It was sunny but cold yesterday, which meant no need for the soft shell. Instead I was able to use my absolute favorite new layering strategy for my core. The foundation is the Bryjne fishnet wool top. A piece of clothing that intuitively makes no sense, but on use, is mind glowingly effective. In all honesty I have been able to use this with my old wind vest and my soft shell all the way to zero and be extremely comfortable.
However, yesterday was cold and dry so a slightly different strategy. I layered the Bryjne on first, followed by the 2013 Patagonia Cap 4 hoody. The combination of those two items is the warmest and most breathable combination of clothing I have ever warn. The reality is with that combo I spend most of my riding with the cap 4 zipper all the way down lest I overheat.
Paired with that is my lightweight wind vest, unzipped, simply so I have cycling pockets on my back. Over that is my favorite piece of gear, my Patagonia Houdini. In my opinion the single greatest and most useful piece of clothing I own. In anything other than a down pour or heavy snow, it is absolutely perfect. Zipped up it acts like a vapor barrier and unzipped it easily vents off heat. At night I layer it over the Bryjne and then put my insulating layers over the Houdini, again using it like a VBL.
My lower body tends to run warm so I had on my standard Gore Windstopper knickers, Craft Storm pants, VBL socks and the Wolvs. Other than my toes, something I have already addressed, the kit was bomber with tons of lightweight flexibility. I have now ridden some combination of that clothing from -20 to a downright hot, 40.
One of the greatest things about the setup, beyond its layering flexibility is that save for the shoes and the knickers, it is not biking specific. It would work equally well skiing, snow shoeing, running and hiking. For me, having gear that can work in multiple sports is a wonderful way of simplifying your overall kit.