Bikepacking in the arctic


New Member
Feb 26, 2020
I'm just curious if anyone here has been bikepacking in the North American Arctic (Alaska, Canadian territories). Long distance, off-road treks. If so, where did you go? How long? What type of bike and equipment did you use? What were the biggest challenges of doing it?
I've done similar trips in other environments and was thinking about doing maybe a 1 month trip some time. At the moment, it's just an idea so I'm curious to hear from others who have tried this or something similar. In particular, I am interested in hearing what the difficulties are. (I know there will be plenty so I want to make sure that I'm not overlooking any of them.)
Not ever, ever, ever would I camp in the Arctic! Why is that? because my difficulty would be being cold, and I don't like being that cold. Oh I'm sure there's been people who have done it, but to stay warm under those conditions would mean carrying heavier insulated gear, so now you added a lot more weight to you bike. Depending on how cold it gets, a battery operated derailleur system will not work, as it gets even colder the mechanical ones won't work either.

If you can do that sort of camping more power to you.
Just to be clear, my idea wasn't to cross the North Pole in the middle of winter (although I have done winter camping). In the summer, the Arctic isn't anywhere near as cold as you've described it. I don't know how cold it would have to be to cause the derailleur to stop working but that's gotta be quite extreme. I've done off road riding in the dead of winter, through the snow, and never had the mechanical parts of a bike fail.
I live in Indiana and know people from both sides of the camp that had batteries stop working, MTB riders who tried to go out when it was extremely cold a year ago getting below -10F and their shifters wouldn't work, and apparently it's not unusual; see:

Most plastics get noticeably more brittle below about -10F, though no doubt there is a wide variation depending on the specific materials involved. Oil in the suspension fork can freeze, temporarily changing it into a rigid fork.

Of course if you're going in the summer time then all that won't apply to you, but even in the summer it will be hovering around the freezing point if you're closer to the Arctic, a little south of the Arctic and you could see temps get really hot, all the way up to 68 degrees, but those are rare exceptions. So it will depend on how much south of the Arctic are you talking about, below is the temp range of that area in July:


So I would guess if you're going to be riding below where the red zone just begins that won't be so bad in July time frame.

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