Arctic Unicorns: What it Takes to Push Through Those Cold Autumn Outings
No such thing as bad weather, just bad gear
Although born and raised in Colorado, I’m not one of those rare Eskimo Goddesses that thrive and sparkle like unicorns in the cold weather. Before every fall/winter adventure, I dread the bone-chilling cold that lies ahead and grossly overthink every piece of apparel and gear to pack…that is, if I haven’t fervently talked myself into staying indoors where it’s dry and warm. But alas, I have found a system to keep me comfortable while shredding the trails in Colorado’s elements! No more talking myself out of the cold, yet totally worthy, adventure ahead!
What to pack
- Extra pair of dry gloves. Mainly for the descent. Once finished with the main climb, put away your sweaty (and now freezing wet) uphill gloves and bask in your dry, toasty ones.
- Latex. On the descent, wear a pair of latex gloves under your bike gloves. Yes under. They will allow you plenty of dexterity and keep your skin nice and dry when your gloves get wet.
- Extra pair of wool socks. Post holing through thick mud or wet snow can kill the day. Even slight rain and tire kick up can soak the socks, so pack an extra just in case.
- Neck gator. Just like skiing. Keep that neck and face covered up for warmth!
- Lightweight and wool. We all know how much heat our noggins retains! Cover up those ears, too.
- Emergency layer. You might get a mechanical or have to stand under a tree for a bit waiting for the crew. It might be longer than expected. Have an extra, super lightweight layer that packs up tiny to throw on and keep you warm. I personally LOVE Ortovox’s Lavarella Softshell that packs up to the size of my fist – it’s wool filled and weighs a meager 320 grams. A down vest works great too.
- Pack cover. Deuter makes a waterproof cover for all packs, all sizes. Even if you don’t have a Deuter pack, it’s a universal fit and totally worth the $10-20 to keep your pack and its contents dry.
- And of course…a pack to carry it all! All of Deuter’s bike bags work great, but I’d recommend one around 10-15 liters, like the Race EXP Air, Race X, or Compact EXP 10 or 12.
What to wear
- Invest in a good pair (or 2) of cold weather/shell gloves. Pearl Izumi makes a lot of great options!
- Wool. Everyone knows how magical wool is, and if you don’t, invest in some wool layers right away! You won’t regret it. Wear wool long sleeve as your “next to skin layer” to stay warm when sweaty. And make sure your socks are wool too!
- Good shell. Make sure you have a super lightweight, wind & waterproof outer shell to keep that biting wind away. Again, Ortovox is a firm fav for me.
- Shoe covers. Dry feet makes all the difference in the world when it’s wet and snowy out. Check out Pearl Izumi’s versatile shoe covers.
- Leg warmers. Again Pearl for the win here. They have a great pair of fleece-lined leg warmers to cover every square inch of leg from chamois to sock.
And when all else fails…pack up the car for Moab!