Montem Sneaky Snuggler Puffy Camping Blanket: Gear Review

Montem Sneaky Snuggler Puffy Camping Blanket

SPECS:

Material: 20D Ripstop Nylon with DWR water resistant coating

Filling: 3D Hollow Fibre Synthetic Insulation

Temperature Rating: 40°+ Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius)

Colour: Slate with Red Trim

Size When Spread Out: 54” x 80” (137cm x 203cm)

Size in Carry Bag: 9” x 17” (23cm x 43cm)

Weight: 3.3lbs (1.4kg)

Compact: Yes

Tear Resistant: Yes

Water Resistant: Yes

PROS:

  • Super soft comfy feeling material, not shiny and slippery despite being water resistant
  • Very spacious even for me at 6 foot 1
  • Very wide when unfolded so perfect for two people to sit on for a picnic
  • Can pack down quite small in a compression bag
  • Very warm as a blanket and big enough that it can wrapped around you like a sleeping bag when temperature really drops
  • Much easier to get in and out of in a tent than a sleeping bag
  • Can be thrown over two people comfortably

CONS:

  • Not quite as warm as a sleeping bag
  • Can’t be zipped up
  • Maybe a bit too bulky for long term cycle touring

OVERVIEW:

We were asked if we’d Review the Montem Sneaky Snuggler Camping blanket before we did a car camping trip around Iceland and I decided to take it along on a bikepacking trip as well around the Cairngorms national park in Scotland to really put it to the test!

The idea of a blanket for camping really appeals to me as I enjoy the comfort and ease of just throwing a blanket over me instead of zipping myself in and feeling slightly trapped. The blanket performed excellently for the car camping in very cold conditions in Iceland and even held up well to the slightly rougher and more rigorous conditions of a bikepacking trip in warmer weather.

DESIGN AND FUNCTIONALITY:

The Montem Sneaky Snuggler Camping Blanket is designed very well and feels lovely against your skin providing a bit of home comfort while camping. The stuff sack it comes with is very generously sized so it is a breeze packing it away and pulling it out once you’ve set up camp or decide on a suitable picnic spot!

Montem Sneaky Snuggler Puffy Camping Blanket
Car Camping in Iceland! Sneaky Snuggler kept me toasty warm even when it got chilly in iceland!

Before our trip around Iceland I was slightly sceptical about the Montem Sneaky Snuggler Blanket’s ability to keep me warm if the temperature dropped close to zero, as I had never taken just a blanket camping before. It proved itself worthy on the first night of camping with temperatures dropping close to freezing, but I remained toasty warm simply by wrapping myself up in it tightly and tucking my feet in so my body heat couldn’t escape.

I loved the ease of just pulling it over the top of me when I was chilly without having to mess about with zips or zips jamming and particularly appreciated this when I needed to get up to go to the toilet in the night; much easier to get out of!

We also used it picnicking in parks across Iceland throwing it on the grass to sit on without worrying about getting too damp or dirty because of the water resistant coating, this is definitely a great feature and it makes it much more versatile than I first expected.

Montem Sneaky Snuggler Puffy Camping Blanket bikepacking
Montem Sneaky Snuggler blanket fit perfectly on my handlebars bikepacking the Cairngorms in Scotland.

Because of the generously sized stuff sack it is quite bulky when packed up, but for the bikepacking trip in Scotland I put the Montem Sneaky Snuggler Camping Blanket in a compression sack and was very pleased with how small it could be compressed down. It was easily small enough to be strapped to my handlebars without being to long and interfering with brakes, perfect!

It was extremely warm for Scotland when we were riding with temperatures reaching over 30 degrees Celsius, so I was very glad of having a blanket that I could easily vent myself with and kick my legs out when it was getting too warm without having to battle getting my feet out of like in a mummy style sleeping bag.

After 5 nights of bikepacking and wild camping I expected the blanket to be a bit dirty, but again the coating kept it stain free!

DURABILITY:

I found the Montem Sneaky Snuggler Camping Blanket to be very well made with quality stitching and the heavy-duty ripstop material feels like it will withstand any rough treatment you can throw at it, plus because it has no zips there’s not really much that can go wrong with it!

