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Winter Gear List
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Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Winter Gear List on 01/09/2006 10:39:43 MST Print View

I've been looking around for a good UL winter gear list that I can use to help me put together a system for use this winter. I would use the list that was proposed for RJ's winter challenge, but it still doesn't seem to have quite come together, and I'm not really interested in trying to go SUL at the moment. The BPL winter gear list has a good selection of equipment, but is designed for use with a snow cave and has no provisions for what to use as a shelter to carry. I've been looking in particular at Flyin' Brian Robinson's winter Triple Crown gear list, but he doesn't list everything that he would bring with him, namely his complete winter clothing set, so I'm reluctant to rely on the list for my own.

I've done a lot of traditional weight winter camping and quite a lot of three season UL camping, but never ultralight in winter and I'm still quite nervous about trusting myself with UL in winter without appropriate equipment. The winter mountains here in Japan get a lot of snow (two days ago the sea level city of Niigata got 4 meters in one day!), are very steep, and reach average temperatures around -15 C (5 F) or, this year, much colder. So I'm quite unsure of myself.

Would anyone have any good winter gearlists for me to look at, that include a shelter to carry and the use of snowshoes? Are crampons really necessary for non-technical alpine climbing? There is a lot for me to learn here (I will be taking ice axe classes some time next month) and everyone's advice would be very helpful. I'd really appreciate it.


Edited by butuki on 01/09/2006 10:41:02 MST.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Winter Gearlist for inspiration. on 01/09/2006 11:58:46 MST Print View

A very sound( not bleeding edge) light Winter gearlist that could be modified to work for you ( with the addition of a 4 season tent and different footwear) would be the following from Ryan Jordan--

I would go w/ a larger pack for ease in packing bulky insulated clothing. A VBL for your bag or VB clothing is key to having a reasonably light Winter kit and in keeping your sleeping bag dry. The above list didn't rely on Vapor barriers but would be made more effective with their use.

4 Season tent choices( there are so many good choices out there)--- for 1 or 2 people, I like the single wall Bibler I-tent or Eldorado. I have had excellent experience w/ these on multi-day Winter ski trips and alpine climbs. Vestibules are great for keeping the snow out of the tent. Add on ones are available for the above. Some of the 2 wall tents w/ integral vestibules made by Hilleberg or Exped (among others) are worth considering, but they tend to be heavier.

Get some instruction in crampon use. Even on "non-technical" alpine terrain they could really expedite efficient travel---save you from tedious step cutting.

There have been some excellant snowshoe reviews on this site. Check them out. I'm a backcountry skier and rarely snowshoe, so I can't really comment on the latest in appropriate snowshoes.

Good luck. The Japanese Alps are fantastic. I wish to return to them someday.

Edited by kdesign on 01/09/2006 12:11:18 MST.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Winter Gearlist for inspiration. on 01/09/2006 12:55:21 MST Print View

Thanks Kevin. I'll take another more critical look at RJ's list and see how I can adapt it. I'm trying to keep the buying of new equipment down and concentrate more on just getting out there with what I have. Though the VB clothing is something I will have to look into a little more. I have a Hilleberg Akto tent that I've heard doesn't stand up to snowloads well, but I'm wondering if by using a hiking pole to prop up the single pole from inside the tent might be able to deal with the problem. Another tent I've been looking into is the Black Diamond Lighthouse, perhaps good for two people, though heavy for one.

Thanks for the advice about taking crampon lessons... I'll try to work it into part of my ice axe classes and get more out of the whole experience. It would be a good time to learn more about avalanche safety, too.

The Japan Alps really are great, aren't they? Just wish they weren't so expensive to get to and that recent budget cuts didn't completely stop bus access to a lot of the best places, especially in winter.

Daniel Goldenberg
(DanG) - M
Re: Re: Winter Gearlist for inspiration. on 01/09/2006 13:05:34 MST Print View

"I have a Hilleberg Akto tent that I've heard doesn't stand up to snowloads well, but I'm wondering if by using a hiking pole to prop up the single pole from inside the tent might be able to deal with the problem."

The Akto tent pole sleeve is designed so that it can be double poled, ie you can buy an extra pole and use two poles in the sleeve.

I would imagine this would improve the snow loading performance of that tent, though it would still not be as good as a tent with two crossed poles.


kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Winter Tents for Japan Alps on 01/09/2006 13:27:17 MST Print View

Miguel, I would ask specifically of Atko owners if the use of a hiking or ski pole for additional support is a good idea. As Daniel states, it will never be as strong as the other tents being touted.

