Winter Packpacking Gear?
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Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Winter Packpacking Gear? on 01/17/2008 12:24:03 MST Print View

Well I'm getting ready do my first overnight winter backpacking trip in a couple of weeks and need some help picking a few pieces of gear. It goes without saying that I want gear that's as light as possible. Any suggestions for a novice winter backpacker?

Snow shovel
Compact and able to build a snow shelter with.

Camp booties
To be used for sleeping and walking around camp with occasionally.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Winter Packpacking Gear? on 01/17/2008 12:31:48 MST Print View

Make sure that whatever stove you are going to be using has been tried at the temperatures you're going to encounter BEFORE relying on it when you get there.

Make sure that your pad is compatible with the temperatures that you will encounter. A warm bag will not make up for a pad with too low an R value.


Choice of gear and gear weight is very personal and will vary greatly from one individual to another, just make sure that it fits the temperature range that you are dealing with.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
current system on 01/17/2008 13:06:35 MST Print View

As far as my stove and sleeping system this is what I am currently going to be using:

Stove:
MSR Simmerlight with 22oz. fuel bottle

Bag:
TNF Goliath synthetic bag 0 degree. Eventually I will upgrade to MontBell SS UL Down Hugger #1 with 32 degree quilt.

Pad:
Thermarest prolight 4 wide with 20" wide blue foam pad

Any recommendations on the shovel and booties?

Edited by chadnsc on 01/18/2008 10:22:13 MST.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: current system on 01/18/2008 06:10:33 MST Print View

Hey Chad, that's a nice setup.

I just purchased some booties a few days ago from feathered friends. They aren't the lightest or cheapest, but they are mid calf height, and have a removable shell. I felt this would be a great feature when tramping in and out of your tent. It sold me on them. From my research, the Nunatuks are probably the lightest booties you can get @ ~4-5 oz depedning on your foot size. But there is still the 6 week build time required for them, ankle height, and they cost $109. My local outfitter, www.mec.com , has down and synthetic booties both at very good prices (under 40 bucks or so). My logic for the FF was that I could walk around in camp, get the shells all cold and icey, then slip them off and go to bed with my down liners if required. Unfortunatly, I don't actually have them yet so I can't give you a review, but I posted about them a few days ago in the g-spot. People seem to be very happy with them.

I have the snow claw. For winter backpacking, it is perfect. I use it to clear areas for my tent, build shelves and seats, sit on it, and cook on it. However, you mention you want to build snow shelters...the actual act of shoveling: picking snow up with the shovel and walking to another area to place it, can be quite tiring with the snow claw. So, if you have several hours of shoveling to make say an igloo, I'm not sure it would be a good pick, but it can be done. A snow cave maybe not so bad but I haven't done it before. Voile makes a one pound shovel called the XLM. It sells here for $40 but it still has a short handle.
Maybe you need both? :)

Steve

Edited by Steve_Evans on 01/18/2008 06:12:54 MST.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
snow shelters and shovels. . . on 01/18/2008 08:10:24 MST Print View

Thanks for the all the info!

I am planning on using a pyramid tarp and bivy sac so my shovel will be used to create wind breaks, dig out my tarp area and build simple snow trenches. Do you think the snow claw would work for that?

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: snow claw on 01/18/2008 09:10:48 MST Print View

I have a shovel and a snow claw and find that the snow claw is more efficient in building a snow cave.

John Haley
(Quoddy) - F

Locale: New York/Vermont Border
Re: Re: snow claw on 01/18/2008 09:16:39 MST Print View

Chad...

I concur on the Snow Claw, just make sure you get the "Guide" version... it's much firmer and easy to use.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: current system on 01/18/2008 09:43:15 MST Print View

Chad,

I can't speak from first hand experience but a good friend who only camps after October and before April (yes, in MN) says that the MSR Whispers are marginal at best for winter if you plan to be melting snow for water. He's a big Dragonfly fan. I'll be trying to melt snow using a bushbuddy tomorrow but have a dragonfly if bushbuddy doesn't do well enough in the test.

We might be able to count on the Gooseberry river for water (Sam might have an opinion about that).

The prolight 4 won't do much for insulation but ought to be OK with blue foam on top (two blue foams if we were going THIS weekend!). I'm undecided about having the comfort of an inflatable pad.

P. P.
(toesnorth) - F

Locale: PNW
Re: "Winter Packpacking Gear?" on 01/18/2008 09:56:26 MST Print View

If that is your picture in your avatar, you seem young enough to MAYBE get by with the Prolite 4. My old bones wouldn't make it through winter camping on anything but my exped downmat. I have a 9.
I haven't used the whisperlite but the dragonfly is a real workhorse, though heavy. I've been getting by with an esbit stove when traveling light and only plan to melt snow and rehydrate food.
Sometimes, a fire is possible and boy, is that nice! :-)

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
winter gear on 01/18/2008 10:11:42 MST Print View

Of course it's me in my avatar picture. What type of dork would post someone else’s picture? ;) I’m not too young, 29 ½ is just old enough to feel it in the morning but too young to care.

