Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Winter Cycling
Reload this Page >

Keeping arms/legs warm to keep hands/feet warm

Notices
Winter Cycling Don't let snow and ice discourage you this winter. The key element to year-round cycling is proper attire! Check out this winter cycling forum to chat with other ice bike fanatics.

Keeping arms/legs warm to keep hands/feet warm

Old 01-08-22, 09:27 PM
  #1  
scottfsmith
I like bike
Thread Starter
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 433

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 194 Times in 125 Posts
Keeping arms/legs warm to keep hands/feet warm

I take a hot shower after every winter road ride and it is pretty easy to notice what got cold on the ride: it hurts so good when the hot water hits those spots!

Anyway .. using the shower test I have been noticing that my arms and legs are surprisingly cold after winter rides. My hands and feet can have problems freezing, and I now think the cold arms/legs are a big part of the problem. So, I am more thinking that I need to put more coverage on the arms/legs. I did an experiment recently where I added arm warmers over my jacket, and my hands didn't freeze. I never did that before, arm warmers I would only put on bare arms with a short-sleeve top. Today I put on my Rapha Deep Winter socks and pulled them all the way up to my knees. My toes were warm the whole ride today. I didn't have the arm warmers on though, and my fingers got a bit cold. My core was a bit on the warm side, my cellphone was dripping when I pulled it out after the ride.

What I am generally wondering is it seems like the standard winter road bike outfits are not putting enough warmth on the arms/legs? And maybe some compensation for that is needed? My winter gear is mainly Castelli stuff, for down to about 20F (we rarely get colder than that). I am wondering if it would be worth it to get some larger size arm warmers I could regularly put over my jacket. Also on really cold days I might want to put some big leg warmers over my tights? If I just put more full layers on my core is going to be roasting while my limbs are freezing.
scottfsmith is offline  
Likes For scottfsmith:
Old 01-09-22, 08:47 PM
  #2  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 27,242

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r, Trek FX Alpha 7.0

Mentioned: 106 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4512 Post(s)
Liked 2,121 Times in 1,449 Posts
interesting plan
rumrunn6 is offline  
Old 01-09-22, 08:58 PM
  #3  
rm -rf
don't try this at home.
 
rm -rf's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: N. KY
Posts: 5,485
Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 806 Post(s)
Liked 199 Times in 151 Posts
Unlined tights
I have unlined tights that I wear over bike shorts. I have a very thin Pearl Izumi one, and a medium weight PI with a fuzzy lining and ankle zips.
For me,
Approx low 50s to even 65F: The thin tights are fine. Perfect in mid to upper 50s, tolerable for this 50F to 65F range.
Approx low 40s to low 50s: I use the medium tights. Good.
In the low 30s, where I rarely ride: I tried the thin tights over the mediums. It worked! Not too bulky and much warmer.

~~~
Layering!
I have two Patagonia base layer long sleeve shirts. It's extremely thin fabric, which doesn't seem that it could much at all. Way thinner than t-shirt material, for instance.
But wearing both of these under a short sleeve jersey, I'm warm in the low 50s. A single base layer is great for upper 50s to 70F, it's so breathable.
Stacking layers multiplies the wind blocking effects. It's way more than 2x of a single layer. I assume the wind is slowed way down through the first layer, so then the second layer has very slow airflow through.

The two thin layers under a wind shell jacket is very nice at 40F to 55F.

~~~
Convertible jacket
The wind shell is also PI. The sleeves are connected by a shoulder yoke, and zip off to make a nice vest. They pack into the rear pocket of the vest.
So when it warms way up during a ride, I can switch to a vest, or even leave the sleeves at home. (A local rider will sometimes pull the sleeves on without zipping into the vest, so they are instantly removable! Yeah.

The big advantage of this jacket+sleeves is the huge mesh vent under the sleeve yoke, across the top of my back. So on climbs, I can unzip the front zipper most of the way and get a giant airflow from front to back. Much less overheating now.