I have used my Lighthouse in the Winter. 2 caveats---the entry is hard to protect for entry/exit in a Winter storm. You could use the optional vestibule but I don't think it works very well and is relatively heavy.Secondly, although it is stormworthy and will take bigger winds than most people think, I would be careful about heavy snowloads, particularly if it's heavy, wet. Is that what the Alps tend to get? I think of higher humidity levels compared to dry, Western U.S. mountain Winters.
The Lighthouse is not as strong as their heavier siblings, the Bibler tents. Also, in high humidity situations, it is possible to have condensation issues w/ the Epic fabric used by the Lighthouse if you can't leave the door and window partially open.
The fuzzy interior of the fabric used in the Bibler tents tends to absorb condensation and help keep the interior drier.

It's hard to find full-on 4 season tents under 2 kg.

Another way to go would be with a single pole shaped tarp shelter like the Black Diamond Megamid ( in it's light flavor). They can be very strong anchored to axes, skis or snowshoes and weigh under 900 g and give you lots of room. Really should be used with a bivy bag for more warmth and bag protection. But you could have a shelter set up weighing as light or lighter than a Lighthouse with more interior space.
Avy awareness training is a very good idea.

Edited by kdesign on 01/09/2006 13:39:17 MST.

Re: Winter Gearlist for inspiration. on 01/09/2006 19:28:46 MST Print View

I'd say there was a good selection of Hillebergs (all double wall, 3 having dedicated vestibules) weighing less than the BD's you mention

Black Diamond
4 lb 5 oz I-tent (1 person)
4 lb 8 oz Eldorado (2 person)

2 lb 14 oz Akto (1 person)
3 lb 11 oz Unna (1 person)
3 lb 11 oz Nallo 2 (2 person)
4 lb 6 oz Nallo 3 (3 person)

Re: Re: Winter Gearlist for inspiration. on 01/09/2006 19:34:30 MST Print View

And all the mentioned Hillebergs are under 2 kg.

Best and lightest winter tent on 01/09/2006 21:38:44 MST Print View

In my experience I have used quite a number of tents, most of them really light but have had the BEST functionality and weight reduction with Black Diamond Firstlight. I would recommend this tent to anyone doing winter hiking. With aftermarket poles it's only 37oz for a free-standing tent for two people. Less than 2 min to put up, stands up to heavy winds (Mt. Washington, NH) and can easily be used in the summer since it is pretty much bomber. Highly, highly recommended.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Bestest lightest Winter Tents on 01/09/2006 21:58:11 MST Print View

The Firstlight is a hell of a tent BUT I would not use it w/ the after market fibraplex poles for Winter use. They deform in high winds easier and will not support as heavy a snowload compared to the stock alum poles.
There have been numerous reports of the failure of these particular carbon fiber poles on other Forums such as

The Firstlight also is too short for folk longer than 6 feet ( unless you are an Alpine climber in which case it is charactor building).

About those Hillebergs-- 2 of them are not real 4 season tents and even the Nallos I would use double poled in serious Winter conditions.
There are Winter mtneering caliber tents from Hilleberg but they are heavier than the samples cited.

Edited by kdesign on 01/10/2006 00:13:10 MST.

carlos fernandez rivas
(pitagorin) - MLife

Locale: Galicia -Spain
Re: Bestest lightest Winter Tents on 01/10/2006 06:45:27 MST Print View

im agree with kevin

I had a BD firslight with fibraplex poles

the first time that i used one of the poles had the rod unglued and collapses

Fibraplex chaged the pole (very good service) but i think that standar poles are better for winter use

Bob Gabbart
(bobg) - F
"had" a firstlight? on 01/10/2006 07:30:55 MST Print View

Carlos, you said you "had" a firstlight. Do you not have it anymore? If not, why?


Re: Bestest lightest Winter Tents on 01/10/2006 09:36:51 MST Print View

lol...well sure all four are 4 season tents. Maybe not to you but you are about the only one I've seen say that.

The akto was put down by BPL for it's snow load ability when left alone all day. It's wind shedding is very good. I wouldn't use it for winter, but many do successfully.

The unna is as much a 4 season tent as either Bibler. It has the same shape and doesn't need an added vestibule like the Biblers would need to keep snow drift out.

The nallos are award winning 4 season shelters.

