Cold and wet weather cycling wear

ebikemom

Well-Known Member
Hi all,

Well, I've been commuting on and off during our rainy and cold season here in the Pacific Northwest, mostly by keeping an eye on the weather report and choosing days with little-to-no precipitation.

I bought cycling poncho, but don't like it much ... a bit cumbersome since it blows around too much.

Finally, I bit the bullet and spent some $$$ on better clothes for cycling.

My parka (Lands End "Squall" warmest parka) is great for cycling in the 30's-40's degree range that is common for our winter weather, and has been fine in our drizzle also. But I have been riding in conventional pants (keeping an extra pair at work in case they get rained on), sometimes with a thermal layer underneath. I use my regular helmet and have a rain cover for it (a really nice one), but generally don't need it. I use a pashmina scarf to keep my ears and neck warm.

But, what about rain pants? And what about SPRING, when my parka will be too warm, but it will still be wet (I didn't ride my bike in the Fall when it was less cold but very wet, so never quite solved that problem). I was resisting purchasing more clothing-for-cycling because everything is so expensive. But over the weekend I did a little math and realized that commuting by my non-cycling method costs me over $8.00 each time. So, hey, that adds up pretty fast and justifies my new expenditures!

So, today, in the mail, arrived my present-to-myself from REI.
--Rain pants!
--Spring rain jacket in a bright color!
--Fleece layer to wear under the Spring rain jacket!

It's still too cold for the Spring jacket+fleece combo, but the rain pants will get good use pronto! They will keep off the wind also. I'm looking forward to commuting in them!
 

JRA

Well-Known Member
You could have just gone down to Seattle Marine and bought some light weight rain gear. The Red Ledge brand makes a good product line of both coats and pants and in some snazzy colors also.
 
Not going to address rain, but as far as the cold, actually IME the key is just decent helmet and gloves. I commute daily in Wisconsin, yesterday they said on TV it was -2 air temperature when I set out in the morning, 18 windchill. It was cold enough that a colleague actually did not come in yesterday because his garage door was frozen shut (dealing with traction on ice is the topic of a whole other post). Today was a more balmy 6/-9. Note also he effective "windchill" for the rider is actually a lot worse than that, because you are generating a lot of your own "wind" by moving up to ~25mph. You aren't riding in as much cold, but if you are still cold anyway, my observations still apply, they only apply less critically.

I have a helmet just for winter, a ski helmet with vents I can close when cold & padding that comes down over the ears, this goes over a full facial balaclava and ski goggles to go over that (otherwise even in temperatures 40 degrees above this you can be in intense pain in only a couple miles because your eyeballs are freezing -- seriously). One loses most of their body heat through their head, and often times the cause of your extremities (hands, feet) getting cold is not your gloves or boots, but lack of warm head cover.

The gloves are goretex windstopper/waterproof models, which I supplement by putting bar mitts over handlebars when it gets this cold. I spent more on those than anything else (except the bike itself), it's hard to find gloves that best optimize a combination of warmth and dexterity (beign able to operate controls). They're critical because your hands are 1) extremities, 2) extended away from the rest of your body, and you can't move them while riding, and 3) are the most exposed to the "windchill" effect. And once again, adequate headcover is almost as important for keeping hands warm as adequate gloves.

As far as the rest, coat, pants etc you can get by with just about anything. I actually prefer a relatively thin coat vs. the heavy parka I normally wear when not riding, and I only bother with the limited hassle of putting snowpants on and off when it's maybe 10-15 colder than even this (the coldest I've ever biked in is maybe -20 degrees Fahrenheit ... that was pushing it, even for me!). Otherwise it's normal slacks or jeans. I do tend to wear warmer socks & hiking boots, but frankly I do that here in winter even when not biking.
 
