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  1. #1
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    Winter riding gear

    Been looking for winter/cold/wet weather riding pants and boots to wear underneath rain pants. Any suggestions?

    I am wondering if sking bibs are to heavy/hot for biking in snow.

    My climate conditions likely will be around the Cascade mountains, in Washington, outside seattle, and maybe some overnight winter touring in central washington. So on the wet/slushy side down to 15 degrees, depending on elevation and how warm the winter El Niño conditions will be this year.

    Thanks

  2. #2
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    Full mugduards/fenders are worth several layers of pants.

    Edit: because keeping dry is the most important thing.
    Last edited by Velobike; 10-29-2014 at 01:17 AM.
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  3. #3
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    Downhill ski pants, no. Cross country ski pants, yes. I second the call for mudguards/fenders.

    In the winter here I just wear a pair of technical long underwear and somewhat baggy rip-stop pants. From 20 down to -10 I have never had problems with my legs being cold at all. It's more challenging to not get too warm.

  4. #4
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    Cross country ski pants, unless it's really wet or cold. Craft Storm pants are worth their weight in gold, I just bought another pair. Sometimes I'll go with a very light or heavy base later and a light running-type nylon shell pant (they usually have a nylon mesh on the inside to help wick any moisture) on the outside. I find this works very well too, traps heat a little better than the ski pants when it gets a little colder. At the coldest temps, I simply wear the XC ski pants underneath the running pants. Much of the time we also wear snow gaiters. I ride in Anchorage.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Reverborama View Post
    Downhill ski pants, no. Cross country ski pants, yes. I second the call for mudguards/fenders.

    In the winter here I just wear a pair of technical long underwear and somewhat baggy rip-stop pants. From 20 down to -10 I have never had problems with my legs being cold at all. It's more challenging to not get too warm.
    This. Especially commuting. I can only go as fast as the clothing allows, otherwise I overheat.
    "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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  6. #6
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    The RedBack boots with wool socks looks like the ticket for winter riding. I've had there tactical boots for years and love them. An inch larger size with a waxing for waterproofing is all that's needed. Really durable leather yet supple and very comfortable once worn in. The tread pattern for platforms is the seller. You can find the U.S. online for around $80 UBBK "Easy Escape" - Black - FOOTWEAR
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  7. #7
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    I'm getting ready for my first year of winter cycling by picking up some different items of clothing from here and there.

    The problems I'm finding are this:

    1 - Shopping online at places like Nashbar is great for bargains (70% off sales etc) but sizing is a major issue. I've had to return more than I've kept because some of the clothing seems to be sized for a smaller population and some of it isn't. There's no way of knowing what's what based on the labels. It's very frustrating.

    2 - Anything labeled 'sports' or 'cycling' or 'skiing' or whatever is going to cost a LOT MORE.

    3 - You can get some good quality stuff outside of the sports departments and pay a LOT LESS for it. If you go to the men's section at Target, around the socks and underwear, they have some good thermal base layers that are really inexpensive when compared with the same items at the LBS. They have quality wool stuff like socks and tights etc that are fairly inexpensive. Same with winter gloves, hats, beenies, headbands etc. If you stay out of the sports departments and shop the general clothing sections you can get everything you need at a good price. And you can try it on in most cases and save yourself the hassle and cost of return shipping.

    My local Target also have some great waterproof boots that look as though they'll work really well for riding. They don't have the thick, chunky soles, and they seem quite lightweight so should fit most pedals well. $44.00

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  8. #8
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    I got a set of snowboard pants and some cheap winter boots that was all I needed for my lower half... top is layers!

  9. #9
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    Winter riding gear

    Can't say enough about how much I like and use these pants. They are technically a mountaineering pant, so they fit close but not tight and are basically soft shell material. They are warm and cut wind. Like most soft shell they repell a fair amount of water but not a downpour. Used them hard last season and am back in them this fall. They show almost no signs of wear and I probably have 6-700 miles on them. I wear them at camp and they are comfy so they see Sunday laying around wear too. They have zip and cinch ankle closures that work great but I usually just use a Velcro leg band on my right side to keep them out of the crank.

    Down to about 10F I don't wear anything under them but bike a chamois liner, colder than that I add long underwear. For really cold I'll add a pile layer too.

    http://www.mountainhardwear.com/mens...ationColor=099

  10. #10
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    JayP lays out the basics for extreme winter riding here. Lots of good info.

