Recommend a winter base layer- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Recommend a winter base layer

    Hey everyone,

    It gets bone-chilling cold here in North Dakota during the winter months, and while I don't ride when it's -20 below zero, I like to ride when it's as cold as 10 or so above zero.

    My issue is that I sweat a ton and I was wondering if there are base layer tops that wont get so wet? Ideally, it would be something warm enough to wear alone or with a light wind shirt in the spring/fall when it's around 30-50 degrees, and would keep me warm and dry with my heavier winter gear in the really cold weather.

    Any recommendations? I'd prefer getting something as inexpensive as possible, but won't avoid spending money if it's really worth it.

    Thanks everyone!

  2. #2
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    Merino wool is the schizz. Warm and wicks sweat away very well. It's antimicrobial so doesn't smell like synthetics after a while. I wouldn't wear it without something over it though. It would snag too easily. I found several merino sweaters at goodwill dirt cheap. A couple nice enough to wear to work even! The others I don't care what they look like cause they're just for riding and will be under a jacket or something.

  3. #3
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    Thanks! I will take a look at getting one to try out.

  4. #4
    I like turtles
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    Wool. I use Smartwool baselayers and love em' for both snowboarding and mountainbiking. I have a SS right now but am actually going to add a LS one in the next week as my current set up I wear a softshell jacket over my baselayer and I think a little more on my arms would help.
    Geologist by trade...bicycle mechanic (former) by the grace of God!

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  5. #5
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    If you sweat a lot, no piece of garment will work really well. Wear less to reduce sweating. No matter how much advertisers talk about "moisture wicking" and "breathable membranes", it's just marketing. No such garments exist.

    At -12C (+10 F) I use just a very light merino base with a thin shell jacket against windchill if I'm out in the open, but on trails in the woods I use the light merino base, light mid-layer and a spring/fall jersey - no windstopping things.

    The problem could be that you have too much insulation, or your outer shell is a water- and/or windproof membrane thing that doesn't breathe too well. A thicker jersey without membrane would block some wind but allow vapors to leave your clothes.

    A good choice of riding clothes will mean that you're a bit cold in the beginning, but you'll soon warm up. When taking a break you'll get cold very quickly, so have something heavier with you for those moments. (Even if you don't plan making any pauses, you'll want to carry extra clothes with you.)

  6. #6
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    +1 on Merino or Smartwool?

    I have been a convert for a while. Super warm and very stylish.

    And yes you can find it a thrift stores once in a while. Otherwise you may get a bit of "sticker shock" looking at it.

    I have a few sweaters and a few hats, but my favorite is my merino long johns.
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  7. #7
    Delirious Tuck
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    Pricey, but these Craft / Gore Windstopper things, some Craft good/warm bibs w/chamios, a pair of DH shorts, and a jacket do the trick to about 20... add DH jersey or vest to 0F.

    Craft Active Extreme WindStopper Long Sleeve Top | Competitive Cyclist

    Craft PB Thermal Bib Tights with Chamois - Men's | Competitive Cyclist

    Also been pretty happy with these gloves to about 20F:
    Dakine Bike : White Knuckle Glove

    I always find socks/toes are the part that just can't get figured out......

  8. #8
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    I used to commute in Denver winters wearing a Patagonia lightweight Capilene shirt and a light windstopper jacket.
    For the feet I'd wear a thicker pair of wool socks with a sandwich bag over the toes to keep them warm.

  9. #9
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    I'll say it again...Costco carries thin long sleeved merino T's for $20. Probably sold out by now but they reappear in the fall. A few of mine have holes in the elbows as they are very poor substitutes for elbow pads but otherwise they are the cat's bum.
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  10. #10
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    Recommend a winter base layer

    Quality wool is the bees knees, I love the Ibex but its pricey as hell. Dries quick, no smell, best base layer there is IMO. Per Saul's point, a packable down jacket for when you stop, put it on immediately, capture that body heat, dry out and slam your beer (thats why I stop anyway).

  11. #11
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    Recommend a winter base layer

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rock View Post
    I used to commute in Denver winters wearing a Patagonia lightweight Capilene shirt and a light windstopper jacket.
    For the feet I'd wear a thicker pair of wool socks with a sandwich bag over the toes to keep them warm.
    Agree, Capilene in the light or silk weight. No desire to change it up after nearly 30 years in multiple endeavors.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Lumikko View Post
    If you sweat a lot, no piece of garment will work really well. Wear less to reduce sweating. No matter how much advertisers talk about "moisture wicking" and "breathable membranes", it's just marketing. No such garments exist.

