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winter touring

Old 12-14-05, 12:24 PM
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winter touring

has anybody done tours that were completely or part of the way in winter-type weather?

any tips, or suggestions?
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Old 12-14-05, 12:27 PM
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Take up winter hiking and camping.
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Old 12-14-05, 01:15 PM
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yep. going to ride to the mountains tomorrow for an overnighter or two. And I just got back from a four day trip, freezing at night, 37-40ish during the days. No snow on the ground though, just patches of black ice and frozen puddles. I think tomorrow i'll hit some snow.

start doing winter hiking and camping, just like late says. It takes a good few times to get a system dialed in.

3 concepts to mull over -

14 hours of darkness

sit pad

stove board
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Old 12-14-05, 01:18 PM
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it depends on what you mean by winter... are we talking southern US winter or up here in Canada winter. If the former, basically its just more clothing...
The latter... well that's another story.
I commute year round in montreal and I guess the best piece of advice is that its serious business and dont underestimate it...
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Old 12-14-05, 01:38 PM
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I usually do a really long day trip on New Year's Day since I usually go to bed around 9:00 on New Year's Eve. I was actually thinking of doing an overnighter this year if the temperature is okay.

I've experimented in my backyard with winter camping in my Hennessy hammock. It seems to work well with my equipment down to about -05C. The problem is you have no guarantee of the minimum overnight temperature. If it gets too cold in my backyard, I can just come in.

Also there are other issues when camping in the woods such as snowy boots, cooking and sanitary procedures. I'd be interested in hearing from people too!
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Old 12-14-05, 09:42 PM
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I haven't done any yet and I don't think I can do Winter touring until the children are much much older anyway. But while day rides in Winter are very interesting, tours present a whole set of challenges.

1. Weather can be most unpredictable. Think "snowstorm", brutal winds, temperature hovering between 0 C (and sleet) and -25 C (brrr...).

2. Being sprayed with water or having to do repairs on the road at -20 C could be hazardous to your health.

3. Finding accomodations is much harder in Winter. And if I find a nice motel, then comes the challenge of "what to do with the bike", because I don't think I would like to bring in my room a bicycle that will melt 1-2 L of dirty water on the carpet.

4. Clothing takes lots of room. I like hot food in winter, which means more stuff to carry around. Anyone said TT-84s plus T-42 just for a single person?

5. Very short daylight hours. Actually, touring in March (12-h daylight) would be more feasible than touring at this time of the year, with 8-h daylight.

6. More planning needed. Such as knowing the weather reports. I would loose the spirit of adventure.
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Old 12-16-05, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Michel Gagnon
I haven't done any yet and I don't think I can do Winter touring until the children are much much older anyway. But while day rides in Winter are very interesting, tours present a whole set of challenges.

1. Weather can be most unpredictable. Think "snowstorm", brutal winds, temperature hovering between 0 C (and sleet) and -25 C (brrr...).

2. Being sprayed with water or having to do repairs on the road at -20 C could be hazardous to your health.

3. Finding accomodations is much harder in Winter. And if I find a nice motel, then comes the challenge of "what to do with the bike", because I don't think I would like to bring in my room a bicycle that will melt 1-2 L of dirty water on the carpet.

4. Clothing takes lots of room. I like hot food in winter, which means more stuff to carry around. Anyone said TT-84s plus T-42 just for a single person?

5. Very short daylight hours. Actually, touring in March (12-h daylight) would be more feasible than touring at this time of the year, with 8-h daylight.

6. More planning needed. Such as knowing the weather reports. I would lose the spirit of adventure.

Hi Michel!,
How's the winter in Quebec? It's snowed 3 times in Toronto so far and winter doesn't start until the 21st. That can be an entire winters worth here in the sunny south.

Good point about the food and the daylight hours. I don't like touring in the dark or sleeping for more than about 8-10 hours. In Wales I used to set up camp at dusk and go to the pub until around 10:00. In Canada we don't always have pubs every 5 kms.

Usually I cook away from the camp site since I stealth camp and don't want to draw attention. Hmm. Stealth camping in the winter. No leafs on the trees. I should be looking for a pine grove.

I'm thinking about touring with a cell phone and program a number for a cab if it gets too cold. Is that too urban?

Last edited by stokell; 12-16-05 at 04:33 PM.
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Old 12-17-05, 06:05 PM
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good idea with cooking away from the camp. we'll be stealth cooking and stealth camping as well. realtree camo aint sh1t in the winter though gotta crack out the winter camo

yeah all of the bad weather/short daylight concerns are very legitimate.
i figure pedaling to keep warm while on the bike, and having really warm sleeping/camping gear as well as rain gear.. gotta be ready to be absolutely ***ed which can be a pretty nasty situation in winter. especially getting wet.

sleeping outside in the summer is nice cause you know its gonna get warm in the morning. in the winter it feels so hopeless once you get cold.. i have experienced this and it doesnt feel too nice.
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Old 12-17-05, 07:40 PM
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I don't want to repeatedly flog the winter forums with some recent winter touring pics, but I just went on a blitzkreig trip into the mountains and back- see a writeup in this forum. Some of the same pics here too.

