Important Layering for Bikepacking: The Six-pack Methodology

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When the mercury drops and temps fluctuate, a layering clothes technique is the popular minimalist technique for bikepacking and bicycle touring. On this information, we dig right into a six-piece plan that many people use and agree on for large expeditions and weekend outings alike. Plus, discover mini-reviews of a bunch of our favourite clothes that we’ve put to the check through the years in a number of layering classes…

When the nippiness of the shoulder season begins to set in, the excessive mountains beckon, or biking journeys contain a number of microclimates, we’re usually confronted with temperatures that vary from effectively beneath freezing to sizzling and the whole lot in between. For diverse situations like these, a layered strategy to clothes is normally the lightest, most compact, and most well-liked possibility for multi-day out of doors pursuits—bikepacking and touring included. Many people on the crew have established a system that we’re comfy with, and because it occurs, it’s one that the majority of our editors agree on, regardless of every of us having our personal aesthetic and magnificence of bikepacking.

The Six-pack Methodology

In a nutshell, there are six items of attire that may be packed as a near-complete package along with “what you’re carrying” in regular temps: a pair of shorts, a merino T-shirt, socks, footwear, and gloves. Some people might select to carry a spare pair of underwear or socks, whereas others may not. Then there’s the choice to have heaters or further foot and hand coverings. However the six core merchandise layering pack record is laid out beneath. Notice this could all match into a normal seat pack or saddlebag.

Layering for Bikepacking

To begin, light-weight merino high and backside layers make up the bottom. The important thing phrase right here is merino, for causes we’ll spell out additional down. Subsequent, a button-down, flannel, or wool zip-up makes an ideal second layer with a puffy or insulating jacket as the nice and cozy layer up high. The flannel and insulating jacket are each considerably non-compulsory, and one can generally be used as a substitute of the opposite, relying on the temperature. For weekend journeys, I normally depart considered one of them at house, relying on how low the temperatures are going to get. Colder normally means I carry the puffy and vice versa. For a giant journey, they each go into the pack record. For bottoms, “lengthy johns” or lengthy underwear make the underlayer. Once more, merino is right. Lastly, a rain shell (or windbreaker) and rain pants are the final outer layer to maintain out the wind or rain (or mosquitos!).

The good thing about a well-thought-out layering system—and what would possibly decide the burden and heat of every merchandise—is that every one of them might be worn concurrently to create your warmest attainable setup, not like a number of thick mid-layers, which might’t successfully be worn collectively.

Partially considered one of this roundup, we cowl the primary 4 parts of this method, in addition to a number of useful wind and lightweight climate shells. Learn on for particulars on every of the classes, accompanied by a listing of a number of of our favourite examples, most of which have been examined to nice lengths.

1. Merino Lengthy-sleeve shirt

Towards the physique, a skinny merino layer works effectively for a number of causes: it maintains its insulating properties when damp with sweat or moisture, it should dry effectively by wicking moisture by way of physique warmth, and equally as essential, it resists odor. Ideally, this base layer will probably be one which’s strong sufficient to final and look ok to be your major using high in cool climate. Most of us carry this long-sleeve merino layer along with a short-sleeve merino T-shirt. The 2 might be layered for a bit extra heat or saved separate to have a dry/clean-ish layer out there for camp or civilization.

Smartwool Merino 150

Logan: I nonetheless have an outdated Smartwool Merino 150 high in rotation that I purchased again in 2011. I can’t say that it’s acceptable for carrying in public at this level, with a couple of dozen holes in it, however it nonetheless works as a base layer. Since then, Smartwool began making their 150 tops with a average 87% Merino Wool and 13% Nylon mix to make them extra sturdy. I lately acquired this one and actually prefer it. It’s barely extra becoming and stretchy than my outdated one, which is an effective factor. As an alternative of getting saggy and free as soon as I get sweaty on a experience, it retains its form. I stay up for 10 years with this one too. And the funky plant-dyed end is icing on the cake.

