A Bikepacker’s Guide to Mountain Weather Preparation

Shoulder season weather in higher elevations can be dicey, and even dangerous. When bikepacking in these environs, the balance between going light and going too light is a delicate one. Here is our guide, tips, and tricks for planning a bikepacking trip — without tipping the scales — for the variety of conditions that mountains can dish out.

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by Logan Watts, Joe Cruz, and Cass Gilbert

We’ve had incredible experiences bikepacking in every kind of landscape, but—like many cyclists—we’re called by the mountains. From steep hypoxic climbs to socked in cloud cover to endless views of an unraveling horizon, mountain terrain embodies the beauty that we crave. The price for that beauty is ever-changing and challenging weather that requires a carefully planned array of gear.

This isn’t advice for arctic and winter snow travel. That’s a different enterprise. The goal here is to be able to confidently head out on trips that sometimes go well above treeline and over high passes. We’re aiming for a fast and light style that keeps us prepared, and we draw inspiration from mountain trekking, even if cycling imposes considerations of its own.

  • Bikepacker's Guide to Mountain Weather
  • Bikepacker's Guide to Mountain Weather

Joel Caldwell


1. Don’t leave the pants at home.

Lightweight and packable waterproof shell pants are one of the mainstays of mountain travel. They can be worn with or without tights either as a windblock or against a downpour. We’ve also worn them out of respect and modesty while in town doing a resupply or laundry, which eliminates the need to carry a pair of casual trousers. A minimal pair that is durable will pack small and will dry quickly. We like ones with zippers at the ankles for easy on/off as well as with a way to cinch the bottom to keep the right pant leg out of the chainring.


We’ve also gone on trips with waterproof tights instead of full on trousers. These are great for a long day ride where it is cold and you know you’re likely to get precipitation, but for a multi-week bikepacking trip, they are just not versatile enough.

It’s easy to be skeptical of Gore-tex shorts or ¾ pants, but there is a reason they are popular in the wet conditions of the UK. If a trip is likely to be mostly warm weather but you want some mountain insurance, Gore-tex shorts will provide many of the benefits of the pants but with far better ventilation and excellent packability. Combined with tall-ish merino socks and Gore-tex socks, or worn over tights, this can be a decently warm and weather-worthy option.

  • Outdoor Research Helium Pants, Bikepacking

Recommended gear:

Gore Bike Wear Power Trail GORE-TEX® Active Pants
A premium form-fitting pant that moves well and held up the rigors of the Kyrgyzstan alpine. Highly recommended. Weight: ~230g / Price: $199.99 / Buy (Amazon, REI)

Outdoor Research Helium Pants
We love the Helium II jacket so the pants were worth a try. At a fraction of the weight of heavier Gore-tex pants, the Heliums are more of a minimal emergency shell. They do keep the rain off though. Weight: 153g (L) / Price: $119 / Buy (Amazon, REI)

Patagonia Torrentshell Pants
A favorite for their simplicity, fit, and durability. 100% recycled nylon.
Weight: 230g (L) / Price: $99

PEdALED Mido Riding Boots

2. Proper footwear can make or break you.

Wool socks: For the same reasons we like it as an upper base layer — insulating properties even when wet, odor control, and wick dry properties — merino wool makes a great material for socks.

Burly boots: Ultralight cycling shoes are nice and all, but wearing a proper pair of rugged shoes is crucial in mountain environments. Reinforced uppers, lugged tread and padded ankle support all act as insulation and can help keep you warm.

Unless you are in a desert climate, or get really lucky with weather, it’s virtually impossible to keep shoes dry while on a multi-day backcountry trip. And wet feet can wreak havoc. So, let’s approach this topic with the worst case scenario in mind: river crossings. Even a modestly deep crossing—say, just below knee level—can leave you shivering cold in the mountains if you haven’t thought through a strategy. There are several.