Last edited by rm -rf; 01-09-22 at 09:02 PM.
rm -rf is offline  
Old 01-10-22, 11:20 AM
  #4  
scottfsmith
I like bike
Thread Starter
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 433

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 194 Times in 125 Posts
What you are describing is not too different from my own layering setup. The problem with generic layering for me is the core relatively gets too warm compared to the arms&legs. For that reason I never use vests, and I also never use short-sleeve under layers unless it is under a short-sleeve top.

One thing I like that you mention is unzipping on the climbs. I have been doing more of that but not always and not most of the way down. It helps balance the core vs extremities temperatures, you can overall dress a bit warmer that way which means more layers on the arms and legs as well.

Honestly what I really would like is a jacket and tights manufactured with doubled insulation in the arms and legs areas only. Then I would be more balanced temperature-wise.
scottfsmith is offline  
Old 01-10-22, 11:33 AM
  #5  
zandoval 
Senior Member
 
zandoval's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Bastrop Texas
Posts: 3,027

Bikes: Univega, Peu P6, Peu PR-10, Ted Williams, Peu UO-8, Peu UO-18 Mixte, Peu Dolomites

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 415 Post(s)
Liked 592 Times in 406 Posts
I'm one of those people who can't ride in the cold but I did see a few bicycle riders in Denver using Snow Machine suites for warmth. They looked over stuffed and hard to move in but all of them had a smile...
__________________
No matter where your at... There you are... Δf:=f(1/2)-f(-1/2)
zandoval is offline  
Old 01-10-22, 01:19 PM
  #6  
MinnMan
Senior Member
 
MinnMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 4,922

Bikes: 2020 Salsa Warbird GRX 600, 2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX disc 9.0 Di2, 2020 Catrike Eola, 2016 Masi cxgr, 2011, Felt F3 Ltd, 2010 Trek 2.1, 2009 KHS Flite 220

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3424 Post(s)
Liked 2,378 Times in 1,444 Posts
Generally I don't worry much about arms and legs. If hands and feet are cold, addressing those with proper gloves/footwear/socks is the first line of defense. And as is true generally, making sure you're wearing the right headwear. After that it would be good nutrition and making sure I'm putting out enough energy. Legs and arms would be after all of those things.

In winter riding, there's a fine line between working hard enough to stay warm and overdoing it so that sweat becomes your enemy. There have been lots of times when my hands were cold and then we hit some hills and put down some energy to get over them with some spirit, and then my hands aren't cold anymore.

Probably there are fewer hills in Maryland than in Minnesota, but you get the idea.
MinnMan is offline  
Old 01-10-22, 02:02 PM
  #7  
rumrunn6
Senior Member
 
rumrunn6's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 25 miles northwest of Boston
Posts: 27,242

Bikes: Bottecchia Sprint, GT Timberline 29r, Trek FX Alpha 7.0

Mentioned: 106 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4512 Post(s)
Liked 2,121 Times in 1,449 Posts
fwiw - I'm a big fan of zip-necks & pit-zips
rumrunn6 is offline  
Old 01-10-22, 03:44 PM
  #8  
scottfsmith
I like bike
Thread Starter
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 433

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 194 Times in 125 Posts
Today the weather was very similar to my previous ride which I mentioned above (both around 30F); as an experiment I wore an identical outfit except I had a less warm jacket but with arm warmers on top. This is to achieve the goal of more warmth on extremities compared to core. I kept the jacket zipped up the whole time since my core was not overheating. My fingers were warmer, only one finger was cold as opposed to many last time. So, it seems like a bit more data in favor of putting relatively more warmth on the arms/legs.

Originally Posted by MinnMan View Post
Probably there are fewer hills in Maryland than in Minnesota, but you get the idea.
My impression is Minnesota is a pancake compared to Maryland. Maybe I am mixing it up with all the flat states around it though. My rides have about 100 ft elevation gain per mile on average: 25 mile ride, 2500ft elevation gain kind of thing.
scottfsmith is offline  
Old 01-10-22, 03:50 PM
  #9  
MinnMan
Senior Member
 
MinnMan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 4,922

Bikes: 2020 Salsa Warbird GRX 600, 2020 Canyon Ultimate CF SLX disc 9.0 Di2, 2020 Catrike Eola, 2016 Masi cxgr, 2011, Felt F3 Ltd, 2010 Trek 2.1, 2009 KHS Flite 220

Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3424 Post(s)
Liked 2,378 Times in 1,444 Posts
Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
Today the weather was very similar to my previous ride which I mentioned above (both around 30F); as an experiment I wore an identical outfit except I had a less warm jacket but with arm warmers on top. This is to achieve the goal of more warmth on extremities compared to core. I kept the jacket zipped up the whole time since my core was not overheating. My fingers were warmer, only one finger was cold as opposed to many last time. So, it seems like a bit more data in favor of putting relatively more warmth on the arms/legs.



