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Tested On Ice


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Tested On Ice
Winter Wear

There are more than a few products that you may or may not think would work in ICEBIKING applications. Some that do and perhaps some that don't appear here as various folks on the ICEBIKE list have the time to review items in the winter environment.

We can offer selective reviews of products that either pass the freeze test (when you might not think them suitable) or fail (when they were marketed for winter cycling), or are new or different or grab our attention. If it doesn't fit elsewhere on our site, it might just show up here. It will probably show up here first.

Do you have some product that you have tested and would like to recommend? Or perhaps you would like to offer a warning to others about a particularly bad product that is marketed for winter cycling but just can't cut it. Write it up (keep it fairly short) and e-mail it to me. All reviews will be attributed. When we get lots of them we will move them to other pages, and organize them into subcategories. Send em in folks.

Manufactures may want to submit items to our Tested On Ice Program

 Showerspass Century Jacket 

My Seattle area commute has varying conditions throughout the ride. It can be snowing and freezing in one town, and blowing and raining in the next. I needed a warm winter jacket that was waterproof and not too sweaty.

When I bought this jacket last year, I wondered about the price tag. It cost $159 for a "rain jacket". The jacket is ultra thin, made of pertex and is very durable. The folks at Showers Pass have been testing this jacket in Chicago and the Pacific NW for about 2 years.

Unlike other pertex jackets, this one needs no special care and all seams are taped. I've worn this jacket for close to 2,000 miles without a problem. The jacket blocks wind, rain and cold and I've used it even in 15F temps along with a base layer and polar tech fleece layer. The jacket wicks water away from your skin but moisture tends to condense on the inner shell itself. When you take the jacket off, it dries quickly as in 10 minutes or so.

Review  by "Virginia Kelley" <virginia.kelley at comcast.net>

Sealskinz Chillblocker Socks 

I got the socks on Friday. Sat. a.m. temps low 30's wind 5-15mph. I used the socks with sidi mega road shoes with the Pearl Izumi Amfib booty. I lasted for 1.5hrs with pretty comfortable feet. They were just starting to get cold. On Sunday, it was 35 degrees, wind 5mph, I wore the socks with neoprene toe covers, ok for 90 min. 
I did notice that although "breathable" I did sweat with them on and my foot was very wrinkly when I took the sock off - more so with booty's on. This may have contributed to their performance, don't know for sure. I will perhaps find a thin wool sock to put underneath, or a poly bike sock Perhaps and try again. 

These are the best socks I've tried. In road shoes that are 1/2 to 1 size bigger than normal, since socks are thick. The socks fit well, are elastic, and stay up on the calf. I don't think, by themselves, they will bring you to temps below 25-30. I think they have a place for the roadie that's wants 2 hrs of comfort without the extra fuss and time putting on a booty. I also may have strapped the shoes too tight, decreasing evaporation and warmth so I still need to experiment with that. You still get some pedal feel with them on, and they are comfortable and conform to your foot nicely.

Editors note: Sealskinz are water proof socks that have a breathable waterproof membrane between two heavy fabric layers. You can turn them inside out and fill them with water and they don't leak.

Review By "NIcholas J. Peckio R.N." <endoboy at optonline.net>

Vulpine Adaptive ICEBIKE Mittens

These three-fingered mitts are Lobster-Claw style with a difference.  They have a large zipper that extends from the over-sized cuff to the knuckles with large zipper-pull that you can grasp easily even when you are wearing one of these mitts.  Behind the heavy-duty zipper is a weather flap to keep cold air out.

In addition the super bright reflective tape makes signaling a turn to following traffic in darkness easy.  Its bright!!  The thumb is soft absorbent material for wiping your, ah, brow, yeah, that's it, your brow.   SEE our Separate Review here.  Opinion about the Company Here.

Col d'Lizárd Polartec 100 Powerstretch Tights

While riding home from work on a cold winter evening, I was making a mental note that the new Cannondale Heavy Weight tights were doing their job.  It was Minus 12C (10F) and windy, but I was quite warm with just thin capilene long-johns under the tights.   But they were are rather stiff, due to the wind proof front.

In my mailbox were my long awaited "Experimental" Polartec 100 Powerstretch Tights from Col d'Lizárd.  I call them experimental, because I believe I have serial number 002. (Number 001 went to a lucky ICEBIKER who works with Gekko.)   I had been chatting via e-mail with Kathy Austin (the owner of this small Winter Park, Colorado company) and lamenting the difficulty of finding good winter tights. She suggested Powerstretch 100 might be good for this.  The swatch she had mailed seems a little light.  I was dubious.

