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Riding With an Insulated Mid-layer?

1683 Views 39 Replies 19 Participants Last post by  Craig64
Personally..., I'm not a big fan of multiple base+mid layering up whilst riding with a single shell jacket option in order to combat the colder temperatures. I much prefer riding with just the right level of base layer and insulated jacket to suit the conditions. This gives the ability to easily and effectively vent out if I rarely overheat but most importantly I have a much less restrictive layering whilst riding hard in the cold. The big downside to all this is that it is much more expensive running with a quiver of jackets to suit the temperatures however I feel this is the best option.

Within SBF there's a reasonable strong attraction in riding with a base + insulated mid-layers and a 2L/3L shell jacket. I've also noticed that most descent level mid-layers are pretty damn pricey as well.

So just wondering;

a. As mostly all insulated mid-layers will not be vented, how do you control heat other than removing the mid-layer back to just base layer and jacket?
b. Does venting the shell with an insulated mid-layer give you a fair bit of internal heat dissipation?
c. Would this system also make it pretty important to be riding with a backpack in order to store the mid layer if you decide take it off?
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A) front zipper… especially in the lift line.
B) Not enough if you’re really overdressed.
C) I’ll use a short or long sleeve shirt (over a base layer) that’ll go into a pocket. Anything thicker and I tend to resort to the heavier jacket with vents. I use to ride with a backpack, but I just don’t like it.

I’m still considering a mid weight jacket, but being able to wash a sweaty mid layer is also a plus.
 

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Patagonia nano puff breathes really well. Unless it’s cold cold I keep my pit vents open. Front zipper down to cool off.

armpit vents dont do much if there is no breeze. Front zip does more obviously.

I don’t ride with a backpack, I just go to the car if it gets that hot.
 

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Personally..., I'm not a big fan of multiple base+mid layering up whilst riding with a single shell jacket option in order to combat the colder temperatures. I much prefer riding with just the right level of base layer and insulated jacket to suit the conditions. This gives the ability to easily and effectively vent out if I rarely overheat but most importantly I have a much less restrictive layering whilst riding hard in the cold. The big downside to all this is that it is much more expensive running with a quiver of jackets to suit the temperatures however I feel this is the best option.

Within SBF there's a reasonable strong attraction in riding with a base + insulated mid-layers and a 2L/3L shell jacket. I've also noticed that most descent level mid-layers are pretty damn pricey as well.

So just wondering;

a. As mostly all insulated mid-layers will not be vented, how do you control heat other than removing the mid-layer back to just base layer and jacket?
b. Does venting the shell with an insulated mid-layer give you a fair bit of internal heat dissipation?
c. Would this system also make it pretty important to be riding with a backpack in order to store the mid layer if you decide take it off?
A. I use the pit zips on 3l shell and unzip the front a little. If it’s cold enough, I can get away with this and not have to take the mid layer off.
B. Meh, not much that I can feel… however, it keeps the internal pit area of the shell from soiled (from pit sweat).
C. No, if at a resort then I usually don’t have problem finding a small locker to stash it in along with a few other things. If I’m parked close enough then that’s an easy answer.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t mind a more dedicated technical mid layer that’s actually designed to be a mid layer only (not a material that can be worn as an outer layer for some conditions that can also work as a mid layer). Something that is a removable mid layer but has insulation in only certain zones. A vest is not the solution for me.
I spent too many years sweating my ass off in insulated jackets because I couldn’t remove insulation separate from the shell. I’d rather have some coldness going up the lift than to be overheating on the way down.
 

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Use mid layers that are breathable.

I tested the nano-air hiking in 60F weather. You really don't ever get a chance to sweat as it keeps moving the vapors away. You just always feel like you're about to sweat, but you don't.

