After trekking through the snow last weekend on my bike, I thought I’d put together a new gear list for myself (and anybody else that cares to use it) as a reference for future rides in cold weather. However, instead of putting it into categories, I organized my gear into the corresponding bike bag I put it in. As a general rule, heavy stuff goes in the middle of the frame; light stuff goes in the front and the back, as you’ll soon see. Thus, my gear will be organized into 8 categories: 1) Front Harness, 2) Framebag, 3) Gas Tank, 4) Jerrycan, 5) Seat Bag, 6) Backpack, 7) Miscellaneous (meaning things strapped to the bike), and 8) Alternative Setups.
You may notice that all of my bikepacking bags outside of the backpack are from Revelate Designs. I have almost all positive things to say about this company, but if you want specifics, click here or here.
Alright, back to business.
Winter Gear List
1) Front Harness:
The Revelate Front Harness has been a dependable non-rack option for carrying a load up front. I’m still not sure whether it’s a better option than my lightweight front rack, but I haven’t swapped it out yet, so that’s a good sign.
- Big Agnes Fly Creek Ultralight 1-Person Tent: A 2 pounds, 1 ounce tent. Definitely worth the investment.
- Kelty Light Trekker 20°F Sleeping Bag: Has proven to be an affordable, lightweight option for cold nights.
- REI Flash Insulated Sleeping Pad: Ultralight (1 pound) blow up sleeping pad. Another affordable, lightweight option. But the regular is definitely not made for anyone larger than 5’8”. I just barely fit.
2) Frame Bag:
The frame bag is a must-have for any bikepacker. It’s where I store all of my heaviest gear, namely my food and cook kit.
- Vargo Bot Pot, Spork, Mug, and Pot Holder: All ultralight cook gear that is made of titanium and ultralight. Because of its narrow design, it can fit in the frame bag of the bike without causing rub against your legs. Another plus is that all of these items, plus the lighter, stove, and MSR gas fit inside the Bot for convenient storage.
- MSR Pocket Rocket, MSR fuel, + Lighter: I go back and forth between this, my Fancy Feast can stove, and my beer can stove. I’ve used this setup the last half-dozen rides though, so I figured it deserved to be featured this time around.
- Soto Helix Coffee Maker, Coffee, Coffee Filters: A great way to brew coffee in the morning. The wire holder holds a filter over your mug while you pour boiling water through the filter. What I love about it is that you don’t have to clean out a container, like my backpacking French Press. This is a great item if you’re a coffee drinker.
- Food: Can of Soup, Protein/Energy Bars, Mixed Nuts, Granola, Dried Fruit (in this case, pineapples), Cheap Whisky – These are kind of my go-to foods for a quick two-day ride. I get more creative if the ride is longer.
3) Gas Tank:
This little bag goes on the front of your top tube. It is great for taking some of the weight that would normally go in a backpack and sticking it on the frame instead. I use it mostly for personal items, and sometimes a candybar.
- Keys with Leatherman Squirt PS4, wallet, phone: The leatherman is great because it has a little pliers which I’ve used on more than one occasion. Otherwise I use a multitool.
- Olympus Tough TG-3 Digital Camera (not shown): A great investment for me. This camera is a 16 megapixel, waterproof, shockproof, and cold-weather camera. While no DSLR, for us amateurs it’s great!
- Candybar or snack (not shown): Sometimes I keep a little snack in the pack as well.
This bag goes on the top tube, right next to the seatpost. I use the Jerrycan specifically for my tools.
- Alien II Multi-Tool: Has a lot of great tools; should assist with most minor mechanical issues.
- Zip Ties
- Tire Levers
- Patch Kit (with vulcanizing glue)
- Emergency Tire Boots (Never used one, hope I never have to)
- Miscellaneous Screws, Bolts, and Nuts
- Rubber Band (…I don’t know)
- 2 Quick-Links
- Fiber Fix Spoke Replacement (Again, never used it, hope I never have to)
- Pieces of Bike Tube Rubber
- Easier-To-Use Disc Brake Tool
5) Seat Bag:
I use Revelate Designs Pika Seat Bag primarily for clothing. For winter riding, it’s often pretty empty since I’m wearing almost all of my clothing throughout the ride. Still, it usually is holding some of the bigger layers I bring for layering up at night.
- Legs: Ice-Breaker Merino Wool 150 Underwear, Spandex Under-Armor (DISCLAIMER: Make sure all pants DO NOT have seams that run along your butt cheeks. These seams can become very painful if doing day-long or multi-day trips), Pearl Izumi Bike Spandex, Polyester Soccer Pants (great pants for riding because they are tight around the ankles and don’t get caught in the chain), OPTIONAL: Novara Kimtah Rain Pants (I think these are Kimtah Rain Pants… I bought them at an REI garage sale. Anyway, I’d only bring them if I was sure to get snowed on. Otherwise, the Polyester pants would be my last pant layer).
- Torso: Meriono Smartwool NTS Micro 150 Short-Sleeve Crew CutShirt, Merino Smartwool NTS Micro 150 Long-Sleeve Crew Cut Shirt,
- Jackets: Montbell EX Light Down Jacket (coming in at a featherweight 5.6 ounces, this is a GREAT investment), OPTIONAL: Marmot Synthetic Insulated Jacket (Another mystery REI garage sale item, but incredible for extreme weather. I’ll bring it any time I know it will be below freezing. Lightweight, compressible, a great jacket), OPTIONAL: The North Face Venture Rain Jacket (only when rain is in the forecast).
- Extremities: Two Heavy Pairs of Wool Socks, 1 Lightweight Pair of Gloves, One Heavy Pair of Gloves, 1 Lightweight Beanie, 1 Lightweight Buff (for neck), and 1 Handkerchief.
I use an Osprey Syculo 15 liter bag. It’s small while still having the capacity to hold a 3 liter bladder, and also doesn’t allow me to just stuff everything in my backpack, which I’m prone to do if I have the space. So far, so good.
- Black Diamond Headlamp
- Anker PowerCore + Mini (easy way to charge my GPS after a long ride) and Mini USB Charger
- Toiletries (TP, Toothbrush, Toothpaste)
- Miscellaneous Stuff: Pills (Ibuprophen, Benadryl), Spare Lighter, Iodine Tablets (for water purification), hand sanitizer, ear plugs, chapstick
- Other Miscellaneous Stuff: Salsa Anything Strap (just in case), Headphones, Native Sunglasses, 3 Liter Water Bladder.
This is the stuff that is strapped to my bike in some way… plus my shoes and helmet.
- 5 Liter Nalgene Bottle + Straps (I strap it to a Blackburn Outpost CargoCage on the downtube)
- Garmin Edge Touring Bike Computer (attached to my handlebar)
- Spare Tube (usually attached to my seatpost)
- Shoes: Five-Ten Ascents (attached to my feet)
- Bike Pump (attached to downtube)
- Specialized Tactic Helmet (attached to my head)
If water is in short supply, I could carry an additional liter of water on my fork, making it possible for me to carry a total of 5 liters (set up below).
Also, if it’s going to be rainy, I put all clothes and gear susceptible to rain either in dry bags or trash bags, or just bag the trip and hope for better weather later in the year. Otherwise, this is pretty much it.
I did want to say that while this setup works for me, there are of course variations that may be just as effective for others. Likewise, while some people might call this a minimalist setup, others would scoff at the notion that this much gear could ever be coined ‘minimalist.’ Gear setups are subjective by nature, and vary depending on the rider’s personal needs and wants. For me this works, and I simply wanted to share it for those who might be looking to head for the hills for the first time.