Winter weather commuter clothing thread:- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Winter weather commuter clothing thread:

    Just looking for a compendium of knowledge on this subject. I've been commuting all summer and want to keep it up through the winter. Kind of a personal challenge. I'll be biking 6 days a week to work and school. About 12 miles each way. FYI: I'm in Denver so it can definitely get cold and snowy and when it warms up, it's slushy, so it can be a real mess. But I want to hear from everyone who commutes in -32 weather or in the rain.

    So the question I pose is this: What do you wear for your winter commute? Post lots of pics, and describe what your commute is like. Looking forward to your replies, especially the folks from Minnesota and Canadia/AK.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by bipolarbear
    Just looking for a compendium of knowledge on this subject. I've been commuting all summer and want to keep it up through the winter. Kind of a personal challenge. I'll be biking 6 days a week to work and school. About 12 miles each way. FYI: I'm in Denver so it can definitely get cold and snowy and when it warms up, it's slushy, so it can be a real mess. But I want to hear from everyone who commutes in -32 weather or in the rain.

    So the question I pose is this: What do you wear for your winter commute? Post lots of pics, and describe what your commute is like. Looking forward to your replies, especially the folks from Minnesota and Canadia/AK.
    0C to -10C

    winter boots
    long cycling tights
    t shirt
    cycling jacket
    helmet that covers the ears
    light gloves
    googles

    -10 C to -20C
    the above plus
    cycling shorts underneath the tights
    add another one size bigger cycling jacket
    tight balaclava under helmet
    double layer windproof gloves

    -20 C to -25 C

    the above plus

    another set of cycling tights one size bigger
    add icelandic wool sweater over top of jackets
    add wind protector to googles to protect nose and cheeks

    -25 C to -35 C

    The above plus

    remove second cycle tights add fleece snow pants, or swedish army wool pants.
    add wind shell over sweater
    Go to mitts with light glove liner.

    Calgary as well....

    Ignore published windchill data, take the windspeed add your average speed, and calculate windchill lots of methods out there.

    I got down to some -55C the cold sucks all heat away.
    Last edited by jeffscott; 09-23-2009 at 01:13 PM.

  3. #3
    Off the back...
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    I've been riding all winter for a while, and here is what works for me [I'm in Calgary - similar climate to Denver, but a bit colder]:
    +8C - -5C
    Bike jacket, long baggy shorts, t-shirt, glove du jour, regular bike shoes

    -5C - -12C
    Bike jacket, long baggy shorts, t-shirt, lobster mitts, winter bike shoes, cycling leg warmers, lightweight balaclava under the helmet

    -12C - -20C
    Bike Jacket, long baggy shorts over Gore-tex-faced tights, t-shirt, lobster mitts, winter bike shoes, lightweight balaclava under the helmet

    -20C - -30C
    Bike Jacket, long baggy shorts over Gore-tex-faced tights, t-shirt, lobster mitts, pogies, winter bike shoes, two lightweight balaclavas under the helmet

    -30C and colder
    Gore-tex shell over bike jacket, long baggy shorts over Gore-tex-faced tights, t-shirt, lobster mitts, pogies, winter bike shoes, wind/water proof shoe covers, two lightweight balaclavas under the helmet

    The items in red are changes as the mercury falls. The coldest I commuted in last year was ~-50C with the windchill, ambient -35C. Typical riding temperatures are around -10C or -15C in the morning, then 5-10 degrees warmer on the ride home. I still have all my fingers and toes, and haven't come anywhere close to hypothermia.

  4. #4
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    Just rain- rarely anything really cold- I wear a waterproof jacket, crappy waterproof pant shell and booties. Waterproof backpack. If you buy lower end waterproof crap, it doesn't breathe, so you should stay fairly warm, all things considered.

  5. #5
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    Another Albertan checking in...

    Starting from the bottom and working my way up (can't really say the exact temp range, but as it gets colder, I get further down the list):
    Shoes:
    1) shoes and socks
    2) wool socks and shoes
    3) wool socks and shoes with vents taped over
    4) wool socks and shoes with vents taped over and booties

    legs:
    1) shorts
    2) shorts and knee warmers
    3) winter cycling pants (windproof front, material in back breathes a bit)

    Torso
    1) short sleeve jersey
    2) long sleeve jersey
    3) short sleeve jersey in windproof jacket
    4) long sleeve jersey in windproof jacket
    5) jersey, lightweight fleece, windproof jacket

    hands
    1) gloves
    2) lobster mitts

    head
    1) helmet
    2) helmet and earwarmers
    3) helmet, earwarmers, neckwarmer

    The coldest I'll commute in is about -25*C, any colder than that and I call it quits (not really a problem with keeping warm on the bike at that temperature, but if I ever had to fix something I'd be too cold just standing around)

    For starter essentials, I'd say pick up a pair of lobster mitts, spend a bit of money on some winter pants, and pick up some booties for cheap. The rest of the gear isn't really that specialized or necessary, and you should be able to do up some ghetto stuff to keep you warm enough until you decide you like it.

