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Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness
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Maia Jordan
(maia) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness on 02/12/2013 19:26:05 MST Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Cool Notes on 02/13/2013 05:52:52 MST Print View

I liked it, more "Notes from the Field" would be cool in the futre.

I'd been thinking about doubling my down quilt and synthic quilt and wondering how it would work. Glad to hear you like it. For comparison what insulation did you us in the synthetic quilt? Or to put it another way, how would you compare it to the old UL60 quilt (the 11 oz model).

Bradford Rogers
(Mocs123) - MLife

Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Re: Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness on 02/13/2013 06:33:52 MST Print View

Really liked the debrief. It was simple but elegent and informitve. I would love to see more of these as well. One thing I always like to read on the forum is a post trip gear critique. I don't often do this for shorter trips (I should) but on longer trips out west I always add post trip notes to my gear list for that trip.

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Great article! on 02/13/2013 09:31:22 MST Print View


-No (breathable)bivy bivy sack?
You have used one in the past,and it would seem that using a quilt, under a tarp, in cold, wet and windy weather would be the perfect conditions for one. Why not? (I'm sure you thought about it!)

-There is ".. a waterproof layer that is breathable enough to be a wind shirt in cold conditions", it's called PARAMO!
And not just for the jacket, it might work even better for pants or gaiters.

-No shell gloves/mittens?

-No sleep socks/down socks etc? I would expect pretty damp socks by evening, hiking in those conditions.

Edited by Tjaard on 02/13/2013 13:02:21 MST.

Duane Hall
(PKH) - M

Locale: Nova Scotia
Cuben fibre custom knickers on 02/13/2013 09:37:55 MST Print View

Could you provide further comment on these custom knickers? I find 3/4 length pants very useful in the shoulder seasons and until I read this article I hadn't considered this material/fabric.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Great article on 02/13/2013 09:50:19 MST Print View

I really enjoyed this, especially the photos and the commentary on going light in the winter. This is the kind of thing that keeps me coming back to BPL. Trip reports of UL techniques in challenging conditions have more value for me than a review of the latest piece of gear.

Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
Flying diamond, square tarp in the cold on 02/13/2013 10:58:05 MST Print View

I have done a bit if early and late winter trips in a 9x9 square tarp and like in this expriment, I usually flew the flying diamond.

I also switched from time to time with the GG SPinnshleter and recently the MLD Patrol.

On average I found the square tarp colder at night, especially on the face.
The more enclosed shelters seemed to reduce convection cooling campared to the open tarp.

So my theory is that athough a square tarp has the fexibilty and the nice bedroom view, it actually made me want to carry more clothing and/or bedding and so my gear actually weighed more with the square tarp.

Of course, a square tarp pitched with a modified a-frame would be warmer especially if the open end was pitched with the front partially blocked by some kind of windbreak, bush, rock, ...

Edited by brooklynkayak on 02/13/2013 11:00:24 MST.

Thomas Rayl
(trayl) - MLife

Locale: SE Tx
Gear question on 02/13/2013 11:17:33 MST Print View

Do I read this right? You wrote this at 1:am? Wow!, Such dedication! You/ve probably covered this elsewhere, but if you're using an open shelter (tarp), what do you do for bug protection when the "biters" are about? Thx

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness on 02/13/2013 12:02:43 MST Print View

Great trip report Ryan! I like how you are sourcing many items "off the shelf". Being creative and finding inexpensive solutions is a fun part of the choosing a gear list.

BPL member Nick Bobroff and I have completed two similar trips, one in Jan and one last weekend using a very similar ethos (ultralight summer kit, extended into "wintry" conditions).

Our most recent two trips have been 2-3 dayers with nighttime lows around 18* and snowfall of 3-5 inches during the trip on top of existing snow. Some of our findings:

Down booties are a perfect addition to a 20-30* quilt for mid-teens with wind and snow. Nick had the outers as well and allowed him more comfort around camp. Gotta get me some! My tyvek outers were a fail.

In addition to it's use as a balaclava, the inexpensive military coolmax Buffs are great to use over your nose and mouth when sleeping. It also keeps breath moisture off of your quilt collar.

1/4" CCF under a UL Synmat or XTherm is just right for keeping the ground cold at bay. I score my CCF accordion style every 11" so that it folds up nice in my pack.

Nick found that wet snow, ice and mud don't stick to the Adventure Medical Kits groundsheet like it does to a Polycryo, so it's easier to pack up. Plus it works as a signaling device.

