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Best Clothing for SoCal Winter

Old 11-12-20, 04:54 PM
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mattcalifornia
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Best Clothing for SoCal Winter

Now that the temperatures have cooled off, I need to order some new winter riding clothes, and I'm struggling to figure out what works best. This is my first season back on the outdoor bike in about 15 years, so I'm basically starting over. Yesterday evening, I squeezed into an old Castelli fleece lined jacket/jersey with a very thin base layer t-shirt underneath and I was way too hot on the flats and going up hill (it's also too tight on me now and not that comfy). The ride before that, I wore a regular short-sleeve jersey with a Rapha merino wool base layer and some knit arm warmers, and I was fine going up hill, but really cold coming down hill (it was already dark at that point, so the temp had dropped). I'd also like to order some long-finger gloves that aren't too hot or cold.

Basically, I'm having Goldilocks problems and need some advice. What are you guys wearing?
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Old 11-12-20, 11:06 PM
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basics:

one pair (buy two) of full-length tights
one pair of full finger gloves
one pair of full finger glove liners
insulated skull cap
neck gaiter
lightweight windbreaker/rain jacket that can roll up and fit into a rear jersey pocket
one pair arm warmers
two long sleeve merino wool underliners
one pair (buy two) thick wool socks
one medium/heavy weight (buy two) jerseys

this should keep you warm down to 40f. i love winter jackets but often, the temps warm up too much for heavy jackets so
something that can be put on/removed and folded/rolled up is huge-hence the windbreaker/rain jacket recommendation.
i will usually bring along a cap as well and swap it out with the skull cap once temp rise above 60f. the gloves, glove underliners
and arm warmers can be balled up and rolled up in the skull cap. i'll bring 2-3 broccoli/asparagus rubberbands or hair ties to secure
everything together in a back pocket.
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Old 11-13-20, 10:20 AM
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Maybe it's different for strictly road riding, but "gravel" riding here in Altadena, La Canada, etc--singletrack, some road, lots of fire roads) I've never felt cold enough to warrant a real "winter" jacket. I'd be too hot 10 minutes in, since most of my rides have tough climbs at the get-go. I've tried arm and leg warmers and they always come off shortly into the ride as well. And I still wear shorts most of the winter too, but will sometimes go to pants to break the wind from the legs. I love Showers Pass stuff - the Ridgeline long-sleeve shirt with a packable wind/rain shell (I like my Endura Packajak) is most always plenty warm enough for me here during the day in the winter. If I need more I wear another merino baselayer under that. I start wearing a cycling cap around this time of year, and I do have a warm skull cap that can cover my ears but it also ends up too hot much of the time, so I'm looking to replace that with a merino wool cap that has ear coverage. I wear high merino socks year-round, and full-finger gloves always. Heck, I wear merino briefs under my shorts (gave up chamois some time ago). I guess long story short--merino wool FTW. It somehow seems to regulate your temperature, plus you stay more dry and comfy if you do work up some heat.
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Old 11-13-20, 10:44 AM
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Seems like you’ve mostly got it figured out. Craft makes some glittens that are perfect for your temp range- the mitten foldover is a nice nearly wind proof material.

You probably only need a windshell and a slightly bigger saddlebag to fit it plus your regular spare tube & tools.

Thicker wool socks can be nice, but you may need bigger shoes to fit them. I am definitely not a fan of shoe covers as they often feel like a fifteen mile sprint’s worth of effort to put on and take off.

I haven’t come across any bibs/tights that are actually good in those temps. PI AmFibs are a treat below 45F, and are torture above 55F with any serious effort being put into the pedals.

On days where I climb in the 50-60 range and descend in the 40s I’ll often just dress for 65 and pack long thick socks, the glittens, and a windshell or thicker wool jacket (usually my Surly).
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Old 11-13-20, 12:15 PM
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Originally Posted by hsuBM View Post
Seems like youíve mostly got it figured out. Craft makes some glittens that are perfect for your temp range- the mitten foldover is a nice nearly wind proof material.

You probably only need a windshell and a slightly bigger saddlebag to fit it plus your regular spare tube & tools.

Thicker wool socks can be nice, but you may need bigger shoes to fit them. I am definitely not a fan of shoe covers as they often feel like a fifteen mile sprintís worth of effort to put on and take off.

I havenít come across any bibs/tights that are actually good in those temps. PI AmFibs are a treat below 45F, and are torture above 55F with any serious effort being put into the pedals.

On days where I climb in the 50-60 range and descend in the 40s Iíll often just dress for 65 and pack long thick socks, the glittens, and a windshell or thicker wool jacket (usually my Surly).
Yeah, it's tricky here! Probably easier to navigate clothing in a more decidedly "wintery" part of the country. I dress for 60-65 like you, and sometimes have some chilly descents but c'est la vie. What is the Surly jacket you mention? They currently don't have a jacket shown on their site...
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Old 11-13-20, 01:58 PM
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Windproof shell, warm gloves, and base layers (or arm/leg warmers) are your friends. If doing extended mountain descents like GMR you will find shoe covers and head gear useful
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Old 11-13-20, 02:30 PM
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pbass it’s in the wool section listed as Men’s Long Sleeve Jersey. It’s medium weight so mixed with a thin merino tee underneath I’m good down to 50, thin long sleeve underneath down to 40, and medium merino underneath plus my PI Escape AmFibs down to 30.