  • GORE-TEX Socks, Bikepacking
  • Bikepacker's Guide to Mountain Weather

Gore-tex socks: Although their value is argued on most outdoor gear forums, we’ve found Gore-tex socks to be invaluable. They can act as an insulating layer between your socks and wet shoes. If the depth of the river crossing is less than the height of your Gore-tex socks, charge through. Wearing your shoes you can select submerged rocks, and you don’t have to think or slow down very much. If the depth of the crossing is higher than the sock, one possibility is taking off all of your socks, putting your shoes back on, crossing, and then quickly putting on your (still dry) wool socks with the Gore-tex socks over them. This will keep them relatively dry from the wet shoes. We like this approach for rocky or rough river bottoms. As an alternative in Kyrgyzstan, Lucas used plastic doggy-doo bags to perform the same task.

Obviously, if you are not tender-footed, you can cross barefoot. Another possibility is making sure that your camp shoes are of the sort that you don’t mind them getting wet. If, for instance, they’re river sandals you can cross in those.

Recommended gear:

Darn Tough Hiker Micro Cushion
These aren’t cycling specific socks, but they are indeed tough. With well over 2,000 miles on them, Logan’s favorite pair of socks are still going strong. And with the naturally antimicrobial properties of Merino wool, these are hard to beat. Price: $25 / Buy (Amazon, REI)

PEdALED Mido Boots
Joe found this pair of burly boots a worthy investment in the rock-strewn terrain of Kyrgyzstan. Price: $350

Five Ten Guide Tennies
This classic is really an approach shoe. However, Guide Tennies also make an excellent riding shoe paired with aggressive flat pedals. The taller mids make for a little more of a burly riding boot. Price $160 / Buy (Amazon)

Gore Bike Wear Universal Gore-Tex Socks
Minimal, lightweight, elastic, waterproof and breathable socks that make a nice layer between your regular socks and wet shoes. Price: $69.99 / Buy (Amazon)

  • Outdoor Research Mount Baker Mitts, Goretex
  • Wool Gloves, Bikepacking

3. Pamper your hands.

In keeping with the idea that all of the gear you bring should play multiple roles, we recommend keeping your hands warm and dry through a modular approach. Merino liner gloves are a great inner layer that can be worn on their own if it’s chilly and dry out. In addition, Gore-tex mittens are a lightweight and versatile option to put over the liners when the cold rain or snow flurries start. Also, the Gore-tex mitts can be worn without the liners if it’s a warmer rain or if you’re working hard on an climb. We’ve never had any trouble braking or shifting with mittens on. This system is far superior to an insulated Gore-tex glove as we’ve found that those absorb water and never quite get fully dry because of perspiration when worn during warmer temps. Insulated gloves don’t pack as well, either.

Finally, follow Joe’s trick of clipping his Outdoor Research Mt. Baker Mitts on the outside of your front roll for use as feedbags toting snacks and other small items. If the weather goes south and you have to take out whatever you’re carrying in them, keep in mind that you’ll be making room elsewhere in your packing system because you’ll also be putting on your shell and Gore-tex pants.

Recommended gear:

Outdoor Research Mt. Baker Modular Gore-tex Mitts
Not the lightest Gore-tex mitt that OR makes, but certainly rugged enough for everything the Tian Shan mountains dished out during our trip. Weight: 285g (L) / Price: $140 / Buy (Amazon)

Giro Merino Wool Gloves
A good camp glove or underlayer with the mitts, these Wwol gloves wick moisture and provide a nice touch of warmth. Price: $25 / Buy (Amazon)

45 NRTH Merino Liner Glove
A great hardwearing, chilly weather riding glove when worn by themselves – yet thin enough to use with a camera, with smartphone friendly-digit tips for easy navigation in the cold. Price: $49.99

Fat Bikepacking Setup

4. Layer properly.

The usual outdoor principles of layering apply to bikepacking. We have found that slimmer fitting pieces with fewer pockets keeps us from having fabric rattling into headwinds.

