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Winter weather gear: Transitional temperatures

We’ve highlighted much of our favorite winter gear already this year, from warm jackets and thick, fleecy jerseys to thermal bib shorts. Now we’re only about 8 weeks away from the start of the classics, with their potential for rain, cold and general nastiness.

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We’ve highlighted much of our favorite winter gear already this year, from warm jackets and thick, fleecy jerseys to thermal bib shorts. Now we’re only about 8 weeks away from the start of the classics, with their potential for rain, cold and general nastiness.

Just like the pros, you need gear that can handle a bit of water and a healthy dose of cold as we head into early spring. The items below are three pieces we grab when the only dependable quality of the weather is its consistent volatility.

Curve Allrounder Neck Gator — $20

If Leopard-Trek team presentations taught us anything last year it’s the importance of good neck coverage.

I learned years ago to wear some sort of neck coverage every time I go out in temperatures under 45 degrees F, and often even when it’s warmer. A quick look at photo galleries from pro winter training camps shows that I’m not alone. You lose a lot of heat out of your neck, and it seems to be a sort of thermometer for the rest of the body. Cold neck = cold everything else. Warm neck = toasty happiness.

The Allrounder uses the same design popularized by Buff: a seamless cloth tube that can be turned into a number of different head and/or neck warming devices. I generally just fold it over a couple times and stick it around my neck — quick, easy, and effective. You can also turn it into il Pirata-inspired skullcap, a regular hat, a headband, or a sweatband. It’s one of the few items you could find use for on virtually every ride all year long.

The scoop: a cheap do-it-all neck scarf/gator/hat/skullcap/sweat band. Recommended temperature range: any

Curveinc.com

Castelli Pave bib tight — $160

The Pave isn’t a hyper-thermal bib tight — if you’re looking for performance in serious cold, Castelli’s own Sorpasso tights are a much better bet. Instead, the Pave aims at a thermal midpoint and adds a water repellent and wind resistant Nanoflex layer. They are distinctly geared towards those 40-60˚ days when precipitation or wet, snow-melted roads are a possibility.

The Nanoflex fabric is not waterproof; it’s not going to keep you perfectly dry in an extended downpour. But light rain beads up and rolls off quickly, keeping your legs dry much longer. I stayed completely dry over a 45-minute storm last fall. The fabric also holds in heat better once damp, and still breathes very well. Seams have been kept to a minimum to prevent seepage.

Other manufacturers have similar water-resistant tights, but most add a significant thermal inner to their water-resistant outers. Pearl Izumi’s AmFIB tights ($165) are much warmer than the Castelli Pave, for example — so much warmer that I’ve found them too thick to wear over about 40 to 45˚. I don’t care about water resistance on my hyper-thermal tights; if I’m wearing them it’s likely too cold to be raining. That’s why I like the Pave — the thickness is optimized for the sort of temperatures we get in early spring, when rain is most likely.

The Kiss3 chamois is comfortable, though not as luxurious as the chamois used in the Sorpasso tights. For some reason most bib tights have issues with chamois quality, but Castelli seems to have figured it out. The bib straps are thin, flexible, stretchy and comfortable, with a mesh back. I never once thought about them, which means they did their job perfectly.

The ankles are zippered for easy on/off and a tight fit around the ankle. The waterproof material extends all the way to the bottom. Be careful with booties: if you put the tights inside your booties, the water will run right down and fill up your shoes in no time. Instead, zip the tights over your booties; just make sure that you wear long enough socks to prevent uncomfortable ankle chafing from your booties.

My one gripe is an aesthetic one. Castelli puts their logo and a big “Nanonflex” in some sort of rubbery strip substance on the left leg. It starts to peel almost instantly, and looks horrible. Luckily, it comes off so easily that peeling it all the way off is a cinch. Still, it’s a bit shoddy to have on an otherwise wonderful product.

The scoop: Highly water resistant, perfectly thermal for early-spring temperatures, comfortable chamois, versatile, but the logos peel quickly. Recommended temperature range: high 30s F to high 50s F.

Castelli-cycling.com

DeFeet DuraGlove wool — $20

In terms of outright versatility and usefulness in shoulder-season temperatures, a pair of wool DuraGloves is hard to beat. They’re light, easily packable, hold heat even when wet, and are supremely comfortable.

They’re made from thin, tightly knit wool and have little rubber bits on the palm for grip. The rubber bits never come off. The back of the gloves is somewhat slick, making them a great, easily removed glove liner for super cold days as well as a solid standalone item when temperatures get above 45˚ or so. They aren’t very wind proof, though.

Plus, they’re only $20. Few items in your wardrobe cost so little yet will see so much use.

The scoop: Versatile, thermal, not windproof, great glove liners or standalone over 45 degrees F, cheap. Recommended temperature range: no colder than 45 degrees F alone, up to 65 degrees F.

Defeet.com