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Mehkig

New Member
"I have a helmet just for winter, a ski helmet with vents I can close when cold & padding that comes down over the ears, this goes over a full facial balaclava and ski goggles " Me too! It works amazingly! I cannot recommend it enough. I wear a few pairs of pants over my work clothes, a winter jacket with a raincoat over it. I also use Down filled ski gloves and they almost always keep my hands warm. I keep my rain pants in my backpack just in case. I use insulated rubber boots. As far as summer goes, I only keep my rain suit and some uninsulated rubber boots in my backpack. I look a little odd in the winter time with full face gear but who cares! I drive in all weather and temperature with the only exception being tropical storms and hurricanes. ;P I live in Nova-Scotia so I pretty much need to dress up heavily from November to May.
 

christob

Well-Known Member
Not keen on rain-biking, but I do keep a rain jacket and rain pants in the bottom of my pannier for unexpected showers. (Though in winter, I do not bike commute to work if it is raining when I wake, or forecast to rain at the time I'd bike home.) I've found that I sweat so much more in those, I might as well just get wet from the rain (assuming it is spring/summer/fall -- NOT winter.)

I sweat at the drop of a hat... my cold-wear get up is a merino long-sleeve shirt, underneath a Gore windstopper jacket today. (7.5 mile commute this morning, 33 degrees.)
Merino leggings under my office pants/khakis. When lower than about 35 degrees, slip-over booties that cover the tops/sides of my biking shoes, to stop wind-penetration. (And often, the coldest mornings, alpaca socks.) I rotate through various gloves, depending (Pearl Izumi and an older pair of ski gloves that are goretex.)
I use a standard vented bike helmet all year, but add a lower half-face balaclava, and large Smith over-my-eyeglasses ski goggles. All of that lets me ride (so far) down into the mid 20's f without much discomfort. Though I find myself gradually unzipping the gore jacket during the rides as I get warmed up. Weird to arrive at work on a 30 degree morning with damp hair at the back of my neck!
Once we're into the 40's for low temps, I give up the gore jacket and use a very lightweight windbreaker over the same merino.
Once we're into the 50's for low temps, I switch to a short-sleeve version of the merino undershirt; upper 50's I switch to a poly undershirt.
At the 60s, I'm pretty much back into 100% normal street clothes (perhaps padded bike shorts for longer rides).
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
My $0.02:

If you are engaged in vigorous activity outdoors in wet, soggy weather you are going to get wet. No known waterproof-breathable technology is going to be able to both effectively transport perspiration out and keep serious precipitation from getting in. Your best hope is to find the ventiest rain parka you can find. It should be generously cut, have enormous pit zips, enormous pockets you can open that are backed with mesh, and the full front zipper should be backed with snaps and in all but the coldest weather you should just use the snaps.

Rain pants are in many ways worse than parkas, as they are usually even more difficult to vent properly and are both expensive and shockingly easy to destroy.

Usually for my money I am happier with lightweight, inexpensive wind pants (possibly backed up with very lightweight tights or long underwear bottoms) that are much less expensive, breathe pretty well, and dry out quickly. They still typically aren't that durable.

Another option is Frogg Toggs. They are inexpensive, light, and perform as well from a waterproof/breathable standpoint as gear that costs four times as much. They aren't very durable and tend to get scruffy as time goes on, but they will keep you as dry as a $300 goretex jacket for a lot less money. You can usually find them at Wal-Mart.
 

