Many of these races, including the Fat Pursuit, have required and recommended gear lists, and some of the recommended gear varies from race to race. This gear is intended to keep you safe, and to help you survive winter cycling conditions. Be sure to pay attention to requirements when you sign up. Below is my kit for the 200 mile Fat Pursuit that took place last weekend. I hope you can extract a bit of information that may help you in your next winter bikepacking endeavor. 9Zero7 Whiteout and it worked great. Choosing a light bike will help keep the overall weight down on the rig when you start adding gear. The drivetrain is comprised of a Race Face 28-tooth chainring, Sram X1 11×42 Cassette derailleur and shifter, XX1 chain, and RaceFace Turbine Cranks. I chose the 28-tooth based on conditions, climbs, and descents. Overall I think this was a great gearing choice for me, but I tend to pedal a bigger chainring than most. I used Avid BB7 mechanical brakes, but I think I finally hit my tipping point and would like to go to hydraulic for winter cycling. I talked to a number of people out there who said they had no issues with their hydraulics.
As for wheels, I was rolling some 45Nrth Dillinger 5’s (required gear – minimum of a 3.7 tire width), mounted to some Nextie Carbon Wild Dragon 90mm rims and Industry 9 Hubs (197&135). I’m a big fan of the 45Nrth Dillinger 5’s as they roll extremely well and are super wide. I learned my lesson last year by not running wide tires, I will never make that mistake again. I started my pressure at 7.5 rear and 6 up front. I slowly took pressure out as the race went on, and as conditions permitted. I never pumped air back in my tire.
As for contact points, I used a 710mm Jones Loop H-bar, which I was not too pleased with over the course of the race. Between sharp nerve pains and too much sweep, I think I will be taking them off. I have done long rides with them, but nothing this long. I did like taking my hands out of my pogies and resting them on the loop, this was a great change of position, but it would only last a short while before my hands would get cold. In the future, I will use a flat bar with a bit of sweep to it. ESI grips rounded out the Jones bars and I used Jefe’s Fat Hands, Jones Specific Pogies made by Jefe Branham. They kept me very warm even without cinching down the gator around my wrists. I chose Shimano XTR pedals and a Specialized Phantom saddle.
My Garmin Etrex 30 GPS (required gear) was mounted to my stem, one white and one red (required gear) Giant bikes blinkie light for the front and rear. I also ran an AyUp light on the front of my Jones Bar and a headlamp on my head. I would turn the head lamp off when it was snowing, this made for less distracted vision. I will certainly be using a two light system again in the future, I think it made me more confident to travel a bit faster.
I tend to heat up quickly, so I knew even in single digits I would be toasty in only a few layers. I rocked the new 45NRTH Wolvhammer boots with one pair of thin socks followed by a pair of thicker wool socks. My feet remained warm the majority of the time, I did produce a bunch of condensation inside however. I’m conflicted on these over the older 45 Nrth Wolvhammers. More on that another day.
For pants, I rocked some old loose fitting REI long johns, and The Terrex Xperior Pant from Adidas outdoors. I kept my core warm with a sleeveless Pearl Izumi base layer, a thin Under Armor long sleeve, a Camelback Octane LR that fits 2.5 liters (required gear), and my Griggs Orthopedics fleece lined jersey from Pearl Izumi. The one part of my body that was extremely cold at one point was my forearms, and typically I prevent that by using arm warmers, but for some reason I left them in the hotel room. You live and learn.
I used Giro DND MTB gloves under Jefe’s Hot Hands keeping my hands toasty the entire time. Inside the pogie I storied some extra gloves just in case I needed a little extra warmth. I started the ride with my Buff folded around my head and a Pearl Izumi winter cap. About 10 miles in I ditched the cap in my right pogie and left it there for the remainder of the race. I also used a wool buff around my neck. I used Rudy Project Noyz Sun Glasses with clear lenses the entire race.
I used a Bar Fly Bag Custom Frame Bag on my Whiteout frame. I honestly did not carry much inside the frame bag. It held my bikpacking repair kit with all the essentials, a pump, my Jet Boil stove (required gar) that I never used, a Pearl Izumi Vest that I put on for the last 20 miles, an insulated 16 oz water bottle and the required map. I would normally carry a water bottle in a stem bag, but figured I would keep it in the frame bag and hope it was less likely to freeze. Along with the above, I carried a few packets of single serving Tailwind Nutrition. One piece of gear that I’m in love with for winter is the Camelbak Insulated bottle, it locks so it does not leak, stays unfrozen, and works like any other cycling bottle, two thumbs up. On the non-drive side of the frame bag is a small compartment, I stored a few packets of Aleve, my multi tool, and a lighter.
Porcelain Rocket Mr. Fusion. This bag is perfect for winter ultras, stable, easy to pack and unpack in the cold weather and can pack down small when needed. I threw my Montbell Bivy (required gear), Big Agnes open cell Insulated Air Core (required gear), my ultra warm Terrex Climaheat Agravic down jacket (required gear) and my current favorite layer, terrex agravic 3l jacket which acts as a vapor barrier or element barrier. I never had to use those jackets or sleep system, luckily! Strapped on the top of the pack was my spot device.
Nuke Sunrise Superfortress harness system which is getting a complete overhaul and should be available this spring. I had Jefe make me a dry bag to hold my -20 degree Western Mountaineering Puma. That is all I put up front and frankly that is all that would fit. The system was solid, and remained dry and secure.
Overall this setup worked great, I could have certainly dropped some weight, but some of the items would have been nice if I was in a pinch, and needed to lay down for a few hours. Luckily I never had to use my sleep system, but I arranged it if I had to, and If I end up doing the Iditarod Trail Invitational, I have a feeling I will want to pull the sleeping bag out once. I think having a harness handlebar system with separate dry bag would make taking out and repacking the bag that much easier, same with any harness saddle bag.
Please feel free to pick my brain if you have any questions. If you are interested in some of these bikepacking bags head to our BIKEPACKING BAGS INDEX page.