What Is Winter Fat Biking & Where Can You Do It?

Curious about trying winter fat biking, but not sure where to start? This guide covers everything you need to know to get started including fat biking gear recommendations, where to find trails, and more.

Person riding fat bike over snowy foot bridge with creek running underneath and snowy winter landscape around

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Over the past few years, winter fat biking has gained a lot of traction (pun intended!). But the truth is, this is not a new sport. Winter fat biking has been around for decades, particularly in communities that get dealt a heavy winter blow, like the mid-west (hello Minnesota), parts of Canada, and even Alaska.

But fat tire biking has become super popular amongst the common winter outdoor crowd, too. It has kinda blown up amongst mountain bikers who want to ride year-round and many networks groom their winter trails for fat biking fun.

If riding a bike on snow tickles your fancy, read on to learn more about winter fat biking, gear to get you started, where you can do it, and more.

What is Winter Fat biking?

Winter fat biking is riding fat tire bikes in the snow! If you prefer a video introduction into the sport, watch gravel biking legend, Ted King, walk through the basics of fat biking:

Winter fat Biking Gear

Before you hit the snowy trails, you need to be prepared with the right gear, clothing, and accessories. Below are a few helpful tips and items to get you started.

A Fat Bike

Obviously, you need a bike to go fat biking. Unfortunately, your mountain bike or whatever bike you have probably won’t work for winter riding.

What makes fat bikes so special is that they have really wide tires. Most fat bike tires range in size from 3.5 inches to 5+ inches (compared to 2.3 inches to 2.6 inches for most mountain bikes).

If you want a more versatile bike, some fat bikes can also accommodate slightly skinnier tires (2.8+ inches) for more of a plus-sized riding experience.

There are a lot of fat bike options out there from hardtail fat bikes to full-suspension fat bikes. If you’re just looking to cruise your local groomed trails during the winter months, a fully rigid or hard-tail fat bike is a great option.

Here are four best fat bikes to consider:

1. Trek Farley

Key Features
  • Wheel size compatibility: 26″, 27.5″
  • Tire size range: 3.8″ – 4.7″ (depending on wheel size)
  • Frame material: Carbon or aluminum
  • Dropper post compatible? Yes
  • Starting at: $2,000

Where to Shop

  • What I like:
    • Farley 7 comes with front fork suspension
    • Lots of braze-ons for attaching racks, bags, and mounts
    • Adjustable geometry via rear dropouts
    • All models come with a dropper post
    • 30-day unconditional guarantee
  • What I don’t like:
    • Not quite as versatile as some other fat bikes in regards to wheel size, tire size, and adjustable geometry

The Trek Farley is a classic among Trek’s bike line-up. It’s designed for 4-season fun whether you’re looking to take it out on snowy trails or hit the beach for some sand dune riding.

The Farley comes in three different models depending on what you’re looking for. Choose between carbon or aluminum frames, front fork suspension, or a budget option to keep you rolling all year round.

2. Salsa Mukluk

Key Features
  • Wheel size compatibility: 26″, 27.5″, & 29″
  • Tire size range: 2.3″ – 5″ (depending on wheel size)
  • Frame material: Carbon or aluminum
  • Dropper post compatible? Yes
  • Starting at: $2,149

Where to Shop

  • What I like:
    • Rear rack compatible
    • Lots of braze-ons for attaching racks, bags, and mounts
    • Adjustable geometry via rear dropouts
    • Can accommodate three different wheel sizes
    • May be able to add front fork suspension
  • What I don’t like:
    • Geometry is a bit dated

Named after a traditional shoe worn in the arctic, the Salsa Mukluk has been around for a while and is a super popular choice for winter fat biking as well as sandy beach riding.

It’s designed for big adventures with tons of braze-ons to attach water bottle cages, racks, and bags. It’s not quite as progressive as some other fat bikes, but if you’re looking for a solid, middle-of-the-road fat bike, the Mukluk is a great choice.

3. Otso Arctodus fat Bike

Key Features
  • Wheel size compatibility: 26″, 27.5″, & 29″
  • Tire size range: 4.5″ – 5.25″ (depending on wheel size)
  • Frame material: Chromaly
  • Dropper post compatible? Yes
  • Starting at: $3,040

Where to Shop

  • What I like:
    • Compatible with front forks that have up to 120mm of travel
    • Adjustable geometry via rear dropouts
    • Tons of braze-ons for attaching racks, bags, and mounts
    • Can accommodate three different wheel sizes
    • Choose your own components when ordering
  • What I don’t like:
    • External cable routing

Otso is a small bike brand out of Minnesota, so it’s no surprise they have a fat bike in their line-up (if you’re wondering why, Minnesota winters are very white).

The Arctodus is their dedicated winter fat bike that can be adapted to any ride style or need. Whether you prefer 29″ wheels, you want a longer wheelbase, or a hardtail is more your style, this bike can be it all.