    Getting_Dressed_With_JayP.mov - YouTube
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rcksqrl View Post
    I got a set of snowboard pants and some cheap winter boots that was all I needed for my lower half... top is layers!
    Could never wear snowboarding pants (I have several pair and have tried it). They just don't breathe enough. Cycling generates way more heat than downhill skiing or snowboarding, at least for me. The most insulation I can bear is black-bottoms and light nylon running pants over, it creates a pocket of slightly-warmer air in between the black bottoms and nylon mesh, and then right next to your skin stays nice, dry and toasty. I'm talking -15F or so. I imagine significantly colder maybe, but even then I'd be concerned about them breathing, since one stuff gets wet you are really screwed.
    "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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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by rooze View Post
    I'm getting ready for my first year of winter cycling by picking up some different items of clothing from here and there.

    The problems I'm finding are this:

    1 - Shopping online at places like Nashbar is great for bargains (70% off sales etc) but sizing is a major issue. I've had to return more than I've kept because some of the clothing seems to be sized for a smaller population and some of it isn't. There's no way of knowing what's what based on the labels. It's very frustrating.

    2 - Anything labeled 'sports' or 'cycling' or 'skiing' or whatever is going to cost a LOT MORE.

    3 - You can get some good quality stuff outside of the sports departments and pay a LOT LESS for it. If you go to the men's section at Target, around the socks and underwear, they have some good thermal base layers that are really inexpensive when compared with the same items at the LBS. They have quality wool stuff like socks and tights etc that are fairly inexpensive. Same with winter gloves, hats, beenies, headbands etc. If you stay out of the sports departments and shop the general clothing sections you can get everything you need at a good price. And you can try it on in most cases and save yourself the hassle and cost of return shipping.

    My local Target also have some great waterproof boots that look as though they'll work really well for riding. They don't have the thick, chunky soles, and they seem quite lightweight so should fit most pedals well. $44.00

    It's all out there if you shop around...
    I'm getting ready for my first winter riding also - great advice, thanks. It is so simple that I didn't even think of it.
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    Another choice for pants is Swix Nordic pants, many models to choose from. I've worn them now for a couple of seasons, and temps/conditions can change pretty quickly here in Maine. Depending on conditions, I would agree with the suggestion of fenders, although in wet or new light snow I'd leave without them. Lots of great suggestions here... the only thing left is to figure out what works for you and the area that you live in.

  14. #14
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    I'veffound skiing gear to be too warm above 10°. Generally, I'll wear cycling thermal tights, bibs and a pair of neoprene knee braces as knee warmers down below and up top, a thermal base layer, shirt and a Gerbing 7th soft shell heated jacket, ski gloves and a black knit Slayer cap underneath my helmet. Last year, I wore cycling shoes w/ neoprene shoe covers & wool socks on my feet with mixed results. This year, I'm taking a pair of Merrell hiking shoes and modifying them by taking the last from my old specialized cycling shoes, gluing them into the soles and cutting out a space for cleats. Between that and a pair of Gerbing electric socks, I should be toasty.

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    I bought these 'fall biking bibs' on sale. They have padding, spandex and a light layer of fuzzy stuff on the inside. I currently wear them under my supplex nylon pants and the combination seems to be great. We currently hover around freezing mark in the morning. Nothing colder yet.

    I have thought about some type of soft kneepad to add a little warmth to my knees. Anyone thinks this is a good idea ?

    (edit : saw gigantic's post above after I pressed post) :-)

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    I would agree with wearing alpine/downhill ski clothing is too warm. But Nordic clothing is made to layer underneath, so it's very light and easy to adjust for any temps. I will admit that I have TONS of fall/winter clothing(cycling) as a shop owner, but for me, the best clothing is from the Nordic ski world. It's something that I use for more than simply our colder months... but that's why we all choices.

    MAINECOMMUTER: Many of the Nordic pants to have some sort of insulation on the knees, and some of the older cycling tights did the same. Good luck with your search!

  17. #17
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    I've used Swix XC pants the last couple of years with just bibs & leg warmers underneath. They're comfortable from -5F to 30F.
    I'm going to be using Louis Garneau XC pants this year.

