Nathan Schroeder is no stranger to hard work. A tradesmen by day, Nathan has worked as a millwright in northern Minnesota for the past 16 years. By night? He’s been a musher for more than two decades, after first being introduced to the sport at the age of 12 when he was given a ride behind a team of malamutes. He’s a four-time champion of the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon (of which Duluth Trading is a proud sponsor) and was named 2014 Rookie of the Year at the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Nathan’s 2016 race season includes the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon in January and the Iditarod in March. This will be Nathan’s third time running the Iditarod, a 1,000+ mile race through the Alaskan wilderness where teams often face whiteout blizzards and windchills of -50 °F.
To prepare for such an undertaking, Nathan trains his two teams of 10 sled dogs, running 50-mile runs every other day. Each run typically lasts up to 6 hours at a dog-powered pace of 10 mph. Competitions are intense but even training runs can be an exercise in survival. Nathan packs an emergency kit with antibiotics, vet wrap, bandages, stapler, medical tape, and extra food and water, just in case he and the team get stranded on the trail. He also carries a head lamp, axe and chainsaw in the event he needs to clear a path through downed trees or boulder-sized ice piles.
Extreme and unpredictable conditions require gear that can stand up to the elements, while also providing the freedom of movement Nathan needs to wrangle his team of energetic, powerful sled dogs. Nathan trusts his Alaskan Hardgear Ice Fog Down Parka and Bibs for extremely cold runs and the Manorak Anorak for “warmer temps,” which Nathan defines as -5 °F or above.
“My favorite gear is the Alaskan Hardgear Snowcat Pants,” said Nathan. “They are the most durable pants I have ever owned, and they work for all seasons. I can wear these pants from 0 to -50 °F comfortably with adjustment in the base layers.”
To stay up-to-date with Nathan’s training and racing, follow him on Facebook.