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I wonder how to keep my testicles (plus part of the perineum) from freezing. I ride a recumbent, which is making it worse because it exposes those parts to the wind much more and I use unpadded tights (i.e. no isolation from the padding). I have seen the question about pants in general but the problem is that those are overkill: expensive, hard to find, too warm (watertight but not breathable is not acceptable), not tight/aerodynamic or a combination thereof.

What I'm searching for is an additional layer to combine with my usual tights. I'm searching for solutions which are good in the -15°C to +10°C range where at the low end my legs would be comfortable in long tights and a long warm base layer and at the warm end short tights only.

This is my bike, if it's relevant: Greenmachine front Greenmachine back Flevobike Greenmachine with under seat steering. I lowered the seat angle a fair bit.

Clutter removed from central question text: I was cycling at ~+5°C in light rain wearing warm woolen socks, short tights, standard shirt, vest and summer gloves when this problem occurred to me. My testicles were uncomfortable during the ride, then briefly hurt a lot when warming up again back inside. I should have worn something to cover my ears, but apart from that and my testicles I was perfectly comfy - I'm an extreme cold weather person.

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    On Travel SE, the title would be prefixed with "We're all adults here, so" :-) – David Richerby Nov 11 '17 at 18:05
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    Wind-proof underwear. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 11 '17 at 22:10
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    s1190.photobucket.com/user/m33chy/library/… I can't see one on shop.flevobike.nl so asking them directly might be quickest. – Criggie Nov 11 '17 at 23:22
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    You may be able to disrupt the airflow by mounting a bottle holder or a mudshield in a convenient place. Try sitting still on it, inside, with a fan blowing at you from the front. Hold a water bottle in various places and see if it blocks enough airflow to make a difference? Very nice ride too BTW. – Criggie Nov 11 '17 at 23:24
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    This is the closest one gets to click bait on SE. – copper.hat Nov 13 '17 at 17:43

15 Answers 15

19

First: merino wool boxers. EDIT: Also windproof boxers, see other answer below

Second: Vest and short tights are very little for ~5°C, raining. You are losing a huge amount of body heat through your arms and legs, and this leaves little for body parts without active muscles. Wear more, and your balls will be warmer too.

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    Merino wool boxers sound good, I'll look out for them. But I don't think they'll be enough because of the wind. I might try just generally putting more clothes on, but I doubt that the body neglects heating the balls until you are severely hypothermic and I wasn't (after all they retract almost fully into the torso when cold, so not heating enough them would be equivalent to not heating the torso enough. The problem is that on the outer side only the heat is transferred away so fast that the body just can't keep up because it can't increase blood flow high enough). – Nobody Nov 11 '17 at 17:23
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Why not add a fairing? There are designs that add a windshield, some that provide protection down to the knee, some that go further down, and in the extreme case there's full nose-cones.

This will deflect a lot of the wind around you instead of into you.

enter image description here

enter image description here

You're already riding a recumbent, a fairing isn't going to make it any worse, and the weight penalty is more than offset by the improvement in aerodynamics, plus you get some added comfort in the cold and/or rain.

Downside they're not cheap, plus you need to get one that fits your ride without interfering with function (steering radius and pedal stroke) You'll need attachment hardware too, which may mean welding some lugs to your bent.

Also they're made of plexiglas or similar, so they can be scratched and cracked. They're not sharp, but they could still pose a thread in any accident.

On the plus side, check with the maker of your ride - they may have something pre-designed to suit, so its an off-the-shelf part and won't void any warranty.