  18. #18
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    My bibs are : De Marchi Neopro Bibtight with Elastic Interface Chamois

    Besides my wife laughing her 'eyes' off when she saw me wearing it, I really like it. :-)

  19. #19
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    Winter riding gear

    Quote Originally Posted by Jayem View Post
    Could never wear snowboarding pants (I have several pair and have tried it). They just don't breathe enough. Cycling generates way more heat than downhill skiing or snowboarding, at least for me. The most insulation I can bear is black-bottoms and light nylon running pants over, it creates a pocket of slightly-warmer air in between the black bottoms and nylon mesh, and then right next to your skin stays nice, dry and toasty. I'm talking -15F or so. I imagine significantly colder maybe, but even then I'd be concerned about them breathing, since one stuff gets wet you are really screwed.
    It does get a little toasty but I'm only out an hour to an hour and a half on my rides this last winter.... Hoping to increase that this winter with the fattie. Didn't have any issues with the two longer rides I took last year with a group so hoping it will be ok.....


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    Look at SportHill Zone 3 pants. they are flexible, breathable and water snow resistant also a big plus is they come in long sizes for us tall people. I have 2 sets of these for winter riding in Anchorage and can layer up under them for riding conditions of +25 to -15 with no problem

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    Sporthill makes some great clothing as well! It seems that the Nordic ski world has a true understanding of what folks need... room to flex knees, longer lengths, a quick and easy to vent when overheating etc...

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    So far, I think this has been the most interesting and productive thread I've participated in. Now, if I could only find local suppliers for some of these great suggestions!!! the jay P video was very interesting. He sure dresses a lot lighter than I did when I lived in Alaska! But we didn't have the modern materials available these days.

    wish there was a defined market for winter ridding trousers , something like medium weight, hard shell, water repelent, non moisture trapping loose fitting x country riding breeches. so far, a lot of good suggestions are borrowed from other sports. Not a bad thing, but makes it more complicated when sorting out what to buy.

    So, off to make the rounds of outdoors stores and second hand clothing shops to see what I can find.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by ridebikeme View Post
    Sporthill makes some great clothing as well!
    Can you advise what retailers carry Sporthill in stock in your area? I looked at their sizing charts and seem to be in between their sizes - no surprise there unfortunately- so,would like to go try them on if I can find locally.

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    I'm sure that you can go to the Sporthill website and do a "dealer" search. I do know that Akers Ski carried Sporthill last year, not sure about this year... but you could check their website or give a call. Also checks Carters Xc ski shop as well. Let me know if this helps..

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    Thanks, I found a couple of listings on REI.com. Going down to see if any are in stock. (Iam in Seattle area, local REI often don't carry a wide selection of gear unfortunately)

  26. #26
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    REI is a good source. I got a nice pair of technical-wicking long underwear there and a good thermal top. I picked up a few technical long sleeve workout tops at Old Navy.

    If it's above 20 I just use the light top and a jacket. Below that I add the thermal layer. I've worn just the light layer and thermal layer under a good uninsulated biking jacket down to -10. Everything else I am adding at that temp is around the neck, head, and hands. Turtle Fur makes some great headgear.

    The legs get long wool socks, lake boots, wicking long undies, and ripstop cotton pants. The first part of me to get cold after an hour below zero is my feet. I might need to move to more of an insulated boot and toe straps rather than going clipless for extended rides below zero.

  27. #27
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    Oh, I should point out that one guy I know started a chart. Each time he went out he detailed the weather conditions (temp, wind, precip), exactly what he wore, how long he was out, and how it worked out. He's car free so the amount of data was pretty hefty. I keep thinking I need to get off my ass and do that!

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by rooze View Post
    I'm getting ready for my first year of winter cycling by picking up some different items of clothing from here and there.

    The problems I'm finding are this:

    1 - Shopping online at places like Nashbar is great for bargains (70% off sales etc) but sizing is a major issue. I've had to return more than I've kept because some of the clothing seems to be sized for a smaller population and some of it isn't. There's no way of knowing what's what based on the labels. It's very frustrating.

    2 - Anything labeled 'sports' or 'cycling' or 'skiing' or whatever is going to cost a LOT MORE.

    3 - You can get some good quality stuff outside of the sports departments and pay a LOT LESS for it. If you go to the men's section at Target, around the socks and underwear, they have some good thermal base layers that are really inexpensive when compared with the same items at the LBS. They have quality wool stuff like socks and tights etc that are fairly inexpensive. Same with winter gloves, hats, beenies, headbands etc. If you stay out of the sports departments and shop the general clothing sections you can get everything you need at a good price. And you can try it on in most cases and save yourself the hassle and cost of return shipping.

    My local Target also have some great waterproof boots that look as though they'll work really well for riding. They don't have the thick, chunky soles, and they seem quite lightweight so should fit most pedals well. $44.00

    It's all out there if you shop around...
    Lately, I've gotten most of my base layers and outdoor gear online from Sierra Trading Post. They seem to have pretty good prices on Smartwool, Icebreaker, and Craft products. I picked up a pair of Craft XC ski pants last season for something like $40. I always wait for their 35%-off coupon codes before ordering anything (although, they seem to offer this deal once a week).