I'll be using my Prolight4 and a closed cell foam pad.

I took a look at the Viole shove, it looks perfect. The Feathered Friends down booties look exactly like what I was looking for! Now I just have to figure out how to order the booties. :(

Keep any suggestions you have about my gear choices coming! I appreciate all the feedback!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Winter Packpacking Gear? on 01/18/2008 10:15:27 MST Print View

I'm new to winter camping too, Chad. I think I spent three or four nights out last winter so I still consider myself in the testing phase. I had two blue foams for use as a pad last winter and two 25 deg F sleeping bags and I got pretty cold during -10 deg F temperatures.

I'll need to do some testing but I think I'm going to try this combination this season:

Under whole body: Gossamer Gear Thinlite
Under torso: BMW Torsolite
Under legs: Gossamer Gear Nightlite

I haven't brought a shovel with me as the snow depths aren't typically enough to warrant it. I use my snowshoes as a scoop to maneuver any snow around that I might need to.

I, like Jim am going to be experimenting with my Bushbuddy for winter use as I gave away my white gas last winter.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: current system on 01/18/2008 10:18:42 MST Print View

Hey Jim,

Any reasons why the Wisperlight didn't work well for melting snow for water? I was looking at the Wisperlight because of its weight and the good reviews it had from various websites and Andrew on his 'Nations Icebox' trip.

On a side note I'm thinking about forgoing the Prolight 4 for a 25" wide closed cell foam pad. I was planning on using the Prolight 4 because I already have it (gift).

Ok, I'm an idiot. I am planning on using the Simmerlight, not the Wisperlight. Doh!

Edited by chadnsc on 01/18/2008 10:23:18 MST.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: current system on 01/18/2008 10:33:42 MST Print View

FWIW, I always recomend the DM7 for a winter camping pad when people ask...however, trying to reduce my pack weight, the past weekend I went with this setup.

Under whole body: Gossamer Gear Thinlite
Under torso: Montbell UL 90/Gossamer Gear Nightlite
Under legs: Granite Gear Vapor Trail

Slept toasty fine at -9C(15F).

chad, just call FF to order the booties. They are great guys. I guess I should let you know that I bought the last 2 pairs of size large they had a few days ago...hopefully you have small, or very big, feet! :0

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: Re: current system on 01/18/2008 10:52:02 MST Print View

Oh you evil man! I need the size large! Oh well I'll just have to wait a bit.

I was looking at the downmats as well. If I use my original system:

Prolight 4 & Rigrest
48 oz.
R-5.5
(prolight 4 R-3.2, rigrest R-2.3)

Downmat 9
33.2 oz.
R-8

Thinlite, Nightlite, Montbell Combo
16.1 oz.
R-5.02
(Thinlite R-0.45, Nightlight R-2.27, Montbell R-2.3)

On a side note what R-value to most of you think is a good number to shoot for when winter backpacking in temps down to 0 degrees?

Edited by chadnsc on 01/18/2008 10:53:42 MST.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: current system on 01/18/2008 11:01:07 MST Print View

for Chad:
Any reasons why the Wisperlight didn't work well for melting snow for water?

Not enough heat output for melting necessary quantity of water in a reasonable time. But that might not be true for one stove per person. If you already have a simmerlite, I'd say give it a try in your back yard this weekend, the forecast should meet or exceed the conditions we're likely to choose to tolerate on Feb 23.

for Sam ... what do you think our chances of being able to access open water on the river?

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
YEP! on 01/18/2008 14:42:53 MST Print View

Buy "Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book". There's just about all the information & lists you'll need to have a good time winter camping. And Excellent, informative illustrations

Eric

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
Re: Re: current system on 01/18/2008 15:32:32 MST Print View

The Gooseberry River has a 8-12" crust of ice on it right now. If you have a hachet you can chop though it just fine along the river bank edges.

Personally I will plan on melting snow.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
"THE" book on 01/22/2008 11:28:55 MST Print View

Chad,

As I've posted to others in your situation the biggest favor you could do for yourself getting ready would be to buy "Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Skiing Book".

As a 10 year Nordic ski patroller I can say without hesitation that this is THE best winter camping book I've ever seen. True, it has some skiing tips, but is mostly about winter camping. The cartoon-like illustrations contain about half the information and they stick in your mind so you don't forget the info.

Eric

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Winter Packpacking Gear? on 01/22/2008 12:08:48 MST Print View

I think we're going to have to melt snow for water as by late Feb I highly doubt there will be open water anywhere. I will probably have to bring a two liter pot instead of my 900mL just to have enough room to do that.

Chad Miller
(chadnsc)

Locale: Duluth, Minnesota
winter backpacking gear on 01/22/2008 12:23:31 MST Print View

I've already bought the book. It will be in my little hands by Thursday.

Don't worry about me too much. I'm going car camping this weekend to test out my systems. I'll be bringing extra (aka heavy) gear along to stay warm. The way I figure it their is no way in hell I'd just head out without testing my system in a safe manner first.