The Chainlink

I post this every fall. This chart enables me to dress appropriately for the ups and downs of Chicago's weather. It tells me by every five degrees what to wear on each portion of my body. Feel free to copy.

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Would you mind expanding on what some of the items are, generically speaking, so I can try to work out what I might wear out of my closet?

How do you deal with wind chill?

I subtract 5° for a steady headwind and 10° for a really strong headwind. I add 5° for a bright sunny day.

Douglas - thanks for asking.

This was meant for you to fill in your own, but here goes, from left to right.

I have two knit caps, a thin green one and a thicker black one. They are a good base layer when adding a balaclava.

G-Tex = Goretex or an equivalent breathable material. I have 5 different balaclavas that are different thicknesses, including a thin Goretex one.

LST = Long Sleve T-Shirt, and I have them in light and medium thicknesses that I can layer and layer.

I have two jackets, a breathable rain jacket (light green) and a thicker (1/8") Marmot jacket that is my go-to outer layer from 45° and down.

QD = Quick Dry pants. These are cheap, loose and baggy but dry quickly. They have an outer layer and an inner mesh layer.

Wick = Wicking tights. I have light, medium and heavy  (L/H).

Ski = ski pants that are well insulated.

Neo = Neosock which are breathable neoprene socks (amzingly waterproof and warm).

eSoles are electric insoles that stay warm for a coulple of hours. Expensive.

Shoes go from light to heavy. I take a Corel boot liner out of its boot and insert it into yellow plastic rain boots.

I have electric gloves and electric mittens (expensive) to keep my hands warm, but each needs a liner glove for best results.

For 20s and below I use ski goggles.

I bicycle five or six days per week, 52 weeks per year and have never missed a commute due to weather ... even in polar vortex weather of a few years ago. The worst I have ridden in is -12 with a 15 mph wind in my face, but I prefer that to 33° and rain.

I am a baby boomer, so if I can do year-round riding, you young whipper-snappers can, too. It is all in the layering. If it is on the outside, it should be Goretex-like. If it touches your skin, it should wick perspiration. The rest is just adding layers in between.

Happy winter riding.

I'll share my chart. It isn't tight as yours (I just made it, needs work), but I've been pretty comfortable for my four years of year round commuting in Chicago.

Very nice.

I find with cold weather it all depends on how cold and how long you're outside. If it's in the low 20s I can only ride so long before my hands and feet get cold and I have to go inside to warm up and then resume my ride. If it's in the mid-teens, it's a shorter time before I feel cold.

If it's really cold, near zero, I say the hell with it and ride to the train. And when it's super cold, like -13, I go straight to the nearest bus stop. That time it was -14 I went to the bus stop but the bus didn't show, and after 10 minutes waiting I had to ride to the nearest store (Wal-Mart) because I was freezing!

I ride all the time, year round, but I don't have anything to prove to anybody. Sometimes it's just too damn cold, and not worth it.

I'm a bit lucky in that I only have 2 miles to bike each way. I have a single cap, single balaclava, light and medium weight gloves, breathable vest, breathable lightweight jacket, rain shell, and winter jacket.

Most of the year I wear my casual work shoes, but I have a mid-height casual boot for the winter months.

My casual khaki pants work fine for most of the year, but I have a pair of rainpants that I can throw over them when it's extremely cold and/or wet.

The combination of the various pieces works throughout the year. I have been trying to find a breathable rain shell and winter jacket/shell in safety yellow, but I haven't had any luck so far. It seems that fat guys don't ride bikes. The few manufacturers that make 2XL+ sizes are always out of stock.

Each leg of my commute is 5 miles, but I ride pretty hard which keeps me warm.

Anything over 50, I just wear shorts and a jersey.

30s and 40s, I'll add a base layer under my shorts and jersey, plus gloves with fingers.

Under 30 = warmer gloves, pants, jacket, and ear protection.

Sub-zero, I'll add more layers and a balaclava, but fortunately we don't get too many days like that.

This is fantastic.  I need to do something like it because every winter I have to remember what to wear in each temperature range/weather condition.  Like if I ride to work tonight, do I need to wear the winter boots to prevent frostbite on my toes?  I don't remember what the temperature was last year when that happened....


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