204g (M) / $85 at REI Ladies’s Males’s

Kitsbow Escalator/Lory

Logan: The Escalator and Lory Merino long-sleeve shirts are available in two flavors: henley or crew. Each are made within the USA from 34% merino and 66% polyester. The merino layer sits subsequent to the pores and skin and is designed to tug away moisture whereas regulating temperature. The Escalator (males’s) and Lory (girls’s) merino henleys and crews are good for chilly morning rollouts or layering. They’re barely extra fashionable than a easy long-sleeve T-shirt, making them double as a base layer or a single layer. And the match is spot on. We don’t have as many miles on these as different clothes on this roundup, however thus far, we’re very impressed. They appear to stay as much as their claims and really feel well-made and sturdy besides. They’re not as mild and funky as a long-sleeve merino tee, however they appear barely longer lasting.

197g (M’s L) / $129 at Kitsbow Escalator Lory

Ibex Indie Hoodie

Lucas: I’ve been bringing an Ibex Indie Hoodie on most of my bikepacking journeys since 2016. Ibex lists it as a primary layer, however I additionally put on mine as a mid or outer layer relying on the temperatures, and it really works equally effectively in any position. Its quarter zip is tremendous handy for letting off extra warmth with out having to cease pedaling and take it off. It has a slim-fit hood that works properly beneath a helmet, and the thumb holes add a welcome contact of coziness. The Indie is made from ultra-soft 100% merino wool and has an everyday match (my dimension L works effectively for me at 6’2″ and 165 kilos). It’s expensive at $170, however I can attest that it’s exceptionally effectively made and hardwearing regardless of being so mild. The Indie is accessible in 5 males’s and girls’s sizes and a broad vary of colours.

278g (M’s L) / $170 at Ibex Mens’s Ladies’s

Finances Alternate options: Merino wool is normally fairly costly, however it’s well worth the funding to many people. There are a number of cheaper options, nonetheless. Meriwool presents a 100% merino baselayer for $60 that we’ve seen people point out. There are additionally loads of cheaper non-wool options, such because the $40 REI light-weight artificial baselayer.

2. Merino bottoms

One other essential piece for the package is a light-weight pair of merino lengthy underwear. They are often worn as an insulating layer beneath shorts, both on the bike or off. They will additionally function a further sleeping layer or an insulating layer beneath a pair of shell pants.

Patagonia Capilene Air

Logan: As seen in our annual Gear of the Yr Awards (previously known as Merino Air), Patagonia’s revolutionary tackle a wool base layer is stretchy, extraordinarily breathable, and seamless. Every is made with 51% RWS-certified merino wool and 49% recycled polyester utilizing a singular manufacturing course of wherein fibers are uncovered to a high-pressure air gun leading to excessive loft and low weight. This ultralight, ultra-cozy base layer is a prized possession to a few us. And happily, we’ve additionally discovered them to be fairly sturdy and long-lasting. The grey pair pictured within the second photograph has been in rotation for a number of years with out tears or indicators of fatigue. They’re not low cost, however given their sturdiness, we predict they’re a worthy funding.

166g (M’s L) / $140 at Patagonia

Smartwool Merino 150

Logan: Just like the long-sleeve base layer talked about above, the Smartwool 150 bottoms are on the lighter aspect of the fabric weight spectrum and make an ideal complement to a rain pants layer. They’re made from 87% merino wool and 13% nylon and appear to carry up pretty effectively primarily based on a pal’s suggestion. That stated, they’re form of new to me, however I’m impressed thus far. The Merino 150 bottoms are available in males’s and girls’s variations in a number of completely different colours.

