Saturday, October 23, 2010

My Winter Gear Issue #2a- The Torso (base layer)

I have always worn a T-shirt as my base layer when biking, with the exception of my time in the Peace Corps in Senegal where once in a while I'd wear this god awful green mesh tank-top that I bought from a travelling vendor. But I digress, my point is: it's time to grow up. If I'm going to be serious about biking 13-20 miles a day through the winter I need to graduate from the absorbent cotton T-shirts that I wear every time I get on my bike.

So I did what I needed to do, and hate to do- I went shopping. From reading other blogs about the most important gear for winter bike riding I decided I needed a base layer that wicks moisture away from my skin, keeping my skin dry. You see our sweat is an extremely efficient method our bodies use to cool us when we're over heated. However, when it's cold out and we're not overheating, we need to move that perspiration away from our skin to prevent its cooling properties working on our bodies.

At REI I puchased two undershirts, both with "moisture-wicking technology". The first undershirt is from the REI PolarTec® long underwear collection.  I bought the mid-weight, zippered version (pictured below) of the shirt although they also have a light-weight version.

REI PolarTec® Zip-T- Midweight
I have now worn this shirt once twice on a cool morning rides, probably high 40's. I was definitely pleased with the noticeable difference in skin wetness. However, this was not really neither ride was a good test of cold weather, because half way into my ride I had my jacket and the undershirt unzipped so I could cool off. Have I mentioned that fall is not very chilly in North Carolina.  What I did not like about this shirt is how stinky it was after one ride. It was ripe after one hour on the bike.  I'll have to wait and see if was stinky because it was too warm a day for the shirt and I sweat too much or if it just stinks every time I wear it. Now with two rides wearing this shirt I am worried it is a "feature" of the shirt to become really stinky with just a little perspiration.  As a side note, my nose is not particularly sensitive to my own BO, so if I say it's stinky that means something.

The second undershirt I purchased was the Under Armour Evo ColdGear® hoodie. It is a bit heavier than the PolarTec undershirt and has a hood, but no front zipper.
Under Armour Evo ColdGear® hoodie
I have worn this shirt on a few morning rides, with and without a windbreaker top layer.  I like the hood because on cool mornings I can pull it up instead of wearing my hat. On a cool 50°F morning this shirt is nice without a windbreaker, just enough to keep me from getting shivery on a shaded downhill roll. It breathes nicely so when I get warmed up I don't overheat. The hood is good down to about 45°F, below that I put on my hat. The shirt does help keep my skin drier than a normal cotton T-shirt, which has been nice on the colder mornings I've worn this shirt. Finally, this hoodie doesn't seem plagued with the stink problem of the PolarTec undershirt.

Again, I have not tested these shirts in cold weather yet, just a couple of cool mornings. It remains to be seen how they with fair in our "blustery" North Carolina winter.

Other winterizing entries:
My hat
Feet

2 comments:

Kyra and Tabb said...

http://www.theonion.com/articles/cyclist-friend-explains-necessity-of-35-socks,18259/?utm_source=recentnews

Tabb said...

you mean this?