  29. #29
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    REI will be having a 20% off coupon coming mid-November. I tried a pair of their headwind pants, but had to return them and the cashier informed me. FWIW the headwinds were great functioning pants - windproof up front and breathable in the back side. The L and XL were just too freaking long for those of us with 30" inseams.

  30. #30
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    I have Aerotech Designs fleece lined bibtights. Absolutely love em.
    I start with a light Under Armor base, the bibs and then I layer on Eastern Mountain Sports wicking long sleeve shirts as it gets colder. I finish off with a Trek riding jacket I've had for a few years and got cheap.
    I'm really excited to try Surly's new wool long sleeve jersey.
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  31. #31
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    Jacket and pants with wicking back panels and windfront fronts. Some jackets will also have wicking panels on the backs of the sleeves. Polyester wool mixes are great for base layers.

    urmb
    Last edited by urmb; 10-29-2014 at 10:39 PM. Reason: typo
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  32. #32
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    Best cold weather riding pants, no question...

    Simple polar tec pants. Use to buy them at campmor for $29. Now they look harder to find.

    Wear riding shorts underneath and you are good to go.

    As is they are nice, but I'd cut out the pockets and sew over the holes. On one pair I sewed nylon patches over the quads and boys for wind protection.

    Been wearing both pair now for over 10 years for all cool to cold weather riding. Also for cold weather jogging, and for under my one piece Carhart suit as heavy long underwear.

    Fleece is great for everything except for around the campfire.

  33. #33
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    Amfib tights from 50F to about zero. Craft storm pants 30F to -40F(too cold for me anyway). Both shed water well. Both articulated knees for cycling posture. The amfib looses some of its DWR after several washes. 303 convertible top spray refreshes it. Storm pants have no padded crotch and are a bit baggier.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by rooze View Post
    I'm getting ready for my first year of winter cycling by picking up some different items of clothing from here and there.

    The problems I'm finding are this:

    1 - Shopping online at places like Nashbar is great for bargains (70% off sales etc) but sizing is a major issue. I've had to return more than I've kept because some of the clothing seems to be sized for a smaller population and some of it isn't. There's no way of knowing what's what based on the labels. It's very frustrating.

    2 - Anything labeled 'sports' or 'cycling' or 'skiing' or whatever is going to cost a LOT MORE.

    3 - You can get some good quality stuff outside of the sports departments and pay a LOT LESS for it. If you go to the men's section at Target, around the socks and underwear, they have some good thermal base layers that are really inexpensive when compared with the same items at the LBS. They have quality wool stuff like socks and tights etc that are fairly inexpensive. Same with winter gloves, hats, beenies, headbands etc. If you stay out of the sports departments and shop the general clothing sections you can get everything you need at a good price. And you can try it on in most cases and save yourself the hassle and cost of return shipping.

    My local Target also have some great waterproof boots that look as though they'll work really well for riding. They don't have the thick, chunky soles, and they seem quite lightweight so should fit most pedals well. $44.00

    It's all out there if you shop around...
    Just remember cotton kills. You need to have wicking material and warmth layer that will keep you warm if wet.

  35. #35
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    seriously dont over complicate...

    Own breathable layers you can use in a variety of ways based on conditions and have a way to stop the wind on your outer most layer.

    I always advocate a good set of bib tights and good windstopper jacket. For winter items specfially for these things I found dont go too cheap, for me it is worth the extra splurge on for GORE BIKE WEAR items for the outer most layer.

    My favorite piece of winter riding gear is this:

    Men's COUNTDOWN WINDSTOPPER® Soft Shell Hoody | GORE BIKE WEAR®

    I end up wearing a lot off the bike as well, I have other heavier stuff but with a merino wool baselayer this is great 95% of the time.
    XC, Road, XXC, Endurance, Mtn, All-Mtn, Cross, Gravel, just go have fun on 2 wheels!

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    Went out on a couple of test rides today and yesterday with various wet weather layers. Temps only in the high 50's so not cold, but very wet, both rainy downpours and lots of spray kicking up from the Nates. Way to easy to overheat with just a poly t shirt, light poly pullover, summer pants and light rain gear. The problem of course is getting chilled, even hypothermic when you stop. Better to work on carrying some sort of instant temp shelter system, space blanket or poncho wrap around to stay warm and dry off the bike maybe. Also an off the bike cold/wet weather layer might be the key.