185g (M’s L) / $85 at REI Ladies’s Males’s

Artilect A/SYS-1 Boulder Leggings

Miles: Boulder, Colorado-based Artilect is a efficiency attire firm with a powerful deal with sustainability. They’ve a whole layering system that’s primarily based round a singular manufacturing course of known as Nuyarn—drafting merino fibers right into a high-performance filament for a cloth that provides all the identical pure properties as normal merino wool however with improved sturdiness, heat, and stretch. Plus, these advantages are a part of the yarn spinning course of, not a chemical therapy, so that they final. I’ve been utilizing the A/SYS-1 Boulder Leggings for effectively over a yr now, and so they’ve but to indicate indicators of wear and tear or stretching. The match is tight, which is smart for a base layer, and there are even some small perforations beneath the elastic waistband in the back of the leggings to permit some venting.

118g (M’s L) / $110 at Artilect

Finances Alternate options: Just like base layer tops, Meriwool presents mild/midweight bottoms for $55. And for those who’re actually on a finances, there are a great deal of non-wool choices that insulate effectively, together with $5 girls’s tights that you could find at almost any division retailer.

3. Flannel or button-down

We lined our love of “flannels” and what precisely meaning in a latest roundup, however right here’s an excerpt for context: Whereas definitely not a conventional garment within the biking milieu, flannels have been a main a part of our wardrobe for years, and have gotten more and more frequent for the extra relaxed biking subgenera. A button-down is usually all you want for an outer layer on a spring gravel jaunt, or late fall spin round your native singletrack. And it’s good for a bikepacking outing, whether or not using in it or tossing right into a bag as an additional layer. A flannel or button-down additionally makes a comparatively minimal package inclusion to have one thing for a not-too-shabby look off the bike throughout an extended tour. In abstract, button-downs are simply vented to dump further warmth throughout a giant climb, the collar and lengthy sleeves can present some further safety from the weather, and it offers you the choice of wanting barely much less like a dirtbag when rolling into city for a resupply. Listed below are a few of our favorites.

Kitsbow Icon

Logan: Common readers may need our Kitsbow manufacturing unit go to article recent on their minds, however simply to reiterate, the Icon shirt is arms down our favourite Kitsbow garment. The long-sleeve snap-button shirt is constructed from US-sourced Pendleton wool and has a brilliantly designed match with vents and reinforcements. It’s a type of items that will get higher with age and simply received’t stop. I’m now the proud proprietor of two of them, and so they’re just about the one factor I put on all winter lengthy. The Icon is accessible in girls’s and males’s (signature match, which is like the unique; and relaxed athletic match, which is barely broader).

480g (M’s L) / $249 at Kitsbow

Pearl Izumi Rove

Logan: I’ve worn this Pearl Izumi Rove sufficient at this level to the place I get made enjoyable of for carrying it. I’m not going to say it’s my favourite aesthetic, however it’s sturdy, visibly vivid, breathes effectively with nice air flow, and it has simple to function one-handed snap buttons and a very good match. It seems Pearl Izumi modified the colorways lately and it’s out of inventory (in males’s), so it’s a bit unclear whether or not it should stay in the marketplace. There are many the ladies’s model in inventory, nonetheless. I’ll make sure to replace this down the street after I discover out extra.

255g (M’s M) / $60-80 at Pearl Izumi Males’s Ladies’s

Cascada Land Wool Shirt

Miles: The Cascada Land Wool Shirt is by far probably the most comfy flannel I personal. Though the title suggests a wool building, it’s truly 77% polyester and 16% wool, with 7% elastane for some stretch. The mixture is mushy, stretchy, and quick-drying, good for lengthy days on the bike that decision for a bit safety from the cool air. It has a slim match, is available in six completely different sizes and quite a lot of colours, however solely in a single girls’s possibility.

292g (Males’s M) / $129 at Cascada

Finances Choices: The most well-liked finances possibility for a sturdy button-down is a used Pendleton wool shirt. These can usually be discovered on eBay or different secondhand shops. There are loads on the market. There are additionally loads of flannels and poly button-down shirts to be discovered at native thrift retailers.

4. Insulated Jacket

When the temperatures drop, the following layer to tug on is your insulating higher layer. We favor the packability and low weight of a high-tech puffy down or artificial down jacket, however a fleece or a wool sweater might be a cheap and efficient possibility. Another choice, once more, relying on the temperatures, is a wool hoody or perhaps a wool sweater when you’ve got the packing area.