That being said, winter touring is not too terribly difficult if you
a)know your winter camping skills
b) be prepared for survival conditions, even to the extent of having a tent failure.
c) totally dial in your comfort system for winter camping, you want to be warm and drinking hot beverages any time you're not sleeping or travelling.

Here are some of my winter tips and tricks. I've been winter camping for 25 years; On my first winter trip (at age 12) I had to make my own shelter out of pine boughs, using a knife and hatchet. Since then I have spent at least a hundred nights sleeping on snow, probably easily double that but I haven't been keeping track:

warm insulated parka with hood, over sized. (see next tip).

Keep hot water bottle in parka, also use coat to thaw boots, gloves, etc in the AM.

candle lantern as tent heater/ clothes dryer.

two sleeping pads, either full length or abbreviated; you need more insul in the winter, you can keep your activity clothing in between the two pads, and the clothes dry out somewhat and keep from becoming a frozen pile in the corner of the tent.

Make hot drinks and melt snow as soon as you arrive; brew up during your time setting up camp. Always be drinking a hot beve, eating, or sleeping if you're not out there.

cooking away from camp is a lot less neccessary because large predators are usually sleeping, but hanging food and not storing it in your tent is still a good idea because of the little, not hibernating creatures.

wood stove board to insulate your stove from the snow.

battery bag to wear around your neck, batteries become inneficient in extreme cold; if your headlamp or flashlight is left out too long in the ambient temps, you can watch your light fade in 3 minutes....but by swapping out a warm set with the chilled batteries, you keep the light. Better still to buy a headlamp that has a battery that hangs inside your coat.

Having a supersmall proximity headlamp or flashlight that you can wear around your neck for the duration of the trip like a necklace and not even notice, is keen for midnight calls of nature.

Camera stays next to body, electronics or batteries get warmed before use in battery bag.

Always have three ways to start a fire, three sources of light, two candles, and two shelter systems (only one has to be a tent, the next is for total backup, and be just a garbage bag, tube tent, or simple sheet of plastic.)

If you wear wool, you will be able to wear your layers %100 of the time, and only add additional layers at camp... there's a lot less worry about that sudden sweat chill if you use wool. Also, a one piece polartec Powerstretch union suit (i think you can buy them from Campmor) is an incredibly warm around camp and sleeping layer..


As for personal calls of nature, let it steam in an out of the way treewell, preferably in a thicket of brush that will hide your dirty business once spring thaws...burn the TP.

hand sanitizer for cleaning up hands, snow and ice for scrubbing out pots and pans.
An insulated cup is essential.

All your water will freeze overnight, unless you:bury it upside down in the snow, keep a bottle in your sleeping bag, or using a water bladder, insulated in clothes, as a pillow, will keep the water liquid for morning.

Unlike the summer, when I like to have all the morning water ready to go the night before, I keep a small amount overnight and just melt a bunch more in the morning.

Best stoves are white gas cookers like a Svea climber 123, or a MSR XGK... canister stoves, or alcohol burners, are not the best in the cold.

OR mukluks can be pulled over cycling shoes for around camp, they can also be used for camp booties with inner booties or thick socks.

What else, oh, be prepared to spend major down time in the tent. I try to be set up so I can start brewing and melting water in the morning from the comfort of my sleeping bag, cooking right outside the tent.

4-5000 calories is reccomended for winter rations, no real worries about eating too much.


You don't have too carry all that much stuff, if you have the right stuff.

In the thumbnails below, my bike is packed with all winter gear, and it is all in the panniers. There's nothing on the outside to get soaked or trashed from the weather:

Front Left: sleeping bag
Front right: tent body, sleeping pad, tarp, first aid, TP and trowel.
Back Left: clothes, tent poles, and some assessories. Each rear pannier has a sit pad in the bottom, used for sitting and as extra sleeping insulation.
Back Right: cooking gear, food, and some accessories.
Handlebar bag: the goodies.


The second pic shows OR mukluks worn over bike shoes at camp; and the tent pic shows a candle lantern as a clothes dryer/ tent heater. There's a hanging cup holder in the right of the tent pic.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg
snowload.jpg (55.0 KB, 26 views)
File Type: jpg
mukluk.jpg (16.3 KB, 15 views)
File Type: jpg
tentheat.jpg (16.7 KB, 23 views)

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-17-05 at 07:52 PM.
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