My impression is Minnesota is a pancake compared to Maryland. Maybe I am mixing it up with all the flat states around it though. My rides have about 100 ft elevation gain per mile on average: 25 mile ride, 2500ft elevation gain kind of thing.
100 ft/mile is pretty hilly, for sure. There are parts of Minnesota that are quite flat, but many parts have plenty of hills. But more like 50 ft/mile. To get 100 ft/mile, you have to go to the driftless area of Wisconsin, an hour or two away from the Twin Cities.

anyway, we digress. Churning out the energy, climbing or otherwise, helps keep the hands warm.

Also - wind. If you don't have bar mitts or very wind-proof gloves, then air speed has a significant effect on hand comfort.

The core is seldom an issue. And though I don't discount your experience, in my experience, arms and legs are not a concern and have little effect on whether my hands/feet are cold.
MinnMan is offline  
Old 01-10-22, 04:20 PM
  #10  
scottfsmith
I like bike
Thread Starter
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 433

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 194 Times in 125 Posts
I have spent many years focusing on my hands and feet and not on my arms/legs, and the entire clothing industry also has a similar focus. So, I'm not really expecting a lot of appreciation for what I am talking about.

Let me try a couple more points though.
  • There is a gradient of temperature from core (warm) to fingertips (cold). The warmer the stuff in the middle, the warmer the blood will be when it finally reaches the finger tips. It is similar to a furnace duct, the furthest ducts will be much cooler due to temperature losses along the way. Some people insulate their furnace ducts for this reason. I am just applying this principle for the human body .. raise the arms/leg temps by 5 degrees and you will get several degrees warmer in the fingers as well.
  • The arms and legs are not "complaining" so people don't generally think they need more insulation. Fingers and toes scream pain when they get cold so there is big motivation to protect them.
  • Yes you can keep piling on more core layers, but at some point the core starts complaining it is too hot... even when the extremities are far too cold. It seems odd that the core does this, but it is part of our instinctual temperature adaptions which focus blood to the core in cold weather. So, adding more core layers is not the answer. Adding more to hands/feet of course will help, but it gets harder as it gets colder. It might be worth adding more insulation to arms/legs in place of one more increment on the hands/feet.
scottfsmith is offline  
Old 01-12-22, 11:59 PM
  #11  
cjenrick
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2020
Posts: 409
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 177 Post(s)
Liked 127 Times in 94 Posts
i got a sewing machine so as to experiment with different clothing,

one thing i did was use different material for the arms , in this case cotton sleeves with the rest of the jersey being wool.

works pretty good, i see no reason why you could not reverse this and use wool for the arms and maybe poly for the rest,
cjenrick is offline  
Likes For cjenrick:
Old 01-13-22, 07:33 AM
  #12  
scottfsmith
I like bike
Thread Starter
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 433

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 194 Times in 125 Posts
Cool I didn't think of that. We have a sewing machine which I vaguely know how to use.

My current plan is I ordered some wool arm warmers sold by DeFeet (these guys), they are designed to go under your jacket. I also realized I could wear my existing arm warmers under my jacket instead of over, they are a bit too tight over. So, on the next cold ride my plan is to have my wool long-sleeve underwear, then these DeFeet guys (or perhaps the other way around depending on how tight things are), then my Pearl Izumi arm warmers and finally a jacket over that.

It is not so hard to put on the arm warmers but to speed it up I could in theory sew them in place.