A. If the mid-layer is breathable, you can open pit zips, unzip the mid-layer, unzip the shell jacket to control heat. The midlayer should just let wind pass right through it. If it's really that warm, you will know not to wear a mid-layer anyways. If it's somehow inbetween (spring skiing, but mornings are cold). You may very well end up in the "I feel like I'm about to sweat, but I'm not" zone if you have a breathable midlayer.
B. Yes.
C. nah, unless you are in some resort where getting to the car/lodge is overkill AND you seriously screw up layering with the above points.

I prefer shells. I run with a Shell + down + nano-air + baselayer for below 10F and am comfy to below 0F.
Pants? baselayer + shell pants will get me to somewhere below 10F without any worry. Maybe I'll add fleece pants for below 0F, maybe.
 

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Go to is a 3L shell, down mid layer, wicking base. I like this combo because of multi venting options, also find true down is an amazing thermal regulator, generally stays just right for me

in regards to venting i have pits legs vents and the good ol fashion chest zip, what I like about mid rather then insulated jacket is that I can drop the zipper on my mid and get some venting while having the shell zipper closed

ive also found this set up to be more cost effective based on riding in different conditions, throughout the season I’ll do everything from all three layers to combos based on the weather and route for the day.

Finally if you are a back pack guy, which I am not but understand as long as you are hauling beers and not blue tooth speakers, it’s nice to be able to drop the mid layer if the day starts to toast up

Kit
mountain hardware goretex pro 3L shell

Mids Patagonia nano puff or OR packable (basically a down vest with base sleeves and hood)

whicking base (whatever’s cheap)
 

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Those waterproof + breathable numbers on shells aren't BS. I just upgraded to Goretex pro jacket and pants recently ($$$), and wow, are they orders of magnitude better than Patagonia H2NO. All Goretex pro is 3L.

That "about to sweat" feeling but never actually gets wet also extends to the shells. I experienced it on a warm day with the shell pants + cheap baselayers; I never opened the vents just to see how bad it would get. That wouldn't have happened on something like the Patagonia snowshot pants or powder town pants.

I'm probably going to stick with $$$ goretex pro or similar from now on. Maybe I'll have a similar revelation with $$$ baselayers (it's the only thing left for me to go lux on ).
 

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I have an AK baker down mid layer that is pretty warm but has pit zips. Really helps to cool off with both shell and mid layer zips open. If the weather is warmer I use an AK Helium mid layer. It’s really thin (40g primaloft). Has no zips but is very breathable. I think it’s made for splitting/hiking so it’s totally air permeable. I got both of them crazy cheap over summer a few years ago but I do wonder if those days of mega off-season discount are behind us…
 

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If touring: just put things back and forth in my backpack, hardly use vents.
If using lifts: I am rarelly wrong on the layers for the day/half day, if need be I open the zip/buttons under the shell. Hardly use vent until spring.

My mid layers being Patagonia nano air (I don't think the nano puff breathes at all) and Norona Tamok shirt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If touring: just put things back and forth in my backpack, hardly use vents.
If using lifts: I am rarelly wrong on the layers for the day/half day, if need be I open the zip/buttons under the shell. Hardly use vent until spring.

My mid layers being Patagonia nano air (I don't think the nano puff breathes at all) and Norona Tamok shirt.
Same here...., I'll kit up with the right level of gear in morning and will be sweet all day long with only having to open pit/leg zips once I lift the energy levels up a bit during the day.
 

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If touring: just put things back and forth in my backpack, hardly use vents.
If using lifts: I am rarelly wrong on the layers for the day/half day, if need be I open the zip/buttons under the shell. Hardly use vent until spring.

