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8 Day Winter Gear List
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Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/08/2008 14:46:18 MST Print View

OK, check out the gearlist from my profile. This is for my 8 day trip planned for mid December in Killarney (just outside of Sudbury). Average temps will be -10C, but can be much lower, aswell as higher.

LOL, I pulled this off the net while looking for average temps from TripAdvisor.
"One of the outstanding traits for which Sudbury is well-known is its frighteningly cold winter season. In fact, this city is one of the coldest cities throughout the entire world. The average winter low temperature in the coldest month (January) is below zero degrees Fahrenheit. From December through February, the temperature rarely crawls above twenty degrees, making winter a difficult time to visit the area for all but those people who are fans of freezing."

Weather can be nasty around that time but right now it is gorgeous outside, so we'll see. If there is no snow by then, I'll adjust the list to remove the snow related equipment.

The red items are on order but are not received yet. The blue items are things I want, but have not purchased yet (anyone used them before?).

I'll be bringing a bushbuddy for the whole trip (even snow melting if req'd) and have some concerns with that.

I think the FF booties are just too heavy for what they are doing. I like them, but I think I can get away with something lighter.

I have the 40 below tent floor on there to. Just in case I need to sit in my tent for a day or so but i think it is too heavy. Maybe my thinlite will do fine.

What ya think?

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/09/2008 17:34:36 MST Print View

Steve, looks pretty good. I'm with you on the floor- your thinlite would offer insulation for less weight. Are you planning on bringing it? I didn't notice it on your list. I assume that you normally put your pack under your legs for insulation?

If you are using your bushbuddy, are you going to need something to go under it to keep it from melting into the snow? I assume you have a plastic snowclaw, so that won't work. If where you are going is forrested, I guess you could use logs or rocks or something.

do you need crampons as well as snowshoes, or are the crampons just if you aren't bringing the snowshoes?

can you get away without the saw? It seems like any branch that would be small enough to cut could just as easily be broken.

Do you cook in your pot? If you are just going freezer bag, you could leave the sponge behind.

and you could ditch the toilet paper in favor of snow, if you don't mind the cold.

if you have to melt snow for water, you could ditch the micropur.

do you need all the stuffsacks? what are you putting in them? since everything goes in a big drybag, you might get away with less.

I would bring an extra pair of liner gloves, just so I had something dry, just in case.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/09/2008 19:22:21 MST Print View

Right on for you. That list looks awesome.

Joshua made very good points, I won't repeat them.


a. What's a 40 below tent floor?

b. How much snow do you expect?

c. How many socks are you bringing?

d. When's the full moon?

I would actually add a few items:

1. Extra foot beds for the inside of shoes. An important addition, especially if you are winter camping with montrail HARD-ROCKs.

2. Do you have experience with VB liners? I suggest layering with NEOPRENE socks (but that's just me)

3. You MUST take the FF Booties! Winter camping is freekin' COLD! Wear 'em to bed, they are VITAL!

4. There will be running water somewhere, take water treatment.

5. Do you have a full length pad? Sleeping on snow requires extra insulation from the conduction between you and the ground. I strongly suggest that you take 1 full length pad to put under your other pads. The sun will go down early, and you will probably spend HALF your time in the sleeping bag, 12 hours per night should be expected!

6. You are going pretty light on layers given the potential for a 40 below zero night. The NUNATAK SKAHA PLUS is NOT a true winter expedition parka. I would definitely add an extra layer of insulation. Maybe a down vest?

7. Make sure you can wear all your clothes at the same time without any snugness or constriction points (like armpits). Do this BEFORE you go out.

Christopher Plesko
(Pivvay) - F

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/09/2008 19:59:06 MST Print View

If you're making a base camp, I say bring the 40 below floor for sure. If you're moving camp, I could go either way but definitely have a 2nd closed cell pad. What if the downmat leaks? I agree with keep the booties too when it seems your sock selection is pretty light.

Off the top of my head from a quick rundown of the list:

-Not enough hand insulation, esp because in winter I have a double set of something to keep my hands warm enough. Summer it's inconvenient to lose a glove, winter it's much worse if you can't operate your zippers, stove, etc.

-No goggles? In winter goggles are my friend. Maybe not needed there. I like them better than glacier glasses and can't live without them in blowing snow (which is like everyday in winter above treeline). Plus how good are those glasses with snow glare?