The DWR water repellent coating is definitely a very good feature for this blanket to make it more versatile so it can double up as a comfy picnic blanket without having to worry too much about it getting wet or any food spills staining it as easily as other materials.

SUMMARY:

Overall I have been very pleased with the Montem Sneaky snuggler camping blanket and it will now be my go to sleeping system for car camping and picnicking! For a round the world cycle trip I’m not sure it would be my first choice simply because blankets cannot compete with sleeping bags when it comes to warmth if the conditions get seriously cold as there is no way to trap the warm air in completely without zipping it around you so it wouldn’t be ideal for a trip where you could potentially run into some extreme weather. If it were a weekend away bike trip or a short journey locally then I definitely wouldn’t hesitate to bring this baby along for the ride!

It was lovely being able to snuggle up in the Montem Sneaky Snuggler at night as it really does feel like having a little slice of home with you in the tent. I also love that it is so multipurpose and can be folded out and sat on for a picnic or at a concert, thrown over yours and your partners shoulders or brought along on car camping trips as an extra layer either on the floor of the tent or over the top of two people if it is a particularly cold night.

I would definitely recommend the Montem Sneaky Snuggler if you’re not a fan of feeling trapped in a sleeping bag while camping or your looking for something a little more versatile! (Amazon)

You can find more of my gear reviews here!

New Challenges: Running the Polar Circle Marathon for the kids… and fun (I guess)

polar circle marathon fundraiser

A handful of people know that I’m running the Polar Circle Marathon in Greenland this Autumn. I haven’t told too many people about it – why Because, frankly, I have no idea whether I’m actually going to make it to the end. It’s going to be up there with one of the most extreme ‘whatthefuckwasIthinking’ challenges of my life.

Ometepe Bilingual School Fundraiser

I hadn’t planned on making this event a charity fundraiser, however when I recently received an email from the Ometepe Bilingual School in Nicaragua, explaining how the recent riots have had such a negative impact on their school and the children, I thought it was an opportunity to help out. Hey, if I’m risking losing an ear or nose to frost bite, I may as well do it for a good cause!

For those that don’t know, I visited the school last year while Michael and I were cycling through Nicaragua. We had the pleasure of staying at Hacienda Merida – an eco-friendly hotel on the stunning Ometepe Island. The hotel is the main source of funding for the school.

What makes Ometepe Bilingual school so special? The school is made out of rubbish – literally. Thousands of plastic bottles filled with rubbish can be found within the walls of the school. The school has a strong focus on sustainable practices, ecotourism (not greenwashing), reducing, reusing and recycling. If you want to read more about the sustainability of the school – I wrote an article on it last year.

eco brick table ecotourism in nicaragua
Eco-bricks being used to make some tables and chairs for the school

It is also one of the few (if not only) schools in Nicaragua that teaches the importance of sustainability, as well as teaching both English and Spanish. The school recognises that becoming bilingual, and having an understanding of the importance of sustainability and environmentalism is a stepping-stone for the children on the island to empower themselves, and have a positive impact on their community. I should also mention that the school provides the education to children for free. The children that attend the school, predominately come from poor families. The school has been providing a great opportunity for these children.

school eco bricks
You can still see the eco-bricks in the wall of the school.

Nicaraguan Riots

These riots have impacted on the school in a number of ways. The riots have decreased tourism to the area. The school runs of profits from the hotel. The riots have resulted in many cancellations of bookings, and very few people visiting the island or the hotel. The riots have also resulted in roadblocks, resources not reaching where they are most needed and the government withdrawing funding to schools to cover the cost of lunches, which were previously provided.

I haven’t found that the riots have been covered that much in the media in the UK, but to give you an idea of what has been happening in the country, I have included a couple of news articles worth checking out.

Hundreds of people have already died in these protests, which started in April, and sadly they don’t seem to be ending anytime soon. To think the riots started in response to a peaceful protest against pension reforms.

Sadly, if the riots don’t cease soon, and/or the school doesn’t find another source of income, then it’s likely it will close.

Please sponsor me in my Arctic run, and help keep the school open!

