Thankfully, practical. Although this guy gets props for adding crochet to his commuter bag, we won’t be seeing any of this from our mainstream brands. Due to our inclement, widely varying climate … practical, functional layers are IN on the west coast.
Layering and wool is the way to go. This is not a new concept, it’s just been made a LOT better through the use of quality materials (e.g. merino wool, Gore-Tex) and FUNCTIONAL CROSSOVER designing in mind. This means that this fall’s cycling clothing will also work for running, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, for example. This not only makes sense, it saves us dollars by being able to wear the same gear for many sports.
I spent some time with Cynthia, Manager of Different Bikes in West Vancouver, last week to get the inside scoop on this year’s fall/winter gear. This blog is set up in two parts … Part 1 – Upper Body Layers, Part 2 – Lower Body Layers.
Part 1 – Upper Body Layers
Cycling apparel companies are going back to the days of wool … it’s not new, it’s what the boys of the Tour de France back in the beginnings wore, wool jerseys. Wool is a natural wicking fabric that doesn’t cling to odours and leaves you feeling drier and more comfortable than any synthetic or cotton can. Merino wool has been increasingly popular the skiing/snowboarding scene, and has finally made it to the cycling world. Example: Sugoi merino wool base layer called the Sugoi Wallaroo 170 Cruiser.
If you go with a short-sleeve jersey, add some arm warmers that can be removed if the weather heats up. I’m a huge fan of the arm warmers!
A great mid-layer is a thermal/fleece pullover layer that is fitted, possibly with at least 1/4 zip for air-flow and comfort. Keeping base and mid layers fitted is key to ensuring you can fit more layers over top comfortably. Example: Sugoi Jersey Midzero Zip
A jacket with wind-proof front paneling and a breathable, stretchy back is ideal for cold nasty days. It will keep you warm from the blowing wind while allowing you to breath through the back paneling. Look also for reflective stripes and pockets. Most jackets also have a bit longer back to cover the lower back more when bent over cycling. I’ve had a jacket like this for commuting and it’s lasted me years and I’ve worn it a lot, I almost prefer to wear it even in light rain because it’s so comfortable!
Gore-Tex and similar synthetics are the name of the game when it comes to waterproofness. GORE brand clothing contains Gore-Tex, a waterproof, breathable material that is also light-weight and easy to pack away in a back pocket. An example is the GORE Power 2 jacket – it’s very light, available in bright colours, has taped seems and zippers, reflective stripes, back-pocket and is a fairly stretchable material. Another similar waterproof jacket is the Sugoi Majik Shell jacket. It is not made of GoreTex and I’m told is not as breathable a material, but has side zips and a back panel flap for extra airflow. It also has taped seams, front chest pocket, four-way stretch in the back and is slightly lighter than the GORE jacket.
You can even layer gloves if you wish. There are waterproof shell type gloves that can be worn over your normal bike gloves that are great for rainy days. Or, you can go with a slightly bulkier glove that has a thermal, wind-resistant and waterproof layering. I’ve been wearying a Sugoi pair for the past few years that have been awesome! They’re just the right thickness to keep my hands warm, but aren’t too think to inhibit braking and shifting.
Check out some of the gear at Different Bikes used as examples: