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Winter clothing for wind chill and night visibility?

Orion41Orion41 Posts: 4
edited February 2013 in Commuting general
First off I wanted to say how happy I am to finally find such a great resource for biking. This website is great! I've already made better decisions on cycling gear.

The only thing I'm having trouble deciding on is what kind of clothing I need for cycling during the winter (nights). I need something that is completely windproof, as that is the source of the cold, at least for me. As long as there is no wind chill, body heat takes care of the rest. I can be soaked in rain/sweat, just as long as there's no wind chill making it feel like I'm submerged in a frozen lake.

Lately I've just been using an old Oakley coat, extremely bulky/insulated and long, ends just below my inseam. Underneath that I wear two pairs of thin moisture wicking shirts from Aasics. It does the job even around 40 degrees below zero wind chill. For pants I just wear some nylon insulated leggings with wool leggings/underwear.

I have a medium-large sized hiking backpack I always wear which I barely fit over the coat. I use this for groceries and work clothes. But the bulkiness of the coat takes up a lot of room (along with work clothes), leaving little room for groceries.

So I'm wondering if there's some kind of layered system I can use that provides the same warmth and protection from WIND. Because WIND CHILL is the bane of my existence. I looked at a LBS but their prices seemed very extreme. Base layers were $100 minimum each.. That's way beyond what I can afford.

I also could use clothing that has more visibility at night, as I do my commute around 3am. Either reflective material or even the use of some sort of reflective lights/lighting on helmet or backpack.


  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,278
    Try altura night vision bib tights and jacket overshoes all wind proof and hi viz as well, not sure if available in the states though. Well worth it, light weight and durable.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • MichaelWMichaelW Posts: 2,226
    Windproof shell layers work well. Don't get a waterproof one, they are much less breathable and best saved for rain.
    You can get featherweight Pertex shells but for everyday winter use, I prefer a shell with more substance.
    Softshell style jackets are popular for cold/damp riding.
    I test material by trying to huff my breath through. You need the material to provide some resistance to high pressure air but you should be able to force air through.
    Look for dropped tail, high collar and reflective piping on arms, back and front. I find that a front chest pocket is useful for storing gloves, keys, wallet. Rear pockets are more awkward to access and less useful for commuters. Avoid fashionable black. Any bright colour will do, red, yellow etc.
    You also need to seal the collar with a Buff.
  • alidafalidaf Posts: 147
    You won't get the same level of warmth/protection as your Oakley, which is designed for walking/hiking at a fairly slow pace. The cycling effort brings the body temperature up quite a bit. Layering is the best option, best approached by trial and error. It also depends a lot on how you cycle i.e. fast or leisurely.

    Nevertheless, a good merino wool base layer will keep you fairly warm and soak up/transport sweat away from the skin. A mid layer or soft-shell will provide some more warmth and a barrier to the wind. An outer layer is typically very thin (for a racer) and geared towards rain proofing, and not worn all the time. Some soft-shells provide rain resistance but not rain proofing, and can be worn as an outer layer but be careful wearing any mid-layers as you could overheat. If you are a more leisurely commuter then a thicker outer layer or a mid-layer and an outer layer may be better.

    It is possible to buy Scotchlite strips for sticking onto clothes and bags but it is possible to get a nice commuting jacket with reflective piping for relatively little money. Someone earlier suggested Altura. I have no experience of their gear but they do tend to put a lot of reflective detail on their stuff, and they are cheap (compared to most of the rest).
  • jimmypippajimmypippa Posts: 1,712
    I slightly disagree with the previous two posters, as I find a thin pertex windproof on top of a baselayer fine.

    I do have a good (eVent) waterproof for heavy rain, but only use it for heavy rain and/or cold.

    I also find back pockets OK, although would be OK with a chest pocket - all I want in there are keys and my pass to get through the turnstile at work.
  • andy9964andy9964 Posts: 930
    /\ /\ This
    I was quite warm enough in the sleet that was coming down on Friday night.
    I had a soft shell jacket and long sleeve base layer, 3/4 length shorts with waterproof pants over them and gloves.
    Even when I got a front flat and slowed down, I didn't get cold, only my toes
  • Bi50NBi50N Posts: 87
    In Winter I use a Gore Phantom - wind-proof, hi-vis shell - over a base layer. Utterly fantastic piece of kit - it also has detachable sleeves, so it's good for spring / autumn too.

    If it's really cold I might use a base layer with a roll neck, but otherwise this does me fine no matter the temperature.

    Bottom half, Endura 3/4 shorts. Not tried (or needed) leg warmers / tights as I have lashings of manly leg hair and I run hot.
  • pete_spete_s Posts: 213
    I can't really comment on visibility, but I've recently bought a new coat. I couldn't find one that I liked from the people you first think of (Northface, Mamut, Peter Storm et al. What is is it with these types of clothes BTW? They're so ugly and the fit is awful).

    I went a bit leftfield and got something from Superdry (who have a store in New York now so I presume they do shipping across the US). It's called The Windcheater and for good reason. It's got three zips, looks smart and can be worn when not on the bike. It's abosultely wind proof. We've recently been having really strong wind in the UK (must be something in the water) and I haven't felt a thing. It can also be worn as a cape :roll:

    Downsides is that the only colour is black, but you're using lights so it's all good.

    Here's a UK link: ... indcheater
  • oxomanoxoman Posts: 9,278
    Pete i suspect the manufacturers you mention normally only do walking specific clothing as opposed to cycling so fit wont be good, Northface just supposedly trendy, peter storm is Blacks leisure own brand and Mammut is proper outdoor gear. Superdry is currently just expensive trendy stuff IMHO. One manufacturer that i do know that does both outdoor and cycling gear and is good quality is Montane.
    Too many bikes according to Mrs O.
  • pete_spete_s Posts: 213
    I wouldn't say Superdry is any more expensive than any other shopping outlet for clothes. It's main customers are students, but that shouldn't put the OP off getting one :lol: The jacket I got was £65 which was £15 more than I spent on an Altura jacket that stopped being waterproof after a couple of washes, and definitely better quality than than my Endura jacket which exploded in the washing machine.

    I think a lot of cycling gear is overpriced purely because it's aimed at a small market who's customers don't mind spending £160 on a pair of tights.
  • ctcctc Posts: 232
    Mavic H2O vision jacket - excellent and very visible
    Merino baselayer - both LS and SS. Anybrand will do
    Cheap tights to go over bibshorts for when it's cold
    Leg warmers for when it's a bit warmer
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