Being the eco-minded person I am, I fell in love with the school, as well as the hotel. As well as writing an article about the school, I even included it in our Nicaragua Cycle Video.

This may not be a challenge by bicycle, but it’s a human-powered, challenge nonetheless, and one, which I hope, will raise some funds for this amazing school, as well as raise some awareness about the issues currently taking place in Nicaragua.

If you have any questions about the marathon, the school, the hotel, Nicaragua or anything at all – please drop me a line.

Thank you for taking the time for reading. If you are in the position to sponsor me – thank you! If you are not in the position, please spend a minute and share this page with your friends and family.

Muchas gracias mi amigos!

marathon run
I felt like I needed to include a photo of me running, and this is the only photo I could find!

We are still alive! A year since we ended the long distance bike trip.

gower bikepacking

It’s been over a year since we ended the long distance bike trip… yes, I know I haven’t blogged in ages – sorry! We are still alive, still cycling (though slightly shorter distances) and still running Cycletrekkers.

Though Michael and I are no longer cycle touring and have embarked on a somewhat normal-ish life, we have started experimenting with the exciting world of bikepacking.

So far, it’s been fab! We spent a few days bikepacking in the stunning Gower Pennisula in Wales, and almost a week cycling in the very challenging (for me) Cairngorms National Park in Scotland. Only a few cuts and bruises, and I definitely need to build on my riding skill, that said we already have been chatting about heading off on a few more trips.

Next on the cards, we have potentially Slovenia, potentially Spain and potentially Georgia. If you have any recommendations on great places to bikepack – let us know!

Apart from bikepacking, we have spent time settling into our new home in Bristol, England – absolutely awesome city!! We had a few false starts when we first moved to England, but we are finally a bit more settled now.

As we are living just off the Bath to Bristol bike path, it hopefully will be ideal for hosting and meeting some other Warmshowers cyclists – so let us know if you do happen to be in the area.

Readjusting to… normality

Like most people that have just finished a cycle trip – readjusting took sometime. I was more prepared for it this time around – after the France to China by trip, the feelings of being disconnected from society and the overall cultural shock took me by surprise. This time, though I was more prepared, there were still the emotional challenges.

It was hard readjusting my mindset to a life where people (ie. me) didn’t have to worry about whether I had enough water to get through the next 24 hours, or where I was going to sleep tonight or tomorrow night, or whether my tent was going to leak, or a tornado was going to randomly pass through during the night. It is an odd feeling – going from worrying about life essentials/ survival, to worrying about, well things that don’t really matter.

Michael and I are still appreciating the little things in life, like having access to an oven, running water, hot showers, a good range of food, not living on an extreme budget, owning more than 5 pairs of clothes (I could go on and on). Though, still at times I feel very disconnected from society, especially when discussing anything about celebs, pop culture, or what’s on TV (I haven’t even bothered to buy a TV). These things didn’t matter in my life for 5 years – and though it’s common knowledge to some, for me, it’s not. It has lead to a few awkward conversations, including one where I wasn’t even sure whether Cher was still alive.

At times I miss the simplicity of life on the bike, but I am still happy with our decision – I think it was the right one; and I am are enjoying where we are right now.

Next on the agenda…

Other than readjusting, I’ve been training for an icy run I’m taking part in this Autumn – more about that in my next post. And, though I feel like I have rarely had a free minute, I cannot think of what else Michael and I have been up to this past year. Riding, working, eating, running, sleeping, cooking, hiking…

I DO plan to clear out, update and post more on our website over the next few months. So watch this space!

Five Things to Consider Before Your Bike Trip

Five Things to Consider Before Your Bike Trip

Whether you would like to spend a few relaxing or challenging days at a new destination, it is important that you plan your trip in advance. You need to make sure that you are ready for the trip, and you have everything covered, from accommodation to protein bars and transport. The following tips will help you get your priorities right and book the perfect getaway that will make you feel satisfied and accomplished.

The Weather

Rain or shine, you’ll be outside biking in it, so the weather will have a huge impact on your trip, and is something you need to plan for. Just keep in mind that old saying, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing!” It is important that you check out the weather forecast and get plenty of waterproof items in your backpack. If you are planning a tropical trip, ensure that you have adequate sun protection, and have the ability to carry sufficient water. You may even want to plan your day accordingly, resting during the hottest part of the day, so to avoid the heat and potential dehydration, or even sunstroke. A perfect excuse for a siesta!

