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jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad on 10/05/2012 21:18:17 MDT Print View

so I'm putting together a lightweight day-snowshoe pack. This is for more ambitious trips that cover 6-10 hours. I never expect or want to spend the night out with this rig; it's strictly for emergency.

so I have an 11 oz patagonia daypack with good volume;
a marmot hydrogen 30 degree sleeping bag that weighs about 1lb 6 oz.
(Or a marmot helium 15 degree bag that's more bulky and heavy);
a marmot 15 oz Alpinist bivy sack;
and now the problem, perhaps: a thermarest prolite pad, 8 oz's. compact, but a pathetic 2.2 r rating.

So again: given that this is all for an emergency only and so will probably never be put into use in winter, I want the smallest weight/bulk.

The question: should I upgrade to a thermarest prolight plus small, for example, with a 3.8 r value but more bulk and weight(1lb 1 0z.) and that I'll never use in any other scenario, or will the prolite 2.2 allow me to survive a night on snow, with the bivy and bag?

I would expect to also bring a 12 oz down sweater in my pack, and be wearing a cap base, Patagonia r1 and wp shell, etc.

Any general thoughts about this set-up or about day-shoe emergency kits in general?

Edited by book on 10/05/2012 21:19:05 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: west coast best coast
Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad on 10/05/2012 21:32:36 MDT Print View

What kind of environment are you hiking in? If it's a forest, and an in emergency, you don't need a pad. Pine boughs have been used for a long time as ground insulation. Just cut a big pile of them. This method is very effective will give you much more warmth that any 3 season pad would.

I realize this isn't very LNT oriented and it's weird to be posting something like this on an ultralight backpacking site, but you are talking emergencies and this works very well and doesn't require much work.

K C
(KalebC) - F

Locale: South West
RE: on 10/05/2012 21:33:13 MDT Print View

If I were me, I would bring my Thermarest Xtherm, 20F quilt and 7oz bivy. A good full length Winter pad will prevent the snow from sucking the heat out of you. Also I would bring a setup to melt snow. I am assuming that we're talking about deep snow where ground isn't accessible.

Edited by KalebC on 10/05/2012 21:35:37 MDT.

Ozzy McKinney
(PorcupinePhobia) - F

Locale: PNW
emergency on 10/05/2012 22:31:07 MDT Print View

I just bring a half length, 1/4" ccf pad. rolls up tiny, wouldn't be comfortable but better than nothing. +1 on the natural insulation, if it's available. For my dollar, I'd go with a reflective type barrier, like a Blizzard Bag, a couple trash bags, a nice warm puffy (which I'm assuming you bring anyway) and the ccf pad.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
: "winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad" on 10/05/2012 22:52:20 MDT Print View

I'll be day-shoeing in the Sierras mostly around Lake Tahoe; so, yes, if forests where boughs are usually available; and yes, on snow covered ground. In an emergency, I figure that I'm either hurt (broken bones/etc.) or lost in a whiteout. I don't anticipate building a shelter--too hurt or exhausted. But who knows? boughs laid down in a tree-well and then over the top--or in the lucky lee of a large log--seem like a great idea.

I looked at the x-therm today at rei and it's on my radar. I like the r rating and the simplicity of it. It's expensive and bulky compared to my prolite, which is free. I could of course carry a small "blue" pad to supplement the prolite but that would be bulky for a day hike...as for bringing a stove for melting snow in addition to everything else, while a great idea, is past my personal tipping point.

In short an emergency kit for winter needs to be as simple, light and non-bulky as possible, otherwise I might not carry it! I've certainly never carried a bag, bivy and pad on a day-shoe before. But for under five pounds I realize now I can be safe.

Maybe the 2.2 r prolite and boughs?

Edited by book on 10/05/2012 22:58:44 MDT.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: emergency on 10/05/2012 22:55:59 MDT Print View

Add a road flare, a 3oz Gerber Sportsman's saw, and some tinder.

Jim Colten
(jcolten)

Locale: MN
Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad on 10/06/2012 11:53:38 MDT Print View

+1 for Dale's suggestions. A fire goes a long way for a more comfortable survival and the saw will aid "harvesting" tree boughs for ground insulation. Also add a reflective "space blanket" and some braided nylon masons line so you can make a windbreak, reflect some of the fire's radiant heat back to you and reduce radiant heat loss to the sky.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up on 10/06/2012 12:02:24 MDT Print View

The saw will cut firewood and shelter-making poles as well as insulating boughs-- emergency techniques and not nice for leave no trace camping. I would take a poncho for shelter making too.


Did anyone mention a shovel or snow scoop? If there is enough snow, there are a number of shelter shelter options.

Dustin Short
(upalachango) - MLife
Re: Re: Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up on 10/06/2012 13:21:19 MDT Print View

Dale, I was thinking the same thing. A six ounce snow claw and a saw would allow you to build nearly any snow structure as well as harvest wood for warmth.

Granted I'm also usually of the mindset that the greatest emergency gear is to have incredibly uncomfortable but survivable gear. Namely time (ie exposure) is the greatest killer in the backcountry, so the less time spent in poor conditions, the safer you are. That's why a crappy blizzard bag that will keep you alive, but which you have no motivation to use is far more useful to keep you moving and attempting to self-rescue without an over night bivy. If you have the gear to let you camp out....you'll probably end up using it eventually, despite your "plans" :)

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad" on 10/06/2012 16:05:21 MDT Print View

O.K. I'm adding the snow claw for sure. Still considering everything else.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad" on 10/06/2012 17:45:23 MDT Print View

Do check out the Gerber saw. The weight is completely within reason and will go through a 2 inch branch with little effort. I took down a small cherry tree in my yard in a few minutes. The one I have is 3.2oz and 8" long when stowed; the blade is 6.25". It is not the same as the with the GB initials on it-- he who must not be named ;)

With one of these and a 15 minute road flare you can be STUPID with hypothermia and get a fire going. The sawing might even warm you up :)

I am not a proponent of running around the woods sawing things up, but in an emergency I think Mother Nature can spare a few branches. I think it is a prudent tool for day hikes when you don't have shelter and sleeping gear.