  6. #6
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    I live at 5000ft elevation in the sierras, not far from Tahoe...probably fairly similar to Denver in terms of weather patterns... I live in a valley on the east side of some pretty big mountains, sort of like how denver sits. I ride 5 days a week in all kinds of weather, all winter long. My commute is 6 miles one way, about 20 minutes. 25 minutes when it's really cold.

    First of all, get some fenders if you don't have 'em.

    for clothes:
    I am a huge fan of softshell jackets. Waterproof/windproof/amazing. I use a Mountain Hardwear Synchro... they're $200, but I got mine at an REI garage sale for $75. Single best piece of gear I own, for sure. I wear it with nothing but a jersey under it all winter. It's not too hot up into the 30's, and it has been fine down to 4 degrees F, which is the lowest I've had to go in the past 4 years luckily. Definitely look into a softshell. Nothing will ever keep the wind out better or be so non-bulky but so effective. This particular model is designed for ice climbing, so it has closures in every possible place that wind (or ice chips) could sneak in...waistline, cuffs, neck... it's 100% windproof and allows zero drafts.
    I have a rain shell for when it's really raining...does a bit better than the softshell in a downpour...ideally I'd like to replace this with a gore-tex shell for when it's dumping rain, but I can't afford one.

    On the head I wear a thin balaclava under the helmet. Some people hate 'em, but I think they are using the thick ones. A thin one is just right, moisture evaporates so you don't get the ice shield thing going, and you can breathe into it and the warm air circulates back and gets your ears and cheeks, even neck a bit warmer. With this and glasses it's just the nose that is exposed. In fact the nose is the only skin anywhere that is exposed. I wear a thin beanie under the 'clava, just because I can't seem to get a 'clava on without destroying my hair for the day. A beanie eliminates the buckwheat haridoo.

    Hands are a problem area. I have used several types of gloves, layering, etc, and I'm not happy yet. I have the Pearl Izumi lobster gloves now, and they're pretty good, but I still get some numbness down below 10 degrees. I have heard that Ice Climbing gloves are the way to go. I'm going to try this out, since my softshell jacket was designed for ice climbing and it's AWESOME for riding. Did I mention how sweet the softshell is?

    I have neoprene socks...gator brand, got them at pricepoint. have come to like them better than shoe covers...makes for wet shoes when it's sloppy, but my feet seem to stay warmer than when I use booties (I ride in shimano MTB shoes). I also have some pearl izumi 'calien toes' that I put on the shoes in the winter. Basically a thin toe cover. I still get numb toes below about 8 degrees.

    On the legs, I wear either 'sub zero' tights by sugoi, or shorts and pearl izumi leg warmers. Over that layer I wear bellweather 'aqua-no' rain pants or columbia rain pants. I have found that even when it's not raining or sloppy out, the rain pants block wind better than anything else. I wear them all winter.

    I am also a fan of wearing a backpack rather than a commuter bag. I like the backpack for several reasons, but one advantage in the winter is that it is one more large area of coverage on the body... I think it helps a bit. Call me crazy if you want to.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
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    (no excuse for that either)

  7. #7
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    Have you tried looking on the Icebike forum for winter cycling?

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by robm6107
    Have you tried looking on the Icebike forum for winter cycling?
    Love the coldlizard stuff on Icebike. I have the pants and the vest. Never get cold and never have to put anything else on my legs.
    The Internet: All the piracy, none of the scurvy.

