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First time snow camping. Advice please.
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Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 11:38:07 MST Print View

I am planning to do some snow shoeing and camping this year. This will be a first for me. I know to camp near the car to give myself an out as a first timer. I expect temps to be between 0* & 30*F. I've got everything covered except for my hands and my feet.

For my hands I'm considering the RBH Designs Vapor Mitt with either the Altitude VaprTherm Liner (double 3d polarguard and I'm strongly favoring this one) or the Hybrid VaprThrm Liner (fleece palm and 3d polarguard). As for my feet, I am a little confused about RBH Design's offerings. The footwear system I'm planning consists of Inov8 310s sized one to one-and-a-half sizes larger than my normal size 10. Originally, I was going to go with a nylon liner sock, a vbl, an insulating sock and a Rocky Gore-Tex over-sock if needed and a neoprene over-boot. I also own a pair of high OR Gaiters. However, based on advice given to a member on a recent thread, I started looking at RBH Designs. They offer a liner sock AND an insulating sock. Are they both vbls as they they infer in the product descriptions? And, if they're both vbls, wouldn't that be over-kill or can you get away with either one or the other with an optional Rocky Gore-Tex sock if conditions become wet? Also, does anyone know of any lightweight snowshoes that are relatively inexpensive yet reliable? I don't want to spend a lot of money on snowshoes until I know if I'll like it.

Any advice you have would be greatly appreciated. Also, please know that I grew up in the frigid midwest, but I haven't experienced those kinds of temps in 30 years. The winter days here in socal average between 59* & 75*F typically.

Thanks all

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 12:00:59 MST Print View

For the first couple times (experimentation) just go with thin liner socks, produce bags from the grocery store for VBL and some nice heavy wool insulating socks (I like the Smartwool Mountaineer). Rocky Gore-Tex socks are good stuff. Overboots may not be needed unless temps are very low (0* or below for me). I would look at MSR snowshoes. Good stuff and can be had on eBay or Gear Swap here for relatively cheap. Good luck!

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 12:19:03 MST Print View

S Long,

Thank you for the recommendations. Are you sure about the grocery bags? I use those a lot for various projects and those things are pretty porous and delicate. Any other suggestions for a VBL?

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"First time snow camping. Advice please." on 12/06/2010 13:06:06 MST Print View

I've heard of people using bread bags......

Or grocery bags......

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Rent snowshoes on 12/06/2010 13:09:14 MST Print View

Many REI's and other sporting good shops will rent snowshoes. If you check around you might find that you can try out a variety of them. Also, I recall a shop in the SF Bay area that sold their rentals at the end of the year.

I have the Rockytop GTX socks on order. I plan to wear them with sock liners and normal trail runners while snowshoeing. I may have to switch to mid weight hiking socks but generally my feet stay very warm while snowshoeing.

Jeffrey McConnell
where you going? on 12/06/2010 13:13:05 MST Print View

I'm just curious. Where are you planning on going?

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 13:21:23 MST Print View

Thanks Dave and Greg,


You wouldn't happen to remember the name of that shop would you? I will definitely check into rentals.

Edited by socalpacker on 12/06/2010 13:33:07 MST.

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"First time snow camping. Advice please." on 12/06/2010 13:24:32 MST Print View

Greg - Did you get out last weekend? Let me know how those Rocky socks work, I've been thinking about getting some.

Back to Kendall's thread..

Sunrise Mountaineering in Livermore occasionally sells off their rental stuff.

Edited by davidlutz on 12/06/2010 13:25:24 MST.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 13:29:20 MST Print View


For the first couple of times I was thinking about Big Bear. I've been watching the weather in that area lately and the lowest I've seen lately, temp wise, is 5* F.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE:RE: First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 13:35:00 MST Print View

Thanks David... Btw sorry for calling you Matt. I went to school with a Matt Lutz years ago.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Good book... on 12/06/2010 13:43:27 MST Print View


As I've said several times here, buying a copy of "Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book" is THE best introduction to winter camping, even if you don't ski, as 2/3 of the book is about winter camping. Fully 1/2 of the info in that slim book is from Mike Clelland's great, cartoonish illustrations.