-Not enough leg insulation. I'm not sure how warm those sporthill pants are but going by the weight I think they'd be a little light even with the base layer. Just a guess though and you could wear the cocoons over but I'd rely on them less if you're using them to boost your sleep system.

-You might have a really hard time adjusting those poles if you're hands are cold and they're wet at all without a leather type palm.

-You have 2 pairs of warm socks, right?

-Crampons with no axe?

-If you really thought you might be trapped in your tent, no backup canister stove?

-Why the ninjaclava and the UL90 clava esp with the Skaha Plus?

-Unless it's really cold and you're never moving fast your midlayer should perhaps be in the base weight column?

-No drinking mug or thermos? Also 8 days with only 1 water container would bother me if I couldn't hike out easily.

-No sunscreen but the blistex? Is that enough for your face in sun and snowcover?

Bear in mind maybe some of this doesn't apply, it's just what I thought of when I read your list and thought about winter conditions for 8 days. If you can just hike out in stormy weather then things might be different. I deal with a lot of cold wind all winter so it perhaps taints my perspective.

Joshua Gilbert
(joshcgil2) - F

Locale: Seattle
8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/09/2008 20:44:44 MST Print View

I'm with Chris on the mug idea. You could pack a nalgene with an insulated water bottle cozy (one of those O.R. ones, or something homemade) which would do double duty as a mug and a backup water container.

I have to agree with the idea of more durable handwear and extra socks as well. all you have for socks are liners and v.B.s?

I imagine those overboots add a lot of warmth, but you just bought them this year, right? Someone might chime in and contradict me here, but, if you haven't used them before, you might consider a little insurance until you are sure they will work with that system

leg warmth could be boosted with a pair of ultralight windpants that you could layer over if it was really cold. They add a suprising amount of warmth. Or you could wear some powerstretch tights under the sporthills

Is Killarney the place that you posted about last winter,by the lake, with the swimming deer, or am I thinking of someone else (or perhaps I have gone mad, equally possible?) Anyway, if it is, you wouldn't need goggles, at least I never have in woodland areas (okay, once, but it was a wicked biblical kind of storm, and I probably should have stayed home.)

Edited by joshcgil2 on 11/09/2008 21:42:22 MST.

Andrew Dolman
re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/09/2008 21:57:57 MST Print View

Hexamine fuel tabs to use with the bushbudy in extremis.

Repair kit for the Downmat7.

I'll second Mike Clelland's observation that you need to be prepared to spend much longer lying down in your tent than usual. The Downmats are very warm and comfy though so you are quite well prepared for that already.

Edited by andydolman on 11/09/2008 22:02:30 MST.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 09:17:33 MST Print View

Thanks for the input.

I was planning on leaving my thinlite if I bring the 40B tent floor. I am still undecided until I see how big it is – maybe I’ll cut it down a bit.
For cooking, I usually make a little cook area, but the bushbuddy can sit on one of my crampons if required.
I probably could get away without the saw. I just figured if I ever got really cold, I could build a fire and cut some thicker wood instead of trying to break it.
I saw the article on cleaning the back end with snow, but haven't tried it. My bum is a very special place, and I don't know if it will like it too much - I'll bring the TP, but I'll give the snowcone a try while I'm out there. :)
I’ll scrap the sponge, but it weighs nothing :) and I may get away with 1 less stuffsack as you mentioned.
I’ll also add an extra pair of liners – good idea.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 09:39:34 MST Print View

Mike, thanks you for responding.

a. What's a 40 below tent floor?
1/8" CC foam pad 36" x 80"

b. How much snow do you expect?
Right now we have none (a few flurry's, but no real accumulation). I won't know until the week of. If we get a big dump, there could be a few feet, or there could be barely any. The weather is all over the place right now.

c. How many socks are you bringing?
3 liners and 1 to sleep in.

d. When's the full moon?
Dec 12th...I think.

1) The overboots have foam pads in the bottom and I haven't had trouble with the montrail before, but this trip will most likely be much more challenging thaen past trips. I will add.
2) Liner and VB have worked well for me when moving. If I stop, I put on the FF booties.
3) Agreed...I will bring them...they're just so stinkin' heavy - but warm as heck!
4) Hopefully!
5) In the past, I have slept with a 48" pad and my pack (stuffed with gear) under my legs without problems. For this trip, i will have the tent floor which I believe will provide adequate warmth. (hot water bottle by the feet is key aswell!)
6) I tried to sneak this one in. Your right, I'll bring my north face jacket (26 oz)...I have never been cold in it. Makes me look like the stay puff marshmallow man.
stay puff man.