BlueTights.jpg (6276 bytes)Upon feeling how light the tights were I was getting more doubtful.  In addition, I thought Kathy had lost all concept of what a size "large" should be.   These things were tiny looking.  Maybe she mis-read my email and sent me a medium.

Upon trying them on (over the capilene) I was surprised to find they really did STRETCH.  They fit perfectly. (How could I have doubted?!?).

I just HAD to test them on ice.  So back out I went, into the pitch dark, with batteries still half depleted from my commute. I headed for a trail that had some rather nasty ice knobs from the last thaw.  The ice knobs were really sharp and rutted. I had to work to keep upright, and I noticed that the tights were noticeably less restricting than the Cannondales that I had on just half an hour ago.

Beyond the ice knobs, I was into the wind.  The Gekko tights were still very warm, with very little hint of cold wind blowing through. Powerstretch wasn't billed as wind proof, but it almost felt like it.

Half an hour into the ride my lights started to dim, my batteries were getting low.   On the run back, I noticed that there was no zipper grinding into my ankle where the tights went down into the boot.  Yet there had been no problem getting them on over my foot.  Stretchy stuff.  Lots of flexibility.

As I rolled into the yard, the lights were a mere glimmer, the battery had packed it in. 

But I was warm.  I was also sold on these Col d'Lizárd Powerstretch 100 tights.  At only $56, they had out performed the high priced tights from the big name company, and were substantially more breathable.  Besides, I was tired of black anyway.

Need to go colder?  For -20C (-5F) add an underlayer with Col d'Lizárd Microfiber Tights.

Get Them Customized !!!!


Foxwear Cold Weather Tights

arrownew.gif (2109 bytes)Need something a little warmer?  On days when its quite a bit colder, or for day-long outings, having tights made of warmer material is really welcome.

The small Idaho firm called Foxwear makes tights similar to those above but they are made out of 200 Weight Powerstretch.  (300 Weight on request).  The construction detail is very good, seams are strong and well made.  The 200 weight Powerstretch tights are noticeably thicker than the 100 weight, but were still light and supple and form fitting.  

I expected the 300 weght to be bulky and uncomfortable, but they were every bit as comfortable as the 200.  The 300 weight is almost windproof.  Great for those really cold days. I think the 300 weight would easily be warm enough at -10F, (-23C).

I reviewed both Blue and Black in two different weights and I like both.  The tights lack gripper elastic in the cuffs, but ride-up didn't seem to be a big problem. They are cut long enough to make a good snow proof tuck into your boot.

These tights are priced competitively ($40) and Lou Binik of Foxwear will make custom fitting adjustments if you ask. They also do custom fitting for women. Call or Email for a borschure with fitting instructions.

Scroll down this page for a review of the Foxwear Jackets.  Also availabel are hats (see review) and skin layer garments.

Lou is an ICEBIKER himself and knows the fitting requirements of cyclists.

Want a Second Opinion?  Click here.

Reviewed by The ICEBIKER

Turtle Fur Sehllclava

shellaclava.gif (8854 bytes)The last few years I've had a headgear combination that I like very much: a windproof helmet cover, plus a "shellclava" from turtle fur, viewable at the Turtle Fur web site.

The picture looks like an improvement over the version I got a few years ago. It's a Balaclava made of thick material around the neck, and thin material under the helmet. That way if you have a good snug fitting helmet it will still fit with the Balaclava. It's sort of like a thin Balaclava plus a neck tube, but the advantage is that with the pieces sewn together, the neck tube gets pulled up around your ears and held there.

Review by Charles R. Sullivan

Sentinel Jacket by The North Face

sentinel_jacket_lgC.gif (19999 bytes)The North Face Sentinel Jacket is designed as a stand alone jacket or toe be zipped into the same companies Mountain Jacket.  The combination is overkill for most cycling needs but the Sentinel alone is just right.

Using Gore's single-faced Windstopper fleece gives the Sentinel Jacket great flexibility and weight while still maintaining windproofness and breathability in cold weather activities. Supplex Nylon overlays in the shoulders and elbows provide superb abrasion resistance. Lighter weight than most basic fleece jackets, but cuts the wind like a shell piece. Wt. 20 oz.

