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Thread: Biking Shorts instead of Thermal Pants ?

  1. #1

    Default Biking Shorts instead of Thermal Pants ?


    For hiking/shooting in winter,
    anyone have try wearing Biking Shorts instead of the regular Thermal Wear ?

    For bottom, I usually wear a Thermal pants + a Jeans outside.
    While its great for keeping warm,
    I sometimes find the Thermal pants slightly restricting my movement, esp on the knee portion.

    I was thinking with a Biking shorts that stop above the knee, this should not be a problem.
    The spandex material should also avoid chafing and dry easily.


  2. #2

    Default Re: Biking Shorts instead of Thermal Pants ?

    biking shorts come with padding. so not sure whether u will find it comfortable or not.

    and i don't think they retain the heat as well as thermal wear.

  3. #3
    Senior Member sammy888's Avatar
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    Sep 2004
    Singapore, Singapore, Singapor

    Default Re: Biking Shorts instead of Thermal Pants ?

    Had a similar situation when I took to biking in Paris. I happen to be in jeans which luckily not as tight as a pair of skinny jeans but there was resistance at my knees like you. The winter I faced was about 5 degree give or take 3 degree the whole day. One lesson I learned that day was never buy cheap thermal wear to save a few buck thinking you seldom go such places so be as budget minded as possible.

    A bit of technical info to start: thermal wear made of cotton or cotton mix with synthetic can be rather thick especially those cheaper all cotton ones. Budget traveler tend to buy those white tee shirt-like material long john which are cheap so shops push those or travel agency even give them away for free to people booking winter holidays. Never get the all cotton type or even mix cotton in my view. Buy a good thermal wear that is made of materials that retain heat well and they usually are synthetic polyester or wool blends or even 100% wool like Merino wool which are not as itchy to the fell personally. Cotton soaks up moisture from your perspiration, cools it so now thermal wear is taking body heat away from you.

    You perspire in winter still? Yes you do from where you retain body heat trap in you and trapped between layers of clothing from time spent indoor. So your body still do perspire from exerting yourself. So cheap cotton thermal is as goods as not wearing thermal wear as you get cold a lot more sooner. Also, good brand/designed thermal wear has good mobility from using thinner fabrics and incorporating variable fabrics tailored for natural limb movement especially at joints like knees, elbow...etc. Great for people into winter sports or activities.

    Better designed fabric are weaved to be stretchy in four directions and retain body heat and manage moisture effectively. Longer you stay out in the cold, the better quality or right type of clothing is essential. Cold exposure can be dangerous if you don't know what you are doing and stayed out too long for whatever reasons. You can get away with cheap $10 long johns if you go in and out of buildings often. So buy winter wear base NOT on how cold it is but how long you stay outdoors and the kind of activities you are going to do there. It's about managing body heat leaving your body.

    Cold also makes your muscle work slower, less powerful and coordinated. If you are going somewhere really cold, wearing half length biking shorts inside is a bad idea. Your lower extremities might not let you know it is really too cold till it is too late. You feel the cold more sensitively on your face, ears, neck or chest faster then you feel them in your legs. So you always need to ensure you wear proper insulated shoes ( water proof preferred), thermal wear and pants. Because you don;t feel the cold as much in your legs does not mean it is not freezing like your face. Not wearing thermal pants is not good when the weather is cold like around 10 degree or downwards for me personally. So don't use the wear half cycling shorts idea.

    Back to me riding a public commute bike. I am a regular mountain biker in Singapore and I cycle and shoot periodically ( not a good idea at times heheh when you meet with bad luck and flip/fall with a tripod and back pack on you. Broke right shoulder bone's 2 ligaments joint out of 3 permanently but that's another story ) Riding with thermal wear and jeans is not the same as cycling shorts in SG. There's resistance to movement and legs feel heavier pedaling after a while or even immediately depending on how tight a jeans you wear as jeans don't stretch and can be thick. Upstroke pedal movement feels tight at the knees on certain bikes geometry that expects you to raise your knee rather high as you pedal the crank.

    It was enough to get me uptight riding above that I stop, got into a toilet and use my Swiss blade to cut a short slit at both the knees area of the thermal wear. This allow the knees to bent better with less resistance making all the difference for me for the rest of the ride. A "comfort or lose fit" jean would be better especially if you have big thighs guys. The thermal wear I bought that time was my first trip in winter so I got something a bit thick mix cotton, not that stretchy, clingy when a little moisture from my sweat and heavier then something better made ( and cost more of course).

    Right now I have 3 type/brands of thermal wear. It is not that I go regularly though I have a love for planning trips during winter but because my last job needed me to go oversea for work lasting 2 weeks to a month. And mainly around winter. So good thermal wear is vital. My entry level thermal wear are from UNIGLO which are light, thin, works very well in moderate cold surprisingly. Then I have my North Face base layer which are good for all round use. Sometime use as my only inner layer before my winter jacket outer. For long hours outdoor in like minus 0 degree I use Patagonia base layer which are better design for activities and movement 5 degree or lower to about -10. Made from Merino wool or you can get them the Capilene line. Not the cheapest but they go a long way. Well worth it if you love winter outdoor. For me anyway. They are also not as thick and movement restrictive so running, walking and cycling feels better then the early days thermal I got.

    Choosing the right kind of pants to wear is just as important. Don't be a hipster and bring those "skinny fit" jeans on your trip. Keep your pants fairly loose (like straight cut even) so you have room for the thermal pant plus ensure good blood circulation, muscle flexing are not restricted. The ideal one would be to buy winter sport class tights like winter skiing or cycling pant. I was thinking of that but it looks too weird and trying to be stylo for a tourist. heheh.. You can also bring your jeans to the store for fitting before buying thermal wear to see if your jeans will fit well with thermal wear.

    If your butt hurt from cycling and you want to be more comfortable from riding hard narrow saddles then you can buy cycling spandex underwear with padding. Thin underwear shorts-like with a butt and crotch padding sew to it. (click link for example) You can wear that and then your thermal wear followed by your jeans. I don't see butt ache as a common thing on commuters bikes you can rent as the saddle are made more for women and old people so that are fat broad saddles and spongy. Too comfortable for riding if you ask me.

    To help retain heat longer outdoor. Always put on your entire winter wear indoor first to trap as much heat inside your clothing before you exit. I know it is fun especially kids to walk out in the snow and feel the coldness and then start to wear but you are ensuring that you feel colder sooner then you might need to be later on.

    Hope the long chatty story helped some how. Slow Sunday.
    Last edited by sammy888; 15th March 2015 at 06:14 PM. Reason: Typo
    A good photo's 45% you, 45% practice & 10% equipment. A bad photo share the same ratio.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Biking Shorts instead of Thermal Pants ?

    Thanks Guys...esp Sammy for sharing your experience.

    Looks like i will check out those light & thin Thermal Wear for my next trip.

    I dont normally wear thermal unless its a full day out in the wilderness.
    For the usual winter holiday, i like to bring along a EarBand and a NeckBand (or whatever you call it) which can also function as a EarBand.
    Surprising, i personally find the Daiso EarBand ($2) to be very helpful for urban winter.
    Can be put on/remove easily and the best part is that it doesnt mess up your hair like a hat would.
    When i dont need it, i just wrap it on my upper arm/jacket sleeve.
    I normally avoid scarf as they tends to fly around and interfere with my shooting.

    The other thing that still continue to piss me is the fogging in the viewfinder.
    Still yet to come out with a good solution.



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