My legs (and feet) have been very warm with my knee-length socks, but I also have a non-padded pair of insulated tights which I could put on over my padded tights for even colder days. Tights don't add much to the core so no overheating issues there.
scottfsmith is offline  
Old 02-08-22, 08:50 AM
  #13  
scottfsmith
I like bike
Thread Starter
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 433

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 194 Times in 125 Posts
Originally Posted by scottfsmith View Post
My current plan is I ordered some wool arm warmers sold by DeFeet (these guys), they are designed to go under your jacket. I also realized I could wear my existing arm warmers under my jacket instead of over, they are a bit too tight over. So, on the next cold ride my plan is to have my wool long-sleeve underwear, then these DeFeet guys (or perhaps the other way around depending on how tight things are), then my Pearl Izumi arm warmers and finally a jacket over that.
Following up here in case anyone is interested.. The DeFeet arm warmers I am liking a lot, with them I feel like I have a very good "balance" of layers in terms of not too hot or cold anywhere. I have been adding them when it is below 35F or so. Note they also add to overall warmth and seem to be comparable to a light short-sleeve underlayer so overall layers need to be balanced with that in mind. So far I have used only them (single layer of arm warmers, not two) down to about 25F, but for even colder I might put my Pearl Izumi arm warmers over them. The only downside is the DeFeet are wool and are a bit itchy (they are the bottom layer, they are more snug than my wool long underwear layer). I am fine with it though and wool softens over time so should keep getting less noticeable.

In terms of how my hands are doing, with only gloves I am fine for several hours down to 25F. I am not biking at colder than that, we almost never have a day when the high is below 25F and I pick the warmest part of the day for winter rides.
scottfsmith is offline  
Old 03-01-22, 05:29 PM
  #14  
gecho
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Canada
Posts: 1,425

Bikes: 2009 Trek 520

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 124 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 91 Times in 75 Posts
No matter what I do I usually end up cold later in a ride. I think a big contributor is that my base layer and gloves get wet accelerating heat transfer. For my hands I can turn on my heated gloves. That's been working so well I'm very tempted to get a heated vest to boost my core temp. My body temp crashes about 15 minutes after I stop riding in the winter. That causes problems if there is a post ride social, so I tend not to stick around for them. It also discourages me from winter rides where I need to drive to the starting point.
gecho is offline  
Old 03-01-22, 08:46 PM
  #15  
scottfsmith
I like bike
Thread Starter
 
scottfsmith's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2021
Location: Merry Land USA
Posts: 433

Bikes: Roubaix Comp 2020

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 175 Post(s)
Liked 194 Times in 125 Posts
When I have a ride like that I just add an additional layer on the next ride at the same temp. If anything besides finger and toe tips are too cold I just need more layers.

The base layers always will get a bit wet, not much that can be done about that other than making sure they are nice wicking ones. I use the woolen Flanders Warm with Turtle by Castelli when it is below freezing. The turtle helps keep heat from escaping at the neck.

Some people are just more prone to cold or more prone to sweating or both so you could well have an innate disadvantage. HotHands makes a chemical body warmer which could be a cheap way to test if a battery vest would be worth it. I generally avoid those chemical warmers but are good for one-offs every now and then.
scottfsmith is offline  
Old 03-02-22, 07:47 PM
  #16  
sweeks
Senior Member
 
sweeks's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Chicago area
Posts: 2,011

Bikes: Airborne "Carpe Diem", Motobecane "Mirage", Trek 6000, Strida 2, Dahon "Helios XL", Dahon "Mu XL", Tern "Verge S11i"

Mentioned: 21 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 770 Post(s)
Liked 326 Times in 236 Posts
I find that my hands and feet stay warmer if they are not stuffed into tight clothing. It's tempting to put on two pairs of socks, for example, but if the pressure cuts down on the flow of warm blood, the feet will be cold. Same for the fingers. Loose is better.
sweeks is offline  
Old 03-04-22, 07:29 AM
  #17  
sloppy12
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2020
Posts: 480
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 166 Post(s)
Liked 247 Times in 145 Posts
I have came to the conclusion this discussion is just like recommending saddles its just to full of variables.

When its cold here like single digit cold and teens I insulate the core heavy and try and keep the pace up. I try and stick with wool for base layers below 20. once its like 25 in above I start shedding layers pretty quick and just keep the pace up.
sloppy12 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.