Getting ready for winter - clothes for trail riding in the snow- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Getting ready for winter - clothes for trail riding in the snow

    In the last few years, I've really stepped up my winter cycling.

    Two years ago I started bashing a parts bin built single speed clunker around in the woods when it wasn't horribly, horribly cold, and when there was either no snow, or the snow was melted or packed/worn to the point where 29+ tires were OK. I'd wear a lot of layers, hiking boots, a sweatshirt under an old jacked with a thermal baselayer, etc. I'd be cold and sweaty, wind would cut right through me, and I was bulky enough that I felt my mobility was compromised.

    Last year, I ended up doing, for the first time in a lifetime of cycling, real road miles, generally when it was within striking distance of freezing... quite a few 20-25 mile rips when it was between 25 and 40 degrees. I also finally bit the bullet and bought a fat bike, which I have wanted since the Puglsey was released a million years ago. I bought an Ice Cream Truck to be the companion to my Krampus about a year ago, because the snow started falling early and I was sick of making excuses. I bought some better Pearl Izumi gear, some better jackets, outer pants, and most importantly 45nrth Wolvhammers. On the road, I was OK, but I still felt like the wind was just cutting through my jacket, and when really cold my jackets - typical load out for the 25 degree days was long thermal baselayer, a thermal midlayer shirt, PI overpants, and two PI jackets, one of which is supposed to be pretty high end, warmest they make, etc. Wolvhammers and nice socks, and I'm using winter motorcycing gloves on the road, Giro insulated cycling glovers with Wolftooth pogies on the ICT.

    The ICT sees colder temps and snow; single digits and wind some days, and sometimes I'm bushwacking through 6 inches of fresh snow. I'm riding in greater Chicago, so wind is constant, it can get VERY cold, though our snow fall definitely isn't the worst - last winter was higher than average. Snow started mid October, and last snow was mid April.

    I'm trail riding on the ICT; not bike packing, not doing 100 mile epics, basically trying to ride the same trails, as fast as I can, year round, that I do on my Krampus. outings are 2 hours, I'm within a few miles of a parking lot or a road, and I'm rarely breaking 15 miles..especially in the winter.

    My gear leaves a lot to be desired on these rides, particularly with deep snow, wind and temps from single digits to low 20s. I'm really looking for better wind protection and warmth for my upper body, but my legs could use similar help. I'm OK with hands and feet, neck and head.

    What are you guys wearing for seriously cold, hard, shorter rides? Ski/snowboard gear? I can't seem to find what I'm looking for in the cycling world.

  2. #2
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    For serious cold, bring a down (not synthetic) filled puffy jacket with hood that you can fit over your normal riding gear. This, in my experience, =instant heat. It's is exactly what I go to when the wind and cold starts "cutting through" me. The bonus with these is they pack super small. I have a columbia 700 fill with reflective inside that I got for a steal a few years ago and it is perfect. I just bought a new one yesterday to have some options. For the lowers, I use some full-zip gore-tex-style rain-pants (noticed that REI had some yesterday). These trap heat well because waterproof stuff doesn't really breathe. They are super easy to get on/off without taking anything else off. Working backwards here, my normal bottom layer is chamois and XC ski pants, those work for me down to single digits, although speed of the ride is a factor. Throw some nylon running pants over these and I get an instant heat boost. Put the rain-pants on instead of nylon pants or over everything, you have created quite a barrier to the cold. The next level IMO is down insulated pants, which they do make, but I've never seen anyone using these except to stand around. I'd bring them on the Iditarod.

    I'd never use "classic" XC ski pants because you can't easily regulate the layer. They won't pack down into your frame bag if you need to take them off and taking them off would be a major operation in the cold.

    Make sure you are using snow-gaiters, besides the obvious benefit in deep snow, they provide an extra wind-blocking layer around where your pants insert or overlap into your shoes. I have some 1000 denier cordura ones that are very durable. They literally go up to above my calfs, which is just below the chamois under my xc ski pants, so even though it seems like I'm only using one layer on my bottoms...it's kind of two. They also make insulated ones.

    Also, I'd say don't forget the little things where heat may be escaping, but you may not be aware, turtle-necks help immensely or just put a buff there, sealing up with foam the little places where air escapes out of the pogies, long enough base-layers and jackets to overlap with pants, etc. I also find that loose fitting base layers are very cold, maybe because this allows air to circulate or penetrate and cool the pockets of air. Loose fitting over that layer is ok and helps, but I've tried it both ways and loose base layers were very cold.

    The obvious is windblocking on the front side of the jacket/pants. XC ski stuff usually has this and may be better suited than most riding gear, as you can probably find "colder weather" XC stuff and it will still retain the breathability characteristics you need.

    The thing with the layers I'm explaining up top is to "bring the next level" with your in your frame bag(s). Some days, this is just a tiny packable breathable jacket, some days it's a rain-shell (to trap heat like the rain-pants), sometimes it's the down layer and rainpants, as well as other layers I use for intermediate temps. You will/may have to change clothes during the ride to regulate heat. For downhills, you can get super-cooled. For uphills, you will sweat unless you take off the layer. Having these options keeps you regulated and happy. Taking 3 minutes to switch a layer is always better than trying to make up for not having done so when your body temp falls off.
    "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.

  3. #3
    Thingamejigger
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    https://forums.mtbr.com/fat-bikes/wh...d-1115671.html

    Similar post from the other week....

  4. #4
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    Ski gogles, snowmobile boots, plastic flat pedals.
    Lots of zippers, always start dry. Minus 40 OK.
    Mits 2 layers. Thin hood under regular helmet.
    Official Fat Smile.

  5. #5
    Elitest thrill junkie
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    Quote Originally Posted by 33red View Post
    Ski gogles, snowmobile boots, plastic flat pedals.
    Lots of zippers, always start dry. Minus 40 OK.
    Mits 2 layers. Thin hood under regular helmet.
    Official Fat Smile.
    I'm OK with hands and feet, neck and head.
    Did you even read the OP?

    Anyway, I thought this thread did have a slightly different spin on it, rather than "general winter clothing".
    "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.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Did you even read the OP?

    Anyway, I thought this thread did have a slightly different spin on it, rather than "general winter clothing".
    With lots of zippers i dress almost similar short or long rides for 4 months. Anyway it is a regular seasonal subject that might get many readers. Pedals, feet, hands, tire, PSI... ...and studs.

  7. #7
    turtles make me hot
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    I really like Aerotech Designs fleece lined bib tights. I put them on over a wicking base layer. On top I layer wicking layers and top it all off with this Trek jacket I got years ago.
    Lake 303 boots on my feet, which gloves I use directly depends on how cold it is.
    I use a neck gaitor, maybe a balaclava and a fleece lined beanie under my helmet.
    I like turtles

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Glenngineer View Post
    I'm really looking for better wind protection and warmth for my upper body,

    That's the key: Cut the wind and you stay warm, more or less without adding anything.


    Quote Originally Posted by Glenngineer View Post
    but my legs could use similar help.

    https://www.trekbikes.com/us/en_US/b...-pant/p/13457/

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