The Accommodation Options

You might want to find a hotel or guesthouse that is conveniently located close to all the routes you would like to complete. Or, you might prefer pitching a tent, under the stars, in an unplanned location. Whatever you preference, you need to consider this before the start of your trip. If you are heading to a big beautiful city, such as Panama, you might want to splurge on a hotel like the Marriott Executive Apartments Panama City. However, if you are budget conscious you could always try finding a host through the amazingly useful Warmshowers website; a website dedicated to cycle touring, and finding hosts for travelling cyclists.

Rentals and Repair Availability

Before your trip, you may need to check whether there are recommended and affordable bike rental places. Sometimes renting a bicycle locally is more economical, as well as efficient, compare to bringing your own bicycle with you. If cycling in the summer month in Europe, and considering local bicycle rental, it is recommended booking your bicycle in advance, to ensure you secure the best bike at the best price. Arguable even more important to this, is researching bike repair stores along your route.

Travel Insurance

When going on a cycle trip, no matter the length or location, you will need to get adequate insurance. If you suffer an accident or fall ill, you might not be covered for medical treatment. If your bicycle is stolen or damaged, you also might not be covered. Compare the prices online before your trip, and make sure you ask the relevant questions. Some insurance companies consider cycling a dangerous sport, and will not cover you for long distance cycling. When it comes to travel insurance for cycle trips, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Local Guides and Groups

bike trip
Planning a bike and hike trip! Image via Matt Heaton

There are two main options when going on a bicycle tour;

1) Independently, arranging your own transport, accommodation and route. This option suits those who love the adventure and freedom of making their choices and not having to follow a set plan.

2) Joining an organised hiking and biking trip, with a tour company. This option is great for those first time cycle tourists, or those that love touring in groups. Leave the planning and stress to someone else, and just enjoy the ride!

Whether you are looking to cycle across Europe, or bike and hike across the Scottish highlands, and cycle trip will involve a level of preparation and planning. Treat this planning as part of the journey, and use it as a way to build up the excitement for your up and coming trip. Safe bike trails!

5 Best places to ride a bike in 2018

Best places to ride a bike

As soon as you leave the bike racks in Gas Works Park, it becomes clear that the Seattle Urban Loop is one of the best places to ride a bike in 2018, but there are many more, from Arizona to Maine, and all the way down to Florida. In fact, the United States is home to some of the most incredible biking routes anywhere in the world, and the following are the 5 best places to ride a bike in 2018:

The Seattle Urban Loop

The Seattle Urban loop in Washington is the ultimate place to ride your bike, from the stunning vistas across Puget Sound and Seattle seafront, to the perfectly maintained trails and cultural encounters.

Pleasant scenery and easy riding ensue once you depart from the bike racks in Gas Works Park, and cycle onward to Magnolia Boulevard. The Seattle Urban Loop eventually reaches Lake Washington, before passing the University of Washington and returning to the original starting point in Gas Works Park.

However, it is only upon reaching the ocean at Alaskan Way, when the appealing nature of the route is clear. Fishing boats, and cruise ships take to the open seas while the sun reflects from the incoming waves, and cycling along the Seattle waterfront is suddenly a cultural experience, as well as being a most enjoyable adventure into the outdoors.

The Cadillac Challenge Loop, Acadia National Park, Maine

Rugged cliffs form a natural barrier against the marauding Atlantic Ocean in Acadia National Park, home to the best cycling route in Maine, and one of the most scenic regions on the west coast of the United States. The Cadillac Challenge Loop is a 27 mile route with a seemingly never ending series of bends that wind their way past soaring ocean views, isolated coves, luscious landscapes and romantic lighthouses.

However, the real attraction of cycling in Acadia National Park, is the Bike in Acadia month, a government initiative in which the roads at the park are closed. There is simply no better place to see the sun rising, or going down, in Maine and the opportunity to cycle in pleasant surroundings without the distraction of traffic, makes Acadia one of the best places to ride a bike in 2018.