Two merino shirts. Against the body, a thin merino layer works well for several reasons: it stays warm when damp with sweat, it will dry well by wicking moisture via body heat, and most importantly, it resists odor. Ideally this base layer will be one that is robust enough and looks good enough to just be your main riding top in warm weather. The second merino top is to change into at camp. This will be your “clean” shirt, and you may also want to change into it during spans in civilization. It may even be called upon as another layer in an emergency. One of your two merino shirts may be long sleeved, but the other should be short sleeved for warm weather.

Merino long-johns. Another important piece for the kit is a lightweight pair of merino long underwear. They can be worn as a nice insulating layer under the shorts, on the bike or off. They also serve well as an additional sleeping layer. Logan carries a single pair of Patagonia Merino Air bottoms, perhaps one of the lightest on the market. Cass really likes wool leggings worn around the ankles, but that fashion apocalypse is probably his and his alone. He also carries two sets of thin merino long johns. One for sleeping, and one for riding in the morning.

  • Patagonia Merino Air Bottoms
  • Ultralight Down Jackets
  • acre_orion_20

An insulating jacket. When the temperatures drop, the next layer to pull on is your insulating upper layer. We prefer the packability of a high tech puff jacket, but a fleece or a wool sweater can be an inexpensive and effective option.

Shell jacket. The outermost layer will typically be a shell jacket. Again, look for one that is pared down and close fitting. We like shells with hoods (when they’re removable, we just leave them on all the time) so as not to have to carry a cap to keep our heads dry in a downpour. Caps also leave the back of your neck exposed and that can be a source of chill. Obviously, the shell jacket can go on without the insulating layer as just a rain or wind block. This is why we prefer a hardshell over a bulkier (and therefore harder to pack) softshell jacket. If conditions are dry, it is sometimes convenient to put the insulating layer on the outside over the shell jacket so that when it warms up you can just take the insulating layer off and pack it away.

Headgear. Options here include a dedicated warm cap that fits under your hood and helmet or a buff that can be turned into a hat or worn as a gaiter. Joe skips both of these, as he’s found that zipping tight the hood on his puff jacket locks in sufficient warmth. Cass never leaves home without a thin fleece wool gaiter — he finds it good to keep the neck warm and colds at bay.

Recommended Gear:

Search and State S3-B Merino Base Layer
The S3-B is a stylish and good fitting base layer that performs well on the bike and looks nice off the bike too. Price: $95

Patagonia Merino Air (bottoms)
We’ve been inpressed with Patagonia’s Merino Air base layers. While they are a little bulkier than others, they are comfortable, very lightweight, and have proven extremely durable as well. Weight: 175g / Price: $129

MontBell Plasma 1000 Alpine Down Parka (new)
While we’ve tested and used their down Anorak (and love it) for some time, Montbell just released the new Alpine Down Parka. At 8.4oz with 2 zip pockets and hood, this one looks unbeatable. Review soon. Weight: 237g / Price: $379

Bikepacking kyrgyzstan

5. Think in your warmest outfit.

It’s useful to think in terms of your warmest outfit. Combining all of these principles above yields what to wear in the worst conditions: On the upper body, a wool short sleeved base layer, a second wool long-sleeved shirt, an insulating layer and finally the shell. The shell hood will be up (as is the insulating layer hood if it has one). Whether you wear the shell hood over or under your helmet is a matter of personal preference, though we’ve found that it can feel a little warmer if worn under the helmet because the helmet straps cinch the fabric around your head.

On the lower body, you will have your underwear or chamois, tights or long-johns, merino socks, Gore-tex socks and hardshell pants.

Hands are in a merino liner glove and shell mitten.

We’ve found that this warmest outfit can get us through days long freezing rain and snow. Don’t forget quality sunglasses for the clear high altitude sky. As Joe Cruz says, “On the coldest moment of the trip, if you aren’t wearing everything you brought, you brought too much.”

Bikepacker's Guide to Mountain Weather

Stay Warm At Camp

1. Magic number bag.

We’ve found that a 20° sleeping bag or quilt provides a great balance of warmth and minimalist packability. One can use clothing layers to beef up the rating and sleep comfortably well into the teens. Or conversely, a 20º quilt can be opened up for nights in the 70s.

