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Recommended gear list for ultralight winter backpacking?
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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Recommended gear list for ultralight winter backpacking? on 12/15/2012 14:31:25 MST Print View

I'm looking to get started in ultralight winter backpacking.

It would be nice to have a template for gear to start with. I am planning on re-using much of my 3 season gear (hammock, pack, etc) and just add about 50% new gear which is required for winter (gaiters, snow boots, etc.)

If one of you guys has a recent gear list it would help out a LOT to compare against. I want to go as light as possible without sacrificing much comfort/safety.

I'm going to mostly be at lower elevation in the Sierra Nevadas (below the tree line).

Having to start from scratch is going to be rough.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Winter Gear on 12/15/2012 14:33:48 MST Print View

I don't have a list but I believe BPL published one a long time ago.

Just an FYI I know some REI stores rent 0 degree sleeping bags and I believe they rent snowshoes as well. Might be a good way to get out and try some things out before you buy anything.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Recommended gear list for ultralight winter backpacking? on 12/15/2012 14:56:18 MST Print View

You really want to define where you intend to be. Here is why it is important:

If you are at high elevation where the snow is ten feet deep, the snow can be to your advantage as a building material. Think snow caves and igloos. Inside a snow shelter like that, add a human body or two and you have freezing temperature plus or minus a tiny amount. It is not too difficult to add clothing insulation to withstand freezing. Unfortunately, that requires a snow tool or two. Think shovel or snow saw.

If you are at low elevation where the snow is 0-2 inches deep, then it has no use as a building material. There you will probably want a conventional shelter of some sort, and it can get significantly cold. Think lots of clothing insulation.

In some places, a wood fire may be legal. Other places, no wood fires.

On beginner snow camping trips, we used to carry one Pine Mountain Fire Log, and we would light that in the evening. They really do not put out that much heat, but they do put out a lot of light. That can boost morale for beginners.

If you can stay 100% dry, it is easier to stay warm. As soon as you start getting wet from sweat, from melted snow, or from an unexpected step into a stream, you will be miserable for the rest of the trip.


David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Recommended gear list for ultralight winter backpacking?" on 12/15/2012 14:58:08 MST Print View

Not ultralight but here's a list of items I bring/wear. Not inclusive, I left off kitchen and luxury items, mostly.

Patagonia R1 hoody
Sunday Afternoon hat
Patagonia Guide pants
REI liner sock
Neoprene socks
Salomon XP Shoes

Montbell Alpine Light Parka
Western Mountaineering Flash Down Pants
Patagonia Houdini
RAB Kinetic
Patagonia Simple Guide Pants

Patagonia Lightweight Pull-Over
Silk Bottoms
Possum Down gloves
Black Rock Gear down mittens
MLD Shell Mittens
Marmot leather gloves

MLD Lightsnow gaiters
Goosefeet down booties
Western Mountaineering Expedition Booties
Black Rock Gear down cap
Smartwool Headband

Black Diamond Firstlight w/vestibule
SMC Snow Anchors w/lanyards & biners (8)

RAB Quantum 600 bag
GG Pillow Sack
Ridgerest Sleeping pad (¾)
Big Agnes Pumpsack
Kookabay Down Mat

Osprey Exos 58
Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Poles

I haven't tried out the Osprey Exos 58 yet but will on the next trip.

Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
Re: Re: Recommended gear list for ultralight winter backpacking? on 12/15/2012 15:50:49 MST Print View

I am going to do a hot tent + hammock setup. I would prefer it be warmer inside if I'm going to spend HOURS inside at night. I will just read and use my iphone.

If I can get a USB charger setup I can even view videos if I get bored enough. I was going to use a thermocoupler for that purpose.

I'm curious if the snow would melt under me if it was 10' deep ...

I don't intend on going above the tree line though.

Ryan Bressler
(ryanbressler) - F
Here are 3 winter gear lists on 12/18/2012 10:13:32 MST Print View

Three gear lists I found while looking into modifying our ski touring systems for colder temps:

Our gear list will probably look a bit like Forrest Mccarthy's with some added/heavier items from Mike Cleland's like down booties, insulated exped pads, fat at skis, extra gloves etc

I'm not a hammock user but it would seem especially redundant in this case since you are already bringing a tent and will need something like a warm sleeping pad to insulate the bottom of it.

Andy F
(AndyF) - M

Locale: Midwest/Midatlantic
Re: Re: Re: Recommended gear list for ultralight winter backpacking? on 12/21/2012 11:20:23 MST Print View

You won't sink down very far in the snow due to melting underneath you. You'll see a little melting and sinking, but nothing significant.

Here's my gear list I used last winter in upper Michigan in 4 feet of snow and lows down to 9F with a snowstorm 1 of the 3 days.


* I used a BA Copper Spur UL1 tent instead of the inner-less Scarp 2. Having done that, in the future, I'll probably use the Scarp 2 fly only or a flat tarp or maybe just a bivy sack. The tent was a bit too cozy with winter clothing and gear.

* I didn't like the Heatsheets used as a vapor barrier. The strong plastic smell was overwhelming, and I couldn't seal it around my neck comfortably, resulting in a cool draft. I got out of it after only a few hours.

* I think I'm going to go with light GoreTex boots instead of GoreTex socks this winter. The GTX socks compress a little too tightly, and trail runners let snow into the shoe when it sneaks past the gaiter while sinking into deep snow (yes, with snowshoes). I did like the eVent gaiters!

* I tend to rely on fire for cooking, and I intended to use my wood stove or build a campfire to melt snow on this trip. I forgot that I was in a frequently used area, unlike some of the wilderness areas I'm used to where downed wood is fairly easy to find (even in deep snow). Getting enough firewood would have required either an axe, carrying it a long distance, or spending a significant time gathering it after making camp. Were it not for my companion bailing me out with melted snow from his stove, I would've had a serious struggle with dehydration that night. (Or had to trek in deep snow in a snowstorm for an hour to a stream in the dark.) Other than a liter from a single stream barely exposed under the deep snow, I stayed hydrated the rest of the trip by constantly eating snow. I'll probably start carrying a white gas stove in the winter, especially in high use areas. (An inverted canister would work, but I plan to do even colder trips than it can handle.)

* I also probably won't bring trekking poles on future snowshoe trips unless most of the trail is very steep. After managing to lose both snow baskets, the poles became useless. Then, I discovered that I can walk more efficiently on snowshoes with the poles. (I also don't usually use poles the rest of the year. I only use them in slippery conditions--light snow, ice, mud)

Edited by AndyF on 12/21/2012 11:36:25 MST.