Thanks for the great info. You're lucky to live in a beautiful place. We'll probably be snowshoeing Friday afternoon and Monday, so I expect there won't be too many people out, even on popular trails. How far is the Camelback trailhead from Stowe, and where is the trailhead for Mt Hunger located? I'll also ask the Green Mountain Club.
Another great trail thath is relatively safe for snowshoeing in terms of getting back to treeline, but which offers big views for relatively moderate effort, is the Alander Mountain Trail in South Egremont. I've hiked it in the fall, it's one of the best views in New England.
I've tried emailng Darren, the founder of VFTT, at least half a dozen times - never any response. I've been wanting to join that forum for NE trail info for ages, but it's been closed. If you are able to private message any forum moderators and help me register, I'd be forever grateful. I think my emails must be going into junk mail, or Darren hasn't been active with the site. Could you enable your PM and I'll send you my registration info? I'd really appreciate your help with this.
Re hard shell, why would you need it in below freezing weather? I can always carry my light (5 oz) Golite rainpants and Montbell Peak Shell, but I don't see how they'd be needed. Rain is not a worry below freezing. We have highly wind and water resistant outer layers and very warm insulation layers (Patagonia DAS Parka for very cold weather, Montbell Thermawrap Parka for less severe weather, worn belay style over our Ready Mix Jackets). We also carry an emergency heat blanket/bivvy each. Thankfully our winter softshells are flaming blaze orange, very handy now that it's hunting season in many places in the NE.
I asked about the Gamma MX pants because I remember reading in this BPL piece http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/00278.html that BPL staffers heated up in the Gamma MX jacket, but then again, that was for upper layer, not legs. I'm also not sure how hard they were pushing at the time. I'd imagine the Gamma MX pant for legs would have been fine except for very mild winter weather. It will be interesting to see how the Gamma MX works for snowshoeing and x country skiing at a good pace.