Montbell Down Jackets

Logan: It’s laborious to beat Montbell Down Jackets for his or her worth, match, and function-to-weight ratio. I’ve tried three of them now and so they’re equally as spectacular in several situations. The Alpine Parka leans towards expedition heat, however the worth has gone up and it’s now about $479, which is a bit bewildering. Nonetheless it’s an ideal performer, and at 237 grams, it’s laborious to beat for those who’re actually counting grams. The 215 gram Ex Gentle Anorak is my favourite of the three and I’ve used it on numerous journeys. Montbell additionally has a few less expensive choices, such because the $179, 209 gram Superior Down Jacket. I’ve typically discovered all their jackets to suit extraordinarily effectively.

$329+ at Montbell Plasma Parka EX Gentle

Patagonia Nano Puff

Virginia: Patagonia’s Micro Puff Hoodie was like a second pores and skin to me, however after carrying it religiously for a number of years, it lastly met its finish, and I changed it with the Nano Puff Jacket. This time, I used to be on the lookout for one thing extra sturdy, and the Nano Puff’s shell is considerably thicker than that of the Micro Puff, so it ought to arise higher to thorns and abrasion. The Nano Puff is just about the identical jacket with improved 60g Prima Loft Gold Insulation constructed from post-consumer recycled polyester and a shell constructed from 100% recycled poly fibers. The Nano Puff feels not less than as heat because the Micro Puff, and it packs all the way down to roughly the identical dimension. Whereas the Nano Puff does weigh barely extra, the elevated sturdiness is price a number of further grams in the long term. Whereas I haven’t worn this jacket by a number of seasons but, it already feels as comfy as an outdated shoe, and I count on to be spending a number of time in it from right here on out.

323g (W’s M) / $229 at Patagonia Ladies’s Males’s

7mesh Callaghan Wool Hoody

Virginia: The 7mesh Callaghan Hoody is constructed from a wool/poly mix that includes a mushy Merino internal face that’s comfy, heat, breathable, and odor resistant. It may be worn over a lightweight base layer and is minimal sufficient that it may be worn beneath a looser jacket. The Callaghan matches extraordinarily effectively with a pleasant lower, two completely sized entrance pockets, an under-the-helmet appropriate hood, and an elasticized hem and cuffs. At $190-200, the Callaghan’s not low cost, however it’s sturdy, and it’s clear that 7mesh is aware of the artwork of mixing kind and performance. After three years of laborious use, it’s nonetheless considered one of my favourite items. The hoody is made in China.

167g (W’s M) / $200 at 7mesh Ladies’s Males’s

Timmermade SUL 1.5 Down Sweater

Miles: Weighing in at simply 228 grams, the New York-made Timmermade SUL 1.5 Down Sweater is priced equally to factory-made merchandise, but it has the handmade high quality and a spotlight to element that Timmermade is thought for. It has rapidly change into considered one of my most prized possessions, retaining me toasty heat proper all the way down to freezing temperatures whereas nonetheless packing away impressively small when area is proscribed. Who wants zippers and pockets anyway? Learn the full evaluate right here.

228g (L) / $260 at Timmermade

Patagonia Nano-Air Vest

Miles: When it’s too heat for a jacket however too cool for a t-shirt, I nearly all the time attain for my frivolously insulated Patagonia vest. I even have the discontinued Nano-Air Hybrid Vest, which isn’t insulated beneath the arms or on the again, however the Nano-Air shares lots of the similar advantages—offering simply the correct amount of heat to your core whereas retaining your arms free to dump extra warmth whereas on the go.