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    I've been debating buying one for a while. There is a $600 slightly more than 2kg one from HP Velotechnik called Streamer which I could probably fit without messing with the frame. My plan is to try and get comfortable without one and if I don't manage I'll get one (but considering my decision-making process plus lead times, only for next winter :) ). – Nobody Nov 11 '17 at 23:14
  • The thing is, I suspect aerodynamic clothing plus a tail fairing is much better than wind shield and no tail fairing. So if I could find a fitting tail fairing and luggage compartment combo, I'd rather get that (for probably similar weight+cost). – Nobody Nov 11 '17 at 23:27
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    They're not sharp, but they could still pose a thread in any accident not as much as the chainrings in your second picture (if you ride into someone) and if the force of a collision was enough to make you hit the back edge of the fairing you've probably got other things to worry about. +1 – Chris H Nov 13 '17 at 10:27
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    There's also a potential downside of them affecting the steering in gusty sidewinds. – armb Nov 14 '17 at 16:56
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    @armb That's an absolutely real downside. It's noticeable a lot, I have heard. – Nobody Nov 16 '17 at 21:28
12

For most parts of the body a second layer of moderately wind-blocking fabric makes a massive difference -- so another pair of unpadded cycling shorts would go a long way.

The rain is likely to have been part of the issue though -- windchill on wet skin (or wet porous fabric) is a big deal. Waterproof overtrousers would deal with that but tend to get very sweaty. I've failed to find waterproof shorts in the past, but have ridden in waterproof trousers rolled up inside to act as shorts (still too warm for me, but might work for you)

10

A double layered triangle of bubble wrap under the pants in front of the exposed bits. Cheap and effective! In days of severe cold I use the same method between base and medium layers on the upper chest, though only single layered. Works perfectly.

10

Wind proof boxers which have a layer of windbreaking material in the “package” area make a big difference. They are commonly used by cross country skiers so can be found at stores that cater to the outdoor sport market.

Here are a couple examples: MEC Wind Boxer - Men's

Store Link

Smartwool Men's PhD Wind Boxer Brief

Store Link

enter image description here

Store 1 Store 2

  • This would be nice, but the only one I could find for sale (online) in Europe had miserable reviews (and international shipping and customs are really expensive). If the athletic supporter thing doesn't work I'm going to go on an Odyssey through the local sports shops until I find some. :) (this answer should be much higher voted) – Nobody Nov 13 '17 at 12:57
  • Admittedly my answer was North American centric: I did edit my answer to add what I could find for a European search. I'm not sure it's not the one you already found though. – Rob Nov 13 '17 at 15:23
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    This style of "wind brief" as they are known is (understandably) very common in the cross country skiing world. Look in ski shops/at ski websites to find them. A specific recommendation: the Craft Gunde Short is generally considered the gold standard in the ski world, and should be widely available in both Europe and the States ;) – Josh Doebbert Nov 13 '17 at 17:40
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    Actually, around here (Finland) we wear for cross country skiing either tights with windproof membrane in the front (if you are serious athlete or pretending to be one) or all around windproof clothes with necessary amount of layers underneath. I didn't even know that windproof underwear exists before this. – ojs Nov 13 '17 at 17:48
  • "tights with windproof membrane in the front" sounds like they might also help the questioner. – armb Nov 14 '17 at 16:58
8

The traditional way of protecting one's chest from wind chill on a descent is stuffing a newspaper under the jersey. You might adopt this for your scrotum. Fold a sheet of an old paper and stuff it in your tights.

6

I am not one for the "Lycra" look. cant see the point unless in an extreme competition where the slightest wind resistance can be an issue.

So I would sagest what ever is comfortable, hardy and covers enough for the weather conditions.

As to the sensitive locality, just an idea that popped into my head. So not sure if it would be comfortable. But how about a sports cup.

Not the same sport, but I did see THIS and thought it worth considering.

