Winter is here and to quote Guitar Ted, "White is the new dirt". Cold weather brings on a whole different experience and there are a lot of fatbike accessories to make riding a little more comfortable and easier to carry the gear needed for those longer rides. Below are some of my favorite items that I use regularly throughout the Winter.
A good lighting set up is a must if you plan on doing any riding after dark. I run a two-light combination that works great for singletrack in the dark early evenings that Winter brings. The Light & Motion Stella 500 is a very compact headlight that has the versatility of being mounted on handlebars or a helmet. This is my choice for a helmet-mounted light because of its small size and focused beam that follows my line of sight as I ride through switchbacks and turns. It has a separate 2 cell Li-ion battery pack that is easily tucked into a jersey or jacket pocket when helmet-mounted or can be attached to a bike frame for handlebar use. Long run times are another reason I like this light. With a battery life of 2½ to 6 hours, depending on the setting used (Hi or Med), I don't have to worry about it running out in the middle of a ride.
For a bar mounted light, I like the the Light & Motion Taz. I have the Taz 1000 which is no longer available from the manufacturer but two newer models come in 1200 and 1500 lumens. The Taz is a compact light that is bright as a motorcycle headlamp with run times of 1½ to 6 hours (High to Low). The light beam is powered by three high power LED's configured to throw a pattern out ahead and down in front of the the rider giving a good field of view in very dark conditions. It is MicroUSB rechargeable, water-resistant and durable.
Bottle Cage Coozie
Winter cycling requires a rider to hydrate just as much as during warm weather rides, so slushy or frozen water bottles can be a nuisance. To help extend the amount of time it takes to freeze up a water bottle, Gup Gum Gear handcrafts the newly redesigned Bottle Cage Coozie right here in the Twin Cites. This product is fashioned to fit around standard water bottle cages and uses 3/8" thick closed cell foam for insulation to significantly extend the time it takes water to freeze. Each Coozie has a heavyweight nylon exterior and medium weight nylon interior with holes for bottle boss bolts. These coozies will let you ride longer without your water bottles freezing up as quickly.
Another way to stay hydrated in freezing conditions without the hassle of frozen water bottles is by using the Hydrapack SoftFlask. SoftFlasks work great when stored in the back pockets of a cycling jacket. The warmth of the perspiration vapor that passes through the jacket seems to be enough to keep them from freezing. I have biked for hours in all types of below freezing temperatures with filled SoftFlasks in my jacket pockets and have not had any of them begin to freeze up. In extreme cold, I have had the water in the bite valve freeze, but that was remedied by biting the valve crushing the ice thus restoring water flow.
One of my favorite features of the SoftFlask is the way they collapse as you drink from them. As they are emptied they crumple up into a very small size that is easily stored in a pocket or bag.
ColdAvenger Pro Softshell
ColdAvenger from my friend and ColdAvenger Athlete Bonnie Moebeck, who raved about its performance in the coldest of weather. She really put it to the test at one of the world's toughest ultra-endurance races, the Arrowhead 135, that takes place each year in the "Icebox of the Nation", International Falls, MN. Bonnie tells me she couldn't compete having asthma without the protection that the ColdAvenger mask provides for her lungs.
I use the Pro Softshell Half Face Mask. This model allows me to choose the proper head covering for the temperature. I will wear a beanie or skullcap for just the right amount of insulation to stay warm without overheating. The ColdAvenger warms inhaled air making it much easier to breathe, especially during rigorous activity. Its soft fleece material that covers the face, neck and ears is very well insulating and cuts the wind entirely. The protection it provides has made it possible for me to ride longer in the extreme cold conditions that Minnesota is known for.