BBassett

Active Member
Hi all,
Well, I've been commuting on and off during our rainy and cold season here in the Pacific Northwest, mostly by keeping an eye on the weather report and choosing days with little-to-no precipitation...
It's not fun riding when your cold... hours with numb fingers, toes, and nose. It's a little easier to do it while riding out of your garage every day, but my problem has been trying to stay warm and dry all year 'round without carrying heavy and bulky clothing that's only used below 40 degs., since I do ride year 'round. It all comes down to layers for me, lots of them. I start with the same base layers regardless of summer or winter, underwear, sleeveless shirt, Smartwool ankle socks. When it's hot (70 degs. F) I throw on a pair of shorts, gloves, shoes, helmet, sunscreen, and ride. When the temperature starts to drop I start adding layers. I turn to long pants or convertible pants that work ok during the summer, add a long sleeve pullover shirt and a pair of taller socks. I have cheap Rockbros fleece-lined biking pants that I wear 6 or 7 months of the year (welcome to the PNW). The older I get the colder I feel... maybe it's God's way of telling me to slow down, ahhhh, what does he/she know? I try to stick with synthetic materials other than wool and fleece to better control the moisture. As the temperature drops, I add more layers, a fleece pull-over shirt, down jacket, thin wool long underpants, over the knee socks, warmer gloves and/or glove liners, a fleece hood balaclava pull-over that's wonderful in freezing weather. The most important thing for me to stay warm is to stay dry both from rain and over-heating and sweating. When it's raining and warm I prefer my Cleverhood rain poncho and Rainlegs to keep the majority of my clothing dry. They offer fantastic ventilation compared with a full set of rain gear in warmer temps. When cool I turn to a zip-up rain skin jacket and pull-over rain pants over whatever I need to stay warm. The jacket has a hood designed to fit over a biking helmet and not restrict movement or visibility. I also carry a thin helmet cover to keep my head dry when I don't want my hood up. When choosing your jacket make sure it has good ventilation designed into it, very important. My hands and feet take the brunt of the cold usually and it's far more difficult to dial them in properly, again keeping dry is of the greatest import. I have several pairs of gloves and none of them perform the magic I would like them to even with liners. Doesn't NASA have thin warm gloves for under a million bucks? Heated gloves sound great but the idea of heavy battery packs doesn't appeal to me at all, and it's just one more item that needs to be charged. Sealskin gloves are my go-to in wet weather. It also helps to stop and make a thermos of coffee and hold the hot cup. When necessary to keep feet warm'ish and dry'ish I use water-proof socks over wool, water-proof shoes and in heavy rain full over-shoes. When it comes to "water-proof" socks... they aren't, at least not after they have a couple of hundred miles in them but they do help. Over-shoes or rubber boots (when riding out of home) are the only way I have found to actually keep my feet dry and warm enough so I don't cry... much. For me and the type of riding I do, it's all about layers and being able to select the right one at any time. I am sure this is all easier for me with panniers and a trailer. One last item that keeps me more comfortable on the bike regardless of what the weather is doing is a helmet with a magnetic visor that helps keep the rain below my nose... for the most part, and also helps with the sun and bugs.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
HI I live in Raincouver . I use these Arcteryx rain pants. I wear tights or leg warmers underneath depending on the temp.
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BBassett

Active Member
The best feature of these rain pants is their full-length zippers to get them on easily over large shoes and boots... usually muddy. The worst feature of these rain pants is there full-length zippers that will fill with grit and fail before the material ever will, the same as with poorly designed shoe covers. The convenience of the zippers is far out-weighed by their mechanical vulnerability to well... use, the environment, and normal wear-n-tear.
 

BBassett

Active Member
My $0.02:

If you are engaged in vigorous activity outdoors in wet, soggy weather you are going to get wet. No known waterproof-breathable technology is going to be able to both effectively transport perspiration out and keep serious precipitation from getting in...
I understand what you're saying and as usual disagree. I don't have a problem staying dry on my ebike anymore. I expend far less energy on an ebike than I do on a standard bike, or hiking, running, even walking, and don't overheat unless I want to... for the exercise.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
The best feature of these rain pants is their full-length zippers to get them on easily over large shoes and boots... usually muddy. The worst feature of these rain pants is there full-length zippers that will fill with grit and fail before the material ever will, the same as with poorly designed shoe covers. The convenience of the zippers is far out-weighed by their mechanical vulnerability to well... use, the environment, and normal wear-n-tear.
These are old school top quality zippers ,unlike the microscopic ones on the vast majority of products these days. I have jackets ( Sugoi and Eddie Bauer come to mind) that outlasted their zippers as you say. I end up getting my wife to help me escape as I invariably end up trapped inside a stuck zipper after a ride (-:
 