    Still undecided about boots. $200 cycling boots that are only good to 0 seem like a lot of money, when $100 all weather Merrills are good to -35 below, and you can hike in them for miles if necessary.

  37. #37
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    I live in northern Maine and had sold my car to pay down student loans faster, and just biked everywhere! I learned alot about how to dress, terribly miserable to be wet and cold....

    A couple options I love - 1. Wool is your friend, keeps you warm even when damp/wet, is highly breathable, and doesnt get funky smelling like every synthetic piece clothing I've used before. I love merino baselayers, wool sweaters as the temp drops and wool pants under raingear is great! Old wool suit pants work very well if you taylor the legs to be more form fitting.

    2. Foxwear.net makes some great stuff, have a pair of his Power Streach tights with some 4mm heavier weight fabric that has a DWR finish and sheds water very well! Used them with temps in the upper 30's with light rain, and after 45 mins I was still toasty and dry. Have heard good things about his other gear too, but don't personally have experience with it. My only concern here would be how well they would keep warm when wet and how easily they would dry out.

    3. I like to be clipped in, and the only way I've found to stay warm in slush and the cold wet is to layer my socks, I put one wool sock on first, then a plastic baggy, then another wool sock over it all. Works really well. Found that gaiters and neoprene shoe covers help as well. I did this and just used some typical MTB shoes, no problem, in fact stayed warm down below zero like this, though i'm sure some nice 303's or 45norths wouldn't be a bad idea.

    4. Always bring a light dry set of cloths to sleep in, and keep them with your sleeping bag, will help alot during the night to stay warm!
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  38. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by AnimalBikeman View Post

    Still undecided about boots. $200 cycling boots that are only good to 0 seem like a lot of money, when $100 all weather Merrills are good to -35 below, and you can hike in them for miles if necessary.
    Well, consider this, your foot doesn't flex very much on the pedal, which means even expensive boots don't work all that great, but it also means cheap boots are almost exactly the same, as the blood isn't really pumped to your toes (tends to be forced there when you are walking). This means that even with a LOT of insulation, you can still easily get cold toes/feet. The $200 cycling boots are good for the warmer days here and the shoulder seasons. On the ride I just did, I had to use heated insoles and vapor-barrier to deal with just 20-25°F (the Lakes). Luckily I have some huge big warm boots for flat pedals when it starts to get really cold, but I like being clipped in when I can, one thing it does is give you a lot more stability/ability to start out in soft snow, which is nice. Ultimately, some large regular boots offer more flexibility, make sure to get them large so you can fit extra-thick socks and foot-warmers in there.
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  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trower View Post
    I live in northern Maine and had sold my car to pay down student loans faster, and just biked everywhere! I learned alot about how to dress, terribly miserable to be wet and cold....

    A couple options I love - 1. Wool is your friend, keeps you warm even when damp/wet, is highly breathable, and doesnt get funky smelling like every synthetic piece clothing I've used before. I love merino baselayers, wool sweaters as the temp drops and wool pants under raingear is great! Old wool suit pants work very well if you taylor the legs to be more form fitting.

    2. Foxwear.net makes some great stuff, have a pair of his Power Streach tights with some 4mm heavier weight fabric that has a DWR finish and sheds water very well! Used them with temps in the upper 30's with light rain, and after 45 mins I was still toasty and dry. Have heard good things about his other gear too, but don't personally have experience with it. My only concern here would be how well they would keep warm when wet and how easily they would dry out.

    3. I like to be clipped in, and the only way I've found to stay warm in slush and the cold wet is to layer my socks, I put one wool sock on first, then a plastic baggy, then another wool sock over it all. Works really well. Found that gaiters and neoprene shoe covers help as well. I did this and just used some typical MTB shoes, no problem, in fact stayed warm down below zero like this, though i'm sure some nice 303's or 45norths wouldn't be a bad idea.

    4. Always bring a light dry set of cloths to sleep in, and keep them with your sleeping bag, will help alot during the night to stay warm!
    Would suggest for the vapor barrier to put the plastic baggie right next to your feet, and the sock over it. That's the principle that it's supposed to work on. Feels a little weird sloshing around, but you get used to it. Keeps the sock from getting moist and cold.

    Also, carry a fire-starter (like the easily-startable bricks you can buy at camping shops) and pay attention to survival shows that tell you how to build a fire in the winter time. There's plenty of combustible stuff around when you really start looking and understanding what nature provides. A fire is the best thing IMO.
    "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.

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