It’s a mite chilly in the Bay Area lately — about 40F when I started my commute this morning.
When I got into work, I bumped into coworker Matt, who was curious how I was staying warm. I ran through the list of winter gear I have, which made me think that that might make an interesting blog entry, too. So, without further ado, I present
Carolyn’s Cold Weather Commute Gear
Full-face Shoei RF800 helmet
OK, let’s be frank: there’s not much to say about a helmet as it relates to cold weather. The vents do a decent job of keeping the visor unfogged — I used to have a FogCity insert on my old clear visor, but didn’t get a new insert when I bought my current visor. I haven’t really missed it, so for now, no insert.
Holy mother of god, I love my heated vest. Like the heated grips, this was originally a “luxury” item that I can no longer imagine living without. I have the variable controller (mounted here), which works really well for me. I’m one of those people with a perpetually whacked internal thermostat, so I like being able to reach down and tweak it when I get hot! no wait, cold! cold! now colder! now hot! too hot! etc.
FirstGear Kilimanjaro jacket
I bought this jacket off of Ebay for a disgustingly low price (about $120 brand new) as a backup jacket for the Alaska trip, but it’s become my main winter jacket. First off, it’s really comfortable. Second, the fleece inner liner is nice and warm — and makes a decent sweatshirt off the bike. Third, it’s nicely waterproof (I’ve since washed the jacket, but it hasn’t rained again since I re-ScotchGard’ed it. I’m assuming it’ll still be waterproof….). Fourth, it’s roomy enough to fit over a sweatshirt and the Gerbing heated vest. This all adds up to the perfect winter jacket.
Helimot Buffalo 365 gloves
I was worried that these wouldn’t work as winter gloves, just because they worked so well as summer gloves. I should know better than to doubt Helmut and the gang at Helimot — these are true all-weather gloves. Of course, my fingertips still get chilly when it’s < 50F out, but that's reasonable. With the heated grips, the Buffalo 365s are definitely good down to at least 40F (haven't tested anything colder, and I can't say I'm eager to, either). They work well in the rain, too -- the dye doesn't bleed all over, and they don't stay soaking wet and miserably stiff for hours afterwards, either.
Mountain Hardwear Windstopper pants
I wear these under my leather pants when it gets < 50F. I've never worn them under any other pants, so I can't really say how wind proof they really are (leather is, in and of itself, pretty darn windproof), but they definitely keep my legs warmer. The only downside is that they're a little baggy on me, so they bunch up funny at my waist -- I think this is a feature of being 5'1", though. Sigh.
Helimot custom leather pants
These poor pants have put up with so much shit from me, and they still keep smiling. They’ve been worn in 120F summers, 20F winters, rain, hail, humidity, etc etc etc. Every once in a while, they spit off a zipper out of spite (I swear, I’m not getting fatter), but otherwise these pants are sheer perfection. In the winter, they’re as warm as can be expected — no bone-chilling air leaks along the seams — and are wonderfully waterproof. In a downpour, the calf zippers let just enough moisture in to make something dye a little black line onto my calves (dunno if it’s from my socks, boots, or the pants), but that’s not that bad.
Daytona LadyStar boots
Again, these poor boots have been through just about every climate on earth now. They’re great winter boots — I’ve never had cold feet, and I never wear socks thicker than whatever I get on sale at Target. Even in 40F downpours, my toesies stay warm and dry.
So there ya go. That’s all what gets me through winter.