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Winter Day Hiking Items: Scenario
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Winter Day Hiking Gear: Scenario on 12/27/2004 17:20:54 MST Print View


You are leaving at 5 am, January 15, from a trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park on Snowshoes, elevation is 7,000 feet.

Temperature is 14 °F and it's snowing lightly with the chance for unstable weather throughout the day and fairly steady temperatures, decreasing to near zero as you climb up to a well frozen alpine like, which is your destination at 10,000 feet.

You're putting in about 15 miles today, half of that a lot of uphill through deep snow.

It's gonna be a long day and you don't expect to be back til after dark.

The trail is not marked.


Whatcha gonna carry?

What's your contingency plan if all heck breaks loose with the weather and you are forced to spend the night out?

Edited by ryan on 12/27/2004 17:21:05 MST.

Bob Nunnink
( - F
Winter Day hiking List on 12/28/2004 15:46:14 MST Print View

You pose an interesting challenge and one I think will have a different answer for those depending upon their outdoor philosophy. I was just reading Alpine climbing: Techniques to take you higher by Mark Houston & Kathey Cosley. Excellent book on mountaineering that I got for Christmas. They bring up the quote of Yvon Chouinard. " Leave most of the ten essentials and other impedimenta behind. Remember if you take bivouac gear equipment along, you will bivouac. The authors of this book emphasize the process of situational thinking and decision-making. Basically they argue against blindly following rules and protocols. The most important piece of equipment we can take into the wilderness is our judgment. That said here is my list. Not much different then your winter backpacking list

Clothing Worn

thin hat thermal headwear for active conditions thin PowerStretch balaclava 1.5 oz

active shirt bicomponent wind shirt Rab V-Trail Top 12.0 oz

underwear Patagonia capilene top & bottom

active pants soft shell stretchwoven long pants Arc'Teryx Gamma MX 18.0 oz

gloves windproof, insulated gloves Cloudveil Icefloe Gloves 5.0 oz

snow socks ultralight thin, ski-style sock Smartwool Ultralight Ski Socks 4.0 oz

gaiters breathable gaiters Outdoor Research Flex-Tex 4.5 oz

boots insulated snow boots Baffin Tundra 48.0 oz

Other Items Worn / Carried

ski poles one piece, carbon fiber, with snow baskets Stix X1 with nordic handles & snow baskets 8.0 oz

snowshoes large deck model for deep snow Northern Lites Backcountry 30" 43.0 oz

whistle pealess whistle on Spectra cord Fox 40 Mini Whistle, AirCore Plus lanyard 1.0 oz

watch compass / altimeter watch highgear axis 1.3 oz

Other Clothing

storm jacket integral designs event rain jacket 9.5 oz

insulating jacket synthetic high loft moonstone cirus ultralight 12.7 oz

insulating pants synthetic high loft insulating pants with side-zips Integral Designs Denali Pants 20.0 oz

warm hat wool beanie cap PossumDown Beanie 1.5 oz

Extra socks smartwool ultra light ski 4 oz

backpack ultimate direction speedemon circa 2001 22 oz

Other Essentials

maps 2.0 oz

light LED headlamp, suitable for nightime navigation Petzel tikka plus 2.75 oz

first aid minor wound care & meds assorted wound & blister care and medicines 2.0 oz

firestarting emergency firestarting - waterproof Sparklite & firestarter in 4"x7" Aloksak 1.0 oz

sunglasses 100% UV blocking, plastic lenses/frames Julbo 1.0 oz

sunscreen 100% UV blocking, waterproof, paste Dermatone 1.0 oz

personal hygiene assorted toiletries toilet paper, alcohol hand gel, in 4" x 7" Aloksak 1.5 oz

small foam sit pad 2 oz

emergency blanket 3 oz

food 16 oz

water average carried 1 liter 48 oz

total wieght all items worn & carried 20.08 lbs

Edited by on 12/29/2004 05:27:11 MST.

Jerold Swan
(jswan) - F - M
scenario on 12/30/2004 17:42:44 MST Print View

I would add a GPS in case of whiteout, and I'd carry a heavier insulating jacket (in my case a Wild Things Belay jacket).