That said, that same magic number might not work for everyone. The temperature rating system used by sleeping bag manufacturers is not a perfect barometer to judge your own comfort; there are many variables that should be recognized. Consider the R-value of your sleeping pad, personal cold tolerance, and typical cold areas of your body.

  • Bikepacking Kyrgyzstan, Big Agnes
  • sea to summit ember ultralight mat review

2. Check the R rating.

The insulating properties of an inflatable sleeping mat can make a big difference in the performance of your sleeping system. Non-insulated models are definitely the lightest and smallest, and usually weigh in at under a pound. But those are better left for summer camping, or trips in warmer climes. For just a few additional ounces, an insulated pad is usually worth the added effort. A few to note are the Big Agnes Q-Core (R4.6), Therma-a-Rest Neo Air Xtherm (R5.7) and Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Air Mat (3.3).

Bikepacking Kyrgyzstan

3. Not too drafty.

Most tents that bikepackers carry are going to fall in the 3-season variety, save a few open-ended tarp shelters. Due to their weight and bulk, a 4-season shelter is usually not needed in these scenarios. We recommend using a 3-season tent or shelter that keeps drafts to a minimum. This can make a big difference in getting the most out of your sleeping system. Furthermore, there are 3+ season tents now, such as the Big Agnes Slater series.

Recommended gear:

Big Agnes Fly Creek Tents
Quickly becoming the bikepacking standard, the Fly Creek series offers a great three season shelter with good draft protection during colder weather. Read the Review / Weight (HV UL1): 970g / Price: $399.99 / Buy (Amazon, REI)

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2
If minimal camping is yours style, this 4 season, single skin, floorless Cuben shelter weighs just 500g – plus pole and stakes. But quality, performance and US manufacturing come at a price. Pitch it low for draft prevention, and high for air circulation. Fits two comfortably and will handle anything you throw at it. / Weight: (500g plus pole and stakes) / Price: $695 / Buy (Hyperlite)

Sea-to-Summit Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Mat
We’ve been extremely impressed with the Ultralight Sleeping Mat, and the Insulated version, with an R-value of 3.3 makes a great mountain weather pad. Read the Review / Weight: 480g / Price: $129.95 / Buy (Amazon, REI)

Zpacks Solo Down Sleeping Bag
Zpacks makes some of the lightest gear on the planet. We’ve been impressed by their Solo Down 20° Sleeping Bag, weighing in at only 900g and packing down to the size of a small football. Price: $410.00

Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Xlite Max SV
Weighing in under a pound with an R-Value of 3.2, the new NeoAir Xlite Max SV packs a lot of features and comfort into a small package. Stay tuned for a full review. Weight: 490g / Price: $179.95 / Buy (Amazon, REI)

  • Outdoor Research Helium Pants, Bikepacking
  • Outdoor Research Helium Pants, Bikepacking

Use what you’ve got.

Here are a few pointers on how to use what you have to maximize warmth and performance.

1. Use your jacket… on your feet.

On a similar note, cold feet can be kept at bay by zipping up your hardshell and slipping it over the feet of your sleeping bag. This added layer helps seal in the warmth at your most vulnerable region.

2. The leg pendulum.

It’s all too often that the morning pack up session results in cold fingers and toes. Once you get the blood going, a nice little trick is to swing your leg fore and aft like a pendulum, leaving your foot muscles loose. This brings blood to your extremities and can chase away numbness.

3. Keep a dry set of clothes.

It’s wise, and comforting, to always keep a completely dry set of gear for camp. And don’t be tempted to use it the next day even if your riding clothes are still damp.

4. Start early.

Weather events tend to happen in the afternoon. To keep to a steady mileage, start pedaling early in the morning. This is often beneficial for river crossings as well as rain and snowmelt is at the least during the night. Furthermore, don’t be shy or sheepish about setting up the tent early in the afternoon if weather goes south.

Bikepacking Kyrgyzstan

Food for thought.

And, here are several tips to use your kitchen to keep warm.

