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What to wear in moderately cold weather?(10 posts)

What to wear in moderately cold weather?wolfereeno
Dec 30, 2002 2:08 PM
I can't figure out what to wear at the kinds of temperature we've been having a lot in NYC lately - around 37 to 46 degrees with 5-10mi winds.

My problem is my upper body gets cold after about an hour of riding. I don't know if I'm overdressed and trapping in moisture or underdressed.

I usually wear a short sleeve undershirt (coolmax) like Craft or Lemond. Over that I'll wear a medium weight pullover jersey. Over that I'll either wear a fleece vest (windproof in front, breathable in back) or a jacket like a Pearl Izumi Barrier. If I wear the vest, I might wear arm warmers under my jersey.

At first I'm a bit cold until I warm up. Then I'm great for about 45 mins to an hour when I start to feel cold again and sometimes clammy around my chest. My legs are fine, I'll wear toe covers keeping my feet warm, good gloves, and sometimes a hat under my helmet.

I'm no speedster but I push myself pretty hard most of the time.

Less than 38 degrees I'll add a coolmax turtle neck or heavier pull over jersey for a middle layer and be OK. And over 47 degrees I can get away with dressing lightly. But in these just over freezing days I usually end up cutting my rides short.

Any suggestions? Is it better to overdress or under dress and stay warm by hard riding? I don't seem comfortable doing either in those middle temperatures.

Its tough....UncleMoe
Dec 30, 2002 2:30 PM
I haven't found the right combination yet here in San Diego. Morning commute is averaging the upper 30's to upper 40's, similar to what you are experiencing. What works great one day is too warm/cold the next with just a few degrees of fluctuation.

I am currently swapping back and forth between a long sleeve jersey PLUS either a fleece vest or a windproof jacket with pit zips. With the fleece vest I tend to be slightly chilled for the first 15 minutes but then warm up. With the jacket, I tend to be comfy at first but then get a bit warm. This morning it was 37 low to 45 high. I was wearing the jacket and it was perfect. But if it goes to 40-50 range, the jacket becomes to warm.

I can say that I was wearing combinations of what you stated above and had found that I just had too many layers on. Even though each one breathed, with three layers I found that after 60 minutes of riding, or if I had to stop for a red-light, the sweat was stuck in the middle/outer layer and I'd cool off and get chilled quickly. Thats why this year I'm experimenting with just two layers.

I'm not satisfied with my current options. My suggestion is to keep trying various combinations.

As far as your last question, I don't think there is a right answer. Some prefer to be a little cooler, some a little warmer. I would say if you are getting that clammy feeling than you are over dressing.
re: What to wear in moderately cold weather?Spinarooni
Dec 30, 2002 3:01 PM
ok here we go... for 40 to 50 I wear: long sleeve coolmax shirt, long sleeve wool jersey, pearl izumi fleece vest, bib lycra shorts under pearl izumi tights and smartwool socks. Skull cap for head. Glove liners under full finger bike gloves.

Below 40 I wear 2 pairs of wool socks and pull leg warmers over my tights and arm warmers over my jersey. Also carry a wind breaker and wear heavy gloves.

