Prepping for an overnight winter fat biking trip doesn’t have to be complicated. Kathi Merchant, accomplished cyclist and co-director of the Iditarod Trail Invitational, shares a few tips on how to pack for the best experience on and off the bike. Whether you’re going out for a night or racing in an ultra-marathon, Kathi shares the ins and outs of getting your system dialed.
- Merino wool base layer top and bottom (150 or 250)
- Smartloft vest or jacket
- Puffy jacket: 800 fill down jacket with hood
- Wind pants and wind jacket/softshell jacket with hood
- Soft shell pants: Nordic ski pants work well for winter cycling
- Bike shorts
- Warm wool hat that covers your ears (training beanie)
- Protect your eyes from cold wind and branches with sunglasses for day and clear lenses for nighttime riding (goggles work when it's really windy, otherwise regular glasses are fine)
- Liner gloves (training gloves)
- Poagies or mittens
- Merino wool socks (PhD® Ski Medium for extra warmth)
- Vapor barrier
- Shoes one size larger
- Winter cycling boots: make sure they're waterproof and have enough insulation for the temperatures you'll be in
- Standard fat bike tires 3.8” or larger
- 80mm rims (minimum) or 100mm rims
- Many companies offer bike packing gear
- Front roll/handlebar harness, frame bag, seat post bag, light stuff sacks and tie downs
- Mounts for bottles, bottle cages
- Spare tube
- High volume bike pump
- Chain link
- Multi-tool including chain tool
- Duct tape/zip ties
- -25 degree down sleeping bag
- Inflatable or foam sleeping pad
- Bright lights mounted on handle bars
- Head light
- Spare batteries (Lithium batteries are best for the cold)
- Toilet paper
- First aid kit
- Liquid gas stoves are best for winter
- Titanium cookware is strong and light
- Fuel bottle with white gas
- 1 liter pot, cup, spoon
- Matches, lighter, fire starter kit
- Keep your hydration bladder under your jacket and blow back into the hose after drinking
- Adding drink mix to your hydration bladder will make water freeze faster
- Another option: 2 one liter bottles with bottle insulator work well, but be prepared to stop to drink
- Small liter or half liter thermos for hot chocolate, tea, coffee or soup is a treat
Snacks & Meals:
- High fat snacks like cheese, nuts, chocolate, sausages
- Snacks with a high water content freeze solid
- Smoked salmon is a great snack
- Add butter to meals (dehydrated butter is available and adds needed calories)
- Test your snacks in the freezer which runs at -20F.
- Know how to build a fire. Carry a fire starter kit. Cotton balls with Vaseline or Fritos work well.
- Know where your lighter/fire starter is. Keep you lighter warm and in a pocket.
- Figure out what combination works best for your hands and feet.
- Know your stove! Practice in your yard. Maintain your stove. Carry a repair kit.
- Carry a communication device, cell phone (make sure your battery lasts, keep it in airplane mode, carry battery charger) or carry a Spot device/satellite phone.
- Keep your smartphone off and close to your body, unless you need it.
- Be organized. Know where important things are in your kit: first aid kit, spare batteries…
- Learn how to adjust your tire pressure to trail and snow conditions. Soft trails = soft tires, hard trails = hard tires. Carry a high volume pump.
- HAVE FUN!
Layering for cold weather is key to staying comfortable. Merino wool next to skin provides superior temperature and moisture regulation. To maximize the benefits of Merino wool, start with a wool base layer. Add some extra warmth with a SmartLoft vest or jacket. Keep feet happy with PhD® Ski socks that offer the benefits of Merino wool in a high-performance fit. Rounding things out, Merino wool accessories like hats, neck gaiters and gloves help provide comfort and protection from the elements.