7) Pic above is with ALL my clothes on.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 10:06:25 MST Print View

Chris, thanks for reviewing the list.

I'm still thinking about the CC pad. If I bring the entire 40B floor, I can fold it in half, or even 3 if there was a failure with my DM7 (I will add a repair kit as mentioned from another poster).

Handwarmth. I'm adding another liner glove, but have not received my overmitts from MLD. I really only use the overmitts to cut wind so thought they would be a good idea. I have my old overmitts which are bomber, but they something like 4 oz. The double fleece insulation is warm and toasty. I'm thinking of adding some hot packs though...could come in "handy". You think I need more? Or an additional setup?

I rarely wear the glasses - only if it's snowing and windy. However, I have just now been browsing for some UL goggles (any recommendations?) as my snowboarding ones are monsters.

I don't have the sporthills yet, but if required, I'll add a windpant layer for moving. My cocoons are just warm up pants in the evening and morning. I haven't had to use them for sleeping...yet.

Only 1 pair of sleeping socks. And the the booties for hanging out in camp. During the day I use a liner sock and VB.

The ups aren't too bad - steep but very short. I can get away with my poles instead of the axe (seems trivial after all the time I put into that thing!:)). But the rock ridges/trails may have ice, so some simple walking crampons would be nice to have in case it gets a little squirmy.

Just the bushbuddy - I'm still a little nervous about this...but I'm adding some esbit tabs.

Ninjaclava for daytime use, the UL90 for nightime use. I need to keep my brain warm.

Adding additional bladder and my mug - good catch. One bladder may freeze or be damaged in some way.

I think the blistex will suffice. Exposed areas are limited and I need a little sun. :)

All recommendations are welcome. This will be my longest winter trip without resupply or passing through bailout areas, so i am looking for both advice and comments. My weather/terrain may differ greatly from yours, but I don't want to overlook any aspect, so I appreciate everyone taking the time to look through the list.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 10:19:02 MST Print View

back to Josh...

I am adding additional water storage and mug.

You are correct, the overboots are new, and I actually don't even have them yet. I was using tyvek overboots last year when I finally decided to go with them. Hopefully, I can get them in time for a test run. The only insurance I have that they will work is lengthy e-mails back and forth with other users (aswell as the 40B staff) with the same system. I actually ended up setting my boots on fire last year by accident trying to dry them out by the fire. Totally stupid, especially trying to snowshoe back with the sole burned off of one of them. So, I ended up using my hardrocks but wated to keep them dry during the day. If after a day or two, they are seriously failing, I can turn around. I did bring the gaiters in case something happens and I need to use only the runners.

Windpants will be added.

You have not gone mad, that was my trip with the deer in the water last year (had a great time), but a different place. However, the terrain would be somewhat similar except for the small peaks in the Killarney area. That trip was actually the coldest I have ever slept out. Got to -21C on our last night.

Steven Evans
(Steve_Evans) - MLife

Locale: Canada
Re: re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 10:20:34 MST Print View

Andrew, good idea. I am bringing some esbit tabs to use with the kit aswell.

OK, I'll let you guys know when I update my list...need to get some work done!

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Versalite? on 11/10/2008 10:38:36 MST Print View

Maybe it's just because I've never been there, but when I think of Canada in December I think of some pretty cold weather. Are you sure the Versalite is enough? I typically go with a 0*F bag for winter in the lower 48.

Another thing to keep in mind is that, even though you may be familiar with the area, and you may have seen many warmer than average December days in the past, an 8 day trip is a little different from a 1-2 day trip. You can look at the weather forecast and trends all you want, but a winter storm can come out of nowhere in 8 days.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 11:14:44 MST Print View

I'll be bringing a bushbuddy for the whole trip (even snow melting if req'd) and have some concerns with that.

Here is one measured test of the BB as a snow melter. Note that while Sam H used his BB to cook his meal on the trip mentioned there, we melted snow using white gas stoves (dragonfly and simmerlite).

My main hesitation with using the BB for melting on traveling trip is the time it'd take from hiking. That plus having experienced dehydration twice (ya think I'd have learned the first time?) I tend to err on the side of making it easy to have enough potable water.