My mid layers being Patagonia nano air (I don't think the nano puff breathes at all) and Norona Tamok shirt.
Totally agree with you about the nano-air versus the nano-puff.
From personal experience, I don’t think the nano-puff is as good for “active insulation” in the temps I’m in. There’s a lot of ambiguity in these products without taking the time to research beyond the company websites (I did not spend time researching beyond the down versus synthetic concept, which is why I accidentally got the nano-puff first and had post purchase dissonance… only after the fact to discover the product position of the nano-air). From what I can tell, the nano-puff is a down alternative which has benefits over down (such as being able to dry faster, etc.). Whereas the nano-air is not as much of a down alternative per se, rather it is more of the “active insulation” versus non-active insulation.
I see plenty of people that use the nano-puff style jacket as a mid layer and I honestly have not heard people complaining about them. I can only speak from personal experiences, and I sweat too much with the nano-puff as a mid layer.
I’ve used fleece in the past and it worked well. I’m not convinced someone needs to spend a bunch of money on a nano-air style jacket as a mid layer. That being said, I like mine. It’s not perfect, but I think it’s a very versatile jacket.
 

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Another breathable layering option to consider is merino wool. I've switched to merino base and mid layers and choose the appropriate combination for the conditions. I also have an Icebreaker merino vest to throw in the mix. I have various weights from Smartwool, Icebreaker and Kuhl. If you need to take off a layer you can easily stuff it into a pocket or pack, but I rarely have the need.
 

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Notice whenever people talk about layers and jackets it's always about how to cool down? The reality is that layer's deep insulation, etc really isn't usually needed. But we do because

1: We've been trained to fear the tiniest bit of cold above all else, when in reality overheating has killed me more.
2: Being a gear whore is fun.

30F+: Shell with t-shirt, shorts
20-30F: Shell, closed zips long sleeve T, shorts
5-20F: Shell, Hoodie/Flannel/etc, pants
Below 5: T-shirt and shorts while drinking whiskey in the lodge. Snow starts to suck when it gets that cold

Long as you got mittens, a good neck gaiter/facemask, and a warm helmet, the rest of your gear is rarely going to be the reason you get so cold you have a bad time.
 

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I run merino base layers, a duck down vest to keep my core toasty and then a gortex shell. I prefer just the vest as it offers more freedom of movement and I don't find that my arms get that cold anyway.
 

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I’ve been looking for a good mid weight jacket and just saw Angry Snowboarder‘s new outerwear vid. He’s a big fan of L1, which I hadn’t even heard of. Their Hasting jacket is 20/20 with 40 grams of insulation! Stock is low in Canada so I ordered one at MSRP. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have pit vents, but I‘m really stoked to find a good sub zero but not arctic jacket!

And the rust is practically red, which has been my jacket colour for decades.
 

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I usually just use base layer (from Costco) + bibs + shell like Lab said - I'd rather be a bit chilly than too hot. Be bold, start cold.

If it gets really cold I have a nano-puff-whatever patagonia vest. That on over the bibs and it's got to be really cold before I get uncomfortable. And if it warms up, vests breathe very well under a shell with the armpit holes open.
 

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I recently switched up my layering. As long as it isnt below 15F, I been wearing a merino base, then a gortex shirt made for runners, windproof, breathable, and water resistant. Both of those go under my bib, then am wear a 10k 10k bonded hoodie or jacket, again very breathable. Over the jacket I wear my Dakine poachers vest.
This... You're joking right?
 

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I've been wearing more vests recently as well, does make venting via my snowboard jacket pit zips more effective. A good chest pocket is essential for me to keep my phone alive through the day, so I've been using Arcteryx Proton LT Vest (high loft fleece, softshell) for mild conditions, Flylow Larry Vest (down) for a bit colder, then Patagonia Nano Air if I need more insulation on my arms, and if it's really cold I'll ride in my Arcteryx Cerium jacket. All of those pieces also get used for either casual use around town, active use hiking or fat biking, or are permanently in my pack when touring or camping (cerium). So while pricey to have many options, they all serve their purpose well across multiple uses.

Outside of a few arctic days we've had a very mild temperature season so far, and by using different base layers + vest combos I've been comfortable down to -18C/0F. Below that I'll use a jacket to cover my arms as well.
 
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