Moab Mountain Biking, Utah

Experience the splendor of Moab by bike, an unforgettable mountain bike route with stunning views through magnificent canyons, and a series of trails for all levels of experience.

Moab has some truly awe inspiring scenery, from the Amassa Back Trail which climbs to the top of a giant mesa perched out over the Colorado River, to the immense sandstone walls which tower high on the Arizona skyline.

Another highlight is the varying levels of experience required to visit Moab on a bike, the Slickrock rock trail is a world famous and highly technical route, whereas the Bar-M Loop Trail has a much easier terrain, while still offering the same incredible views of the other routes. A proper bike rack for SUV or car will allow you to carry multiple bikes and secure them properly until the destination.

Miami to Key West, Florida

While it may be a distance for more experienced riders, the 160 mile stretch between Miami and Key West is a highly rewarding cycle route with tropical landscapes, wildlife and a relatively flat terrain.

Few places in the world can boast the views between Miami and Florida, with palm trees lining both sides of the road, and sweeping ocean views providing an unforgettable backdrop. The route is also known for having a reasonably flat terrain and a refreshing tail wind which only adds to the enjoyment, and allows for the possibility of completing the 160 miles in a single day.

Unique and treacherous, the variety of experiences is obvious when you must keep a look out for alligators and snakes, which often take to the roadside for the heat of the pavement. Regardless of the obstacles, cycling from Miami to Key West is one of the most entertaining cycle routes, and a ride with a wide variety of things to see.

Black Canyon Trail, Arizona

While not as famous as the Moab, the Black Canyon Trail is another mountain bike trail in Arizona which makes this list with no apologies. The trail stretches for more than 60 miles through desert, cacti and sandstone canyons with thrilling downhill’s and challenging riding.

Beginning in the overgrown Prescott Forest, Black Canyon is mostly a descending trail which leads across dramatic views of giant mesas, past the Bradshaw Mountains, and through a series of inspiring canyons.

Even though this trail was purpose built a number of years ago, the surroundings are entirely natural and a day spent in the depths of the Arizona wilderness, offers an isolated adventure which is every bit as enjoyable as the more popular trail in Moab. Do not forget that choosing the best hitch mount bike rack is the key to safely transport your bikes to the destination and keep them intact.

 

Gorgeous Mountain Trails in the US to do on a Bike

make money while cycle touring, cycling to the Canadian Rockies

So, you now have a bike and can’t wait to ride in on a unique mountain trail? It’s really hard deciding on a good enough trail, though, isn’t it? Well, if you need awesome research fast, we’re here to help you with 5 best picks of breathtakingly gorgeous mountain scenery you can enjoy while cycling.

1. The Whole Enchilada, Utah

This is definitely a five-star ride, encompassing 26 miles on various side trails which will take you in the ballpark of 5 hours total. The level of difficulty is an intermediate one, so chances are most people can do it. We love the landscape most of all, it looks pretty rugged and has plenty of views you’ll want to stop and admire for longer.

You’ll already going to start at quite an elevation of about 10,000 feet, which means you’ll be cycling very near the edgy peaks. You even have to gain some 1,400 feet more up to the narrow Burro Pass, but that’s nothing compared to the descent.

So get the best high-power binoculars because you won’t want to miss a detail. The aspen forests are imposing, and the old pines look like giant soldiers that guard the entrance to the prairie. The fast flowing creeks and slippery tracks of Hazard County explain why this portion of the trail has this particular name.

Then, the Porcupine sections are a challenge as well, but the view when you get to the Colorado River is totally worth it. The terrain is very diverse, you’ll get to try different technical skills from thru to single track, so that’s why it won the gold medal.

2. Trail 401, Colorado

If you’re a real mountain biking fan, you must visit the place where it all began. And that will prove very insightful because Crested Butte in Colorado offers plenty of trails to enjoy taking you through some of the most enchanting alpine landscape you have ever seen. The trails that wax and wane here are all nearby bucolic mountain towns too.

