23 October 2013

Gear List

In the summertime, and in late spring and early fall, I don't have to pay too much attention to the weather.  It's either hot or hotter; unless it's really pouring rain it's too warm for rain gear, so I just wear clothing that can get wet and will dry fast.  Bonus: many hours of daylight.

Today, though, it's both chilly and rainy, and I'll get home long after dark.  This is when gear becomes  vitally important.  The challenges: vision, visibility, and keeping the hands and feet and ears warm without letting the core overheat.  Over the years, I've developed a pretty good, though not perfect, system: herewith, an annotated list.

If there's rain in the forecast, I carry waterproof / breathable jacket and pants.  The rain pants have gotten a little leaky; though I usually try to keep and use things as long as possible, this is an area where I need the gear to function really well.  A new pair is in my near future.

A helmet cover rides in my bag almost year round: it keeps the rain out and the warm air in.  I also carry a headband designed to use with a helmet: cold ears get miserable fast.  Below freezing, a thin fleece hat.

A couple of years ago I bought waterproof boots, but the first time I wore them in the rain I discovered ankle-height doesn't cut it: as soon as my legs are spinning, the pants ride up and the rain runs right down them ... and into the top of the boots.  So, I got high boots.  For the coldest days, neoprene shoe covers.  Wool socks: self-explanatory, right?

If it's mild, I wear lightweight long-fingered gloves.  On days like today, windblock fleece, and in the coldest temperatures, a down-lined pair.  I bought them by accident, sort of: I didn't realize they were lined with down until after right after I paid for them.  But then I kept walking and didn't go back to the register for an exchange.  And boy am I happy to have them when the weather goes below freezing, though I regret the ducks that died to keep my fingers warm.  I often wear one pair and carry another, because a daytime ride, especially if it's sunny out, can be a lot warmer than a trip before dawn or after dark.

I have a seriously bright rechargeable headlight, bright enough to see the road on the suburban end of the commute and to get people's attention on the New York end.  Blinking rear lights on both seat post and helmet, though the helmet cover blocks the latter, and this winter I want to try to find something brighter and, frankly, more obnoxious for the back.  

That's a bit tough with the Brompton, as the seatpost needs to slip into the down tube every time I fold the bike (three times a day), and the back of the rear rack is too low to the ground for good visibility.  Let me know if you have any good ideas, okay?

Finally, I have both jacket and vest in lovely shades of neon with reflective strips.  Reflective ankle straps that I don't really use, because they keep slipping off the bottom of the pants legs and then getting hidden under them.  Studies show reflective moving parts are more visible to cars than static ones (e.g. reflectors on the torso which for a car approaching from front or back don't appear to move), so I need to work on that too.

It remains a work in progress.