RideEatCamp

Clothing for Europe

Europe, Gear

We’ve decided to take a trip. We’ve chosen the location: Europe. We’ve determined the duration: 5 months. And we’ve settled on the mode of travel: tandem bicycle single bicycles. We’ve also discussed the tools and cooking supplies we’ll be bringing. Now it’s time to talk clothes.

Clothes can make or break a trip. If you’re wearing the right clothes, even a long ride in the rain can be fun. Since we want our trip in Europe to be fun, we researched the strategies for what to wear while living outdoors. One of the best resources we found is the website of accomplished hiker and übèr gêár nęrd Andrew Skurka.

Mr. Skurka has a great, systematic approach for how to pack for trips. He first analyzes the conditions he’ll likely see, taking into account historical extremes. Based on this research, he selects an optimized clothing system. I say system because that’s what it is. The clothes are designed to work together to provide comfort and performance while taking into account weight and bulk.

Following Mr. Skurka’s lead, I looked up weather averages for cities we’ll be near during our trip:

Location High (ºF) Low (ºF) Precipitation (inches) per month
London 64 47 1.8
Cardiff 63 47 2.8
Cork 63 50 3.2
Galway 64 51 3.4
Londonderry 63 50 3
Glasgow 66 52 2.7
Aberdeen 64 51 2.6
Tromsø 60 49 2.9
Bodø 60 51 2.6
Bergen 62 52 6.7
Hamburg 72 55 2.9
Amsterdam 66 51 3.2
Brussels 66 52 2.7
Paris 65 52 2.3
Madrid 66 50 1.9
Average 64 51 3

The plan is to head further north as the summer gets it’s start, only to reverse course as fall approaches. What worries me though is the precipitation. Hi, my name is Nick, and I’m a water woosy. Living in a city with an average annual rainfall of 11 inches, I seldom ride my bicycle in the rain, and I’m on my bike nearly every day of the year. According to the averages, we’ll see around 15 inches of rain in 5 months. That’s about 325% more rain than I’m used to.

Since we’ll be living outdoors most of the time, we’ll also have to figure in sun exposure, humidity, and biting insects. Here’s a breakdown of what we expect:

Based on this information, here’s my rough final draft of the clothing I plan to bring:

Tops

The tops I will bring on our trip to Europe, from top left: SmartWool lightweight long sleeve, Patagonia Capilene 2 long sleeve, REI midweight 1/4 zip fleece, Patagonia Houdini wind shirt, Feathered Friends Daybreak puffy, O2 Rainwear hooded rain jacket.
The tops I will bring on our trip to Europe, from top left: SmartWool lightweight long sleeve, Patagonia Capilene 2 long sleeve, REI midweight 1/4 zip fleece, Patagonia Houdini wind shirt, Feathered Friends Daybreak puffy, O2 Rainwear hooded rain jacket.

Bottoms

From left to right: two padded underwear, regular undies, over shorts, knee warmers, rain pants, normal pants
From left to right: two padded underwear, regular undies, over shorts, knee warmers, rain pants, normal pants

Extremities

From top left: helmet, cycling cap, ski cap, rain mittens, wind gloves, sneakers, midweight sleep socks, two pair thin socks, rain booties
From top left: helmet, cycling cap, ski cap, rain mittens, wind gloves, sneakers, midweight sleep socks, two pair thin socks, rain booties

If we were riding in dry conditions, I’d ditch the sleeping clothes, all rain gear except the jacket, and most likely the pants. That would cut out a lot of bulk. But the idea of having some dry clothes to slip into after a rainy day sounds pleasant.