4. Salsa Beargrease

Key Features
  • Wheel size compatibility: 26″, 27.5″, & 29″
  • Tire size range: 2.25″ – 4.6″ (depending on wheel size)
  • Frame material: Carbon
  • Dropper post compatible? Yes
  • Starting at: $2,949

Where to Shop

  • What I like:
    • Can run a front and rear rack
    • Lightweight compared to other fat bikes
    • Lots of bottle and cargo mounts
    • Can run a 100mm suspension fork
    • More progressive geometry than the Salsa Mukluk
  • What I don’t like:
    • It’s pretty dialed!
    • Only comes in a carbon frame

The Salsa Beargrease is a step up from its brother, the Mukluk. Where the Mukluk is designed to power through rough and rugged terrain, the Beargrease is designed to be light, quick, and fast.

With a lightweight carbon frame, more progressive geometry, and tons of attachment points for racks and bags, the Salsa Beargrease is ready for any expedition.

Tires and treads

What really sets winter fat biking apart (aside from biking in the snow) are the super wide tires and treads. Fat bike tires range in size from 3.5-ish inches all the way up to 5+ inches.

Within fat bike tires, you have a lot of different options as well. Some tires have metal studs for maximum traction on ice and snow while others have less of a tread so that you can float over groomed trails.

If you’re just looking to pedal on hard-packed groomed trails, a tire with less tread will be ideal. If you’re looking to do more adventurous riding or treat your fat bike like a mountain bike, you’ll want a tire with more grip.

Studded Fat Bike Tire
Studded Fat Bike Tire
Fat bike tire tread
Minimal Tread Fat Bike Tire

The best fat bike tires are made by a company called 45nth, which is based out of Minnesota. They make a wide range of fat bike tires from super grippy studded powerhouses to fast-rolling winter commuters.

Rear tire of fat bike rolling over snowy trail
Fat bike tires come in a huge range of size and tread pattern

Clothing and gear

Just like any winter outdoor pursuit, you need to be prepared for the climate when winter fat biking. Dressing in layers and waterproof outerwear is key.

Here are a few recommendations for what to wear fat biking:


Fat biking can be a great workout, so you want to dress in layers so you can adjust your body temperature as needed. I always like to start off a tad bit cold because I know I’ll warm up as I ride.

Here are a few of my favorite cold-weather layers:

Showers Pass waterproof Timberline Jacket

Shower’s Pass Timberline Jacket

The Showers Pass Timberline Jacket is perfect for fat biking because its waterproof, breathable, and roomy enough to add layers underneath.

Shop at:

Patagonia Nano Puff

I wear my Patagonia Nano Puff jacket everywhere! It’s super lightweight, packable, and warm.

Patagonia Capilene Midweight Top

Patagonia Capilene Midweight Top

For a midweight layer, you can’t go wrong with the Patagonia Capilene Zip-Neck. It’s moisture-wicking, breathable, and cozy warm.

Showers Pass Apex Merino Wool Tech Tee

Showers Pass Apex Merino Tech Tee

If you’re naturally tight, using a yoga block like this Manduka Cork Block can help you ease into poses and prevent you from going too much too fast.

Warm tights

To keep your legs warm, dress in some thermal tights. These Pearl iZUMi AmFib Tights are designed for cold weather. They’re made from thick material that keeps the cold out but still wicks moisture if you work up a sweat.

They do run small, so order a size up!

Shop Pearl iZUMi AmFib Tights at:

Waterproof pants

If you don’t have thermal tights or you know you’ll be really embracing wintery weather, a pair of waterproof pants can keep you dry and warm. The Patagonia Dirt Roamer pants are designed for wet-weather mountain biking. They’re fully waterproof, stretchy, and roomy enough so you don’t feel restricted while pedaling.

Shop Patagonia Dirt Roamer Pants at:

Two people riding fat bikes on snowy groomed winter trail overlooking winter landscape in Colorado

Winter fat biking Boots

If you have waterproof winter hiking boots, those are a great option for fat biking. You don’t need fat biking-specific boots. Whatever footwear you choose, you’ll want to make sure they are:

  • Waterproof
  • At least high-ankle height
  • Insulated
  • Have some grip on the soles
  • Not super stiff (i.e. don’t wear your snowboarding boots)

There are boots that are designed specifically for fat biking – some that are even clipless pedal compatible – but unless you’re really serious about doing long-distance winter fat biking, I recommend sticking to a regular winter boot like the Keen Revel IV Mid Polar Boot. They’re waterproof, insulated, reach above the ankle, and have great traction on the soles.

Shop Keen Revel IV Polar Boot at:

Warm Socks

Don’t wear cotton socks when you go out fat biking. Cotton doesn’t wick moisture and can lead to really cold, wet feet. Instead, choose socks that are made from synthetic materials or merino wool. I’m a huge fan of Darn Tough socks because they’re high-quality and come with a lifetime guarantee. Free socks for life!

