Three friends and I rode fat bikes in 16F weather this afternoon. All of use were comfortable, but for some chilly toes and fingertips. I thought it might be worthwhile to talk about what each person wore.
Ryan is a 28 year-old male in good shape, despite being a new father. Ryan wore borrowed, super-warm Craft bibs, because his were in the laundry. Up top he wore a Craft windproof baselayer with a Bontrager jacket with windproof front and a breathable back. On his feet were wool socks and regular mountain bike shoes with neoprene shoe covers. One his head was a balaclava. On his hands were lobster gloves.
Kim, a fit forty-something female, wore Craft Stormshell tights. Not to start monologuing like the bad guy in “The Incredibles,” but these things are great for biking and, if it’s really cold, running. Up top was the winter trifecta (base, insulation and protection layers) of a Craft baselayer, a nice puffy Specialized insulation layer and a Specialized protection layer. Good stuff? Great stuff. Kim’s feet were housed in wool socks, her mountain bike shoes and neoprene shoe covers. On her hands were lobster gloves.
Amy, another fit forty-something female, wore clothes very similar to Kim. Actually, everything was the same but the protection layer. Amy’s wore this jacket. It’s not quite as hard core as Kim’s, but it’s also less than half the price.
I, a fifty-two year-old man, wore a mix of new stuff and other clothing that I’ve had for a while. Bontrager bibs. Gore overpants. Craft base. Specialized insulation layer. Bontrager protection layer, which might be my very favorite cycling garment. I wore these lobster gloves, and a pair of Northwave winter boots that I’ve had for a few years.
Ryan, the youngest of us by an uncomfortable amount, was toasty warm all around. Amy’s feet got cold, but the rest of her was great. Kim said that her toes and fingertips got a little chilly, but nothing uncomfortable. I have a history of cold extremities, but I was just fine today. I almost feel like I cheated by having winter boots. Almost. My boots are good, but not the warmest on the market. Had the Old Man Winter been available to me three years ago, I’d have those. I hate cold feet.
If there’s a moral to this story, I think it’s that equipment matters. Appropriate gear can make an unbearable day perfectly wonderful. Good winter clothing can be pretty darn expensive, but the good stuff lasts forever. I have ten-year-old winter clothes that I wear regularly, happily.