Below 30 I stay home.
re: What to wear in moderately cold weather?mickey-mac
Dec 30, 2002 3:08 PM
When I do my weekday morning rides, the temp varies between mid to upper 30s at the start to about 50 at the end. I usually go with an undershirt, jersey, arm warmers, knee warmers, and Pearl Izumi vest (not fleece), long fingered gloves, and a PI headband. About an hour into the ride, I ditch the vest and exchange the long fingered gloves for a pair of regular cycling gloves. It does the job for me, but I tolerate cold better than most people, or at least most Southern Californians. I also often find myself riding harder in winter to stay warm.
Dec 30, 2002 3:52 PM
I too believe that you're losing most of your body heat via the head (which you didn't mention). Also, I'd try a Smartwool undershirt, instead of the coolmax..(they're available in short or long sleeves; crew or zip-T...check out: ASSOS makes a high quality head/ear cover (not too thick); check out:
There is no answer to Winter riding....what feels good in the am, changes if a 'blue-bird' day develops and the sun has you wanting to even shed the tights....Layering is the best rule, but I've found that it is cumbersome to carry stuffed pockets on a ride...I like to use armwarmers when it gets down to the mid-to-low 30's.. they're easier to stick in the back pocket than to take off a long sleeve jersey if it gets too warm...I finally broke down last year and splurged on the ASSOS Gator Jacket, Hydro II L/S undershirt and just received their Thermo Airblock tights (yep, it's now 60° on Dec.30, so I haven't tested the tights yet)...I got them to reduce the layering of poly. thermals & outer tights...made my legs feel 'overstuffed'; my legs are never a real problem with the cold...the Gator jacket is lightweight, multi-layered, definitely wind proof and much lighter than layering...I've worn only a coolmax t-shirt with it in 42°F, and never got cold. Best of luck...and have a great New Year of riding.
re: What to wear in moderately cold weather?yeah right
Dec 30, 2002 4:28 PM
my thing recently has been the windbreaker.

for me using a windbreaker over a long sleeve jersey and base layer, or short sleeve with armwarmers works great. usually works right around to just below 38-40.

I do think it's uncomfortable to run a lot of clothes, as i get too hot and sweaty. fwiw, i'm better insulated than some.
re: What to wear in moderately cold weather?Matt Britter
Dec 30, 2002 5:53 PM
I seem to be wearing similar layers to you. Here are a couple of tings I changed that made a difference.

As previous stated, you should have something on your head, I got a Performance skull cap, just a cheapie to see if it worked. It did seem to help keep me warm longer.

Next I changed from normal zippered vest to a double or dual zipper vest. One that also unzips at the bottom, while staying zipped up top. I found that venting this way keeps me a little dryer from the sweat and still warm.

Good luck.
re: What to wear in moderately cold weather?PMC
Dec 30, 2002 6:08 PM
What seems to be working pretty good for me this winter has been just a PI Kodiak Light long sleeve jersey as a base with a REI Windhibitor jacket over that. If I start getting hot I can unzip the armpits of the REI jacket or open it at the collar. They come in tall sizes which work pretty well for cycling as the arms are a bit longer.

I also bought a Castelli winter cycling cap this fall and love it. It covers my ears and is wind proof. Without a doubt, my favorite new piece of clothing.

Other than that, I just wear the normal winter stuff. Shoe covers, leg warmers, etc...
How about this?REPO42
Dec 30, 2002 10:17 PM
Make sure you have some type of skull cap.. as stated above most heat is lost through the scalp.. Next get some good gloves...and shoe covers...Toasty digits and toes makes happy riders. Now as far as the upper body, I would think you are underdressed. Use a wicking type undershirt, then wear a light jersey over..So you can carry food etc...Next wear a nice cycling windbreaker that breathes......Most likely you will get a bit warm...then take of the windbreaker or simply unzip if you feel overheated...There is no way you are going to feel just right on these days unless you spend a fortune on clothing apparel..Deal with being a bit warm, drink extra water, I'd rather be toasty than coldy. good luck
Here is what I do and have yet to get coldK-Man
Dec 31, 2002 9:44 AM
Mix and match according to temperatures, all can be bought CHEAP at
This is the most I will wear on any day.
Base layer coolmax wicking jersey
Mid weight coolmax jersey
Windproof vest
Thin lined windbreaker

This year the coldest I have been out so far was at 8:30am and 24 degrees......Wore all the above minus the thin Base layer.

I think the key item in staying warm is a decent wind proof vest and windbreaking jersey. Granted I haven't spent the $$ for special cycling winter clothes, but I'm pleanty warm.

I also had a terrible time with cold feet...this year I added a plastic bag between my shoes and neopreen booties and this seemed to help a lot.