The bottom line is the fella posting is asking for a tent for winter, not a bombproof blizzard/moutaineering shelter. Afterall, nobody has brought up attempting SUL in a mountaineering situation.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
Appropriate Winter tents for Japan on 01/10/2006 10:31:04 MST Print View

The bottom line is you don't seem to comprehend Winter conditions in the Japan Alps or the current record snows that have been falling there.
Nor are we talking SUL.

Why won't you post your name?

Edited by kdesign on 01/10/2006 10:32:39 MST.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: Bestest lightest Winter Tents on 01/10/2006 11:20:18 MST Print View

I would definitely say that most of the Hilleberg tents are 4 season... after all they were designed and tested in Sweden where winter and snow are quite severe. They were designed specifically for that environment. All of the tents are tested in Arctic conditions, north of the town where Hilleberg is based.

However, due to what I've read here and there about the Akto, I have my doubts about whether I should trust it in the conditions that the Japan Alps present.

Winter camping in Japan, especially in the Japan Alps, really does require mountaineering style tents because there are few areas to do wilderness walking outside of the alpine mountains. The backpacking style of walking that is so popular in the States, along trails like the Appalachian and PCT just don't exist in Japan. In the mountains here one tends to have to ascend to above treeline and in winter that tends to mean very deep snow (straight from Siberia), tiny camping sites (meaning a tent with a small footprint is best), and horrendous winds. (take a look at these sites for some information: and and ). I would venture to say that mountaineering style tents are a prerequisite here in winter...

So I'm still looking for a suitable tent. I'll take a longer look at Bibler's offerings and also at the Hillebergs (though they are very expensive). The Sierra Designs' Solomente looks interesting...

I don't think that, given my level of experience, trying SUL in winter is a sane choice. RJ may really know what he is doing, but I certainly won't risk my life out of my sheer ignorance.

kevin davidson
(kdesign) - F

Locale: Mythical State of Jefferson
One more thing about Winter tents and I'm outta here on 01/10/2006 12:00:26 MST Print View

You should also consider Integral Design's Mk1 and Mk3 singlewall tents--similar to the Bibler's but with some unique features---because they are made in Canada perhaps there might be a price advantage in Japan over the Biblers? I still think that a freestanding singlewall tent is your best choice and for some of the very reasons you state.

I think the Hillebergs are among the very best doublewall tents available (although some people overhype some of their models)-- again, I would double pole the Nallos for snowloading and less deflection or consider the triple pole tunnel tents ( like the Kaltum $$) or their freestanding Jannu.
Their solo freestander apparently has Winter ventilation issues. For most of the Hillebergs we are talking larger footprints and more guylines necessary.

The fabulously expensive Stephenson Warmlite tents are the best combination of strength and lightness in a tunnel tent I've ever encountered ( I saw one just purr in a multi-day Patagonian storm).
It was using the optional 3rd pole.

The Solomente does sound interesting --I hope someone here can say something about it.

i think the clothing list on that Ryan Jordan gear list above could work for you-- it is a more conservative part of the list. The list I suggested you look at is just to be something to bounce off of--you know your needs and abilities more than any of us would.
Don't fret about not going SUL ( a term yet to be really defined for the 4th season) in Winter. Some of the necessary elements are not even commercially available for the likes of most of us.

Let us know what you eventually settle on.

Edited by kdesign on 01/10/2006 12:25:30 MST.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: One more thing about Winter tents and I'm outta here on 01/10/2006 15:14:33 MST Print View

I ahvent read all the posts on this thread, but the lightest 4 season tent I have seen is the mandatory gear puppy pile, it is a little small, but hey its freakishly light

puppy pile on 01/10/2006 15:23:11 MST Print View

don't suggest this "shelter" unless you want Miguel to be a dead frozen puppy.

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: puppy pile on 01/10/2006 15:39:25 MST Print View

All right, it is probably the worst option, but with a warm sleep system, it could work.

I think a ID tent is a good option.

BTW, dose anyone know the pack Ryan is using on the puppy pile reveiw?

Edited by ryanf on 01/10/2006 15:41:03 MST.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Puppy Pile on 01/10/2006 16:35:51 MST Print View

Ryan I heard that the condensation is horrendous. I personally have not used it, just going by second accounts.

Michael Martin
(MikeMartin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: North Idaho
Re: Winter Tents on 01/10/2006 18:50:53 MST Print View

Just a heads up:

Right now, I'm experimenting with a BD Firstlight to hopefully make it more bombproof, accomodate a 6'2" hiker, and weigh less than 2.4lb.

Stay Tuned...


Edited by MikeMartin on 02/13/2006 00:25:10 MST.