Well hot dang, it’s 32 degrees outside right now. At this same time a few days ago it was above 60 degrees. Perhaps we’ll see another few days of warmth before the full winter sets in, but based on the 10-day forecast I’m not counting on it. Between the cold and the darker mornings, I figured it was time to get a good biking jacket that would not only keep me warm, but make me a bit more visible as well.
I didn’t bike outside through the last winter, but I did during the winter before that. When it was in the low 30s I would wear the following:
- Waterproof/windproof biking tights (can’t remember the brand offhand)
- Biking shorts
- Specialized toe covers
- Thick socks
- Nike polyester turtleneck long sleeve shirt
- Specialized biking windbreaker (all black with some small reflective areas, no insulation)
- Face/head thing that only exposed my eyes–no insulation, just a windbreaker
Although this outfit had virtually no insulation, I stayed warm enough to do 2-3 hour long rides in 33-38 degree weather. I don’t like biking in sub-freezing weather mostly because I’m afraid of ice on the roads, especially a thin layer of ice dust that might be invisible to the eye but be slippery just the same.
The problem with the above outfit was that it was virtually all black, even accounting for the reflective areas on the windbreaker. It just isn’t the safest outfit to wear in low-light conditions, such as early winter mornings.
I had seen people biking with bright yellow fluorescent clothing on, so when I saw the Louis Garneau Gemini 2 Cycling Jacket at PowerTri (not on the website at the moment, but it’s in the retail store and you can call them to order it) I thought that was it. After trying it on I was sold. The jacket fits me perfectly (a little tight, but I’m losing a few lbs per month at the moment so I’ll shrink into it), and the best thing is that as you bend forward into an aero position on your bike the jacket doesn’t hamper you or get bunched up anywhere. The elbows and shoulders flex and stretch such that you almost don’t feel it at all.
One note: The yellow on the jacket is indeed fluorescent yellow although it doesn’t look like it on the image that Amazon.com has.
The other nice thing about the jacket is that it does have some insulation. Although I said I was plenty warm in my windbreaker with a polyester undershirt, I only mean that I could maintain my body temperature above the range of going into hypothermia, and that nothing went numb. But whenever I would get home my chest and stomach would be bright red from the cold, and if you touched my skin it felt like ice. I myself didn’t feel cold, but my skin was definitely being exposed to a lot of cold. The Louis Garneau jacket has insulation so I’m hoping to avoid some of that cold exposure. Maybe only after using it through this winter will I know what I was missing out on.
The other nice thing is that the jacket appears to breathe really well, which is great because of course you don’t want to get a ton of sweat buildup in your clothing when the temperatures are close to freezing.
The one area of improvement I have noticed is that there isn’t much yellow or white on the back of the jacket. There’s quite a bit more than on my all-black Specialized windbreaker, but it would be nice to have more yellow on the back, perhaps with some more reflective strips or something to make the rider more visible.