Jeffrey McConnell
Re: First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 13:44:12 MST Print View

Cool. If you ever decide to go snowshoeing around San Jacinto, I know that they rent snow shoes at the tram station there ($18/day). It may be cheaper at REI if you're a member.

Val C
(GooseBumps) - F
Re: Good book... on 12/06/2010 13:54:15 MST Print View

+1 on the book. Informative, humorous, and if you are a visual learner the pics will make the book's content stick in your brain. Glad I picked it up after reading about it here on BPL.

Raymond Estrella
(rayestrella) - MLife

Locale: Northern Minnesota
First time snow camping. Advice please on 12/06/2010 15:24:03 MST Print View

The REI in Santa Ana (which may have moved to Tustin Ranch by now) rents snowshoes and used to rent boots too. I know as we had to outfit one of Dave's girls for her one and only winter backpacking trip.

The tram to SJSP is a pretty good trip for just starting out as you can be to Round Valley in a few hours tops and it is usually well traveled.

Have fun Kendell. Winter adds a whole new level to your hiking.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Good book... on 12/06/2010 15:27:38 MST Print View

Eric LOL You are correct sir. In fact, I have seen you recommend that book on several occasions. My apologies. I'll definitely pick it up. :) I assume it's on Amazon?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: First time snow camping. Advice please on 12/06/2010 17:23:48 MST Print View

(1) If you can stay 100% dry, it is not too hard to stay warm. So, try hard not to sweat excessively, step in any streams, or get much snow on your clothing.
(2) Make sure that you have a reliable stove so that you can make a quick hot drink any time you get chilled.


Michael Williams
(mlebwill) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: "First time snow camping. Advice please." on 12/06/2010 18:17:22 MST Print View

>I've heard of people using bread bags......

>Or grocery bags......

What about using a Subway sandwich bag as a VBL? They are tube shaped and fairly durable.


will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
Re; First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/06/2010 18:59:38 MST Print View

Kendall, I'm in the same boat as you, trying to figure out my extremities. I'll be going to Vermont, expecting temps around 0*F for most of the time, plus (or minus!) windchill…I'll be using 40below overboots, vb. socks and light trail runners for my feet.

I think you will be fine with most anything around 25-30*, at least for moving. your inov8's plus warm socks should e fine. But you will need to keep the system dry, or at least keep it from freezing at night.

Michael, good call on the subway bags. Two bags per day, plus one extra is three, get a free foot-long with each $5 bag…three footlongs per day…three meals per day…
I think i've got my menu worked out for the trip too!

just a thought, but if you wear vb. socks, then you don't need wp/b socks, just another waterproof layer as there shouldn't be any moisture inside it. could save some $ and just go liner-plastic bag-thick sock-plastic bag. Bring extras, but it should still be lighter than wp/b socks unless you're heading out for a long time.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
RE:RE:RE: First time snow camping. Advice please. on 12/08/2010 15:44:50 MST Print View

Thanks everyone for the advice and tips.

Eric, I ordered the book yesterday.

B.G., S Long &

Raymond, Thanks for the REI rental tip and the good wishes.

I really like the subway or bread bag idea. And, Will, 2 bags per foot sounds like a good system. And, you're right, it would be lighter than a vbl and Rocky Gore-Tex Sock not to mention taking up less space. I decided to carry a G4 for all my insulated gear. Just got it today on BPL.

Jeff, I will definitely consider San Jacinto for snow shoeing.

Thanks all. If anyone else has any suggestions, I'm open to them.

Kendall Clement
(socalpacker) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
My Apologies on 12/15/2010 10:43:16 MST Print View

Hello Everyone,

I owe you all an apology. I started this thread completely absent-minded of the fact that many of my questions were answered in an earlier thread begun by Dave Chenault on 10/03/2010. Also, Dave's VERY informative article was extremely helpful to me. I have been so INCREDIBLY busy with work since last spring that I often forget what goes on in the rest of my life. I am very sorry if I wasted anyone's time.

Thanks you to those of you who contributed their invaluable advice.