Among the 750 miles of trails, one still stands out. Trail 401 is another intermediate ride stretching of about 14 miles at an elevation of about 9,700 feet. The ascent starts on Gothic Toad to what is called Schofield Pass. The views are outstanding and the faraway Maroon Bells look spectacular.

This will mostly be a singletrack, which explains the intermediate level. However, there are whole green fields that stretch before your eyes and patches of aspen forests to roam through, so this trail looks amazing even during the fall.

3. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, California

You might think we’ve selected this trail purely based on its peculiar name, but you’d be wrong. Lake Tahoe is an amazing area, it’s a huge alpine lake with crystal clear waters and plenty of interesting biking trails around it. So while this is an already popular destination, its southern part is what’s considered the cherry on the cake.

That’s exactly where you’ll find the Mr. Toad’s Ride, which is indeed very wild since it encompasses 20 miles of advanced single tracking at an elevation of about 6,300 feet. That’s what makes it very technical, therefore more appropriate for experts.

You’ll feel a real adrenaline rush coursing through your veins as you’ll be going downhill as well. Granted, you have to do quite a bit of vertical climbing before that, but once you get to Tucker flat you’re in for a real roller coaster ride. There’s also the Saxon Creek portion with its quite challenging singletrack descent.

All that takes place among the most breathtaking vistas of forested areas and through plenty of meadows. The overall distance is 20 miles, so make sure you get enough water and snacks for the ride.

4. Cache Creek – Game Creek, Wyoming, and Idaho

Traditionally called the Wydaho area, this is where the Jackson area is located. Jackson Hole is remarkable among the nearby Teton Mountains, so that’s another great place if you’re into the thrill of the downhill ride. That’s because these mountains have very abrupt walls, and they’re really huge.

Biking around here is a thing just as of late, though, so the trails are very new and look well and they’re quite diverse from downhill to cross country, to single track. So you can choose your poison, but the trail between Cache Creek and Game Creek is really a game changer.

Apart from the fact that it looks incredible, with amazing views of the massifs, this intermediate 10-mile loop ride runs through a semi-wilderness of immense valleys, and you’ll get to experience an isolated cross-country run.

5. Hangover Trail, Arizona

Located in Sedona, which doesn’t boast as many trails as other regions, the Hangover Trail is one of the few precious gems in this area. That’s because it combines an accessible and technically difficult terrain with its heart-throbbing landscapes with red rocks that will make you think your cycling on Mars.

The vortexes in Sedona look quite eerie too, and the single track trail that stretches on 3 miles can nevertheless be considered for experts only. At 4,400 feet, the Hangover trail is very technical but also very dangerous because of its abrupt rocks and rolling terrain, combined with narrow trails and a massive exposure.

But the views are indeed amazing, considering you’ll go up on a saddle-like formation and then keep riding about 200 feet on the rim of the abrupt canyon. You’ll ride on slick rock for the most part, but there are different sections too like dirt trails, step-ups, roll-off portions and the treacherous off cambers.

The ride of your life

With so many thrilling mountain trails to do on your bike, we’re curious where you’ll be heading next. What trails have you tried so far? What did you love? What did you hate? Leave us a comment and share your story.

 

How to Pack for a Hiking Trip with Your Bike

cape breton canada, hiking with your bike

Need an expert’s advice on what to pack for a hiking trip with your bike? Well, you’re on the right page. Apart from the bike and the helmet which you can’t leave home without, there are quite a few items that should be on your list too.

Gear storage

You’ll need quite a few bags to ensure that all the weight you’re carrying is evenly distributed and that it doesn’t destabilize your bike. The first thing you should consider is a hydration pack because you need to stay hydrated on the trail, so you can add to your miles without getting a headache.

Besides this, you’ll also need a very light backpack, with padded straps that can be worn for prolonged periods of time. Make sure you get a water-resistant item that can also withstand possible scratches from all the tree branches on your way.

You can also get other types of bags, like a saddle bag for bigger equipment, and a handlebar bag for the gear you really need to have at hand. A trunk bag can also be of use if you’re carrying a tent with you. And if you’re cycling across paved forested paths, a trailer can become your best friend, though it might slow you down a bit.