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    The official name for a "jockstrap" is an "athletic supporter". – Daniel R Hicks Nov 11 '17 at 22:27
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    I've never seen an official etymology, but I suspect that "jockstrap" is the result of the first major manufacturer of the said article being the Jockey underwear company, and calling athletes "jocks" comes from their propensity to wear said item, rather than the item deriving it's name from the athletes. – Daniel R Hicks Nov 11 '17 at 22:48
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    I'd be concerned about.... friction... between the sides of the cup and the inner thighs. You might need to add a lubricant? – Criggie Nov 11 '17 at 22:59
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    How about a dance belt? That's kinda the same thing but very soft so dancers can do all kinds of movements in it. I'd imagine it'd work here as well but I'm a girl so haven't got any first hand experience. – Sumyrda Nov 11 '17 at 23:25
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    @Criggie Isn't that always the problem? :) I found a $10 one which I'm going to order, I'll report back how it works out. It looks like standard underwear fabric and then I'll try stuffing different things into the pocket for the cup - an old wool sock, the bubble wrap suggested by Carel... – Nobody Nov 11 '17 at 23:30
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Wear a hat (on your head).

You wrote, "I should have worn something to cover my ears," and that's completely true - reducing heat loss from your head allows your core to regulate its temperature more effectively through control of the blood flow to the extremities. Warm blood circulating in your legs will improve the comfort of your groin area.

If you're worried you'll overheat with a hat on, then just try it. It's rare for a hat alone to cause overheating when the body has so much opportunity to lose heat through the limbs.

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    I find that layers are best - when I start out covered up, typically after 5-10 minutes of rigorous outdoor activity I'll begin to perspire, regardless of the ambient temperature. Eventually the hat and jackets come off (plus if I need to warm back up, having dry clothing to put on is a great idea) – Wayne Werner Nov 14 '17 at 14:48
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Wool underwear, with modifications. Add a few strips of duct tape to the front of the underwear. No need to go overboard, you just need enough to cover the affected area. The duct tape completely blocks the cold wind encountered when one is moving at a decent speed. I learned and practiced this technique during my years of cross country skiing, as it was an absolute necessity for colder races when all I'd have on was some long underwear and Lycra tights. No need to drop serious cash on windproof underwear when you can make it with material already on hand.

  • Any recommendations for best width and type of duct tape? Best on briefs or boxers? Good idea. :) – Nobody Nov 14 '17 at 13:22
  • Duct tape is a roughly permanent modification, right? I know in certain applications the adhesive from duct tape has a tendency to penetrate... which is exactly what I would not want in such a sensitive area... – Wayne Werner Nov 14 '17 at 14:49
3

There are patterns online for knitting "cozies" to keep the family jewels from freezing. Does your mom/wife/girlfriend knit? If not, you might search online. Be sure to use cashmere or merino since they are so soft and don't make you itch. Maybe you can find a blend with both. Crochet might have too many ridges, so stick with knitting. Hand wash, line dry (probably indoors!).

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    Awkward conversations I've never had, number 17 in a series of 50. "Mum, would you mind knitting me something?" "Sure, what is it?" "Er. A ball-warmer for when I'm on my bike?" – David Richerby Nov 14 '17 at 10:40
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    I can knit for myself, don't be sexist. :) But I'd prefer not putting hours of knitting in and wool or silk isn't wind tight, so I'll put it somewhere fourth or so on my list of things to try. – Nobody Nov 14 '17 at 13:14
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This is the perfect time to re-evaluate wearing unpadded tights. You might not need the padding on your recumbent cycle, but it adds just an ounce or two to your shorts and blocks the wind just where you need it.

Consider the Ibex merino wool Trio shorts. The merino wool has a broad comfort range from summer to winner. They are also comfortable to wear without squeezing. Keeping the entire region warmer with wool ought to help some as well!

To get a deal on the shorts, subscribe to the Ibex mailing list and be patient. Over time, it seems nearly everything in their catalog will be available at a good discount at some point-- that's how I got mine!

Also consider altering your diet to improve more warming, circulation-improving foods and spices like cayenne, cinnamon and ginger. That was the best thing I did to improve my warm for winter cycling. I write more about that at Cayenne for Winter Warmth.