The pocket is nearly a half drawstring backpack’s volume. Kinda ridiculous. With the pocket empty it’s actually a kinda dope jacket that can be worn with normal clothes. I really hope they bring back the yellow color they did a few years ago.
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Old 11-13-20, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by hsuBM View Post
pbass itís in the wool section listed as Menís Long Sleeve Jersey. Itís medium weight so mixed with a thin merino tee underneath Iím good down to 50, thin long sleeve underneath down to 40, and medium merino underneath plus my PI Escape AmFibs down to 30.

The pocket is nearly a half drawstring backpackís volume. Kinda ridiculous. With the pocket empty itís actually a kinda dope jacket that can be worn with normal clothes. I really hope they bring back the yellow color they did a few years ago.
That does look good. My Showers Pass Ridgeline shirts are a similar design but they're lightweight merino. I've even worn them in the desert in the spring/fall just to have the sun coverage. I do need something thicker, and I'm sold on merino.
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Old 11-13-20, 08:20 PM
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Thanks. This is pretty helpful. I'd be even more thankful for specific brands/styles that work well in SoCal. Which long-finger gloves are warm enough but not too warm to use from now until spring? Which jackets/jerseys/arm warmers?
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Old 11-14-20, 12:17 AM
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Originally Posted by mattcalifornia View Post
Thanks. This is pretty helpful. I'd be even more thankful for specific brands/styles that work well in SoCal. Which long-finger gloves are warm enough but not too warm to use from now until spring? Which jackets/jerseys/arm warmers?
Some companies like Castelli list temperature ranges for their gloves on their website. As to arm warmers, I just bought the New Balance ones on Amazon and have had good luck using them in lows 60s with some wind.
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Old 11-18-20, 01:54 PM
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I'm a new rider, have started to add SoCal 'winter' clothing for days in the 40-50's. Due to my location I can hit the hills in 5-10min and get really 'hot'. The coldest I remember riding so far was a 55 early morning, in shorts and long sleeve t-shirt. With wind chill, felt really cold for a few minutes, but once I started climbing, all good for the next hour.
Now, I've got a pair of PI leg warmers rated for 35-60 degrees. Plan on adding full gloves and a jacket. Not sure about the jacket: wind blocker with underlayer/s, or something similar to the leg warmers (light fleece lining). Not planning of riding in rain, but maybe a rain jacket would fit the wind blocking too.
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Old 11-18-20, 02:05 PM
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I'm native SoCal but starting to spend more time in Idaho. Last week when there I went out for a ride, it was 35 degrees at the start and got down to 32. I was wearing the following:

1. Regular padded cycling shorts
2. Full length PI tights over the shorts (not padded)
3. Wool socks
4. Long sleeve base layer
5. Long sleeve medium weight jersey
6. Lightweight windproof rain JL Velo rain jacket
7. Insulated skull cap
8. Full finger gloves (PI)

Overall I was pretty comfortable. For this temp range I need to add something that will cover my ears, and maybe a neck gaiter that I can use to cover my face (my face was pretty cold when riding upwind into maybe a 9-10 mph breeze, but fine without when riding downwind).

Conditions were dry for this ride.. Rain and/or fog up the requirements. My same gloves that were fine for this ride were way too thin for descending from Angelus Oaks to Forest Falls in rain/fog/sleet in about 35 degrees a couple years ago. Hope this helps.
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Old 11-18-20, 02:56 PM
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Thicker grade wool hiking socks work better for me in the mountains on cold days. Learned my lesson on GRR last winter. Toes became numb. Not something I want to experience again.
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Old 12-01-20, 11:24 PM
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yah, the removable stuff (arm/knee warmers) and merino underliners/caps/gaiters are huge. as you know, it's pretty easy
to get too warmed up on any number of socal climbs but then need removed items reapplied for the longish (5+ miles) decent.
smallish, collapsible/foldable items are huge and the merino wool is fantastic for still staying warm even when wet with rain/sweat.

merino wool is the cyclist's mithril.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 12-01-20 at 11:29 PM.
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Old 12-02-20, 07:44 PM
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I've started to experiment with different layering options I have available without having to go out and start spending any more money. I have been playing around with a gaiter I have and using it in different configurations i.e. cover my ears etc and it really seems to be working out. This is the first year I've had one. Although it's kind of thin, it does wonders keeping my ears and neck warm and out of the wind.
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Old 12-22-20, 03:23 PM
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Love SoCal winter! Rode last night in shorts, 2 base layers and a jersey.
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Old 12-26-20, 08:54 AM
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For So Cal, the ideal way is to have a change of clothes somewhere during the ride when the sun begins to warm up the air. If riding solo, it would be rather difficult. If riding in a "somewhat" group, then a support car may meet your group somewhere in-between.

Sounds impractical, costly? It works. Oh, you haven't seen how the pro teams do it? But again, they get paid and the team costs are in the millions per year.

This means you think "outside of the box" and figure out how it can work.

Just saying.
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Old 12-26-20, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Garfield Cat View Post
For So Cal, the ideal way is to have a change of clothes somewhere during the ride when the sun begins to warm up the air. If riding solo, it would be rather difficult. If riding in a "somewhat" group, then a support car may meet your group somewhere in-between.

Sounds impractical, costly? It works. Oh, you haven't seen how the pro teams do it? But again, they get paid and the team costs are in the millions per year.

This means you think "outside of the box" and figure out how it can work.

Just saying.
If you can ride loops near home or your vehicle, that is easily doable and I have done it to ride a little lighter and swap to a dry baselayer and jersey.
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