It is cut extra long, and therefore accommodates the cyclist's position on the bike.  In addition the zip up neck keeps cold drafts out.  Nice tight cuffs prevent snow up the arm should you need to part company with the machine temporarily.

Because its so incredibly LIGHT in weight, it doesn't feel like it should be warm.  But because it blocks all the wind, and still breaths, you end up staying warmer without getting that muggy feeling.  Its easily good to 0F (-18C) with only a thin weight Polartec shirt below.  With a heavy weight Polartec shirt,  and a capilene skin-layer, I've personally ridden in this jacket to -15F (-26C).

Its not cheap, about $195, but it may just be what you were looking for.

ICEBIKER Wayne Estes has this to say about the Sentinel:

I bought it a year ago because I needed a more breathable and less bulky jacket than the lightweight down parka I was using when biking in cold weather. This jacket feels more windproof than the Activent jacket, but I think that is because it provides much better insulation. The wind just doesn't feel as cold with the Windstopper jacket. I am comfortable in this jacket from about 5C to -20C (41F to -4F) on my 30 minute commute with just a single middleweight wicking layer underneath. The jacket is not water-proof, but it does seem to have a DWR coating which causes water to bead up. I have never ridden in rain with this jacket. I have ridden in snow many times, and once I go inside the melted snow always beads up on the surface and evaporates without soaking into the material. This is my main jacket for commuting when the temperature is below freezing.

E Vap Jacket Foxwear Jackets

In addition to the cold weather tights (reviewed above) Foxwear of Salmon Idaho, makes several  great looking jackets for such organizations as Stanford University Ski Team, Salmon Search & Rescue.  Less than half the price of the Sentinel Jackets above, some models come in your choice of full Zip or half-zip (pullover). Also available is a sleeveless vest, for those crisp fall or late spring rides.

The Evap Jacket (pictured here) is great substitute for the North Face Sentinel jacket at half the price.  And the Evap is available in BIKE COMMUTER YELLOW for high visibility in dark winter rides. Its a comfortable  jacket, cut just right for cycling and has WindBlock everywhere except the black trim stripes.  Those stripes are powerstretch and they add the breathability and form fitting stretchiness. I've tested the Yellow model and have switched to it as my primary jacket on dark winter days for commuting. 

In addition you can select the fabric, colors and weights to fine tune some jackets to your local winters.  Choose from 200-Wt, 300-Wt Polartec, Windbloc or Retro-X for really cold environments. 

New in 2004, Power Shield: an extremely abrasion resistant face for long lasting durability; this fabric maintains its form and function regardless of abrasive contact. It blocks 98% of the wind to prevent wind chill, but allows enough air to circulate to keep you from overheating. The water repellent surface sheds rain and snow.   

This is the only company we have heard of that allows you to tailor your garment for your body as well as your particular degree of winter.  Their Website has information about each of the fabrics, and they will be happy to consult with you by phone or email about which fabric would be best for your needs. US$70-80 depending on fabric.

Reviewed by the ICEBIKER

Patagonia Regulator R2 Jacket

mensr2jacket.jpg (8403 bytes) Patagonia makes a lightweight jacket called the R2 out of Polartec ThermalPro "Regulator" fabric. ICEBIKER Francis Fuller has this to say about the R2:

The R2 weight is touted as lighter , more breathable, and warmer, than 8 oz fleece. Not advertised is the fact that this gear is twice as expensive as regular fleece. 

In spite of this I recently broke down and purchased an R2 jacket. This stuff is great. On a -10 c day I was able to go mush about wearing the R2 jacket, a microfibre undershirt and a polyester windshell. I remained comfortably warm even when not moving and rejoiced in the fact of wearing 3 layers without feeling like a nylon armadillo. Even when cranking through heavy mush there was no interior moisture buildup. Nice touches on the R2 are a drop beaver tail that keeps the small of the back toasty warm and a thick collar cuff.

According to the Patagonia web site, R2 fabric is as warm as 8-oz. Synchilla®, but lighter and more compressible  The R2 Jacket features: Full-length front zipper (offset at the neck) allows you to easily vent en route.  Stretch panels in critical flex areas. Zippered handwarmer pockets and drop tail style. Fabric: 6.5-oz. Regulator R2 fabric (Polartec® Thermal Pro™ polyester); 6.5-oz. Lightweight Activist™ Fleece stretch fabric on sides of torso, at elbows and cuffs. US$129  when last checked.

