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water treatment
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tyler mahaffey
(tdmahaf) - F
water treatment on 07/19/2012 21:51:09 MDT Print View

im new to winter backpacking, but I was curious about how most winter backpackers treat their water, with the most lightweight method.

Also, I'm curious as to what kind of clothing most winter backpackers use? Do they use typical ski coats and pants or go lighter with long underwear underneath hoodies and wind-breakers?

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: water treatment on 07/19/2012 23:01:02 MDT Print View

You really need to state where you operate. I go ski camping where the snow is 5-10 feet deep. As a general rule, we need to melt snow to make drinking water, and clean snow is clean enough to drink as water. If you operate where there is no reliable snow, then go to Plan B.

Clothing is too broad of a subject to treat lightly here. There is no such thing as a typical ski coat.

Have you taken a winter camping class? Classes tend to cover all of these things over the course of hours.


tyler mahaffey
(tdmahaf) - F
not any project in particular on 07/20/2012 18:14:54 MDT Print View

i am looking to do winter camping in the front range of colorado near the front range area.

im new to winter camping and am just looking for a general FAQ on how to get started with the lightest gear possible.

if anything, i need a list of the do's and don'ts.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: water treatment on 07/21/2012 21:50:51 MDT Print View

I drink melted snow for water when running water isn't accessible due to being frozen or under deep snow. Otherwise, I either carefully drink untreated water from streams or use a Steripen. Filters will freeze up, which causes them to crack and not filter out pathogens, often with no indication of any problem.

Cross-country ski clothing is often a good option because it's made for high aerobic activity and wicking away sweat, but downhill ski clothing is generally too heavy, bulky, and warm.

Here are a few links about winter backpacking: (especially the Algonquin trip)

Stephan Doyle
Re: water treatment on 07/22/2012 16:40:52 MDT Print View

I don't treat my water in the winter.

I also do not use ski coats and pants. On top, I start with a lightweight base layer and add fleece and/or softshell layers while active with a big down puffy for stops. On bottom, I wear lightweight softshell pants and add a base layer as needed with high loft pants (re: fleece, synthetic, or down) for camp depending on the trip.

Gerry Volpe

Locale: Vermont
Winter Camping on 07/22/2012 20:41:38 MDT Print View

I enjoy winter camping in moderation. I would suggest:

DO lots of research and learn in the field from experienced people (friends or a class) "Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book" is a great place to start for winter camping skills.

DON'T obsess over grams until you are experienced enough to really know what you need. By all means obtain the lightest possible gear you can afford but allow yourself the extra layer or two and a safety margin of food and fuel.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Adding post to: "water treatment" on 07/23/2012 01:43:56 MDT Print View

A couple of tips that work for me.
When you start moving wear as little as you can stand.
For example at around 32f (inc wind chill...) that means a merino T only going uphill or Merino T and "rain jacket" going down. (plus a thin mid layer if windy)
That will keep you cool but not cold as long as you are moving . During breaks longer than a minute or two (or in the wind) put something on then take it off again when you start walking.
(this is assuming that you wear a warm hat ,gloves if needed and your feet are warm)
Note that many do it the other way. That is : they take clothes off when arriving at a rest stop.
Those clothes will be wet (from sweating) so next to useless if not dangerous...
Have a dedicated dry camp layer , in my case another merino T and Merino pants (200) as well as puffy down jacket and pants, gloves and hat.
Those are never used walking (apart from the gloves and hat) but are used inside the sleeping bag.
So this is the other tip : wear your DRY and Clean camp layers inside the sleeping bag.
For this you can do with a bag that is not rated for the temp expected (for example I use the 32f Summerlite down to about 20f)
Avoid going to bed cold (walk/skip about ,have a hot cup of chocolate...) and avoid sweating inside your SB, you will get cold later on if you do.
Have some air flow in your tent to avoid a condensation build up.
OK that is more than two tips and works for me, they may not work for you.
BTW, I don't treat melted snow nor flowing icy cold water however this is a personal decision

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: water treatment on 07/23/2012 08:46:54 MDT Print View

Like someone said at

They melted snow water and there were little wiggly worms in it

Now that I think about it, I've seen that too. And on the Discovery channel they talk about living things in ice.

New snow - melt without treatment

Old snow - filter it

Good luck telling the difference between the two : )

Jeremy Osburn

Locale: New England
rules of thumb on 07/23/2012 10:39:56 MDT Print View

1) Clothing is the first rule. Several light layers is always better than few heavy layers.

2) Drink a lot of water and eat a lot of food. Some people have issues drinking when it is really cold try warm water if you have that issue. Lunch starts 10 minutes after breakfast and ends 10 minutes before dinner.

3) If summer backpacking is all about personal preference. Winter backpacking is really ALL about personal preference. You really won't see 2 people with the same piece of gear other than an MSR white gas stove

4) Go with someone experienced (know that they are experienced, not a buddy you drink beers with but haven't seen them standing on top of all these mountains they have climbed in the winter) or take a class. Class is best because you will get to see a large group of people all with different gear and different methods and get to test it out.

5) Goose down by the pound = happy night’s sleep

6) the only time on this website you are allowed to carry a Nalgene (most carry 3)

7) either hold it or get a pee bottle (1 of the 3 Nalgene)

8) don't freak out. with the right gear, food, and training you can sit on snow, drinking hot chocolate, looking at the stars at -10F and be perfectly comfortable. (My first deep winter trip a few years ago this was the case)

9) My favorite, you will start to hate summer backpacking because the woods will be so dang crowded.

10) (Just so that it can be a manifesto) Don't melt and drink the yellow snow.

Edited by earn_my_turns on 07/23/2012 10:49:26 MDT.

Mitchell Rossman

Locale: Minneapolis-St. Paul
water treatment on 07/31/2012 20:28:28 MDT Print View

Never treated fresh snow. Use chemical treatment for old snow or boil it.

Two sleeping pads are key to warm sleep on snow. A torson legnth bubble wrap insulation pad makes a great second pad for about 5-6 oz.

Mitchell Rossman

Locale: Minneapolis-St. Paul
water treatment on 07/31/2012 20:32:39 MDT Print View

Most newbies are scared to sleep out their first night. It is a mental thing.

With proper gear, biving at -25F is no big deal and sleeping in a tent at 0F is living high.