Cold weather cycling upgrades: low-cost stove system; electronics storage and charging; eye and face protection; insulated brake levers; catalytic hand warmers; USB rechargeable handwarmer/cache battery; flask “protection”.

COLD-WEATHER STOVE SYSTEM – This combination of low-cost cooking components creates a cold-weather system that is capable of quickly melting snow in low temperatures, with very modest fuel consumption. I’m not advocating that others use this type of system, it’s just one that works well for me. A friend, Chris, recommended the BRS 3000 titanium mini-stove $20 as a durable and reliable component. Another friend, Peter, recommended the XTS Pot $40 as an excellent unit with a built-in heat exchanger. These two pieces were combined with a propane to butane adaptor $20 to allow the use of “Coleman” 1# propane bottles. The total weight of the system with a full fuel canister is less than 950 grams. I’m averaging less than 6 minutes, and 12 grams of fuel to produce 500 ml of boiling water from loose dry snow with ambient temperatures in the -20 to -30 Celsius range, at ~1,500 metres elevation. Propane boils at ~-40 degrees Celsius making that fuel a reliable option for many of my cold weather trips (without using a water bath to vaporize propane – iso butane mixes) . In my opinion, the low fuel consumption is a result of carefully regulating the size of the flame to the capacity of the heat exchanger on the pot. The simple needle valve on the BRS 3000 easily controls flame size. The gallery of pictures shows the system in use with a 10-20 kmh wind and an ambient temperature of ~-20 Celsius. The same stove and pot are also used (without the 33 gram adaptor) with regular IsoPro fuels in warmer temperatures.

ELECTRONICS STORAGE & CHARGING – Keeping today’s large-format smartphones warm and charged during cold weather is challenging. Typical warming tactics typically stop working in the -15 to -20 degrees Celsius range. This simple insulated storage bag has been sewn from scrap materials and sized to insulate and carry a 26,000 mAh Power Delivery battery and a Pixel 6 Pro, both with charging cables connected and coiled. The bag and contents are placed in an inside jacket or jersey pocket with the screen of the phone being warmed by body heat. I find that this system works very well down to -40, and can also be placed inside the sleeping system for maintaining cache battery temperatures sufficient for charging.

EYE & FACE PROTECTION – A few decades ago my job required working outside, regardless of weather conditions. On one particularly cold (<50 degrees Celcius) and very windy day, I froze my open eyelids to my eyeballs. Completely my fault for not gearing up properly. Oops, try not to make that mental error again. Since that formative experience I’ve tried to adequately prepare for adverse weather conditions. Now in my sixties, I require prescription lenses to be able to ride at-pace and make quality line selections, regardless of weather conditions.

An earlier post from October 2020 is below and this December 30, 2021 update reflects quite a bit of cold weather riding and other outdoor experiences. The attachment to the nose bridge of OTG ski goggles of a piece of carefully shaped fabric has yielded some interesting results. No runny nose. Almost no fogging of glasses or goggles, and then only under extreme exertion. Ability to nose-breath while undertaking heavy exertion. Minimal frost accumulation on mustache and clothing. No new areas of frost-bite damage. Indications of 10-20% reduction in required fluids intake during sustained HR zone 3-4 fat biking. All combined with the wonderful feelings of enjoying riding in cold conditions. Similar to the ultralight rack and panniers post, please consider this as a recipe to start with, not a specific design. Give some consideration to how much coverage is appropriate for your face, gear, and riding conditions.

INSULATED BRAKE LEVERS – A cold and snowy ride home from an overnighter was a good reminder of the need to apply some insulation to the brake levers. This quick project will help keep fingers warmer when braking. The addition will even help if you’re using pogies.

October 2020 – Snow goggle nose piece. To break the wind when cycling this small piece of fabric is attached to the nose bridge with double face tape.

WARMTH AWAY FROM POWER SOURCES – Catalytic hand warmers work very well inside pogies when riding in very cold conditions. A complete fill typically provides heat for about 8 hours. The lines on the squeeze bottle are one complete fill. Worth noting that these have been running for years on alcohol rather lighter fluid.

A pair of Zippo catalytic hand warmers and graduated fuel bottle.

USB rechargeable hand warmers/cache battery. There are a number of different models available through Amazon for under $30. The pictured unit is several years old and continues to perform well after hundreds of cycles. Eddie Bauer does not consistently carry this item. The power switch can be easily be inadvertently turned on, hence the stick on patch to protect the switch. The unit can also be recharged from other cache batteries.

FLASK PROTECTION patch on a titanium flask
Patches provide some insulation for the fingers from a cold flask