I think it was 12 degrees Fahrenheit when I left the house yesterday morning. I set off for errands: Midwest Mountaineering, grocery store, bank. All told, I biked and shopped for 2.5 hours and returned home in 15 degree weather. Here’s what I was wearing:
On my bike: Bern helmet, windproof fleece balaclava, fleece earband under the balaclava (because sometimes my ears need more protection), fleece-lined softshell jacket, merino wool knit gloves under insulated lobster gloves, wool blend pants (brand is Eddie Bauer, they were a thrift-store score) and my heavy-duty winter boots.
In the store: OK, I didn’t take off my heavy winter boots to shop, I just wore them around the stores. But this is a commuter blog, and if I’d been at the office, some simple black dress shoes would have made this work appropriate.
I’m wearing a midweight merino wool base layer top, a lightweight merino cardigan, the same wool pants, wool long underwear, and Smartwool dress socks.
Was I comfy? Yes, mostly. I was riding my touring bike, not my winter bike, because the roads were dry (my winter bike is much slower and less efficient, so I warm up faster when riding it). The first leg of the trip was about 3.5 miles, and I don’t think my fingers warmed up until mile 3. Subsequent jaunts with the same glove set up were fine because I paused for a few minutes indoors to warm my fingers up inside my gloves before setting out, which makes a difference.
This was my first time trying out these pants in truly cold weather, and I was really happy. They’re not windproof and my legs felt a bit chilly during the first mile, but after that I was perfectly comfortable. They’ll definitely be making it into my winter wardrobe rotation.
This is winter number 3 for doing any winter biking, and winter 2 for biking regularly. I’ve been slowly adding to my bike and wardrobe (as funds permit) and am seeing the payoff in comfort. It’s November 24 and Minneapolis still has dry streets. I’ve got a bike set up and ready to go for when it does get messy out there, but right now I’m enjoying riding in the clear, cold nights.