  9. #9
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    Sorry to hijack here, but how many miles are all of you commuting? Is it feasible to commute(40 miles roundtrip)in temps between 20 - 30 degrees(F)? Thanks

  10. #10
    Bedwards Of The West
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    I ride 6 miles one way in low single digits... I would say heck yes, you could ride for hours at 20-30 degrees with decent gloves/shoes.
    You have no excuse for driving to work
    (unless you don't have studded tires)
    (no excuse for that either)

  11. #11
    Mantis, Paramount, Campy
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    I ride 22.5 miles each way

    ...regularly down to about 10F (without that wussy windchill mumbo jumbo), and occasionally colder. I havent made a below 0F commute yet.
    My morning commute is in the 30's already.
    *** --- *** --- ***

  12. #12
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    I ride about 14kms one way, or about 8.5 miles one way. The coldest I get to is only about 0 deg Cel or 32 Far. At that temp and for that duration I wear a thin, non windproof fleece cycling specific balaclava (what a mouthful!), t-shirt, fleece vest or jacket an ultra light windproof shell, fleece tights over cycling shorts and my normal cycling shoes. My feet do feel the cold a bit so this season I want to look at boot covers.

    As I say, where I am it only gest to 0, although I feel very comfortable riding in those conditions.

    Never the less, hats off to all of you braving much colder conditions on "only" a bicycle!

  13. #13
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    I'm in Fort Collins Co, today was 30F on my commute. 5.25 miles mostly flat takes about 17 minutes.

    Today I was wearing: sneakers with cotton socks pulled up, dickies shorts, a thermal long sleeved shirt, performance fleece jacket, and performance full finger lined fleece gloves.

    My legs got a bit cold but I can take a hot shower at work.

    As the temp gets lower I'll add a scarf, sometimes a bandana but I just grow out the afro for winter, and thick poly pro longjohns with nylon wind pants and wool socks. If it's really windy or there is moisture in the air I wear a goretex shell. Anything below 0F and I get a ride.

  14. #14
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    I consider myself somewhat of an expert on this topic. I live and work in Ottawa, Canada, which is about as hardcore as it gets when you consider the type and variety of weather you can experience from October though until about May. We get a decent amount of snow, but the temperature can vary from mind-crushingly cold -35+ in a fierce north wind on those clear bright winter days, to +10 and soggy with all sorts of slop, ice, sleet, rain, and snow. All points in between are possible.

    +15 - Lycra shorts, polypro jersey/shirt (basically summer gear)
    +10 - Lycra shorts, polypro jersey/shirt, arm warmers
    +5 - Thin, tight-fitting wind pants over the shorts, polypro jersey/shirt, turtle-neck jersey (this is thin and I wear it under the jersey), full gloves.
    -5 Same as above, but add the arm warmers underneath, and add nylon over-booties.
    -10 Same as above, but add medium weight lycra vest.
    -15 and colder - Same as above, but add skull-cap, and heavy mitts (I use actual mitts).

    5 degrees is around the time that the cold gets to be an issue, and layers start getting used.

    As you can tell I advocate layering. It works for me, and the only time I've really been cold are some extreme days where its nice and dry, but just too cold (it was -30ish that day with the wind, just awful). I've heard that soft shells are something to look into, maybe this year I'll pick one up.

    Riding in the cold is not hard. If you can XC ski in it, you can ride in it.... Now.... icy roads are another matter.

  15. #15
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    This area is probably not for the ? for the group but heregos. For the die-hard mtbrs (winter/icebikers), have any considered using a ski/snow helmet? Was looking @ some ski sites & noticed a few helmets look similar to mtb ones. Are the saftey standards the same w/ ski helmets?

  16. #16
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    yep- if you get to the really badass end of things busting out the ski helmet is a great choice. No better way to get the warmth without sacrificingn comfort. It also is designed to fit with goggles.

    I went for a few offroad rides last winter down in the -10 F range and def. wore the ski helmet.

    I also participated in a downhill race that was put on at a ski area where I wore my ski helmet as well.

    I personally like to layer tights/bike shorts etc. under a pair of downhill shorts (I have some Royals).

    My commute is 7 miles or so each way and I commute the return leg at 2am (just got home now) in MN- it can get cold. I've found it's doable, but not worth the effort for me when it's going to be below 10 F for sure. I only ride offroad trail when the suns out on those "cold" days.

  17. #17
    I dream on two wheels
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    I live in Denver too. My commute is about 12 miles from the Tech Center to Downtown. The last couple mornings have been below freezing and I've been wearing, Under Armor tights and long sleeve shirt, long underwear type shirt over that, and a columbia vertex jacket. Just a hat for my head till it gets cold enough to wear my snowboarding helmet. Biking shorts over the tights, perlizumi winter gloves, neoprene storm socks and my regular biking shoes. I've kept pretty warm so far. I also just put some fenders on my bike which helps out a ton in the wet. I've got another pair of insulated wind pants to put on over the tights when it gets colder as well as some glove inserts and more base layers for the top.

    -Simon
    Whiskey

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