Balance between keeping warm and keeping dry in cold weather.



GrowingStronger

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Aug 22, 2013
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I still haven't found the right balance, even using the high tech clothing from various manufacturers....if I put on enough layers to stay warm, it's too many layers, traps moisture, and I end up cold. A lot of traditional cycling jackets, even though they are vented, make me very wet from sweat in short order. Work great to cut the wind but otherwise don't work for me in cool weather. Any good formula or trick to staying warm and dry in cool to cold weather?
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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One general rule is that when you start the ride you should be a bit cold. If you start the ride warm, you're likely to end up overheating as the ride progresses. Also, you need to actively adjust your venting (and possibly even layers) throughout the ride to manage your temperature. That means if you're starting to get a bit warm, vent. Outside of those two points, it's difficult to say more without knowing what it is your wearing; in what kind of temps you are riding; and how your body responds to the cold (i.e. are you a person who gets cold easily?).
 

oldbobcat

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Aug 31, 2003
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In my experience wool wicks moisture away from the skin better than synthetics. I find it's also a bit more wind resistant and it insulates better even after it gets a little damp.

If I start out too cold my extremities never warm up, so I probably overdress by alienator's standards and I usually overheat a little once the climbing starts. Everybody has to find his or her own comfort zone.
 

dabac

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Sep 16, 2003
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Different people sweat different amounts, and at different levels of exertion. What works for one might not work for another. I'm one who sweat a lot, at little provocation. Haven't found my sweet spot either despite years of experimenting. Basically if I dress down to the point of not sweating during exertion, my teeth will be chattering and I'll be shivering with cold within a minute after stopping. For gloves it's gotten to the point where I use surgical gloves as liners for winter use. Keeps the sweat from soaking the insulation which allows the gloves to keep their warming properties throughout the ride. My current favourite cold weather riding gear is: - a windproof vest with a mesh back - a kinda-sorta half-zip sweater in a WCT-like material(think glossy track suit) that's a decent balance between wind/water resistance and breathability - long tights with "open" panels on the back of the legs and wind resistant panels at the front - lightly padded kneepads. The vest deals with the frontal assault. and protects the torso from cooling too much. The mesh back means I can unzip the front w/o the vest inflating like a balloon, and does a decent job of keeping my back from getting soaked. The kinda-sorta sweater is just a happy balance in terms of material properties at my speed range. The open vs closed panel tights is also a compromise thing. Again, dealing with the frontal assault and breathing at the back seems to widen the temperature span of acceptable comfort a bit. The knee pads are a favourite. Muscles that you keep working can stand quite a bit of cold before it gets uncomfortable, but knees - at least mine - aren't as tolerant. Again a way of widening the tolerable span. If there's a planned break in the ride/workout, I often carry a spare wicking shirt to change to.
 

Volnix

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Feb 19, 2011
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One set up that works for me is:

Top:

A thermal layer (thermal underwear) long sleeved, synthetic. It doesnt keep moisture but it stinks afterwards, regardless of the "high tech antibacterial" material that its supposed to be.

Over that a long sleeved woolen jumper. A bit thick.

Over that a softshell fleece jacket. Its wind resistant and a bit warm. Its not as warm as normal fleece but more wind resistant. Its also a bit waterproof. Not too waterproof but waterproof enough.

All of these are kinda close fitting so they dont flap around when cycling much.

Bottom:

A very heavy pair of cotton sweatpants, which is made for training in bad weather. I use a pair of "under armour" branded "storm-something". They are pretty wind resistant and they dont soak up as much water in the rain. They dry kinda fast too. Ofcourse with an elastic band in the ankle.

Under that a pair of cycling underwear with chamois.

If things get too cold you can add a thermal layer of thermal underwear under the pants too...

For gloves I use a pair of thick wind resistant hiking gloves with some rough areas on the contact areas for grip friction.

You can also add a woolen hat underneath the helmet.
 

alienator

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Jun 10, 2004
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To the OP: cotton is one of the worst materials for exercise in the cold. That's been well known for decades. It provides no insulation when wet, and it stays wet.
 