2

To stay warm in the lower end of the temperature range, -15 C with very strong winds, you need to wear thick doublewool longpants, e.g. like these. The double layer provides for extra insulation compared to just a one thick layer. On top of that you should wear down filled trousers, like these. And you need a windstopper on top of that, you need to buy special ones that can fit over the down filled trousers.

For temperatures above about -10 C the down filled trousers can be replaced by ordinary trousers. If it gets above -5 C, you don't need the longpants anymore. And above freezing the windstopper isn't necessary.

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    This is an answer to the "pants in general" question. Also: Wow, you wear a lot. I would melt. – Nobody Nov 13 '17 at 12:45
2

(in short: best solution is in the first bullet point)

There are quite a lot of possibilities, as reflected by the myriad of different answers. Here is an attempt at summing them up together with my experiences with them (where available).

The problem appears when there is cold wind blowing on the scrotum+perineum and when they are wet and cooled by evaporation. If you are a women who wants to warm your corresponding area: I don't think this answer is actually too gender-specific if you mentally replace any references to male body parts. Should probably work for you too.

Just dressing other parts of the body warmer doesn't help. I tested this a couple of times and it really seems to be true. And it makes sense: heating the testicles (and torso in general) is a priority for the body, if that stops working then you have much bigger problems because you definitely have hypothermia.

So the solutions need to be about keeping the wind away from this specific area and keeping it dry.

The obvious luxury solution is the answer by Criggie: Get a fairing. This keeps the wind away and if it's good the rain too (also: speeeeeeed :).

Other solutions work like an additional layer of clothing:

Inner layers:

  • Jockstrap DIY (idea of jockstrap but without DIY mods by Tempus): Jockstraps with removeable protective cups cost something like $10. You don't use the cup, but stuff the pocket with something suitable. I prefer a pair of summer sports boxers: they transfer humidity away very well and are fairly windtight when balled up enough. But other options include socks, bubble wrap, newspapers. The pocket obviously covers all of the scrotum, but part of the perineum which you might also want warmed stays exposed, you want to pull it to the back as far as possible (maybe even shorten the back straps). This works great! It feels a bit strange in the beginning, but I didn't notice any chafing so far. But it also completely disables the scrotum's cooling capabilities, so don't overdo it and only wear it while actually riding. You'll feel when it starts being too hot.
  • Any additional layer: Definitely helps a little, even if it's nothing specifically "warm". If you think you only need a little more then try wearing 2 or 3 pairs of your usual underwear (or if you usually don't wear any below tights: start to ;). Downside is that it covers too much and might make you sweat in other areas.
  • Fancy windtight boxers/briefs (as suggested by Rob): They help. But most of them have only a small windproof part exactly in front of the genital area. This means the wind creeps around the sides, especially from below. Worst case, the wind blows straight between the windproof layer and your skin, coming from below. Usually it's not that bad though. Most should be comparable to wearing several layers of normal underwear, with the warming effect in almost the right place. But needs attention when choosing which to buy. If it's proper "windproof", i.e. breathable, you should choose the protected area as large as possible, they won't overheat you.
  • Padded bicycle pants (Mark): In the pad area, they are comparable to multiple layers of standard fabric, but wind tends to creep around the padded area. The padded area is located more to the back, so that all of the perineum and scrotum is warmed, but not necessarily all of the penis (so wrongly positioned towards the back instead of towards the front like the usual windtight boxers, but in my experience the latter is worse). Less warm than a stuffed jockstrap. Potential chafing would be about the same too (as in, I didn't experience any yet, but more than standard underwear). If you already have some, try them.
  • Women's pantyliners/pads: Willeke mentioned their warming effect on women and I see no reason a man couldn't use them.
  • Duct tape on underwear (suggested by SeanM): I haven't tried this, but based on experience with other methods I can confirm this very likely works fine, better than store bought windproof underwear where the windproof part isn't positioned and sized appropriately. It's messy though and just not worth the effort when the jockstrap method costs only $10.