The actual gear

Now that you’re prepared with the optimal gear storage, you need the actual equipment too. Since you’ll be on your bike most of the time, you need ultra-light hiking gear, even if you’re dealing with a tent, sleeping bag and sleeping pad. And yes, there are such items which, despite their low weight, they’re still insulating, waterproof and scratch-resistant.

Make sure you get compact items too, not just light ones. You need to make sure you can set them up and take them down pretty fast since you’ll mostly be on the move.

Clothes

Apart from that, you should consider the right clothes for both hiking and biking. Even if you’ll be cycling, you might also like to take some short hikes around the camp. The first thing to start with is a moisture-wicking first layer, consisting of a top and underwear that don’t absorb moisture.

You can think of merino wool for that because it’s a bacteria-killing, odor-proofing and insulating material, which keeps your body temperature constant, unlike cotton. You should also look at padded tights that offer insulation combined with breathability.

Make sure you get water-resistant and padded gloves, so your hands don’t have to absorb the shock of the rugged terrain. A pair of bike shoes is essential, but you should take some ankle-supporting sports shoes too for those side-hikes. Don’t forget moisture-wicking cycling shoes as well as a skullcap to protect your head from the sun.

Personal protection

If it’s raining, you’ll need rainwear that’s also windproof, and an insulating second layer possibly made from fleece or wool, depending on the temperature. If it’s really cold and windy, you’ll need both arm and leg warmers, and a visibility vest is a real life-saver for foggy weather, especially if you’re cycling somewhere near a hunting ground.

Sunglasses are great for keeping your eyes safe from the strong sun, but they can also be great for rocky terrain, where small pebbles can get in your eyes. Don’t forget sunscreen against the dangerous UV rays and lip balm to keep your lips from cracking because of the wind.

Of course, a First Aid Kit is a must, but make sure you have it complete and up to date. Stash your medical info card inside it, in case of an actual accident. Add some insect repellant to make sure you’re safe from bugs too.

Accessories

In terms of accessories, the first things you need are the lights. So make sure your headlight and taillight are working well, but you can likewise get a helmet light with strobe mode in case you get lost. Don’t forget your mirrors and taillights, so there are some cool-looking cycling gloves with included turn lights on the market.

You’ll need a resistant lock too, even if the camping spot seems safe. You can even get a smart lock that lets you know when someone tries to steal your bike, while it emits a deafening alarm too.

But your bike isn’t the only thing you need to secure. The water bottles you carry should also be kept safe, or otherwise, you might end up with no potable water for the road. That’s why water bottle cages are essential for rugged terrain. Don’t forget some paracord or straps – you never know when you’re going to need these for a rough ascent or descent.

Repair tools

The essential repair tools start with a patch kit that’s compact and lightweight enough to carry. This should include a spare tube or several of those, a pump to inflate your wheels and tire levers so you don’t have to improvise a support while you’re working on your bike.

A multi-tool doesn’t hurt either, but make sure it’s specifically designed for cycling and that it has an Allen wrench included there too. If you want to be more prepared than that, you might also need a couple of wrenches and a general multi-tool.

You should also consider a pressure gauge if you have the room, and duct tape is a definite must. You can think of a spare brake cable too, that can be pretty important for rough terrain, but there are plenty of other spare items to take if you have the room, like spokes, tire, cleats and other components.

Miscellaneous

Don’t forget cleaning supplies and toiletries like soap, toilet paper, a quick-dry towel, toothbrush, and toothpaste. Some of these might be accessible at different camping spots though.

Of course, you’ll also need a camera to capture the beautiful landscapes, your phone, and GPS with the maps of your trail. Don’t forget to get enough money and an ID.

All that gear is bound to make your trip more fun and also safer, so we hope we helped with a comprehensive checklist. So now, it’s your turn: where are you going? What will you be taking? Leave a comment below.

 

Top 5 European Countries to do on a Bike This Fall

col du lautaret by bicycle, European Countries to do on a Bike This Fall

Biking is exciting regardless of where you’re doing it, but have you ever thought about going on a trip through Europe? Having a different venue to bike it offers a lot of challenge, new terrain and excitement of discovering trails. You can also enjoy the new scenery and vegetation! In this article, we are going to show you the top 5 European countries in which to bike!

