6 Essential Bike Bags and What to Carry for Winter Fat Biking
I don’t think about what to wear for a winter ride. I wear the same kit for every ride and keep it handy in a laundry basket dedicated to my cycling clothes.
I also carry the same items for every ride and keep them in the exact same place on my bike. This is important for 3 reasons:
- It takes the guesswork out of what to bring.
- It saves me from fumbling for gear with cold fingers.
- I’m confident that I have everything I need.
Why bags instead of a backpack/hydration pack? Sweat is the enemy and backpacks make you sweaty. In addition, it’s hard to add and subtract layers if you have to remove your backpack each time.
It may be overkill on short rides but a side benefit of rolling loaded is that I am building stamina and strength!
In 2017 I tore my ACL fat biking in the snow. I wasn’t able to walk but I was able to bike out. If I had been stranded I would have needed the extra clothes. (I typically need the extra layers for the 2,000 ft. elevation drop back to the trailhead.)
It’s taken a few years plus trial and error to accumulate an efficient bag set up.
Below is a list of my bags and the items I carry in each.
Arkel seat bag: The lighter items go in your seat bag. In mine I carry my 800g-fill down parka (Patagonia Fitz Roy), extra merino wool base layer (so that I have a dry layer if the other gets sweaty), and a merino wool balaclava. Two sets of chemical hand warmers fit perfectly in the top zippered pocket.
If wet weather is rolling in I’ll carry outerwear as well but in Wyoming we are mostly blessed with blue skies!
A sleeve on the bag slides onto an aluminum hanger and the hanger attaches to the seat postt. This means that the seat bag doesn’t sag and you can easily take it off your bike to take in your tent or house, for example. It also works with a dropper post.
Revelate Designs Jerrycan: Bike multitool, valve stem remover, tire irons, twisty tie to unclog valves, and bacon strips (puncture fixers thingies). Trash/wrappers from my bars gets stashed here.
Revelate Designs frame bag: Heavier items go in your frame bag, with the heaviest items at the bottom. In mine I carry my battery heated gloves, extra tube, a spare wool hat and a lightweight windbreaker. My bike pump goes in the small compartment on the non-drive side.
Since my bike is a size small, my frame bag is also a small. It’s jam-packed with the aforementioned items. Which is why the seat bag is an essential addition to my bag collection.
*You’ll see a lot of Revelate bags here, they just happen to be what works the best for me. If you have a favorite brand, please post it in the comments below!
Nothing is more important than a well-functioning piece of equipment. Which becomes exponentially more important with every degree in temperature drop.
Revelate Mag-Tank 2000 Bolt On bag: Whisky flask and phone. It bolts onto my Salsa Mukluk frame, which is a nice feature. I didn’t realize how many times during a ride I was readjusting the tank bag until I got the bolt on bag.
The best part is that you don’t have to remove your gloves to get into the bag. The magnetic closure also clips over a do-dad, keeping the contents secure.
Revelate Designs Mountain Feedbag: This is a gateway bag. It’s amazing how much it holds. I always have two on my bike and carry hot tea with honey. The outside pockets carry my roll-on sunscreen, chapstick, handkerchief, and any number of bars (snickers!) The outside pockets are also big enough for your phone.
Surly Moloko Handlebar bag: This turns my Jones bars into a roaming coffee table. I set my candy bars on here, my gloves, my phone, etc. when I’m messing with other things. In addition, the bungee nicely carries my compact binoculars for spying on naked campers in the desert.
The bag is pretty roomy and tucks in nicely in the Jones bar loop. It holds extra buffs, my lighter for starting fires, my small Wyoming flag, and extra snacks.
Buy me a beer and I’ll tell you the story of the naked desert campers.
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