(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Re: Versalite? on 11/10/2008 11:24:04 MST Print View

Actually that part of Canada has fairly stable, and predictable weather in December and a long term forecast from Env. Can. would be fairly reliable especially if you get it the morning of departure and make last minute adjustments as required. The other thing to remember is this is very wooded area. In an emergency if your bush skills are good there are all kinds of ways to increase your warmth from fires, to adding insulation under you in the form of conifer branches.

I grew up in Northern Ontario and will say that the nights are indeed very long. In those circumstances having lots of calories to eat for dinner is a very good idea. Don't forget the extra butter or olive oil.

Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 11:37:43 MST Print View


I am super impressed you are attempting something so bold. I've been teaching winter camping for NOLS for over a decade, and my experience is decidedly NON lightweight!

My record low temp is 40 below zero (a tidy number in C or F) under a tarp.

But - I think this is an area that needs to be tackled as the next big challenge in this weird little sub-world of UL nerds.

Right on for you!


I have a set of FF booties, and they have two pars, an INNER and an outer. The INNER is easy to sleep with on my feet. The outer is a thin fabric "shell" and has a foam pad. I've found it's hard to sleep with true booties, something about the foam pad makes my feet sorta sweaty, and they end up chilly.

These are really helpful.

So, you are going with liners only. To me, that seems bold. The few little excursions I have done in the winter with "Trail Runner" type shoes worked out well.

I wore slightly larger shoes, and used a pair of NEOPRENE socks, and that's all. (gaiters too, no over bootie). It was a nice system. In retrospect, I would use a thin plastic bag as a VB inside the NEOPRENE sock as a way to keep em a little bit drier. It was brutal putting them on the next morning.

Just pull a pair out of another pair of sneakers, Nothing fancy. If your shoes get wet (they will) changing the foot beds will help your feet feel a smidge warmer.

Also, stack 'em inside the booties, conduction is the way you'll loose heat.

Can you hike in the tyvec booties? Or are they only for the snow shoes?

These are just like, little creeper things, right?

Don't take HOT-packs for your hands. Take the right glove system instead. I would rather have an extra dry pair of pile mittens than a hot-pack.

I take a lot of gloves (mostly liners) when I'm out in the winter. I don't use mittens. But, i do ski trips and deal with a lot of snow, and I dig a lot.

You said "one may freeze" - - - Hey, if you are going as light and bold as you say you are, don't your DARE let yourself pull a green-horn gumby move like letting your water freeze. That's totally INEXCUSABLE!

If you are gunnna use wood, make sure to take something to start the fire. If it's wet (like raining!) you'll be happy to have it. Esbits are good, but a tiny squirt bottle of denatured alcohol would help too.

Don't take a thermos!

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 13:28:23 MST Print View

The only thing on your list I question is the saw, Steve. My impression of you based on your activity on these forums is that you are not the type to bring a saw.

Others have touched all the other salient points I would have made. Although perhaps I missed your response, but did the question of why crampons but no axe get answered?

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 14:13:03 MST Print View

Hi Steve

We take a 3/4 length 50 mm thick Therm-a-Rest pad (old one, no longer available) and a 5 mm EVA30 foam pad for the rest of the floor. I usually manage to put some extra stuff over the foam under my feet. That, plus socks (below), has always been enough for us.

Warmers are a bad idea. Much better is decent insulation in your gloves AND in your top AND in your headwear. Your blood circulation should be enough to keep your hands and feet warm. If not - make it so! I would add that we use a tent and of course the air inside it warms up a bit while we are cooking dinner. I don't leave the door open very much!

Sleeping Socks
Yes! The fluffiest ones you can find! Just don't wear them (ever) inside any shoes. Thick fleece is a possibility too. Both will help keep your feet off the floor of the tent, while down booties won't as the down compresses too much. There are few agonies like frozen feet.

Boot Socks
Like Will in his articles, I wear good thick socks inside my boots. I am happy to wear two pairs at once in fact, in joggers or NNN-BC ski boots.

Something warm in the day is needed, over your head, ears and the back of your neck, but if it is sunny you won't need too much. If the weather is bad what you really need is a windproof overlayer. EPIC is good for this, or a light WP/B membrane fabric. A collar on your top can help insulate your neck too.

