Living in the northeast as a cyclist means a solid part of your year is spent riding in cold and wet conditions. Over the years the offerings of cycling apparel geared towards tackling cold weather riding conditions has grown and improved tremendously. No longer are we piling on 4 and 5 pieces to our upper body to battle the cold winter rides. Materials and layers have been refined to allow minimal layers while resulting in ultimate protection against the weather, whatever it may be. Here are two pieces from Pactimo that help you take on the cold weather this season.
Thermoregulator L/S Base Layer
Preparing for cold weather riding is not so different from preparing for the upcoming racing season: each requires a solid base. You wouldn’t head straight into the heat of racing or a big weekend century ride without proper base training, and you should not head out into the cold weather without a proper base layer.
In my opinion, a base layer should do two things, insulate and wick sweat from the body. The Thermoregulator does both of these things well. I will admit that my go-to base layer of choice is merino wool. In the past, I have tried several different synthetic layers for cold weather riding but always found myself overheating and soaked with sweat. The Dryarn material that the Thermoregulator is constructed from has the elasticity and form fit of a synthetic garment but the comfort and breathability I have found with merino.
In combination with a softshell outer layer, I headed out in temperatures well below freezing to see just how well the Thermoregulator would perform. Like most base layers, it takes generating a little body heat to feel warm in the cold air. As I headed up a steep road climb to our local trails, the initial chill of the air fell off and I was immediately comfortable.
I chose to ride in the woods with these garments because I struggle to find the right combo of gear moving at slower speeds amongst the trees. In the past, I have had trouble overheating in the first 30-40 minutes of mountain bike rides in the snow and cold. Normally my fault is dressing the same as I would for riding on the road and compensating for the self-made windchill temperatures.
After an hour or so of steady riding in the Thermoregulator, I was still quite comfortable. It did a great job of wicking sweat away and in combination with the ventilation zippers on my jacket, I never felt like I was overheating throughout the duration of the ride. The Pactimo Thermoregulator will definitely be finding a regular rotation in my cold weather kit.
Vertex RT-WX-D bibtights
The Pactimo Vertex RT WX-D bibtights are the brand’s top of the line bibtights. Designed to battle the harshest riding conditions, the bibs are constructed with Zenith thermal fabrics on the front of the legs, which is said to be water and wind resistant. While I did not encounter wet conditions, it was plenty windy and cold and this fabric did a great job keeping the cold away from my skin. While these bibtights are plenty warm for most long winter rides, I would have liked to have had some of the Zenith fabric extended to the front of the upper thigh and hip area on the tights.
The Plastotex reflective fabric is a nice touch for those who spend time logging in road miles. Winter around these parts leads to some pretty grey days, so any increased visibility is welcomed.
My one critique of the Vertex bibtights is that they come with a chamois. Don’t get me wrong, the Cytech Chamois is plenty comfortable, however, I found that the bibtights seemed to drop a bit and I would have to readjust the legs to keep the chamois from pulling away from my body. On a personal note, I generally prefer bib tights without a chamois for the simple fact that I can wear them a few times paired with bib shorts underneath before washing them.
My overall thoughts on the Vertex bib tight is that they are a worthy choice for riding in harsh winter conditions. My lower body remained warm for the duration of my ride and if offered in a model without a chamois, I may have just found my new go to winter riding tights.
We still have 1-2 more months of winter in the northern states. My dad resides in Yuma, Arizona and would call 40°’s winter, but whatever your cold tolerance is, baselayers can be a key component to enjoying the outdoors. Baselayers need to wick away moisture in cold temperatures and should be lightweight and fit snugly against your skin but not restrict movement.
Sizes available: XS-XXL (MD reviewed)
The Garneau Drytex 2004 Women’s Pants are lightweight with a 4-way stretchable peach skin fabric. What the heck is peach skin fabric?! The fabric has a fuzzy texture like the skin of a peach. The bottoms are moisture wicking, have an antibacterial treatment and feature a few reflective stripes.
The 1.5 inch elastic waistband is designed to stay up while being active. I’ll admit to having become a little schluppy this winter and found the elastic to be very snug and definitely not going anywhere. No matter if I was biking, jogging or hiking, under a mid-layer or under an outer layer, these did not fail me in warmth.
I like everything I own to be multi-useful. With base layers, I want to be able to wear mine as tights under a dress for quick changing after an activity or sleep in them if it’s too cold (or I am too lazy to change). They were almost to warm to sleep in, which isn’t a bad thing if I was camping in the cold. With the large branding on the lower right leg, I had to bust out the tall boots to make them work off the bike, but that also isn’t a deal breaker.
After 8 weeks of use and washing, the material has started to pill in the token wear spots: knees and arse. But there are no tears, no sweat sag and no reduction in warmth. They are high quality for a baselayer legging at $40. The Drytex 2004 pants are available in men’s and women’s cut and Garneau gets bonus points for going up to a XXL in both.
Sizes available: XS-L (MD reviewed)
This long sleeve baselayer is a Merino Wool and Polyester blend with moisture-wicking qualities. The material percent distribution varies throughout the top, with a micro-waffle type construction to help wick away those notorious sweat areas: back and under the arms. There is a more stretchable Lycra material along the back of the arm to the elbow for handlebar reaching without feeling like you are about to hulk out the back of your top.
There are thumb loops that are a simple stretchy loop with a 1/4 inch width that looks like it could be uncomfortable but felt fine even when wearing 3 layers of clothes. Pearl Izumi has this long sleeve baselayer rated at 20°-40° temperature and the top performed well in these temps. Even in the mid-teens, I was never concerned about my body temperature while being active. As a higher end baselayer top priced at $90, it got the job done well and looks and feels like it will last a few years of steady wear.