    At -12C (+10 F) I use just a very light merino base with a thin shell jacket against windchill if I'm out in the open, but on trails in the woods I use the light merino base, light mid-layer and a spring/fall jersey - no windstopping things.

    The problem could be that you have too much insulation, or your outer shell is a water- and/or windproof membrane thing that doesn't breathe too well. A thicker jersey without membrane would block some wind but allow vapors to leave your clothes.

    A good choice of riding clothes will mean that you're a bit cold in the beginning, but you'll soon warm up. When taking a break you'll get cold very quickly, so have something heavier with you for those moments. (Even if you don't plan making any pauses, you'll want to carry extra clothes with you.)
    You're spot on, Saul. I'm guessing that's exactly it - my outer shell is indeed windproof/waterproof. And I do sweat alot, so I'll likely have some wetness to a point.

    I'll try getting a merino base layer, but what sort of light mid layer do you use?

    Thanks again for all of the feedback on this thread - I appreciate it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleBitey View Post
    Quality wool is the bees knees, I love the Ibex but its pricey as hell.
    I've had an Ibex long sleeve top for about 10 years that I swear has been washed hundreds of times and still rocks. As a matter of fact I'm wearing it right now, so I'd say it was actually pretty cheap in the long run.

    For base layers- wool all the way.

  14. #14
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    The mid layer I've been using this winter is a Swedish Woolpower 200 g/m2 turtleneck. A thin woolly pully or fleece works fine as well.

    Much more important than the specific brand or material is that the clothes fit you and you're wearing an appropriate amount of clothes for the weather and activity.

  15. #15
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    I went down to the local bike shop last night and talked winter clothing with them. Saul, you were spot on - the fit and function are most important, and the guy I was talking with feels what I have is suitable, its just wearing it properly and with the right mix and match. My base and mid layers are great, but when it's colder, I've been wearing a non-breathing shell that's water/wind resistant. Instead, I'm going to pick up a longsleeve jersey that vents more appropriately and see if that helps.

    He also recommended I bring along a soft shell jacket so if/when I do stop along the way, I can throw that on and retain my body heat. Basically, everything you folks said here.

    Thanks again everyone! As a novice to biking (started again in fall of 2013 after not having ridden since I was a teen), I appreciate everything this forum provides. It's amazing!

    Jason

  16. #16
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    Ok guys, I'm back. LOL

    Temps got up to the mid 30's yesterday, so I decided to go out for a ride on the bike paths. I used the following items in this order:

    base - SS Under Armour HeatGear compression
    mid A - LS C9 base layer
    mid B - North Face TKA 100 GLACIER 1/4 ZIP (fully zipped)
    top - LS cycling jersey

    After about 5 minutes out, my upper body started to get cold. My legs, hands, feet, face, neck, and everything BUT my upper core were nice and warm. My chest and stomach were so brutal cold after about 10 minutes that I had to turn around and head home. After all was said and done I was out for about 20 minutes, went 3.5 - 4 miles, and am more confused about proper cycling clothing than ever.

    I know this - I'd rather sweat and be warm than freeze, so I'll be using the wind/rain proof top layer I'd been using before yesterday's test until I can figure out something better equipped to stop the wind on my upper body. I may purchase one of these - Craft Active Extreme WindStopper Long Sleeve Top | Competitive Cyclist , but hate to drop that kind of money unless I know it works. That said, spending $100 is ok if it means a comfortable ride!

  17. #17
    meow meow
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    never heard of everything staying warm but your core. usually if your core gets cold everything else does too. it might help to go with a vest or jacket that will block the wind in the front but breath out of the back.

  18. #18
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    I was thinking the same - a vest may be a good idea. It was clearly the wind chill on my chest and stomach that caused the cold. Arms, hands, etc - all warm with the covering they had. It may also be important to note that I'm riding a Redline Monocog, so I'm quite upright in my position.

  19. #19
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    I'm in FL so not exactly the same (but everything is relative, right?). I was getting tired of layering too much and sweating my butt off OR not enough and being chilled. Bought a vest that has windstop in the front and is vented in the back. Makes a huge difference, and I wear it with arm warmers so when it heats up during the weather I can roll them down or just put them in my pocket.
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  20. #20
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    A couple of long sleeve layers I like are a Helly Henson base for temps down to about 30 or a Minus 33 when it's colder. Both are wool or wool blends and both are easy to wash and dry. My Minus 33 ran a bit large when I ordered it. Also, I wouldn't trade my vest for anything. I have an old REI and a Pearl. I wear them under my shell when need be.

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