Dec 7, 2006

Fatbike Camping Nuggets

Light in weight, efficient use of technology, complete systems are a few personal Nuggets for those fatbike-cyclists who are looking for lightweight kits to complement their winter Kruzing and /or Racing.

These suggestions are not based on a 'do without' mentality...ideally, we'd all like to enjoy some 'level of comfort' AND a 'large margin of safety' especially at ultra-low ambient temps. How to accomplish that within some stringent weight and volume requirements?




BushBuddy stove is an improved version of the original TREKSTOV, being slightly smaller and lighter, and with an improved grate design that is less prone to clogging with ash.

The stove complete weighs just 10 3/8 oz., and makes a compact package 4 5/8 in diameter and 4 1/8 high when nested (which will fit inside most 1 ½ liter pots). Because it burns wood, it is a very economical stove to use as there is no need to carry your fuel (albeit some fire starters)with you wherever wood is available (it does not need batteries).

A wind break is necessary to maintain proper airflow to the stove. Too much air and you're constantly feeding the will burn through a lot of wood. Keeping the airflow regulated with a wind break/shield of some sorts is the key. I just bring along my MSR great.

You will also need to have someway to segregate the pot used with the stove from the rest of your gear...soot from wood burning gets everywhere...I use a separate stuffsac that is dedicated to the blackened pot.




Ultralight down quilts, sleeping bags, jackets and booties made in the USA with the world's finest materials.

skaha-hoodie-3d-large kobuk-knickers

The Skaha Plus is an ultralight down sweater with a fully baffled integrated hood. Based on the Skaha, the hoodie has the added protection of a down filled hood for only one extra ounce, complete with toggle and drawcord face closure. The entire lightweight down jacket is built with 3/4" baffling and is filled with 800+ goose down. The Skaha Plus is warm, but not bulky. At under 10 oz total weight size medium), this is an amazing piece of gear. Sleep in it!

Kobuk knickers are the perfect companion for our ultralight Skaha down sweater. Baffled down knickers are a huge boost of warmth. There's an elastic drawstring in the waist, and the same generous cut to allow for ample layering and ease of movement. We use the optional suspenders made with lightweight 3/4" webbing.

arc-alp-open arc-alp-bottom-closed

Nunatak Down Quilt

Oware Bivy


Big Agnes Lost Dog OverBag Don't put your moisture into your down insulation...put it in a lightweight sythetic overbag that is easy to air dry. 20oz, Primaloft insulation with a pertex shell, w/ a pad sleeve for retangular pad.

Pacific Outdoor Products Max Thermo is the thickest lightweight pad I've used...the 3/4 length weighs in at 15oz and packs to minimal 10in x 4in. and inflates OK.


Pacific Outdoor Products Uber Micro is the lightest, yet fully functional, closedcell foam pad I've used...the 3/4 large weighs in at 3oz and serves as a great backup to air mats and for general camp use. Folds nicely.




Stephenson Tent
Stephenson Warmlite...if you've not heard of the 'house that Jack Built' you've been behind the times since the 60s. These tents have been setting the standard in the Arctic for years...pound per pound, the strongest and warmest 'full-on' tents in the world. Double walled, good ventilation, very light...far exceeds any singlewall or bivy at similar weights and a true engineering study.

We have a 3ERV and a 2ERV...Jack's son runs the company now and with some vision has added a recent 2C (climber's) to the line...shorter lighter than the standard 2R could be the perfect solo winter tent...will try it with the new large door but without the endliner and side windows on this will be used strictly as a winter tent...less holes the better.

alphamid03 alphamid12

OWARE Tarp Tents Traditional miners style four sided tarp tents...ultralight fabrics and minimalist construction makes these the standard for floorless tents. We use the Alphamid and the traditional 'miners' tarp/tents.




Pacific Outdoor Products ultralight drybags make the perfect minimalist panniers. The relief valve allows for molding of load...keeps gear dry and well organized.

Little voice says: protect your nice to your feet...I get out of the boots and VBL socks asap and 'protect my feet'. The Feathered Friends Booties are plush and worth every ounce.


Martin said...


To VBL or not to VBL...that is the question. Disclaimer: I'm not recommending anything you yourself have to figure what works for YOU...everyones body, metabolism, resilience is different...I'm telling you what works for me!


I've been using this system for ~25 years...the guys at the Alaskan Alpine Club that I learned from have been using it for 35 (if not more). I've used it from the Alaska Range in the winter to SE Alaska in the spring, and across the Arctic...mostly I refined dedicated software for a crossing of the Arctic NW Passage / Inuit Passage over 10 years ago...some people tell me it was one of the fastest manpowered transit..hmm, whatever...

I've got to preface any comments:

On 1: my arctic system, in totale, is founded around a high quality tent...the Stephenson Warmlite is pound for pound the warmest in the utilizes doublewall and vbl via a proprietary fabric...sleeps ~10 to 20dF warmer than other tents...that is my key to energy conservation, lighter weight sleeping systems...period.

On 2: I VBL (at least vest, socks and gloves) when working hard on the can't use any system if you are sweating into your clothing all day...disregard anything below if you think you can jump into a bag 'ringing wet' from a hard trail run and expect any system to dissipate that volume of perspiration! Won't least not for extended periods in extreme low temps.


Having said that...I hate the commonly marketed VBLs for bags - like sleeping in a condom...if I am confined mid winter in extreme cold / if you want to use down and VBL, in my opinion there is only one choice...a down triple bag from Jack Stephenson's Warmlite shop. It utilizes an integrated proprietary fabric (happens to be the same inner wall of the tents) as an integrated VBL and has adequate ventilation to move the moisture out. It doesn't sleep anywhere as clammy and is more efficient.