GrowingStronger

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Aug 22, 2013
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Thanks, all good ideas. Cotton I know is trouble, I made that mistake one time last fall, I wore a heavy cotton sweatshirt without a base layer, with a synthetic hoodie and a nylon type jacket. In temps just above freezing. And I got progressively wetter and colder, ended up taking it off and was actually a bit warmer, but it was still a tooth-chattering ride that night. Wool sounds interesting. When I think about what I see in bike shops, the only wool products are hats, socks, neck warmers. Mostly the "SmartWool" brand. In fact, I guess it is something you would have to hunt down in athletic wear anyway, since everything is synthetic. Maybe I need to look at a regular sporting goods store in the hunting department. I tried a few different base layers - I was disappointed with Columbia's Omni Heat Baselayer, I didn't notice it being particularly warm. I do like the Under Armour Base 3.0, it did a better job keeping me warmer. I have resorted to carrying a change of Baselayer and the next inner layer in a pack, and when I'm ready to turn around for the return trip I will find a fast food restroom to change in. I don't mind wearing a pack as long as it isn't too heavy. But it would be nice if I could figure out a better system.
 

Volnix

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Feb 19, 2011
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Quote: Originally Posted by GrowingStronger .

Thanks, all good ideas. Cotton I know is trouble, I made that mistake one time last fall, I wore a heavy cotton sweatshirt without a base layer, with a synthetic hoodie and a nylon type jacket. In temps just above freezing. And I got progressively wetter and colder, ended up taking it off and was actually a bit warmer, but it was still a tooth-chattering ride that night.

Wool sounds interesting. When I think about what I see in bike shops, the only wool products are hats, socks, neck warmers. Mostly the "SmartWool" brand. In fact, I guess it is something you would have to hunt down in athletic wear anyway, since everything is synthetic. Maybe I need to look at a regular sporting goods store in the hunting department.

I tried a few different base layers - I was disappointed with Columbia's Omni Heat Baselayer, I didn't notice it being particularly warm. I do like the Under Armour Base 3.0, it did a better job keeping me warmer.

I have resorted to carrying a change of Baselayer and the next inner layer in a pack, and when I'm ready to turn around for the return trip I will find a fast food restroom to change in. I don't mind wearing a pack as long as it isn't too heavy. But it would be nice if I could figure out a better system.

When I was commuting once in -15Celcius I was wearing woolen pants... I was looking a bit "fury"
big-smile.png
but they were warm...
The cotton pants I was telling about you are these: (They also have them in a more close-fitting with an elastic bands version).

http://www.underarmour.com/shop/us/en/mens-armour-fleece-storm-pants/pid1232731-025
They are not really cotton like these "egyptian cotton" stuff that are so cool and breathable (but soak) in the summer.

They call them "charged cotton fleece" something something. 80%cotton 20%synthetic mix.

They are actually very warm and feel very comfortable. If it rains a bit they are also a bit waterproof (as in water-stain repellent). If its raining hard they soak, but then again everything soaks except wateproof outer shells. Even those soak up if you have washed them 50times, but they do keep the water out more...

You might wanna try something with a gore-tex lining too... Allthough not too breathable they keep lots of water out and they are a bit warm too...
 

CAMPYBOB

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Sep 12, 2005
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"I do like the Under Armour Base 3.0, it did a better job keeping me warmer."

I like UA, too. But, I hate the prices.

I switched to Starter Dri-Star brand base layers from Wallyworld. Same performance, 1/3 the price of UA. Starter makes compression long sleeve Dri-Star and a heavier weave long sleeve Dri-Star in black that offers more insulation than the red/blue compression type shirt.

Hanes also has poly wicking long sleeves for about $9 at Wally, but I have not tried those.
 

GrowingStronger

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Aug 22, 2013
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Yeah. The UA stuff is pricey, I think it was about $75 each for top and bottom. I've bought some of the Starter shirts, they're decent. I'll check those out, thanks!
 

Volnix

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Feb 19, 2011
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Quote: Originally Posted by GrowingStronger .

Yeah. The UA stuff is pricey, I think it was about $75 each for top and bottom. I've bought some of the Starter shirts, they're decent. I'll check those out, thanks!

I dont know how the shops are there but here when the new season stuff arrives, shops have some really good discounts-offers on the previous years stuff. Hiking and sport stuff are pretty expensive in general but you can get a good kit with less money if you shop when the shops have them on offers... and its not like "fashion" stuff anyway where they go "out of fashion"...