1. Cuddle with a Klean Kanteen… or a freeze-dried meal.

We’ve all had numb fingers and toes. And if they get to that state, it’s hard to warm them back up once the cold of night ensues. One trick is to use your stove and hot water. One good solution is to use a camp meal, such as a Mountain House or Good To-Go pack. These meals require the addition of boiling water and a sealed ‘rehydration’ time of between 10 and 20 minutes. As the meal ‘cooks’, sit cross-legged on your sleeping mat with your feet and hands on the bag. The heat of the boiled water will thaw out those digits. A metal Klean Kanteen with a sealed screw top can be used in the same manner.

2. Magical brew.

A hot drink or soup always warms the soul. We like to get the stove going first thing to heat up water while we’re setting up tents. Logan likes Scratch Labs Apples and Cinnamon powdered hydration mix in hot water… with a bit of whiskey. Cass always packs ginger and lemon for tea to ward off evil spirits.

3. Eat just before bedtime.

If you’re a cold sleeper, one method we’ve found to warm up the sleeping bag is to eat just before getting in bed. This might not work for everyone, but a hot meal can certainly jump start the warmth.

If you have any tips or recommendations about cycling in mountain weather, let us know in the comments below.

  • Conor Phelan

    Great writeup! Just the kind of info I need now as the wet chill descends upon the mountains nearby. Looking forward to the route those pictures were taken on!

    As an aside, I have had great luck with stream crossings/wading in this random pair of waterproof socks I found on Amazon (Dexshells). My pair are knee height, and have an awesome thick fleece feel inside that have kept my toesies toasty when standing in frigid water to fish, crossing glacial runoff streams, or loading and unloading a sea kayak during a two month expedition this past summer in Alaska. As long as the water doesn’t go above the knee, you’re good!

  • Joe Newton

    Loads of good information! As well as Klean Kanteens, I’ve always found a 16oz Nalgene bottle as a fantastic hot water bottle on cold nights. I’ve also put wet socks over one and found them dried out a few hours later.

  • Kat Hampton

    If I wake up cold in the middle of the night, my best warming up trick is to eat something sugary (Snickers bars work very well). I’m usually warmed back up and asleep in 20 minutes. Keeping the snacks in a small OPsak avoids attracting critters to the tent.

  • Cool, thanks. Since I was growled at in my tent (a bear I think) over a single Clifbar, I try not to bring snacks to bed ;)

  • Love the tips guys, especially the leg pendulum. I’ll have to try that when I’m slowly freezing over in the mornings.

  • Yeah, it works like a charm!

  • Phanzy Phan

    Boiled water in a kanteen or nalgene in foot of your sleeping bag for nice toasty feet!


    This is a fantastic and very informative article, exactly what I have been searching for in order to compile a gear list since I am new to bike packing. Thanks for the time and effort spent on this list.

  • Roman

    Great writing! Thanks for sharing all this information. Really helpful for people who are new to bikepacking. Were the fotos used in the article taken in Kirgistan? If so, do you have any recommendations for riding in this area? I am currently in the planning of a long bikepacking trip through several countries, starting in late April ’17 from Iran. Then continue further towards Usbekistan, Turkmenistan,Tadshikistan and maybe also Kirgistan.

  • Joe Cruz

    Hi Roman, thanks for the kind words. The photos are indeed from our Kyrgyzstan expedition this summer. I’ve written up the route and we’re collecting photos to go with it (Lucas shot on 35mm black and white film!). The info will be published here on bikepacking.com in not too long. Stay tuned!

    Your trip sounds spectacular, be sure to share photos and your thoughts with us, we’d love to hear about it.