182g (M’s M) / $199 at Patagonia Males’s Ladies’s

5.1: Windbreaker

The outermost layer will usually be a shell jacket. Typically talking, we regularly use a rain shell with a hood (which we’ll get to partially two of this sequence, that includes rain gear) for many bikepacking journeys as they will serve a number of functions. Nevertheless, if situations are dry, windbreakers or “weatherproof” jackets are a lot lighter and might be very helpful. They arrive in significantly useful on quick overnighters, weekend journeys, or simply lengthy day rides. And, they may also be tossed right into a package as an additional layer for insulation or chilly morning rides. Listed below are a number of choices we like on this class.

Patagonia Houdini

Virginia: I can’t imagine it took me so long as it did to get my very own Houdini jacket. It’s so skinny and light-weight that I used to be certain it wouldn’t do something. I used to be improper. It really works amazingly effectively over a short-sleeve jersey or T-shirt to chop the nippiness of an extended descent, and when it’s worn over a heftier layer, it provides a stunning quantity of heat. It’s not designed to maintain you dry in a torrential downpour, however it does an admirable job of shedding mild rain and mist. The sample is superior and the dropped tail is a plus for any bicycle owner. It’s additionally fair-trade sewn from 100% recycled nylon. The Houdini’s packed dimension isn’t a lot larger than a cellular phone and it weighs subsequent to nothing, so justifying its place on any bikepacking journey is a no brainer for me. The Houdini is made in Vietnam.

97g (W’s M) / $109 at Patagonia Ladies’s Males’s

Search and State S1-J

Logan: The NYC-made S1-J using jacket is considered one of Search and State’s best-selling items, and for good motive. This light-weight jacket may be very minimal and packs small—a type of objects you may toss in about any bag for any given experience. It punches above its weight, too. It’s not solely extremely windproof, however it’s additionally extra rain and weatherproof than you would possibly count on—good for drizzles, altering situations, or misty fog. Options embrace Schoeller C-Change Cloth, touted for its breathability, high-end Riri zippers, and a military-grade injection-molded aquazip on the pocket. One among my favourite issues is a bottom-up zip, permitting you to maintain your again dry and air out the entrance. It is a expensive piece, however for those who worth MUSA attire that’s long-lasting and effectively made, I extremely advocate it. That stated, they run small, so dimension up.

238g (M’s XL) / $275 at

Topo Designs Ultralight Jacket

Miles: The Topo Designs Ultralight Jacket is a good instance of an excellent versatile and intensely light-weight jacket for each form of experience. It’s constructed from an excellent mild 15-denier nylon micro ripstop material that’s wind resistant and water repellent. There may be elastic binding on the cuffs, hem, and hood to seal in your heat, and your complete factor packs immediately into the chest pocket when not in use. The Ultralight Jacket is made in Vietnam.

102g (M’s L) / $89 at TopoDesigns

Patagonia Dust Roamer Jacket

Emily: A part of Patagonia’s mountain bike attire lineup, the Dust Roamer Jacket is a light-weight and breathable outer layer that’s good for altering climate situations and safety from the weather. It’s constructed from a stretchy 100% recycled nylon material that’s Honest Commerce Licensed and packs down sufficiently small to simply shove right into a bag or pocket. It has a sturdy water repellent end to shed mild rain, however I discovered it really works greatest as an outer layer on cool mornings or windy days.

192g (W’s S) / $249 at Patagonia Ladies’s Males’s

7mesh Northwoods Windshell

Logan: The 7mesh Northwoods jacket is a bit on the costly aspect for what it’s, however it’s additionally change into considered one of my go-to items to toss within the backside of a bag. It’s good simply to have a bit further one thing when it’s not too chilly however would possibly dip later within the day. It’s additionally good for bikefishing excursions when it’s a bit colder on the water. It principally crushes all the way down to the dimensions of a tangerine and may match anyplace, together with a hip pack.

113g (M’s M) / $170 at 7mesh Males’s Ladies’s

Keep tuned for half two of this characteristic, which can cowl rain gear for bikepacking, significantly objects 5 and 6 on the six-piece layering package—together with hardshell rain jackets and rain pants. Additionally, when you’ve got any ideas or solutions for finances options or sustainably made choices, please depart them within the dialog beneath…

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