Outer layers:

  • Basic watertight tight trousers: They will keep wind and rain away, solving the acute problem. Some of them are even moderately aerodynamic although you would need to shop around. But they also keep sweat inside and will make your whole legs first wet and then cold in general (some have slits on the back to counteract this which is great on uprights but downright stupid on recumbents where the back is exposed to the wind too).
  • Fancy windtight tight trousers: Those are breathable and aerodynamic (because elastic and properly tight). Everything said about windproof underwear above applies, except that the protected area is usually larger. There is still often a gap between the end of the protected are and the seat through which wind attacks. In general they are super comfortable as an outer layer for terrible weather, but overly expensive and not enough for the genital area.
1

Being a woman, here an 'answer' for women, (being a woman I can not answer for men.) For the crotch area, that is.

Pantyliners or the bigger sized pads that are used for the monthly problems.

They have a thin layer of plastic and I never realized their worth till I forgot them on a windy cold day. They are consumables, you use a new one every day or more often as you need it when it gets dirty.

I do not think there is a male version of this short of incontinenty gear, which is overkill.

I am not a few clothes in cold weather cyclist, your outfit would suit me in September. When it is colder I use warm gear on all parts of my body, hat, cap or hood, in very cold or wet weather I add rain overtrousers, some of which come with a zipper on the outside seam of the leg, with velco or snappers to partly close them when needed. Warm hands, with gloves or mittens.

Wind proving is really the most important, as long as you also have the option to ventilate or open up when you get hot.

(I am on my third and fourth recumbents, Flevo (bending) bike and trike.)

  • I'm pretty sure that would work just as well for men as for women, except it would be awkward to buy. :) Not ruling it out completely, though. I'm currently experimenting with a jock strap and replacing the cup with various things. I think I can make that work and will write an answer once I do. I actually got fancy wind tight tights recently and they help much less than I expected, perfect for my legs but the genital area just needs more than the legs (in contrast to those bogus recommendations that I should just wear more in general). – Nobody Dec 3 '17 at 19:56
-1

Separate answer, in addition to keeping the cold wind out, you can add heat. There are two methods of providing heat that don't depend on your muscles.

  1. Handwarmers, like this one, are a plastic sack of super-saturated saltwater. By clicking the metal tab on the inside, an exothermic reaction starts, and they heat to around 50 degrees C for an hour or so. Exactly how you apply the heat might be a subject for experimenting.

    enter image description here

    They're reusable too - to reset them you boil or heat them in a pot of water on a stove. If they split you're salty and wet, but no dangerous chemicals.

  2. Electric heat - there are USB-powered handwarmers, shoe liners or even whole jackets and pants. The heating element tends to be somewhat fragile, so you would want it to not flex with each pedal stroke. Plus these need a USB cable to a storage battery somewhere. On the plus side, USB power banks are affordable and versatile tools to have with you, and could run some glove warmers too.

    enter image description here

Of course these are going to work better if you can block the wind.

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    I don't think applying excessive temperature to the family jewels is a good choice for growing the family further. If they are out of the abdomen it's for the sake of keeping them (fairly) colder than 37C. – L.Dutch Nov 12 '17 at 20:16
  • @L.Dutch The USB ones barely get above lukewarm. The chemical ones get warmer, but are easily removed. You could also put them between layers of cloth not directly on skin. Looking to achieve a temp above the "freezing" mentioned by OP, but below body temp. This answer was serious btw, not like the potato one. – Criggie Nov 14 '17 at 4:44
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    I am not doubting about the seriousness of your answer, your reputation warrants for it. Unfortunately we males don't have dedicated temperature sensors down there, and we cannot tell when dangerous overheating is happening. And that happen well before one smells "poached eggs". That's why I would rather go for a passive shielding. – L.Dutch Nov 14 '17 at 6:36
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    Note that even soaking in a hot tub will cause issues with sperm production, if you're worried about that sort of thing. – Wayne Werner Nov 14 '17 at 14:53

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