Riding in the cold weather without an adequate technical cycling equipment can affect negatively the performance level and can cause negative consequences for health.
Here below we will explain which garments are necessary to face winter time in the saddle in total security but also how to combine them to ensure maximum optimization of their technical features.
What happens to the body while cycling in cold temperatures?
Cycling in the cold with clothes that are too light may cause excessive dissipation of body temperature. The self-defense mechanism attempts to thermoregulate the temperature by channeling blood to the most vital and central areas of the body.
This implies a vasoconstriction in the more external areas which leads to a quick cooling of the extremities of the body such as hands, feet, nose and ears.
This self-defense system stresses the body with a lowering cardiac output and reduced oxygenation in the muscles. In addition it affects negatively the performance level. All this situation lowers the immune defenses causing physical and psychological discomfort while under stress.
To avoid this annoying situation, we usually dress too heavily but this choice is as wrong as the previous one. In fact, clothes that are too heavy cause excessive body humidity which creates condensation inside the garment in contact with cold temperatures. The lack of a suitable base layer, acting as a gap between condensation and skin, leads to a cold-wet sensation that can have annoying consequences on our health.
Furthermore, when we stop pedaling, our body cools down faster and suffers temperature changes with possible colds, bronchitis and pneumonia.
This situation is accentuated in roads that require steep descents after demanding climbs as the external excessive condensation, given by the physical effort during the climb, could freeze during the descent phase. In this situation the consequences of too heavy winter clothing would be more dangerous than a lighter one: having a bit of cold in the first few kilometers of warm-up is correct.
It should be emphasized that the sensation of excessive heat or cold during pedaling is always related to the amount of moisture that is in contact with the skin because it increases it perception, especially in areas where sweating is more intense such as armpits, back, neck and central chest.
The ideal features of winter cycling garments
Winter garments alone do not ensure total comfort. In fact, a warm and breathable jacket will generate a cold-wet sensation on the skin if combined with an unsuitable base layer even if the garment is performing.
On the contrary, a suitable base layer made of polypropylene or merinos wool will generate and excessive condensation inside the garments if combined with a low breathable jacket and the base layer would struggle to transfer moisture to the outside.
The ideal winter cycling pants on the other hand have a plush fabric inside in order to retain the air as much as possible and increase thermal insulation. But at the same time it must also have an excellent elastic return to maintain a certain compression of the muscle, absolute freedom of movement and level of elasticity that allows the pad to remain stationary and stable while pedaling.
In the windproof TIGHT WP we have added some windproof membrane panels, less elastic in the areas most exposed to the wind while more elastic fabric has been used in the areas of greatest movements.
The best winter garment is the JACKET-DW which is a 3-layers membrane jacket. The inner layer acts as an insulator and has hydrophilic features that accelerate the absorption of liquids expelled from the base layer to convey them towards the membrane located in the outer fabric layer. This is functional to the protection and performance of the membrane itself: it must therefore be light enough to prevent it from becoming a barrier and slowing down the transpiration membrane.
This layer then needs a water repellent treatment that prevents the fabric from getting soaked with cold water which would cool the membrane. From all this it is clear that most of the ideal features of a winter garment comes from the choice of fabrics used.
There are some fundamental details that complete the comfort of the garment such as the cuffs built to optimize the closure and avoid the entry of spikes of cold air directed into the jacket. Another particularly important and sensitive area is that of the neck and nape region. In fact, if on the other hand the base of the neck must be in contact with a very breathable fabric in order to keep it dry as much as possible on the other hand the neck must be designed in such way as to protect as much as possible from the entry of air. The front zip is also of fundamental importance for the insulation and protection of the jacket from air entry. If the zip is not adequate – it is therefore not waterproof coated or protected by an internal brace – it can easily convey the wind, which would cool or even freeze the internal condensation layer.
Outwet garments technologies compared to competitors
The winter jackets proposed by Outwet – JACKET EW (Early Winter) and JACKET DW (Deep Winter) – respond to all these features by offering two different weights for two climatic ranges.
Their great technological added value compared to their competitors is the Graphene membrane. Graphene applied to the membrane, make it bacteriostatic and one of the best existing heat conductors. It is perfect in dissipating the heat produced by the body during physical effort and redistributing it throughout the areas of the jacket thus creating body thermoregulation and a more homogeneous internal microclimate.
This membrane also regulates the heat sources coming from outside, heating the areas not exposed to the sun and mitigating the more exposed ones. Thanks to this technology it has been possible to create winter jackets with lighter weights than those proposed by competitors for the same climatic range. The result is an extremely light garment compensated by the thermoregulatory action of graphene which increases the level of general breathability.
Outwet jackets are designed with great care to prevent internal microclimate destabilization caused by air filtration. To make this possible we have used a bonded fabric created by Akkotex srl exclusively for Outwet following specific needs and concerned researches. This fabric is used in all the ending parts of the jackets as well as in many other products in the Outwet range.
To replace classic elastics we have used laser-cuts and raw-finish which give more comfort over long distances and ensure greater protection (combined with waterproof coated zip that closes hermetically the front area in contact with the air) and has a minimal and futuristic look.
The correct winter technical clothes and possible combinations
The main winter clothing items are: a long sleeve base layer with Dryarn® or Merinos wool, a 3-layers membrane jacket and a fleece or windproof bibtight. The correct calibration and combination of these three elements is enough to provide the right balance between thermal insulation and transpiration, always related to the external temperature and the kind of path you want to face.
To add further comfort it is possible to use polypropylene BASE-TT or Resistex® Carbon BASE-TTC which are mesh first layer in contact with the skin under the long sleeve winter base layer shirt. This additional layer does not affect the climatic range but generates an air layer between the skin and the winter garment creating an additional cavity that dries the skin faster and removes the internal condensation layer of the jacket.
The result is an even more efficient regulation of the body microclimate if compared to the use of a winter base layer alone. Then we must add all those accessories that protect and thermoregulate the most sensitive areas of the body such as hands, feet and neck.
The chart here below is a guide to the correct combination of garments. The perception of cold/heat is however subjective and therefore the degrees indicated in the climate range are approximate.
Range +8°C/+18°C: the use of a taped rainjacket is recommended, due to the higher rainfall risk typical of the change of seasons.
Range +8°C/0°C: the use of a EW JACKET is recommended due to the possibility of light rain.
Range 0°C/-8°C: the use of a DW JACKET is recommended due to the possibility of snow.
Now that we have analyzed the main technical qualities that good cycling clothes should have and above all how these can be enhanced through a correct combination of different garments we just have to wish you to maximize your performance in the saddle also during winter season.