January is coming to an end and February is going to be welcomed much like the new year. With a beautiful winter camping trip. For this adventure, Jon and I will be heading to Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior for my first fat bike experience up north and a bit of bikepacking. Like backpacking, but with bikes. Clever, huh? :)
Over the past few months I have pretty much figured out this layering of clothing thing, along with many other tips and tricks to stay comfortable in very cold conditions. There is definitely a lot to figure out when you're new to it all. And it can feel a little daunting. The questions I get most are definitely inquiries about how to dress. How to layer. That sorta thing. It's a really good question, because if you dress wrong...you're basically screwed.
The forecast for our weekend is ranging from 20 degrees to 38 degrees, but we'll be on Lake Superior, so assume it will be a bit colder. These are the temperatures this post is about. If you plan to camp in chillier conditions, this is not how you should dress. You'd need a few more pieces of clothing and heftier mittens, layers, ect.
Base layer- this is a soft, synthetic and lightweight legging and crew neck set. I chose synthetic for this trip because it's only an overnight and I don't plan to take it off. Synthetic wicks sweat more efficiently than wool and dries way faster. This is a really thin base because I plan to sweat a lot and thin=quicker dry time. It's also not going to be very cold, so a mid-weight layer would be overkill. Downside to synthetic, it gets stinky really fast and remains stinky. So...Ima smell.
Socks- as mentioned in the last camping post, I have Renaud's. This means my feet can get extremely cold, to the point of total numbness, in no time. So I do pack Little Hotties foot warmers, just in case. But typically, I sport two pairs of socks. A knee-high Smartwool that is thin and a mid-weight hiking Smartwool. If I am super active or am having a big issue with cold feet, I put on a pair of Sockwell compression socks as a first layer. That seems to help a lot. I pack two sets of socks for an overnight, but honestly, unless I sweat a ton, I only wear one set. One of the benefits of wool is that it doesn't get stinky.
Bra- I always wear a sports bra that closes in the back, like a regular bra. NOT a racerback. If you have ample boobage, wearing a racerback for more than a day is going to hurt your shoulders and neck, especially if you plan to have a heavy backpack. With winter camping you are probably going to sleep in your bra, because taking it off is a god damn hassle. So pick a comfy one. I like what Victoria Secret Sport has to offer.
Pants- these are Prana Halle pants. They're the lined variety, because if it gets into the 30's, I will most likely take off my base layer pants. So these are pretty warm and the inside layer is very soft. I love Prana pants. They are a bit stretchy (for us gals with the booty), very tough and have a nice cut for activity and comfort. You don't need to use a lined pant, but if you don't, be extra confident in your base layer. Also make sure you can easily get them up and down. Because that will make bathroom time more enjoyable. Trust me on this.
Shirt- this layer is by Nike and it's just a thermal wool-blend layer. Very thin, but extremely cozy. The wool is nice because it's warm and doesn't smell, the synthetic part is nice for that quick dry action. Again, I may take off my base layer if the temp gets in the 30's. This top would for sure do the trick of keeping me toasty and dry in that situation.
Jacket- I like a down jacket. Super lightweight and versatile, extremely warm and you can layer it under a wind-blocking jacket or softshell. Layering jackets is key. You do not want to just wear a ski jacket or something like that. You'll sweat it out and find yourself freezing. I like this one because it has a hood and isn't bulky. I plan to pretty much live in this, aside from the biking bits. I packed a softshell for biking and a down vest for under that. You could just wear the jacket under the softshell if you plan on kicking it around camp. But if you're going to be sweaty: DON'T. Down gets wet and has a very hard time drying in the cold air. You will be a sad person if your down jacket gets all wet.
Accessories- I'm bringing a comfy wool hat, a stretchy wind stopping hat, winter gloves and light mittens. These will all be used at some point. Don't skimp on the hand protection. My favorite item is probably my wool buff. It keeps my neck, chin and back of the head warm. I wear it almost constantly and love it. I want one hundred Buffs. Also be sure to have sunglasses for obvious reasons. And ladies (and men) with long hair, I like to braid my hair. That way hats fit, no tangles, no hair in your mouth, no hair starting on fire, ect. Braid that shit.
Boots- If you're going to be snowshoeing or if you're going to be in...snow, use a cold weather winter boot. We are going to be biking and playing on rocks, so I am wearing my Lowas. They're pretty warm and have excellent traction. They're waterproof and just basically are a great boot for anything. It's a really personal choice. I would never wear these for a trip where you don't have trails to walk on in the snow.
Go play! Enjoy the winter and don't let a little cold stop you!