Bob Nunnink
( - F
day hiking list on 01/01/2005 08:18:33 MST Print View

I agree forgot the gps. Just got the integral designs jacket for Christmas. Hoping to use it as my primary shell for hiking, climbing, mountaineering and mountain biking. I keep you updated.

canyon steinzig
(canyon) - F

Locale: Nor Cal
winter day hike on 03/05/2005 18:42:53 MST Print View

15 degrees and getting colder, hmm, the weather might turn bad.
Marmot Dri Climb Windshirt
Smart Wool Long underware
MEC Microfiber BiB with full leg Zips
Fleece Hat TNF with windstopper ear s
TNF powershield gloves
Smartwool Medium Socks
OR Gaiters
I don't have any good cold weather boots that are hiking only, so I would probably take my Scarpa Alphas
Trecking Polls with snow basket
MSR Denali on my feet, although i would actually have skis
Golite Jam pack I would have a small silnylon flat tarp
alpine primus stove
.8 oz pot I only have aluminum
BRand new Princeton Tec head lamp, best ever
half length z rest
Golite Six Month Night
Patagonia R1 shirt that can go over or under the windshirt, or be changed out if I get too wet for some reason
I'll leave the insulated pants at home on this trip as I really really hope to keep moving
Snow shovel
and ten essentials
I would have my north face Propel sleeping bag in the car and would sehow couragous I was at 5 am. I would like to leave it but it the weather was crap I might grap it for an extra pound it could help, basically I see it as a replacement for the insulated pants but I think with more survival function
I don't know exactly how much tht all weigns but I think it's light enough given my comfort level is not extreme.

Kevin Lane
Winter Day Hike Pack Liner-Pad on 01/16/2006 10:19:17 MST Print View

So I bought more of that reflectix insulation than I know what to do with. I wanted to bring a small sit pad with me on a winter day hike, so wound up putting it inside my pack to basically form a tuble. I put my food stuff on the bottom of the tube, with my poncho, and then the water bottles filled with hot water. Atop the water bottles went my insulated jacket. Temps were in the low teens. I had filled the water bottle up with hot tap water before I left. Five hours later, after hiking for 3.5 hours, the water was still pleasantly warm. I do not know what it would have been like without the reflectix stuff, but this seems to help. Plus, a nice pad to sit on

Alan Garber
(altadude) - F
Re: Winter Day Hike Pack Liner-Pad on 01/28/2006 12:05:14 MST Print View

The list looks good.
I have two questions:
1. Why do people bring a sit pad?
I sit on my pack and use my skis (you can use your snowshoes) as a back rest.

2. I can't decide whether a UL sleeping bag (1lb) 40 deg or so or insulated pants make more sense--the former gives you more warmth in case of forced bivy but the latter helps for a rest stop......the sleeping bag is lighter than my pants--patagucci polarguard ones.......

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: Re: Winter Day Hike Pack Liner-Pad on 01/29/2006 12:21:02 MST Print View

I would take a pack that had a decent storm collar if you needed it to bivy, in my case it would be a wild things andinista. I started using Intuition boot liners this winter, the alpine thermoflex, so they would come. Avalanche cord and a transciever, backcountry access dts. My old choiunard pole/probes..if it was a large group maybe wands. A couple of baggies of dried catfood.Skins, cut down. Spare headlamp/transciever batteries and sometimes frs radios, shovel/saw,duct tape.. a piece of old inner tube [to repair bindings], a couple of butane lighters, new skin and moleskin, zip ties.[I'm basically emptying my pack here in front of the computer], waterproof tape. This would go on top of my normal climbing kit.DAS parka, wind shell [goretex west of the cascade crest],gaiters.Extra hat,lt fleece top/bottom,liner gloves,socks vacuum sealed. I still carry glacier cream and sunblock,after burning the insides of my nostrils in the Andes. A pair of the disposible sunglasses the eye doctor gives you to get home with after they dilate your eyes. Now that I got all this spread out I'm going to do some cleaning

Edited by pyeyo on 01/29/2006 21:36:51 MST.

