Warm Winters

Way back in my first winter in Massachusetts I commuted by car. It sorta went like this:

Warm Winters

It was easy to never be dressed for weather. And easy to misplace things like gloves.

Once I moved into the city that changed. Even before I started biking I found myself walking an average of 4 miles a day to get to public transit and everywhere in in between. It was horribly cold. Then I realized the weather wasn’t bad. My clothing was. All my disposable fashion was just that, disposable.

However, it’s not always easy to find good winter wear these days:

Warm Winters

I suspect many fashion designers are drivers. And live in Los Angeles. They’re not designing for my lifestyle.

I need functional fashion. And it doesn’t have to look like this:

Warm Winters

There are some warmer winter options out there if you really look. I still make sure to pay attention to the details:

Warm Winters

Because there is a difference between looking warm and being warm.

So after several winters in the city I have finally built up a quality winter wardrobe of quality winter items and approach that works for me:

Warm Winters

Winter is much warmer now. And I no longer lose my gloves.

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  • Kat January 10, 2013   Reply →

    How does your face not FREEZE OFF? I am a Floridian and have no idea what real cold is, but when it gets “cold” here, my ears and nose get so frigid that a balaclava seems appealing. I can’t imagine riding without one in real cold.

    • dr2chase January 11, 2013  

      I started biking in Florida about 45 years ago, I have distinct memories of riding a 10-mile time trial in just-freezing weather and thinking it was incredibly cold. Now I live near Boston, same neck of the woods as BikeyFace.

      After a few weeks of cold, especially if you stay out in it instead of dashing from warm to warm, you adapt somewhat. So, I eventually get to the point where I’m too lazy to put on shoes before going outside for a quick errand, and just slip on some clogs, and try to avoid stepping in deep snow. But if it’s below 20F and I’m riding a bike, and I’m otherwise barefaced, I find I need a balaclava. The last few years I’ve grown a beard in the winter instead and it’s a huge help.

      And you may not believe it, but for any ride that’s long enough to care about the cold, I generate enough heat that I have to worry about the sweat instead. For a long ride, down to about 20F, if I wear base+middle+outer layers, I get very sweaty.

      On the other hand, people up here, they think it gets “hot” and “humid” in the summer. They have no idea.

    • Kat January 12, 2013  

      Chase, that’s a good point about adapting. Since it never gets cold and stays that way here, there’s no real getting used to it.

      We’ve had highs in the mid- to upper 80s here the past few days, and it’s been humid as all get out. This is normally the time of year when it’s *nice* out! I really hope this doesn’t portend an unusually warm summer.

      And no, I totally believe you about the sweat thing. Core warmth and extremity warmth are two very different things.

    • cycler January 16, 2013  

      I’m with Dr2Chase, you somewhat get acclimated. For those who aren’t blessed with the ability to grow beards, I find that a good layer of face cream helps, and then a scarf that is big enough to wrap around your face if needed. When I ski, I often use a neck gaiter that can be pulled up over your nose when you’re cold and still, but pushed back down when you’re moving and breathing harder.

  • traffic cyclist January 10, 2013   Reply →

    Interestingly, I’ve noticed that my winter street-wear have evolved over the years to mirror my winter bike-wear: now everything is sleek and form-fitting, with no bulk to restrict movement on the street or on the bike.

  • Charlie January 10, 2013   Reply →

    Old school wool knickers – and I don’t mean bike knickers. I mean knickerbockers, sometimes called plus 4s. I have several pair, matched with wool sweaters. The knickers can be hard to find but worth the money.

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  • Kevin Love January 13, 2013   Reply →

    I live car-free in Toronto. Yes, it has been known to get a little bit cold in Canada.

    The amount of clothes that I have bought for winter cycling is exactly zero. I simply dress the same way that I would for any other outdoor activity. Activities such as going to the park, watching a hockey game or the Santa Claus parade with my kids or anything else that I am doing outside.

    Indeed, for going to work I require less clothing since cycling is mild exercise that generates some warmth.

    It seems to me that the same logic also applies to Boston or other milder climates. Why not just wear the exact same clothes as for any other outdoors activity?

    • dr2chase January 13, 2013  

      Ah, Kevin, did you not notice the first two panels at the top? Around here, people wear cars for their outdoors winter activities.

  • polaris January 13, 2013   Reply →

    As someone who has been commuting in the Cambridge/Somerville area for the last 5 years, I’d add my vote for layers. Over time, I’ve converged on a way to decide roughly when I need the extra clothing. This would vary from person to person depending on the length of the commute and tolerance to cold and wind, but my thresholds tend to be:

    Above 50F: Normal work clothes.
    40-50F: add simple skullcap underneath helmet, put on one extra layer or sweater.
    30-40: add gloves, thermals and good windcheating jacket (balaclava when windy).
    20-30: add balaclava, and heavier gloves
    10-20: consider wimping out and taking the T :-)

  • Krista January 13, 2013   Reply →

    My transition to the cool north was very similar. Now that I figured out the clothing, it rarely feels cold (very windy days being the notable exception).

    I also found wool to be the solution for me. Some of my first choices were synthetic, and the moment I began to sweat, they stank something awful. I noticed my wool items did not so I purchased more of them.

    Uniqlo has many inexpensive 100% wool options. My favorite is a merino/cashmere blend ($30 midweight). I also wear my thin merino tops a lot ($20-30 lightweight) as middle layer in winter or outer layer in fall/spring.

    The odor resistance is nothing short of amazing. Even if I get quite sweaty, I drape it over the clothes rack to air out and the next day you wouldn’t even know it was worn. I wear them multiple times between washings. Then I hand wash in the sink, roll with a towel, and place on the drying rack. I don’t consider it high maintenance.

    And I would be really lost without the plush wool blend hiking socks that I wear throughout the cold months. They are the only ones I’ve tried that are comfy both outdoors and indoors.

  • Ezra January 14, 2013   Reply →

    Awesome, awesome, awesome. Definitely lovin’ this. I really have to get myself a better scarf! It’s so short I can only tie it in a knot around my neck and hope it doesn’t come undone. No extra slack hanging down like your giant.

  • Ethan Fleming January 14, 2013   Reply →

    Im feeling good. I just got a brand new neon orange jacket this year.

  • Chris. January 17, 2013   Reply →

    that picture is so true i get some really funny looks from the police.

  • Dottie January 17, 2013   Reply →

    Love this.

    I think I always felt colder during winter when I lived in North Carolina due to being underdressed/dressing for riding in a car. Shivering in 40 degrees – ha!

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