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BBassett

Active Member
These are old school top quality zippers ,unlike the microscopic ones on the vast majority of products these days. I have jackets ( Sugoi and Eddie Bauer come to mind) that outlasted their zippers as you say. I end up getting my wife to help me escape as I invariably end up trapped inside a stuck zipper after a ride (-:
I own a pair also but a zipper is a zipper and the larger the elements are usually the less water-resistant. A lesson learned on a fishing boat in Holkham bay Alaska with an improperly stowed survival suit... actually, 3 of 4 suits leaving them unable to be unzipped and donned, a bad thing when you're pissing yourself. Rain pants... mine anyway, pick up all kinds of grim and crap so I have rinse them after every use. I large tooth velcro would be an option but even it can wear out and leak water. I'll stick with no zippers.

Ride safe.
 

Mr. Coffee

Well-Known Member
Region
USA
City
A Demented Corner of the North Cascades
I understand what you're saying and as usual disagree. I don't have a problem staying dry on my ebike anymore. I expend far less energy on an ebike than I do on a standard bike, or hiking, running, even walking, and don't overheat unless I want to... for the exercise.


I'm sorry, I guess I did not make myself clear -- I said vigorous activity. Most any raingear will do fine (e.g. vinyl or urethane-coated nylon) and will keep you reasonably dry if you aren't very active or not active at all.

This whole waterproof-breathable thing is made more complex and messy by the ugly physics behind it. tl;dr; the reason these fabrics "breathe" at all is because of a heat pump effect: if you have relatively warm and high-humidity air on the inside the moisture will transfer nicely to the cooler and lower-humidity air on the outside. This effect breaks down badly in two places: one where there is warmer and very humid air on the outside, and the other where there is much cooler air outside that is near one hundred percent humidity. The first case isn't so bad -- you are going to get wet but people are basically waterproof; the latter case can be a Jack London story because that means your gear is performing at its very worst in prime hypothermia conditions -- very wet weather just above freezing.

At least for me, below freezing Gore-Tex (aka Leak-Tex, Sweat-Tex) performs relatively well because subfreezing air, while it doesn't transmit very much moisture, usually has a very low relative humidity which allows the heat pump effect to work. Also, paradoxically, at lower temperatures it is generally easier to manage what layers you are wearing (and to a lesser extent manage your exertion level) to make sure you don't overheat and sweat more than the fabric can effectively transmit.
 

steve mercier

Well-Known Member
I guess that because I am not fishing or doing vigorous activity but rather riding my Ebike these Arcteyx pants are the Cats Pajamas to me. The parts of me that they cover never get wet and that is what I want.
 

BBassett

Active Member
I'm sorry, I guess I did not make myself clear -- I said vigorous activity.
Nope, you were perfectly clear... vigorous. "I don't have a problem staying dry on my ebike" hot or cold weather, 10 miles or 80 miles, unloaded or over-loaded. I like to sweat during vigorous activity... I just have to change the sheets when we're through, good old fashioned cotton.
 