Steven Scates MD
(scatesmd) - MLife
What to do for shelter? on 02/03/2006 14:32:37 MST Print View

Would anyone have started with a shelter in their packs, i.e., a light tarp, bivy, etc.?

I ask this as a sideways means of seeing what shelter you would bring if you thought there was a good chance of being caught for the night in these conditions.

Thanks, steve

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: What to do for shelter? on 02/03/2006 15:47:06 MST Print View

In my case I'd dig a snow cave [or trench] into a drifted hill, put on my insulation, sit on the pad that doubles as the frame, tuck my legs into my pack, pull the storm collar up, and dig into yet another gourmet repast. I believe this started as a winter hike not a snow camping trip so my bivy would be reflect that actuality.
Whatever has happened; whiteout, dangerous avalanche conditions, lost, accident or injury, lack of fitness, hypothermia ... the best thing you can bring is you and your accumulated experience. I've turned around short of a goal and I've stayed home looking for some high pressure to settle the weather down and I've lost compadres at times when it should of been me.

Greg Vaillancourt
(GSV45) - F

Locale: Utah
No place to be a tough guy on 02/19/2006 11:00:11 MST Print View

I'll bring some extra caution.

I'm normally a meathead and I'll get focused on the objective and keep going for it no matter what. Wanna see some blister photos to prove it? :)

Winter conditions make me a lot more cautious. Maybe turning 40 has helped me accept that sometimes turning back is the smarter choice. This was a dayhike/snowshoe trip where returning after dark was the plan. If the weather goes down the tubes I'm bagging the original plan.

That being said a 40 degree synthetic sleeping bag and a silnylon tarp/ bivy should go a long way in helping you survive if another scenario happens...INJURY.

Edited by GSV45 on 02/20/2006 09:59:15 MST.

Scott Ashdown
(waterloggedwellies) - F

Locale: United Kingdom
I'd take a candle! on 02/19/2006 11:27:08 MST Print View

In addition to all the types of gear that has already been listed, I nearly always take a candle when I back pack. If trouble arose, I could always hunker down and pull my poncho around me and lite the candle, holding it inside. It would hopefully trap enough heat to stay alive. Of course building a good old fire near by would be better, but if that's not possible, the candle and a means of trapping the heat comes a close second.

(mountainwalker) - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area & New England
Baffin Tundra on 09/08/2006 16:19:50 MDT Print View

Thanks for posting this list. Helpful as I get more into winter hiking and backpacking. I couldn't find the Baffin Tundra. Do you have a link to the model? I'm looking for a winter boot with insulation to about -20-25F and a nylon shank for support. I find many winter boots don't have a supportive shank.

larry savage
(pyeyo) - F

Locale: pacific northwest
Re: Baffin Tundra on 09/24/2006 11:29:55 MDT Print View

I pretty sure zappos handles the baffin line.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
old, old thread (but good!) on 10/21/2010 20:31:04 MDT Print View

yes this is an old thread :), but the scenario I think is fairly typical for a lot of our snowshoe outings and winter is right around the corner

the trail is unmarked so a good map/compass are a given, I'd also throw in my small Foretrex and a UTM grid (map pre-gridded)

chance of arriving after dark means a good headlamp (and extra batteries)

several (redundant) fire starting bits, including a couple of wetfire tinders- (my personal favorite for wet/challenging conditions)
knife (around neck w/ whistle)
small aluminum snow shovel
repair kit (to include snowshoe repair)
small Esbit stove, couple of Esbit tabs, 450 mug/lid, short spork
toilet paper/alcohol gel (doubles as fire source)
GG 1/8" thinlight pad- to sit on, but also as ground insulation
AMK Thermolite bivy
AMK heatsheet
yank of Spectra
2 six hour beeswax candles
4 chemical handwarmers
pack liner

if forced to spend the night out (dread the thought!), I'm thinking small debris shelter covered w/ snow- I'd use the heatsheet over the ridgepole/side poles to keep moisture somewhat at bay and start layering on top of it- lots of debris, then lots of snow, fill the pack liner with snow for my "door", lay the thinlight down (on top of as much debris as possible) and get into the bivy w/ all the clothes I have- light the candle every once in awhile