Sweden

The Kinnekulle Trail System is a 5 star rated area that is known for Kinnekulle, which is one of the tallest hills in the western part of Sweden. Over 300 meters above sea level, you will have amazing views of the surrounding area and of the largest lake in the country, Lake Vanem.

Besides the views, the biking here is awesome and has the longest downhill trails in the area. While many of the tracks here are great, you will find some with flatter areas on this advanced single track.

Orange Trail in Gatene is also located within the Kinnekulle Trail System and is a 45 km intermediate single track with an elevation of 265 meters. This trail goes all around Kinnekulle, and will take you through farms and all the way up to the top of the mountain and down the opposite side.

Once you get farther along the track, you will see a double track, as well as dirt roads, some paved areas and more. There are a ton of terrains from one side to the other that you will experience.

Austria

Take along your best ultralight backpack because there is a lot of mountain biking to do here! Head to Hinterglemm for Bike Circus Saalbach Hinterglemm, which is the best place for mountain biking in all of Austria. There are hundreds of miles of trails, from cross country to downhill and freeride.

In the Austrian Alps, this is an entire valley with trails of all difficulty levels and many obstacles. If you prefer downhill biking, check out the famous Hacklberg Trail that has many jumps, single trails that will test your limits.

Visit Bikepark Leogang, located in Leogang, Austria. Great for bikers of all ages and skill levels, you can enjoy nature and hit the various trails. The trails are marked and tell you what the difficulty level will be. You can hit up the Flying Gangster Trail or either Hang Man Trails. Bikepark Leogang is home to Europe’s largest bike park for beginners called Riders Playground, which is 10,000 meters squared and has a free ride course.

France

If you want an assortment of terrain and trail types, then Peisey and Les Arcs in Bourg St. Maurice, France, has you covered! With fire roads, single tracks, downhill areas, you will have an adrenaline filled time here! Between trails, take the awesome lift system that gives you a full view of nature, as well as the various villages below.

Haute Route in Chamonix is another great place to bike. This expert trail is over 100 miles long and takes you from this region in France to Zermatt, Switzerland. This is an alpine trek and you will be on a single track. Experts say that you need to take your time and have good weather here, as well as the skills, to make it through Haute Route!

Spain

Morcat Trail is located in Ainsa, Spain, and starts out near an ancient village that has torn down buildings. This trail was used for centuries as a transportation road to go from the village to the valley and back. This is a technical single track that is very steep but tons of fun. It offers lots to see in terms of foliage and scenic views, and takes you downhill.

Camino De Santiago is a trail that is in Santiago De Compostela that is 966 km long and is great for beginners. You will find that most of this trail is a double track that has a lot of gravel, but, as you go along you’ll discover more terrain. The countryside is amazing and stunning, and there are lots of places where you can rest, get a drink or food, and take in the beauty around you.

While you will find this trail has a lot of hills at the start and finish, the middle section is a bit flat. Everything is marked, and easy to access.

Norway

Hafjell Bike Park boasts many trails and has quickly become a haven for all types of cycling enthusiasts. The MTB portion of the park is exhilarating and you can find many heart-pounding downhill trails. The Buldreloypa trail is a bit rocky and has jumps and wall rides and is located in a forest area. Moe’Town Trail is smooth and has many pump sections, rollers, berms and more! It is known as a fun trail that you won’t forget!

Trysil Bike Arena is the largest winter sports place in Norway. It has new biking facilities and already has over 100 km of single tracks that are in the mountain and forest. Great for families, you can experience a wide range of trails in this park.

 

There is a great Flow Trail here as well as a skills course an pump track. You can find items to balance on, jump off of, and many banked curves. The Mountain Circuit offers trails for all skill levels and has many high mountain trails and some harsh terrain, too. If you take the route around the mountain, you will find it family-friendly, and a good fit for all!

Conclusion

Now that you are aware of not only the best European countries in which to bike, you know specific areas in which you can do so. From beginner to advanced, your skill level can be accommodated with various trails and terrains. Not only are you getting a heart-pounding experience, but you can do so within the beautiful mountains and landscapes that Europe has to offer. Happy travels!