Gerber Sportsman's saw

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad on 10/06/2012 19:50:59 MDT Print View

Personally I always carry a 3/4 length Ridgerest on a day ski trip so I have a comfy seat at lunch. and the bulk is not an issue since I use the same pack I would for a week-long trip, that pack being lighter and more comfortable than any daypack I've had.
Since it is emergency gear I'd be thinking I want a pad that cannot fail no matter what - closed cell being the only pad that fits that bill. Poke a hole in it, burn a corner, cut it - no problem at all.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Lartnec Nagihcim
Re: Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad on 10/06/2012 20:07:19 MDT Print View

I would have a full length Ridgerest Solite with me (half of it is used as my pack fame sheet) if needs be I would double it over to give a 5.6r value, also would be packing a bothy bag, blizzard bag and decent insulated Parka and pants.

Edited by stephenm on 10/06/2012 20:08:00 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Re: Re: winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad on 10/07/2012 09:51:15 MDT Print View

for dayhikes the sleeping bag(s) stay home :) I bring a AMK bivy bag, a AMK heatsheet, a short (~3') 1/4" ccf pad and insulated tops/bottoms (along w/ a balaclava and mitts/overmitts)

my strategy for an unplanned overnighter is either a debris shelter or snow trench, the bivy is to get into, the heatsheet is to go over the trench or over the frame of the debris shelter

I carry three small 12 hour beeswax candles- the small candle make a surprising amount of heat in a confined shelter, my pack liner can do double duty as a "door"- it's filled w/ snow for insulation

goes w/o saying that natural insulation (boughs/duff/leaves) would be used as well

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad" on 10/07/2012 10:46:09 MDT Print View

I totally understand leaving your bag at home; I may end up going that route. For now, my thinking remains, I put my 26ish oz. Hydrogen in my bivy sack (15 oz.) and then add a small pad with good r value and the snow claw. Oh and a 12 oz down jacket. All of this fits comforatably in a lightweight day pack. I think that it's all under five pounds. Without having to build a fire or keep candles going, this should get me through a night pretty darned well.

If I'm hurt I doubt that I'll be building shelters or fire; again, who knows for sure? If I'm lost I'll doubtless keep trying to hike out until it's somehow dangerous or I'm exhausted; again, no shelter or fire building. This is how I imagine the scenarios.

Hearing everybody's approach is very instructive. I may yet change strategy.

For me the big temptation is to leave the bag at home and just bring the rest. But that would be one very cold night!

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Dry side of the Eastern Sierra's
Re: "winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad" on 10/07/2012 11:43:51 MDT Print View

This discussion has been pretty informative as I start to think of my own winter hike kit. One thing that I would discourage is continuing to hike when lost. I know that I don't know your backcountry knowledge and skill level but continuing when lost is usually discouraged as it decreases the odds of a SAR team to finding you. Also, leaving an itenerary with someone is extremely important as well.

jeffrey armbruster
(book) - M

Locale: Northern California
"winter dayhike snowshoe emergency set up: pad" on 10/07/2012 13:34:34 MDT Print View

Eric: you're absolutely right about not pushing on when you're lost. I phrased my earlier comment poorly.

I carry a gps on day-shoes. I'd really have to mess up big time on a day hike with gps mapping and back-track function to get so lost that it became apparent that it was time to hunker down. So what I meant was, in white out conditions, for example, but with a functioning gps, I would probably continue on as long as the gps showed I was back tracking successfully; and of course if I was in safe terrain.

But this is all theoretical for me, because I've never been in those conditions and don't expect to be! Snowshoeing solo, I'm ridiculously cautious, checking weather reports before going and bailing early for almost any reason. But things happen! So yes, I'd hunker down and wait for help or better weather if I realized I'd stumbled into a wrong drainage, for example.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
CCF on 10/07/2012 13:50:38 MDT Print View

I'm with Paul and Mike on the CCF pad. Not only is it cut-proof, cinder-proof, and leak-proof, but because of that, you'll use it on your hike/ski with less hesitation. Need to change socks or deal with a hot spot on your heel? Sit down on the CCF pad. Conditions turned and you're getting cold if you stop but need to eat lunch? Get in a tree hole, sit on the CCF, and have lunch. Etc, etc.

If there's any snow around, remember snow is highly insulating. The other side of the CCF isn't at 20F or 10F or 0F or whatever the ambient temps are. It is at 32F.

Consider a pack style or packing approach that uses the CCF as structure or at least as padding in your day pack. You're more likely to wear a daypack all day long on all your trips if it is comfortable!

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
bothy on 10/08/2012 06:36:58 MDT Print View

I think a bothy bag is the very best emergency option available. Around 8 oz for a two person, so you could save 2lbs by dropping the bivy and the bag. the bothy would also be much better if yu were injured, and can be shared. I do think a sit pad is essential too, my pack has a pad plus I do carry a small pad too. until you try it, it is hard to appreciate how warm the bothy can be inside.

I have the brooks range bothy, but terra nova makes them as well as Integral designs.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: Lartnec Nagihcim
Re: bothy on 10/08/2012 07:28:11 MDT Print View

I have the Terra Nova Superlite Bothy 2, I always carry it in winter with the Blizzard bag if day hiking, the two together could save ones ass big time.