  • Great advices, gentleman! I agree with most of the points, and I did quite a bit of the Himalayas and the Central Asian mountains before. Best river crossing footwear for us (and we had up to 40 of them a day in Spiti and Kinnaur) were KEEN sandals and SealSkinz merino waterproof socks put on wet feet right after the crossings. Arc’teryx LEAF used to make gore knee-high socks called Mattock, you can still find them on ebay from time to time. I found LaSportiva Ganda Guides approach shoes perfect for longer mountain trips – grippy vibram soles (as good as stalth rubber of five10s). They also make nice wet weather Hail pants, 150g. For us here in Europe Woolpower makes some amazing merino/synthetic underwear/second layer stuff (ulfrotte 200), probably as good as Patagonia’s new air fabric. Also check out Cumulus for light and high quality quilts and sleeping bags (well priced). While the concept of an R-value can be questioned, nothing beats the closed cell foam and an inflatable mat on top combo. With Exped’s hyperlite and some high quality polyolefin or evazote foam, you can go below 450 grams and have an unbeatable comfort, wigh zero pumcgures. We always carry a bottle of olive oil wigh us (or butter) and add a lot of it to our dinner. When the fat is digested, heat is a side effect of the process. Happy riding! Mountains rock!

  • Joe Cruz

    Thanks for the detailed recommendations for European readers. Good call on the olive oil!

  • Roman

    On 35mm black and white?? Wow! I am very much looking forward to see the footage and read your report.

    I am currently building a bike myself (“custom-designed” fits-all machine based on a Surly ECR frame) and collecting gear suitable for this kind of undertaking. Not an easy task considering the length of the trip and the different climates/altitudes to be prepared for (especially if the journey should be extended towards Pakistan’s Karakoram and India’s Himalaya). The contributions on bikepacking.com from experienced guys like you helped me taking the right buying decisions (hopefully). Thanks again.

    I’ll keep you guys posted, sure thing.

  • Roman

    Thanks for all this very useful information… Couple of questions though. I am in the planning of a bikepacking trip through central asia during summer. Means I need gear for a variety of climate zones (deserts, high
    high altitude plains, …)
    1: I am considering buying a sleeping bag from Cumulus’ (great company/products!!) lite weight series. I am not sure, if I should get their 300g or 400g lite series model. What is your take on this?
    2: Have you ever had any issues with your Exped Hyperlite mat? I read some reviews from people who experienced their Hyperlite mat’s seams to burst during warmer nights, leaving them with a unusable sleeping system. Any experiences there?
    3: Do you have any recommendations for rides/routes in the central asia/himalaya region?
    Thanks a lot!

  • Hi Roman! In central Asia and in the Himalayas both me and my wife used LiteLine 400 – they performed very well,but in my opinion you would be ok with LiteLine 300. Ask for 50g of more down, Cumulus has the tendency to put underfil their sleeping bags. At the moment we use zipperless Xlite 200 – they are great, we had some nights with below zero with them. As for thd mats – haven’t tried Exped yet, we use Thermarest Prolite with Multimat ultralight closed cell foam (recently replaced with Laufbursche’s mat). You can buy 5mm evazote at Extremtextil.de For the routs and inspirations check out my website, gettingnowhere.net Cheers!

  • Roman

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I’ll get in touch with Cumulus. I might even get myself the bag with hydrophobic down filling.
    I will check out you blog. Thanks. Safe travels!

  • Sascha

    Any review coming up on the Pedaled Mido Riding boots?

  • I think so, yes.

  • Christian

    Another heads up for Cumulus for us in Europe. On my bike trip to Mongolia in late September this year, I brought my new Cumulus Panyam 450 sleeping bag (-6c). I had upgraded it with hydrophonic down and extra filling in the bottom part at a reasonable additional price. The bag kept me warm down to about minus 10 (with extra layers) and during the nights hovering around freezing I was toasty warm in one light layer. I also used a Cumulus down jacket. Very light and warm. Both products were filled with the highest quality down and are reasonably priced. They also have very efficient customer service and ship fast across Europe. I also really liked their advice and ability to custumize products cheaply. A few downsides: Most of the sleeping bags are not very long, the Paynam one of few long enough for me (I’m 187cm). The zippers on both sleeping bag and jacket could be improved. Consider ordering jackets one size up from your usual size. My jacket – Incredilite Endurance – was only available in one color, but not at big deal. Overall, I’d really recommend Cumulus’ products.

