I used a loose layer recently.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

    You're turning black metallic.

  55. #55
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    Damn! 40 mile round trip, that's a crazy long way! I've not ridden out at Knik since the late 90's, and that was on dirt bikes when I was living in Anchorage. We never did make it to the glacier.

    I agree with you about the form fitting. I hate tight fitting clothes but I've got one really thin, really light weight wicking shirt that is especially form fitting and it keeps me warmer than I'd ever expect. I noticed that today when we got out of the wind and I took off an inner layer due to getting to hot. We got back into the wind later on and I stayed comfortable even though I was just wearing a fleece jacket that had no wind resistance. We were a lot warmer than your temps at 18F. Until I read your post I hadn't thought about it but my back seems to feel more sweaty with my looser fitting shirts than the tighter fitting ones. Makes sense that the form fitting shirt can more easily wick the sweat away to evaporate and hold a layer of warmth next to your skin better. I've been learning more about clothing this winter than ever before.

  56. #56
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    Quote Originally Posted by ak-rider View Post
    ...Makes sense that the form fitting shirt can more easily wick the sweat away to evaporate and hold a layer of warmth next to your skin better. I've been learning more about clothing this winter than ever before.
    Good point. When you think about it, it can't wick unless it's touching what it's supposed to be wicking.
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  57. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Velobike View Post
    Good point. When you think about it, it can't wick unless it's touching what it's supposed to be wicking.
    Yes. I have not found anything that works as well as Patagonia Capilene jerseys. Tight fitting and hydrophobic with a zipper you can open one handed by just spreading it open. It is the basis of my simple and reliable layering system.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by stremf View Post
    I can't seem to find a shell that's actually breathable. They're always covered in sweat/condensation after a ride.

    There's no such thing as breathable when temps are below freezing. Any moisture that leaves your body freezes and plugs the "pores" in the jacket before it can get out.

    That aside, there's not a breathable fabric out there that can move the amount of moisture that a cyclist produces when working hard, regardless of temp.

    Finding something that's windproof and heavily vented is the answer, and taking it off when you get too warm is mandatory. Otherwise you end up soaked.

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    There's no such thing as breathable when temps are below freezing.
    If you are "doing it right" and conditions are right, I've seen plenty of situations where it condenses on the outside of the clothing and you can just brush it off. In reality, it doesn't always happen even if you think you've dressed perfectly. Maybe you were talking about a harder windproof shell, where I agree, but with breathable non-waterproof stuff, I've seen and experienced it many times. But, it's also nearly impossible to not have any dampness within your clothes, it's going to happen and the key is to be able to get rid of the moisture at a rate where it doesn't "pile up" excessively, as in you getting drenched. You can't operate at the same output level all the time and insulation is the opposite of sweating, just reality. Depending on how elaborate you want to get, you can get huge arm-pit zips and other venting technology to not have to take off as many/any layers, but many of these get crazy expensive vs. something simpler and more inexpensive that you can just take off. So then it becomes more about storage and smart selections for your ride, rather than one or two pieces of "wonder-apparel" that are going to do everything and anything under the sun. Still, you have to be pretty smart about what you buy. Lots of stuff sold or marketed for a certain activity can actually be pretty damn crappy for that activity.
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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    Quote Originally Posted by mikesee View Post
    There's no such thing as breathable when temps are below freezing. Any moisture that leaves your body freezes and plugs the "pores" in the jacket before it can get out..
    I disagree with this. I have 2 of the Chinese jackets from Amazon that I linked earlier in this thread and a Swix Cross country ski jacket. They all block wind in the front and breath on the back and back side of sleeves.

    The jackets are form fitting and close enough to the body that warmth from my body keeps the pores from freezing up. I've ridden down to 5 degrees without them freezing up.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    If you are "doing it right" and conditions are right, I've seen plenty of situations where it condenses on the outside of the clothing and you can just brush it off. In reality, it doesn't always happen even if you think you've dressed perfectly. Maybe you were talking about a harder windproof shell, where I agree, but with breathable non-waterproof stuff, I've seen and experienced it many times. But, it's also nearly impossible to not have any dampness within your clothes, it's going to happen and the key is to be able to get rid of the moisture at a rate where it doesn't "pile up" excessively, as in you getting drenched. You can't operate at the same output level all the time and insulation is the opposite of sweating, just reality. Depending on how elaborate you want to get, you can get huge arm-pit zips and other venting technology to not have to take off as many/any layers, but many of these get crazy expensive vs. something simpler and more inexpensive that you can just take off. So then it becomes more about storage and smart selections for your ride, rather than one or two pieces of "wonder-apparel" that are going to do everything and anything under the sun. Still, you have to be pretty smart about what you buy. Lots of stuff sold or marketed for a certain activity can actually be pretty damn crappy for that activity.
    Great post. I started this thread looking for suggestions and think I've got it. I bought a convenient, packable wind shell. I ride my fatbike with a Tangle Bag for storage. I also have a solid Merrill Rain Shell. It all just depends...but a ditchable wind breaker is what I'm looking for now that I think about it. I need temp wind protection on the road to and from the trail.


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  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
    I disagree with this. I have 2 of the Chinese jackets from Amazon that I linked earlier in this thread and a Swix Cross country ski jacket. They all block wind in the front and breath on the back and back side of sleeves.

    The jackets are form fitting and close enough to the body that warmth from my body keeps the pores from freezing up. I've ridden down to 5 degrees without them freezing up.


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    I wouldn't go too far, I was just disagreeing that it's impossible. On the flip side, even when it's 15 to 20 degrees colder than you were riding in, or hell, as cold as you can possibly ride in, when the trail conditions are marginal and you are alternating between having to push and being able to ride 5-10 feet at a time before punching through or hitting a deep drift, you start to work extremely hard and your output rises considerably. At this point, nothing may be able to keep up with your exertion. Even if you were riding against a headwind and breaking trail (like yesterday), as soon as this happens your body temp can skyrocket. It was a lot worse for me yesterday when coming back, but I started to fog up (which instantly freezes) due to the hard work, which is where I had to stop and take a layer off/on several times. I think the tailwind may have contributed to this, reducing cooling/moisture transport. It's very easy to get into these high exertion situations when out breaking trail and I agree all the "breathable" in the world may not help in some of these. Shell-g0205446.jpg
    "It's only when you stand over it, you know, when you physically stand over the bike, that then you say 'hey, I don't have much stand over height', you know"-T. Ellsworth

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  63. #63
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    That's been my experience. In a 1st gear sufferfest, barely making it through the snow and pushing, postholing, basically being miserable, I've not found a shell that can breathe well enough to keep you from getting drenched in sweat. Interesting to read how you noticed the wind at your back not cooling you the same way as whe it hits from other directions. That's been what've been noticing on my commute as the wind tends to blow in the direction I'm heading and feels way colder as a headwind on my way home.

    This past weekend just wearing wicking layers and a non windproof fleece was quite comfortable in the windy conditions. I've finally resigned myself to the fact that that no single jacket is going to work really well for every single winter condition, not counting in rain.

    Great photo of the ride to the glacier!

  64. #64
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    I still haven't figured out how to dress for longer rides, but I sure sweat less riding my Vaya than riding my fat bike regardless of the temperature. Last single digit fat commute my skin turned bright red where my softshell jacket was more breathable.

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