Pearl Izumi Prizm Jacket

piprism.gif (19166 bytes)Old Style

This is still the only jacket I trust for cold winter cycling. Others may breath just as well, or block the wind, but no manufacturer makes a more reflective jacket. The Scotchlite taping is in the right spots on the florescent yellow material.

The zipper gets stuck more than it should -- a problem I've noticed across the entire Pearl Izumi product line.

It does have a draft flap, two front zippered pockets, and side fasteners for tightening the bottom fit. The collar is nice and high, though it could fit a little smaller, at least for me.

The new Pearl Izumi Prizm jackets (ahown here) have less Scotchlite (cost $99) and are no longer available in all yellow.

Reviewed by Todd Scott

Performance Triflex Tights

1. FIT. Unlike many winter tights that fit loosely these fit as snug as normal fall tights. Though this approach maintains the "cycling style" it seems to be less effective at keeping the legs warm than a loose fit. With a tight fit warm air cannot move around and an area of the tight that becomes cold stays pressed against the same patch of flesh.

2. CONSTRUCTION. The catalog description is accurate but the pair that I purchased has had a problem with seam integrity. The thicker material must be harder to align properly as several places weren't sewn with sufficient overlap and had to be hand sewn (by me) to keep from pulling apart.

3. Breathability/Waterproofness. This is where you can decide if the tights are right for you or not. The "Triflex" material that covers the front and center rear of the tights is *extremely* waterproof. For short rides this poses no problem and for wet/sloppy rides this is desirable. However, if you are riding for an extended period the lack of breathability. causes the same panels to become damp with sweat and lose quite a bit of insulating power.

4. WARMTH. Good (on my legs) from 35 f to around 10 f. Limited in the higher direction by sweating. Extendable to lower by wearing fall tights underneath and wind pants over.

5. OVERALL. These pants appear to be designed with the MTB rider in mind. They are well suited to short, wet, and cold rides. In a commuting role they are less desirable because of the lack of breathability. Not as warm as looser fitting fleece-type tights with windproof front panels.

Review By Ric Miller


Windstopper Jacket Marmot

Marmot Yellowstone Gore Windstopper Jackets are lightweight (a medium weighs around 450g) and feature pit zips, Powerstretch side panels in black, zipped handwarmer pockets and a drawstring collar for extra cold days.

The Windstopper fabric is the same as the sentinel jacket above, but the cut is a little shorter than the sentinel. The price is usually less than the sentinel as well.  The other plus is that these jackets include pit zips.

Writes ICEBIKER Francis Fuller:

I use a product by Marmot. Has very long pit zips and is constructed from Gore's Windstopper fabric. Works well under a light shell but needs additional insulation layers when it gets "cold enough to skin ya."


VisorGogsl.jpg (7081 bytes)Last week I got my visorgogs from http://www.labsafety.com (Search for visorgogs).

I am a prescription glasses wearer, so I never got cycling glasses. Rudy Project makes some cycling glasses with Rx inserts. This seemed interesting to me, but I didn't feel like carrying 2 sets of glasses everywhere and didn't want to get contacts. Also the price of Rudy Projects is pretty expensive at $140 before you get the Rx lenses.

The visorgogs seemed to be worth trying on several counts: - the price is $6.90 + shipping. Can't beat that. The price of cycling glasses has seemed too high to justify looking into them. I was not interested in paying over $100 to carry around 2 pairs of glasses. - Visorgogs fit over regular glasses

After getting them within a week, there was another big plus: - Visorgogs can easily be stored away in a pannier when you're not using them, unlike other solutions.

I figured that I would only consider wearing them when the temps were below +20F or when I was riding into snow or sleet.

Initially, when I put them on, I was a little disappointed because the lens does touch my glasses and rest on them. Also, the visor didn't seem to match the forehead well. However, these points didn't seem to matter, because it stayed in place and didn't squish my glasses on my face and I'm usually wearing the Balaclava anyway. I guess the biggest negative is that it is a visor and since I ride a road bike, if I'm on the drops, I have to make a little more effort to look up, but no big deal.

They work better than I expected.

With regular glasses alone, cool air (below +20 F) easily streamed to my eyes and caused them to tear up even on mildly blustery days. With visorgogs I had virtually no tearing even riding into 15 mph wind. They cover almost all of the eyes, but have a breathing area near the ears and tiny holes in the visor. I  haven't had any fogging up at all of either the visorgogs or my glasses. I pretty much like them and plan on wearing them at least below freezing.

Review By Bob VonMoss

Last Updated 10/16/04 04:13:49 PM