Monday, January 21, 2013

Winter Bike Packing: Comfort in the Cold

With the coldest temperatures in 4 years predicted, Jared and I decided it would be a good time to go bike packing along the Minnesota River.  We often spoke of taking a trip like this on the warm summer nights riding in the area.  It was fun to do it.
Accusations of insanity were most people's reaction to hearing we're going.  Just the opposite is the case; this was a very comfortable trip.  I did not so much as shiver once.  Good gear and experience that comes from practicing in the backyard on cold nights made this drama free.  The whole experience was exceedingly more pleasant than tenting out on a warm buggy night.
These screen shots show the weather conditions upon waking up cozy and warm inside my sleeping bag on Monday morning.
Here we are getting ready to ride from Jared's.  We have good gear for the trip, but it is not expensive.  The red jacket I'm wearing worked perfectly.  I paid $1.50 for it in Taiwan several years ago.  I love it because it both blocks wind and breaths.

The ride away shot showing our backpacks holding our -40F sleeping bags.  This bag gives me the confidence to go out in any weather, as I know I can hunker down and be warm and safe in it.

More about gear, I have my three season, one-man tent strapped to my handlebars in front.  Water bottles do little good once they turn to ice, so I'm carrying fuel in my bottle cage.  The back rack mounts to my seat post.  My trusty old Nashbar panniers go on the rack.  The left side carried extra clothing and the right side held food and my stove.  My sleeping pads worked well.  I wanted to use two layers of the foam pad, but couldn't find the other.  So I substituted a self-inflating pad.  Notice the small piece of pad on the back of the blue pads.  This is a wonderful piece of kit that I used, to sit on, stand on and as another layer of insulation under my sleeping bag.

A shot of home for the night.  We camped in a a patch of tangley sticks which provided us with shelter from the wind and ample firewood.  In the summer this area will be too wet and buggy.  Note my black pad near my cooking stove.  Instant coffee mixed with hot chocolate along with fig newtons warmed us as we set-up camp.  Later we had beef stroganoff and more coco.

Jared played around with his homemade super cat stove with mixed results.

We sat around the fire warm, full and comfortable until around 9 pm.  I snuggled into my sleeping bag and watched The Dark Knight on my phone.  I was able to use whorish amounts of phone battery because of my New Trent portable charger.  It is about the size of a cheeseburger and provides 6 charges of my phone.  The picture above shows the hoarish frost inside my tent and on my glasses.
 Here we are geared up for the ride home.  The temp was down, so I donned more clothing.  The whole trip was pleasant and not very hard thanks to a few key elements of gear and experience. No we're not "crazy."


The"Biped-alist" said...

Man sounds like you guys had a lot of fun. What kind if sleeping bags did you guys run? Were did you get them and cost, great story

The"Biped-alist" said...

Man sounds like you guys had a lot of fun. What kind if sleeping bags did you guys run? Were did you get them and cost, great story

SeanH said...

Roughing it with The Dark Knight.

How far to the trailhead from the driveway?