Nomad

Active Member
It's not fun riding when your cold... hours with numb fingers, toes, and nose. It's a little easier to do it while riding out of your garage every day, but my problem has been trying to stay warm and dry all year 'round without carrying heavy and bulky clothing that's only used below 40 degs., since I do ride year 'round. It all comes down to layers for me, lots of them. I start with the same base layers regardless of summer or winter, underwear, sleeveless shirt, Smartwool ankle socks. When it's hot (70 degs. F) I throw on a pair of shorts, gloves, shoes, helmet, sunscreen, and ride. When the temperature starts to drop I start adding layers. I turn to long pants or convertible pants that work ok during the summer, add a long sleeve pullover shirt and a pair of taller socks. I have cheap Rockbros fleece-lined biking pants that I wear 6 or 7 months of the year (welcome to the PNW). The older I get the colder I feel... maybe it's God's way of telling me to slow down, ahhhh, what does he/she know? I try to stick with synthetic materials other than wool and fleece to better control the moisture. As the temperature drops, I add more layers, a fleece pull-over shirt, down jacket, thin wool long underpants, over the knee socks, warmer gloves and/or glove liners, a fleece hood balaclava pull-over that's wonderful in freezing weather. The most important thing for me to stay warm is to stay dry both from rain and over-heating and sweating. When it's raining and warm I prefer my Cleverhood rain poncho and Rainlegs to keep the majority of my clothing dry. They offer fantastic ventilation compared with a full set of rain gear in warmer temps. When cool I turn to a zip-up rain skin jacket and pull-over rain pants over whatever I need to stay warm. The jacket has a hood designed to fit over a biking helmet and not restrict movement or visibility. I also carry a thin helmet cover to keep my head dry when I don't want my hood up. When choosing your jacket make sure it has good ventilation designed into it, very important. My hands and feet take the brunt of the cold usually and it's far more difficult to dial them in properly, again keeping dry is of the greatest import. I have several pairs of gloves and none of them perform the magic I would like them to even with liners. Doesn't NASA have thin warm gloves for under a million bucks? Heated gloves sound great but the idea of heavy battery packs doesn't appeal to me at all, and it's just one more item that needs to be charged. Sealskin gloves are my go-to in wet weather. It also helps to stop and make a thermos of coffee and hold the hot cup. When necessary to keep feet warm'ish and dry'ish I use water-proof socks over wool, water-proof shoes and in heavy rain full over-shoes. When it comes to "water-proof" socks... they aren't, at least not after they have a couple of hundred miles in them but they do help. Over-shoes or rubber boots (when riding out of home) are the only way I have found to actually keep my feet dry and warm enough so I don't cry... much. For me and the type of riding I do, it's all about layers and being able to select the right one at any time. I am sure this is all easier for me with panniers and a trailer. One last item that keeps me more comfortable on the bike regardless of what the weather is doing is a helmet with a magnetic visor that helps keep the rain below my nose... for the most part, and also helps with the sun and bugs.
So just some thoughts as I read your post have you tried darn tuff socks and yes they're not cheap? If your wearing two pairs of socks their is good chance your wearing the wrong socks or foot wear or both. I wear a pair of Iron ridge boots from cabela's for winter they work great it was 13f the other day and they where fine. AS far as wool goes if it's the right blend and quality it breathe and regulate and wick moisture and keep warm even when wet. Layering is key and you don't many if done correctly.
 

Nomad

Active Member
Hi all,

Well, I've been commuting on and off during our rainy and cold season here in the Pacific Northwest, mostly by keeping an eye on the weather report and choosing days with little-to-no precipitation.

I bought cycling poncho, but don't like it much ... a bit cumbersome since it blows around too much.

Finally, I bit the bullet and spent some $$$ on better clothes for cycling.

My parka (Lands End "Squall" warmest parka) is great for cycling in the 30's-40's degree range that is common for our winter weather, and has been fine in our drizzle also. But I have been riding in conventional pants (keeping an extra pair at work in case they get rained on), sometimes with a thermal layer underneath. I use my regular helmet and have a rain cover for it (a really nice one), but generally don't need it. I use a pashmina scarf to keep my ears and neck warm.

But, what about rain pants? And what about SPRING, when my parka will be too warm, but it will still be wet (I didn't ride my bike in the Fall when it was less cold but very wet, so never quite solved that problem). I was resisting purchasing more clothing-for-cycling because everything is so expensive. But over the weekend I did a little math and realized that commuting by my non-cycling method costs me over $8.00 each time. So, hey, that adds up pretty fast and justifies my new expenditures!

So, today, in the mail, arrived my present-to-myself from REI.
--Rain pants!
--Spring rain jacket in a bright color!
--Fleece layer to wear under the Spring rain jacket!

It's still too cold for the Spring jacket+fleece combo, but the rain pants will get good use pronto! They will keep off the wind also. I'm looking forward to commuting in them!
Did you buy the REI brand rain pants? I almost bought a pair the other day let us know how they work out not that i want it to down pour on you:) but sometimes it rains instead of snows here in N.H. I want to know how good they are! I JUST RELIZED IT LOOKS LIKE YOU BOUGHT THEM LAST YEAR so how good are they??
 
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