Sunday, March 6

Re winter bikepacking: drying out clothes after a hard day riding

Dissipation, in a word. Today I traveled light. 47 lbs including water, food, tent, bike and all. Only road in a licking short sleeve shirt, fleece vest, fleece jacket, bike shorts, cotton cycling cap, helmet, smartwool socks, and lake winter cycling boots. At temps approaching 40 degrees and clear blue skies this was fine. I packed Marino wool base layers and Defeet woobie boolies to sleep in and my luxury item, a golite down jacket.

The key strategy when rolling into camp with temps expected to drop to 20 or so overnight is to get as much moisture out of your clothes as possible. So after collecting firewood, starting a fire and pitching the golite shangrila 3, I put on the down jacket, swapped the bike shorts for Marino wool pants and started dinner.

The mistake most people make is either putting away clothes wet or thinking they can dry out clothes by the fire. Wet clothes turn into clothescicles overnight and clothes left hire the fire can become fire without even drying.

The key thing is to use you body heat, partly in combination with the fire to dissipate moisture through multiple layers while you relax by the fire and enjoy dinner. An extra outer layer or two like a down jacket is superb in this respect.

Some people assume layers like down can't handle any moisture but this is untrue. While down does not wick or dissipate moisture fast enough to handle a strenuous workout it can more then handle a little moisture at the end of the day being pushed out of you base layers, mid base and even outerlayers. What's more it provides the warmth to let these layers do what they do best, dissipate.

The last key technique is to make sure no damp layers are against the skin when going to bed as moisture will SAP warmth when your metabolism slows.

While I prefer to sleep in fresh base layers only for sleeping like merino wool I will sometimes put my fairly dried out day layers over them. This not only ads warmth but continues to push moisture out of day layers overnight. Usually however I will tuck day layers under my sleeping mat so at least any moisture left in the won't freeze.

The only layers I don't worry about being damp and freezing overnight are outer layers. Since these are not in contact with the skin it's not troublesome to put them on in the morning and as you resume day activities they will thaw and allow baselayers to breath. Outer layers include wind breakers, shell pants and shoes or boots.

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