Like any other time I have moved, when I shared with people last fall that I would be moving from New York City to Boston, I started to receive a lot of advice. One recurring theme I kept hearing from people was how cold it is in Boston and if I planned on commuting in the winter I would have to bundle up. I try not to let the weather interfere too much with my commuting and the temperature has never kept me from riding. I layered up when the temperature dropped in NYC, but my layering was a bit bulky and haphazard.
I decided that if temps were consistently going to feel like sub-zero (over to the left is what the temp was the other day) when commuting I might want to dial in my layers. I recently purchased a couple of different clothing items in an attempt to stay warm and dry that I wanted to share on the blog because I have been quite happy with both. These are not products that were sent to me for review, I did my own research and purchased them on my own.
For winter riding in the past I have used several kinds of base layers. I have ridden with long underwear and some Sporthill tights from my running days and both methods were sufficient, but not entirely comfortable. Columbia Sportswear has been making a marketing push recently and a technology that caught my eye was what they call Omni-Heat, billed as as thermal reflective technology. I have never purchased a matching base layer of any kind and decided to go for their heavyweight longsleeve top and matching bottom.
From what I can gather, the technology is a silver fabric cut into small circles and then applied to the main fabric of the garment. The little dots are supposed to reflect heat back at your body, and the fabric is meant to breathe so you do not get too sweaty. When you look at the fabric from the outside it appears "normal." The photo is a bit washed out but it is solid black, except for the stitching . . .
When you look at the inside it is a different story. The fabric almost appears to be a space blanket.
Both items have fabric only in the places that are likely to get the most sweaty.
Although the fabric almost appears to be entirely silver, when you look at it closely you can see the dots on the fabric.
My fear when I first saw the fabric was that it would be sticky when touching skin. My fears did not become reality, the fabric feels like any other fabric when touching the skin. I could not tell the difference, that is until I rode in it. I have found the layer to be incredibly warm and the layer has helped me to achieve greater warmth with less bulk. When paired with a new jacket, a topic for a future entry, I am warmer and wearing far less fabric. The layer is a bit thicker than most other layers I have worn but there is a medium layer as well if you are not looking for "ultra" warmth.
I have been riding with the base layer for about a month now and I am really glad I made the purchase. Like other good products, the price tag is a bit high, but I have worn the layer every day and it has held up just fine so far. If readers have advice on staying warming in cold temps feel free to contact us or comment. I'll post on a recent jacket purchase that I pair with the base layer soon.