Imagine that it is a much colder then normal day. A massive storm has just come through the area knocking out the power so no stores or restaurants are open. You have NO opportunities to purchase warm clothing. To make matters worse snow is forecast for the evening.
When you packed for the tour you packed lightly in hopes of saving weight and up to now it's been a good strategy for you. As darkness approaches you can feel that an already cold day is going to turn into a much colder night.
What do you do now?
I've experienced this situation on three bicycle tours and one eight day back-country canoe trip. Packing lightly allowed me to end the day with much more energy then if I had packed heavy weather gear that for most journeys I wouldn't have needed.
My solution was simply to wear more clothes. I always packed a set of clothes to wear to bed at night and at least two days worth of riding clothes. Add rain gear, a warm hat and a colder weather sleeping bag and I had a solution that would leave me with a sleep that would just be warm enough.
The minor inconveniences of going to bed looking like the Michelin Man while also using up all of your fresh clothes were far preferable to being so cold that sleep was completely impossible.
The picture attached to this page is from that eight day canoe trip. The night before the picture was taken I went to bed wearing the clothes shown plus one additional layer. This means underwear, a set of wool long johns, two pairs of pants, a t-shirt, two long sleeved shirts, a long john top, two pairs of socks and a fleece cap. I was sleeping in a hammock that was mainly open to the air so the temperature was the same in the hammock as it was outside. Had I brought my cold weather Hennessy Overcover with me on the trip then I likely would not have needed more then two layers. The net result of the extra clothing was the ability to sleep at night and not wake up shivering uncontrollably.
Layering is a wonderful technique that can also be used on the bike for those unexpectedly cold days. When selecting your clothing before you head out on tour I encourage you to take a few moments and think about how you would layer the clothing in the event of much colder then expected temperatures.
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