My wife has goggles from ages ago, but even in the storm in When Things Go Wrong I was wearing wrap-around sunglasses and managing just fine. They do need to wrap around fairly well. In really bad weather your hood shelters the glasses a bit.

I am sure the idea of a Bush Buddy in the snow is cute, but if the weather turns bad you are going to be really stiff out of luck and at serious risk. I really don't think you can run any sort of wood fire inside a tent in a storm. Bad idea imho. Remote canister stove. Note that carrying the canister inside your pack near your back will keep it warm enough to work.

I have largely given up on these myself, but they do have the advantage that they don't burst. We use PET (fizzy drink) bottles and have never had a problem with them in the daytime. They go in my pack against my back, and never get down to freezing. At night they go inside the foot of my quilt - or they will freeze!

Take it and use it! On top of your nose and under your chin too. Also a lip stick for the snow. And keep your mouth shut when climbing, or you may get sunburn on your palette! (Yep, been there.)


Mike Clelland
(mikeclelland) - MLife

Locale: The Tetons (via Idaho)
8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 14:25:43 MST Print View

I try to never cook in my tent, even in winter. I get up and cook outside. I am shocked at how many people will cook in the tent or in the vestabule. I think it comes from NOLS work, but it's just so much safer to cook outside. I think this is a habit born out of lazyness.

There was some testing a few years ago on the West Butress of Denali, and they took little fingertip pin-pricck blood tests to get data on climbers carbon monoxide levels.

The doctors commented that folks from NOLS had the lowest levels. ANd that was from cooking outside.

They were trying to figure out if reports of altitude illness was actually carbon monoxide instead.

Alas, It would be impossible to cook in a shelter with a bush buddy anyway.


Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
Winter Cooking in Tent on 11/10/2008 14:56:37 MST Print View

I almost always cook in the tent vestibule, often with the door closed, in Scottish winter weather as it is usually stormy with very strong winds and heavy precipitation (and I often do so in the Scottish summer due to storms and midges). Cooking outside can be either extremely unpleasant or impossible. In calmer conditions I much prefer to cook outside but it's just not realistic in typical Scottish weather. In stormy weather ventilation is not a problem!

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: 8 Day Winter Gear List on 11/10/2008 17:06:45 MST Print View

Hi Mike

> I try to never cook in my tent, even in winter. I get up and cook outside. I am shocked at how many people will cook in the tent or in the vestabule. I think it comes from NOLS work, but it's just so much safer to cook outside. I think this is a habit born out of lazyness.

In that case I suspect you have never experienced really bad weather. I apologise if this sounds condescending, but just how should I manage to cook outside when the wind is doing about 80 kph past with rain or spindrift flying horizontally? I am not sure I could keep all my stuff on the ground!

No, laziness has nothing to do with it. Survival does. As Chris mentioned, sometimes you just can't survive comfortably outside. You might be warm enough while travelling and working, but you won't be warm while sitting there outside in a gale in the snow. You may put yourself at serious risk of hypothermia.

> The doctors commented that folks from NOLS had the lowest levels. ANd that was from cooking outside.
I do not question the data obtained, but I DO question the interpretations made.
* For a start, I suggest that the climbers who had elevated levels of CO in their blood may have been using white gas or kero stoves at full throttle with inadequate ventilation. We know they can give off some CO - see the articles here at BPL on this for more information.
* Second, one has to ask whether those climbers on Denali had allowed adequate ventilation. I know from experience that there is a tendency, especially among those with less experience of bad weather at high altitude, to try to seal the tent up completely. Avoiding this mistake is a message we should be pushing.
* Thirdly, while the levels may have been elevated in some people, does this mean they had reached any degree of risk? The sensitivity of the modern test methods is very good, and it just might be that the 'elevated' levels were still very much within medically safe levels. CO can be detected at levels way below any safety threshold.

I know many of us have trouble convincing heavy-weight packers to consider light-weight gear. Perhaps this is a similar case of trouble convincing 'outside cookers' to consider 'within-tent cooking' in bad weather? The fact is that MANY of us DO cook inside quite routinely and quite safely. I might add that very often we really have no choice!

I suggest that trying to make out a blanket ban on cooking inside a tent without any consideration of how to do it safely, the real risks and the exterior circumstances may be creating a serious hazard for novice walkers who are trying to learn how to handle bad weather. This is not good.