When selecting a cycling jacket, you should consider the following aspects: warmth and dryness. The jacket you select for winter riding in Chicago will probably be different than the one you'd use for spring. Also take into consideration that you'll warm up from exertion during your ride. Cycling jackets that offer maximum warmth will protect you against the wind and offer insulation mostly in the front and arms.If you're looking for a light spring cycling jacket, check to see if it's waterproof for those sudden April showers. These provide a longer back to protect you from puddle splashes and some offer an oversized hood that fits over a helmet. Some cycling jackets offer wind resistance as well to keep you warm and dry on a long, wet ride. These are also lightweight and are easy to stow in a pocket or pack when not in use. Some cycling jackets can be converted into a vest via zip-off sleeves. These are suitable for year-round use.
LAYERING YOUR CYCLING CLOTHES
Layering your cycling apparel keeps your core body temperature consistent as you ride. Being too warm is just as bad as being too cold because your body wastes energy trying to regulate itself, energy you need for the ride.There are three traditional components of layering, each one with a purpose. Depending on the weather and your comfort, you can simply add or subtract layers as needed.
Base layer: Wicks away moisture from skin to keep you dry
Middle Layer: Insulates from the cold to keep you warm
Outer Layer: Creates a weatherproof shell to shield you from the elements
It's easy to think of these layers like the layers of a house: you have your drywall, your insulation, and the exterior. Each layer works to protect you from the elements so you can live comfortably.
Base Layer - Moisture Management
This is the layer next to your skin. It helps regulate your body temperature by moving perspiration away from your skin. Keeping dry helps to maintain a cool body temperature in the summer and avoid hypothermia in the winter. If you've ever worn a cotton T-shirt during a workout, you probably remember feeling wet and clammy. Cotton is a fabric that retains perspiration and can leave you chilled. For outdoor comfort, your base layer should be made of merino wool or synthetic fabrics (polyesters such as CoolMax or WickAway). Rather than absorbing moisture, these fabrics transport (or "wick") perspiration away from your skin, so you stay drier even when you sweat, and your shirt dries faster afterwards. A base layer can be any set of tops and bottoms, from long underwear to tights and jerseys. Choose the weight that best matches your activity and the outdoor temperature.
Middle Layer - Insulation
This insulating layer helps you retain heat by trapping air close to your body. Natural fibers such as wool and goose down are excellent insulators. Merino wool sweaters and shirts offer soft, reliable warmth and keep on insulating even when wet. For very cold and dry conditions, goose down is best. It offers an unbeatable warmth-to-weight ratio and is highly compressible. Down's main drawback is that it must be kept dry to maintain its insulating ability.
Outer Layer - Weather Protection
Just like how a turtle's shell shields it from the weather, an outer layer protects you from wind, rain, or snow. These can range from pricey mountaineering jackets to simple windproof jackets. Most are treated with a durable water repellent (DWR) finish to make water bead up and roll off the fabric.
TYPES OF INSULATION
This key element of your jacket determines how well it retains warmth and handles wet conditions, as well as how small it will pack. Weight and compressibility are important for any activity where you’ll be carrying the jacket. Also take into consideration how strenuous the workout will be so you do not overheat.
Considered nature's best insulator, these little feathers from ducks and geese provide the most warmth for the least weight and bulk, as long as they don’t get wet. The main benefits of down are the fact that it is ultralight, ultrawarm and ultrapackable. On the other hand, it won’t insulate when damp and dries slowly. Some jackets may include a polymer-treated down to help with water resistance and keep its light weight, but it can be pricey and performance is still less than synthetics.
All synthetics use some form of compressible water-repellent fibers. Note that “puffiness” is not indicative of synthetic jacket warmth—superfine fibers in the insulation can create slim-yet-warm jackets. The main benefits of synthetic insulation are that it performs when damp, dries fast, and is usually more moderately priced than down. However, it’s a little heavier, less packable than down, and a little less durable.
This approach offers a mix of the performance benefits of each type of insulation. Some designs blend the down and synthetic fills together and use that blend throughout the jacket. Some designs put down in some areas, like the core, and synthetics in other areas, like the arms or sides.
A few brands combine wool with a synthetic material to create sheets of insulating fill. Jackets that use this blend benefit from wool’s ability to insulate when damp and its resistance to odor, making it perfect for strenuous workouts.
Hoods, adjustments, vents, pockets, and special features like a splash tail can all affect comfort and convenience. This is all based on personal preference and your cycling needs.
Some designs have an integrated midlayer and outer shell that zip together or attach via a few tabs. What makes this setup great is that it allows you to wear the midlayer alone, the outer shell alone, or both pieces together. Other design options include zip-off sleeves to reveal a short sleeve jacket for warmer days.
Waterproof Construction Because water can impair insulation performance, the outer shell of an insulated jacket is usually water resistant. Some insulated shells go further, having a waterproof/breathable exterior fabric, along with taped seams.
People who prefer a hoodless jacket like the weight it saves and its packable size. They simply take a winter cap along for colder conditions. Some hoods are detachable or will zip inside the collar. A few hoods are insulated for added warmth. If you’re a cyclist, you need a “helmet compatible” hood to ensure it’s big enough to fit over a helmet.
Hood adjusters are usually on the sides, with another in back. Some hoods use elasticized trim instead to create a sleek, though less precise fit.