I haven't been using the Big Agnes in extreme cold but it does well in moderate temps...not positively sure how well it will move moisture in real cold...I think it will do at least OK...wish the shell was black!?

I have a simple overbag that I rely on...made it's designed as a 'blanket' with lamilite insulation and lighter weight black shell fabric! I made it 12 years ago...still alive and useable!

The thin insulation black outer shell doesn't take much to dry...albeit in complete darkness in the dead of winter in the arctic...and can be aired while your breaking camp or taking a trail break...with a slight amount of sunshine and a little breeze it takes a very short amt of time to clear the bag of moisture.

The only bag I've seen designed like it is the Bozeman folk's cacoon products...I'll be trying one this season!


For your extended trip...I would carry the lightest weight VBL bag liner I could find - for emergency use...there may be that day when you over-do-it and your gear gets wet - you've got to bivy - and have no choice but to get into your bag wet. For that day you've got to jump into the bag 'condom' albeit destroy the integrity of your down system. That happened to me in the Arctic...I got stuck out at sea in a long storm but was making good time down wind...couldn't really get out of the boat because of unfriendly shoreline, wasn't able to change out to VBL due to rough I put the hammer down for ~9 hours (made close to 90 miles) but when I got out of the boat I was totally soaked...the bivy was on a rocky talus slope under a lightweight tarp...the VBL bag came in handy that day - didn't sleep that comfortable but my system was not compromised.



Martin Leonard III

Alaskan Outdoor Center, Inc.
P.O. Box 1347 #444
450 Ridgecrest Dr. #444
Bethel, Alaska 99559
voice/fax 1.866.842.5751
'Providing alternative education resources for rural Alaskans'

-----Original Message-----

Hey Martin-

Thanks for dropping a line. I was reading your fatbike blog page and got stuck on this:

Big Agnes Lost Dog OverBag Don't put your moisture into your down insulation...put it in a lightweight sythetic overbag that is easy to air dry. 20oz, Primaloft insulation with a pertex shell, w/ a pad sleeve for retangular pad.

I’m hoping to ride the Iditarod’s south route this winter. Among other things, that I’ll be bivying every night and I’m thinking hard about how to limit the amount of moisture that I put into my insulation every night. Every ‘expert’ seems to want to push me into a vbl between me and my sleeping bag. Having done this in the past, I’m not that keen on it for a few reasons.

You’re the first to throw out a different idea.

My question is how well will this work on a 3 week trip where I won’t be able to deice the synth bag? At some point it must lose it’s efficiency and simply become a bag of ice. Any thoughts on how long it’ll take? How long have you been using/recommending this system?

Thanks for any input.



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Moisture Management...long

Good discussion...some folks noting what should be the prime concern when considering your bivy scenario...MOISTURE MANAGEMENT. IMAO, you're comfort level is directly proportional to how dry you can keep ALL your gear. You mentioned Alpinists...every one I've climbed with are anal when it comes to keeping moisture out of and off of their gear....especially the sleeping systems of those who are in the field for extended periods...theirs are good systems to model.

Two engineering concepts that really form the basis for keeping your stuff dry: 1) keep the the moisture from entering clothing and sleeping items all together (VBL), 2) you can move the moisture through the objects and collect it somewhere else.

This is how I apply the concepts:

When exerting...I VBL my feet, torso with a vest, and hands when its super cold. When stopping to bivy I remove VBLs and replace with same dry socks on the feet and a sythetic camp over bootie - exp weight capilene top on the torso - the same dry gloves on the hands. Air dry and then stuff the VBL gloves and socks somewhere my shirt or pants. Just let the unzipped vest hang around my torso to air-out and will sleep with it.

[ I've used Stephanson's VBL's and SealSkinz type socks and gloves for years...trying the RBH products this season and they look really good so far. Camp bootie is my own - make sure the footbed is closed cell foam.]

Your scenario...I would use my down jacket and pants along with a synthetic helmet style hood as the primary insulation for the bivy...the garmets can have double use at standing stops as well.

SOP...we all know you're passing vapor / moisture when ur sleeping...which for some with high metabolisms can be significant, esp if you get into a heavy sleep. Moisture will collect on the inside of the coldest layer (ie the story of the 15lb Steger N. Pole expedition bags - FYI, they switched to Stephanson Triple Bags and Warmlite tents after...won't see that in their sponsor photos).

So collect moisture where it can't hurt you...carry a lightweight synthetic overbag. The overbag will enable you to to extend the use of your down garments by moving the moisture through your down insulation and into the light synthetic bag which, if made properly, will dry quickly and efficiently as well as add insulation.

The pad of your choice - hundreds out there....I use a Pac Outoor Max Thermo which is the lightest / 'highest' off the ground!

[ Be careful with down garments for sleeping...many of the products are using fancy fabrics that claim vapor transport...which many folks have learned the hard way is a fallacy esp if you're static and sleeping in favorite parka is a 1960s polish down filled mountaineering parka that I got at the salvation army 20 years ago...quality down and the outer and inner fabrics are plain jane 2.0 ounce nylon - no coatings or fancy passes vapor as well if not better than anything...I also use Feathered Friends products because they are the only company I know that will custom option your garments with standard lightweight nylon shell fabric.

I'm using a lightweight Lamilite overbag that I made myself from an old Wiggy's original summerbag...cutting down one of Wiggy's newer summertime bags now as well as trying some Big Agnes overbags. ]

Down Jacket: 15oz
Down Pants: 15oz
Helmet: 4oz
Overbag: 20oz
Pad: 15oz

70oz cold weather bivy system

If you want to cut weight...start with the pants...and add down booties!

You can also see some ideas on the fatbike blog:
Scroll down and READ the comment on the 'camping nugget' post.


'hey I don't, I just live here'

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