Get the high-calf ski and snowboard socks to keep cold and snow from sliding down your boots.

Shop Darn Tough Socks at:


Keep your hands warm and dry with a pair of Showers Pass Crosspoint gloves. They have a softshell exterior that is fully waterproof, but still flexible enough to feel your brake levers (very important). They’re also touchscreen compatible and have a soft wipe on the thumb for your runny nose.

If you need something even warmer, check out the Hardshell Waterproof Gloves (mens).

Shop Showers Pass Crosspoint Gloves at:

Neck buff

Keep your neck warm with a protective buff. I prefer merino wool over fleece because I find that merino wool doesn’t get as wet or icy as fleece if you use it to cover your mouth and nose.

Shop Mid-Weight Merino Buff at:

Helmet & Goggles

If you have a ski/snowboard helmet and goggles, those are your best bet for head protection and eyewear. You could use your mountain bike helmet, but you’ll probably want to wear a hat underneath that covers your ears.

For your eyes, I like goggles for fat biking because they really keep the cold and snow out. If you wear ‘normal’ glasses, your eyeballs might freeze or get crusted with ice.


If you know your hands get really cold or you plan on fat biking in extremely low temps, consider using some pogies. Pogies are like muffs for your handlebars. Most pogies attach to your bars via the end caps, so you will need a bike with hollow handlebars.

The Wolf Tooth Singletrack Pogies are a versatile option that are designed with several vents, roll-down cuffs, and a fleece lining. These aren’t the warmest pogies out there, but they’re a good option for most riders and you can always wear warmer gloves.

Shop Mid-Weight Merino Buff at:

Preparing for your first ride

Now that you have your gear sorted, it’s time to ride! Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your fat biking adventures:

1. Check your tire pressure

Unlike mountain biking, gravel riding, or road cycling, fat biking actually requires a low tire pressure. Depending on your tire width and wheel size, aim for a range of 5-10 psi.

Why such a low tire pressure? A lower psi helps with traction, which you’ll need when rolling over snow!

2. Wear the right layers

As I mentioned in the gear section above, it’s really important to layer your clothes when heading out for a fat bike ride. You want to be able to take off or put on layers depending on how you’re feeling. I typically like to dress in 3-4 layers:

  • A next-to-skin lightweight base layer
  • A mid-weight layer
  • A puffy jacket
  • An outer shell if it’s really cold or snowing

3. Pack the essentials

Even though fat bike rides may not be as long or as intense as a mountain bike, gravel, or road ride, you still want to pack a few essentials like:

  • Water (don’t just eat snow as this can lower your body temp)
  • A multi-tool
  • A fat bike tube or plugs if it’s tubeless
  • A headlamp (winter daylight hours are shorter, so pack a headlamp if you had out in the afternoon just to be safe)
Person riding fat bike through the snow with snow-capped peaks in the distance

Finding Trails & Routes

Now for the fun part! Where can you ride your fat bike in the winter? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Your local mountain biking trails

Many mountain bike clubs and organizations are grooming their local trails for winter fat bike use. For example, the Kingdom Trails in Vermont grooms over 30 miles of their network for winter riding.

Check with your local mountain bike club or chapter (just Google your state + mountain bike club) to see if there are any groomed winter fat bike trails near you.

Ski Resorts

Lots of ski resorts are turning to fat biking as an additional way to enjoy winter. Resort fat biking doesn’t mean you actually take the lift up with your bike, but instead, the lower, usually cross-country ski trails, are open for fat bike use. Many resorts even have fat bike rentals for visitors.

Check to see whether your local ski resort (or the resort you want to visit) welcomes fat bikers.

Two people riding fat bikes on groomed trail at ski resort with rocky peaks to their left

Golf Courses

It may sound a bit silly, but a lot of golf courses around the US are actually grooming their lawns for fat biking! How cool is that? Since the terrain is open and undulating, golf courses are a great place to practice your fat biking skills before you head off onto singletrack or more challenging trails.

Here are just a few golf courses open for winter riding:

Bike paths & rail trails

Some bike paths and rail trails get plowed during the winter months, but others do not. If they’re not plowed (or even if they are), bike paths and rail trails are great for easy or long-distance fat biking adventures.

Fire roads

If you live out west, you’re most likely blessed with access to hundreds of miles of fire roads. These roads can be a great place to ride your fat bike if the snow isn’t super deep. Some fire roads might even be used by snowmobilers, which will leave a ‘groomed’ trail for you to ride on.

Two people riding fat bikes on groomed fire road


Need some more winter biking inspiration? Check out these related posts:

Have you been winter fat biking? Where’s your favorite place to ride? What other tips or questions do you have? Leave a comment below!

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