Drawcord: Typically at the bottom hem, it blocks wind and cold air. Some jackets have the drawcord at the waist instead.
Front zipper: Most have a zipper garage on top or a storm flap in front. Some jackets save weight by having a water-resistant zipper instead.
Cuffs: Most have Velcro tabs that make it easy to adjust wrist fit, sealing out wind and cold air. Some jackets use an elasticized trim instead.
Having more pockets offers more storage, but it also adds weight and bulk, and ups the price of the jacket. Zip, snap or Velcro closures offer more secure storage, though an open pocket offers fast access.
Zippered Pockets: For added security, this function may include a larger zipper pull, especially if it's for a rear pocket, to make it easy to use with one hand.
Music Media Pockets: Found more often in urban jackets, these have a port inside for routing headphone jackets cords.
Drop-in pockets: Handy for quickly stashing a hat, gels, or gloves, these large open pockets can be inside the jacket or on the rear. They can also use an elastic hem to keep your belongings more secure.
Though found primarily on rain jackets, a few jackets also include underarm vents and/or core vents that are handy when your exertion level rises.
“Body-Mapped” Design A growing trend is to vary the insulation and shell material based on where it sits on your body, developing a more anatomical approach. Stretch side panels, less bulky insulation on the sides, waterproof upper surfaces and windproof front panels are just a few examples of this kind of adaptation. The benefit is more refined performance for an intended activity.
RAIN GEAR DEFINITIONS
Any jacket offers some level of water and wind resistance. Understanding terminology will help you determine what degree of protection a specific jacket has and what you need.
Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant
Waterproof/breathable: This type of performance apparel keeps heavy rain from getting through to your skin, while also moving sweat back through to the surface. If you’re planning any activity that gets limbs and lungs pumping, this is your kind of gear because both precipitation and perspiration can soak you.
Water-resistant: Also breathable, this is gear that can handle light rain for a brief time, like windbreakers and featherweight jackets, for example.
Windproof vs. Wind-ResistantWindproof: Any waterproof jacket is also windproof. That makes sense when you consider that a barrier designed to block driving rain would also block the wind that’s pushing it. You will also find jackets with windproof technology, typically some type of laminate, that are only considered water-resistant.
Wind-resistant: Essentially the same as a water-resistant jacket, this is often an ultralight garment that easily stuffs into a pocket. Made for short trips and optimistic forecasts, it won’t offer much protection in a full-fledged storm.
Durable water repellent (DWR)
Most outerwear, including all waterproof/breathable rainwear, use an added durable water repellent (DWR) finish. The purpose of this type of finish is to allow the outer fabric to shed water, prevent saturation, and keep water from sitting on top. This leaves the jacket to remain light, instead of waterlogged. When a jacket’s outer fabric is “water repellent,” this means that the water beads up and rolls off the garment. Note that this isn’t the same as a fabric being “water-resistant,” which is an overall assessment of its ability to prevent water penetration. DWRs do not inhibit breathability because they do not coat the fabric surface. Rather, they bond to the fibers and do not fill in the spaces between those fibers.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF YOUR RAIN GEAROften overlooked after purchase, maintenance of the DWR finish is critical if you want your high-tech jacket to keep working its magic. When the DWR wears off, a jacket’s surface fabric can get wet. Its performance can diminish with use, due to dirt, oils and abrasion. Such things reduce the surface tension and allow water droplets to flatten, spread out and penetrate the textile. The underlying membrane or coating may still keep water out, but the soaked surface fabric slows the movement of sweat vapor to the outside. The clammy lining might even cling to your skin, making it feel as though the jacket is leaking. Regular laundering and a brief spin in a clothes dryer for about 10 to 15 minutes at medium heat (Do not use intense heat as some materials can melt) can revive a DWR. After prolonged or rugged use, though, rainwear will likely need to have its DWR reapplied. Thus, regularly reapplying a DWR treatment should be part of your rainwear maintenance routine. When rain stops beading up or when a wet surface fabric gives you cold spots, it’s time to reapply. Spray-on and wash-in reapplication products can accomplish this goal. We prefer spray-on products, since wash-in products may impact a garment's breathability. Be sure to read and follow care instructions included with your garment, usually printed on a tag and stitched into a seam. Hand-washing or front-loading washers are preferred since top-loaders can potentially snag a garment on its agitator. Close any zippers, empty pockets and fasten any Velcro closures to prevent possible abrasion while garments tumble. Turn garments inside-out. Avoid fabric softener and dryer sheets because they may contain waxes, oils, and fragrances that diminish the performance of the fabric.
AERO TECH DESIGNS MEN'S CYCLING JACKETS
Aero Tech Designs cycling jackets are made to keep you dry and warm while you ride. We use high-performance fabrics and 3M reflective elements, like reflective trim, to enhance visibility for these cycling jackets. Each of our cycling jackets seals out the elements in their own way.
Look for these styles:
Highly reflective - ideal for low light and night time training
Windbreakers - The outside layer breaks the wind for chilly mornings or outer layers
Thermal softshell jackets - These jackets provide the insulating layer between the windbreak and the base layer
High visibility jackets - Great for road riders and runners
Packable shell jackets - Carry them on your bike or tours, they are lightweight and pack up tight
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