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November 26, 2019

Snackpacking for Winter Rides

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When the snow starts falling, the reputation of the hungry cyclist has never been truer. Food is energy and if you aren’t eating, your body can’t keep the thermostat up. The challenges of winter biking can be tough enough without the added challenge of something as basic as feeding yourself so we partnered with our local backcountry food experts at Heather’s Choice and Revelate ambassador Huw Oliver to bring you a list of pro-tips for winter bikepacking!

Photo: Huw Oliver

1. Fat is where it’s at!

Heather’s Choice (HC): Out of all the macronutrients, fat has the highest calorie content per unit, so choosing foods that are high in fat, like nuts or seeds will help you put more calories in your pack without necessarily toting more weight. We intentionally select ingredients that are nutrient dense offering high calories per ounce. Our breakfasts pack around 500 calories and are made with super nutritious (also gluten free & plant based!) buckwheat, chia & hemp seeds, and coconut.

Photo: Heather’s Choice

Huw: The first thing I did when I moved to Canada for a winter was to find a recipe for something to eat that would still work when it was super cold outside. The winner ended up being an awesome chocolate brownie that used lots of peanut butter and coconut oil. It still froze eventually, but then it just ended up tasting like chocolate ice cream so that was fine! 

2. It’s possible to enjoy your food AND keep your teeth

Huw: No matter what you like to eat, having it at an above-freezing temperature when it goes into your mouth is not only going to be more pleasant, but it’s easier to avoid a chill than when eating popsicles. Having a rotation system in place: start with two bits of food thawing in your pockets, and when you eat one you replace it, so each sandwich/cake/burrito gets a while to warm up against your body before you eat it! If you like to overthink things, then this one’s for you, but it’s an awesome way to keep your teeth intact. It works best with regular cycling jersey style pockets against your back.

HC: Keep a Packaroon in your inside pocket ( to keep it warm and soft! ) for a ready to eat energy boost. These nutrient dense & delicious whole food snacks pack 150 to 180 calories per ounce — beating even the highest calorie candy bars in energy density and comparable to peanut butter at 168 calories/ounce. The Packaroons have healthy fats from coconut to keep you full for longer. They also come in a ton of tasty flavors, Blueberry Almond and Black Espresso are crowd favorites! 

Photo: Huw Oliver

3. Upcycle your old sleeping mat

Huw: If you’re going for an all-day ride in winter, it’s not so crazy to take a thermos flask of boiling water (wrapping it in a cozy made from old foam camping mat will keep it hotter for longer) and making yourself a wee bowl of ramen or mashed potatoes halfway through the ride. It only needs to take 5 minutes, but sometimes a quick hot meal gets your head back in the right place for another few hours on the trail. Yum!

Photo: Annie Le

4. Pack food that’s already “frozen”

HC: Dehydrated foods don’t freeze, that’s why we love them for adventures in cold climates. For space efficiency, jerky or dried fruits are also great options with high calories per ounce. Science also shows that certain ingredients have the ability to warm you up– coffee, cayenne pepper, ginger, coconut oil and peanuts are all flavors with thermogenic properties. 

A Jetboil and a couple dehydrated meals fit into the new Joey downtube bag (coming 11/27/19)!

Lastly, we recommend packing 25-50% more food than you would in the summer. Because the consequences of cold aren’t as forgiving, never leave the house without a few snacks in the bag! Looking for more winter riding tips? Check out our Winter Rider’s Guide to Warm Hands!