clothing I might be a little under prepped

clothing worn
light merino beanie
light merino gloves
zipped Merino 2 top
R1 tights
wool socks
Merrell Thermo 6 boots (they're lightly insulated)

clothing carried
Houdini windshirt
MB stretch windpants
Patagonia down sweater
MB UL down pants
wool mittens
over mitts
extra wool socks


usually a pretty generous lunch (instant soup, mini pitas, salami, cheese, fruit)
6 Mojo bars (eat a couple, couple as extras)
freeze-dried supper for one (strictly a extra)
several Gatorade packets (couple as extras)

all in a Talon 22 w/ a 100 oz Platy Insulator (and a .5 liter platy for gatorade)

what say you?


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
too much on 10/21/2010 21:23:19 MDT Print View

i think thats too much for a dayhike

assuming your normal items what id consider essential myself is

1. total bombproof way of starting a fire + metal cup ... pj soaked cotten balls and bic+matches
2. thick puffy hooded jacket that you use for stops anyways ... im talking like 6+ oz of 800 fill or equivalent synthetic/down combo
3. blizzard survival bag or equivalent (light bag + barrier)

with a snow trench, branches and cover im pretty sure youll survive

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
bothy on 10/21/2010 21:53:32 MDT Print View

I am sure I bring less then I should, but finding that edge is one of the main points of this site. Now that I may often have one of my kids with me, the issues get even more difficult.

Since this is likely an emergency when something has gone wrong, I am not sure how realistic a snow cave or debris shelter would be. We have lots of trees in Vt, but looking around on the mountains in the snow, there is a lot less obvious cover than one may think, particularly if you had a broken leg or other serious injury. Making a fire may also be challenging.

I pretty much never bring insulated pants or a sleeping bag. I just can't get my head around laying down in a trench in the snow for the night, it seems way too exposed. So for the past few years, I have been bringing my poncho tarp, figuring that would let me rig a shelter, plus maybe a mylar or thermolite bivy sack, plus an insulated jacket. I can never decide on the esbit stove, so that is in or out, and a candle often makes it in.

But all this leads me to say that the bothy bag concept seems like the best and most robust option, better than bivy sack, a tarp, a debris shelter or a snow tench. It can shelter someone injured, multiple people can share, it provides protection from the elements, and would allow a change to regroup and renavigate, and fix gear, like having to fix bindings, etc. So I don't have one, but really am talking myself into making that purchase and giving it a try. I had never seen the link to the ones at Brooks Range before today, so that now gives a real choice vs the terra nova options.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
bothy on 10/21/2010 23:05:48 MDT Print View

you can make one out of plastic sheets and tape ... ... i recommend that before buying one to make sure it works for you

bothies are meant to be destroyed anyways ... lol

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
bag on 10/22/2010 07:54:21 MDT Print View

as I never wear (well maybe once) my down pants during day hikes- I've thought about ditching them in favor of a very light bag- something like the MB Thermal Sheet- but that comes at the expense of weight and volume over the pants- you'd still want a bivy and some insulation under; the thinlight at ~ 2 oz and rolled tight to the size of a Pringles can has proved very useful

where I hike your never too terribly far from treeline and usually plenty of materials for a debris shelter- a debris shelter is very efficient, but it does take a fair amount of time to construct vs a trench

my down sweater could definitely be "beefed up" (a hood would help)- it's plenty for resting/lunch, etc, but for a forced overnight could be better- this would also come at the expense of weight and volume though

firestarting- I probably could get by w/ less, but everything is small/light and this a place where I feel redundancy is not redundant :)

Diplomatic Mike

Locale: Under a bush in Scotland
Re : Winter day hikes on 10/22/2010 10:46:15 MDT Print View

I always carry a Blizzard Bag on day hikes. Especially if one of my kids come along. It could mean the difference between like and death if someone becomes disabled, and you have to leave them to seek help.