  • Christian

    Yep, olive oil improves just about everything … Another good one I took with me to Mongolia was coconut cream powder. Together with curry powder, it improves most noodle meals + adds some fat to keep warm.

  • Sascha

    Excellent…curious about fit, durability etc..thanks.

  • Chris

    Hi together! Can anybody tell me what the silver thing is which is fixed at the fatbikes seat clamp? You can see it at one of the pictures above. Thank you!

  • Joe Cruz

    Hi Chris, you’ve made me smile! That’s my titanium cup secured behind the seat clamp by the velcro strips that hold the Revelate jerrycan small bag. I put it there because hanging the cup from the seat bag on the drive side is a cliché (though I’ve been doing it since 2011).

  • Joe Cruz

    Hi Sascha, Logan will give a full review but I can give my impression: I find the Mido boots excellent. They are durable, comfortable, and robust for both hiking and pedaling. At the same time, they are very light weight and low profile compared to typical hiking boots. For sizing I used the on-line guide on the PedalED website and I yielded a boot that fits, but it is snug on my high volume foot. If I were to order them again, I’d consider ordering a size up from what I calculated based on the website metric.

  • Roman

    Thanks for the advice! I just ordered a Cumulus Lite Line 300 with hydrophobic down. Great value and also great customer service.

  • Chris

    Aaah, ok :-) That was also my first idea, but I couldn’t find something on the other “dinner-picture”. The pot and cup there look larger. Looks great / nice idea !

  • Sascha

    Thanks Joe! The price isn’t cheap but if they’re durable I think they would be worth it, I use hiking boots atm but they’re a bit heavy. Thanks for the reply and short review…

  • Great article.

  • Thanks!

  • Old Bill

    On the magic brew front let me suggest my favorite.
    Mix high quality hot chocolate that requires only hot water(not milk) to mix and add about 1/3 by volume instant coffee to make the dry mix. If you are cold this mix gives you a little of everything. In the morning it makes a great second cup of coffee after you consume a strong first cup of the real stuff.

    As for sleeping bag choice find what usually works and then drop down another 10 degrees. IMHO Zpacks is making the best bags on the market but get the goose down hood to go with the bag. I settled on a 10 degree bag and haven’t looked back. Order the extra long.
    Just do it.

    Go to REI or a good mountaineering store and try out all the pillows until you find the one that works for you. For cold feet here’s the answer:


    Just order the over boots and be done with it.

    For inside the tent or cowboy camping you will want this:


    Tough as nails and versatile for everything including a space to lay out stuff.

    Finally, don’t order this pad because you will want to use it all the time for everything and you will have to figure out a way to lash it to the bicycle. What a pain.


    I won’t argue tents with you but consider this.
    The burst strength of coated nylon is around 15 lb/sq in, the burst strength of Cuben fiber is around 80 lb/sq in. You make the call for your single wall tent. Zpacks will help you here as they have set the standard.


  • Rebelsatellite

    Berghaus (UK) do gortex mittens so no need to spend a fortune. I used them riding the GDMBR in fall and along with some MONTANE “Prism” high-insulation Gloves (76g) plus merino liners – even riding in snowstorms at 0c I never suffered from cold hands. This system was very lightweight and packed down – and unlike buying some thick gortex winter gloves, could be used in all conditions.

    For me the worst thing about cold weather riding was cold feet. I found that most hiking boots get wet no matter what and then the wetness of the outer material either froze solid or created extra wind-chill. I made this slightly more bearable this with plastic bags but if I was going to do extreme cold riding again I would definitely invest in a pair of proper winter boots. Cold feet ruined many a day for me.

    Other notes – having a solid 3 layered gortex or similar hardshell was really useful – even if it was overkill on warmer days. I used a highend RAB jacket which was an absolute godsend. I’ve bought many cheaper jackets and none really lasted that long or breathed that well but the RAB kept me bone dry. The high end rabs have amazing vents which run all the way down the arms which I found made me a lot more comfortable by increasing airflow and allowing the mid and base layers to dry out.

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