A silnylon rain jacket at 4oz worn from the front and tucked around back, works fine will hiking (even uphill). Never even brought out the windshirt. So this is not a bad option that allows you to leave the windshirt behind - if the temps are cold enough.

The non-waterproof trail runner with goretex socks (thanks Will Rietveld) inside has proven itself time and time again as a reliable light solution. You can also use the goretex socks as semi-vapor barrier liners when sleeping to keep foot perspiration out of your down. (If you allow them to dry out a bit after hiking that is).

Bring an Hefty Jumbo 2.5 gal ziplock bag to put your shoes in so that you can put them under your legs when sleeping, that way when you awake your shoes won't be frozen solid.

I really liked this article and look forward to more like it. Had a very welcoming tone.


Randy Cain
(bagboy) - MLife

Locale: Palmdale, CA
Great stuff! on 02/13/2013 12:43:41 MST Print View

I find this type of write-up REALLY valuable! More! More! :)

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Paramo on 02/13/2013 13:41:32 MST Print View

Great article Ryan,


I have been using Paramo since christmas and love it.

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Paramo on 02/13/2013 13:50:16 MST Print View

Stephen - where do you get it?

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Paramo on 02/13/2013 13:54:54 MST Print View

Hi Kathleen,

I bought it in the Uk when I was back on Christmas leave.

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Additional "safety" items... on 02/13/2013 13:58:28 MST Print View

Very interesting article. The true "Fringe" element here, IMO, is being on the fringe of adequate shelter should a bad snowstorm have developed.

> Personally I'd have wanted a TT Notch with the "solid" ripstop interior as my shelter. That would be both a safety and luxury item for me. And it's farily aerodynamic so it can handle wind load as well as snow load, properly guyed out.

> I'd have added light WPB mittens and, as mentioned by Tjaard, thick "sleep socks" (can be used as mittens or spare socks in emergency)

>> BUT, the main thing I'd add would be thin, seam sealed diver's socks as my footwear VBL. These socks provide 1.) a great VBL to keep WPB footwear dry inside,
and 2.) excellent insulation, far beyond what their thin appearance would seem to offer.

P.S. Truly, I feel seam sealed neoprene diver's socks (worn with polypro liner sox) are such a great item that they warrant a "VBL Foorwear Gear Comparison" article. I'm obviously too biased to write it but Will Reitveld or Roger Caffin or Ryan "hisself" could do it - or maybe all three.

Edited by Danepacker on 02/13/2013 14:07:02 MST.

Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: Notes from the Field on 02/13/2013 14:54:26 MST Print View

Thanks for a terrific article on my old stomping grounds! This past summer I was at the lake you mentioned as "one of the Anaconda - Pintlar's jewels". I sat on that very log pictured in the foreground...thanks for not mentioning the name. The Anacondas remain one of America's undiscovered wilderness areas, and the crowd that does go there make it only as far as Johnson Lake, so I don't hike into that area.

For the past few years I've been doing considerable winter camping using an extended ultralight kit. My shelter remains the same regardless of the season: a Gatewood cape. And I do similarly as you did for the sleep system by adding a Mont-bell thermal sheet and BPL insulated 60 pants to my summer bag. I also am an adherent to using a NeoAir, but add a thin CCF as someone has already mentioned. Add a MB ultralight vest to the MB UL down inner jacket, a Smartwool hoody and a few other bits and I'm good to go for just a few more pounds, around 20lbs as I recall! Hoping to get out to the Bob in the next week or two.

Happy Trails!

Tjaard Breeuwer
(Tjaard) - MLife

Locale: Minnesota, USA
Re: Paramo on 02/13/2013 17:43:12 MST Print View


I have ordered from Cioch Direct several times now,and it went very well. The last time they also made sure not to charge the VAT included in the listed price.
Cioch makes stock and custom sized garments with the Nikwax Analogy fabric (from Paramo).

The new womens jackets from Paramo themselves also seem very nice, including a more active fit(check out the video on the site).

Edited by Tjaard on 02/13/2013 17:47:40 MST.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness on 02/13/2013 18:01:06 MST Print View

Thank you Ryan!

Very well-written and enjoyable. I really enjoyed this.


Craig Gulley
(cgulley) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Patagonia Hoody? on 02/13/2013 18:38:44 MST Print View

what is the Patagonia R0.5 Hoody? I know of only the R1 hoody as their lightest.

(jhaura) - F

Locale: Trail
Re: Patagonia Hoody? on 02/13/2013 18:54:17 MST Print View

He's probably referring to the new Cap4 Exp Wgt Hoody as R0.5.

Craig Gulley
(cgulley) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Patagonia Hoody? on 02/13/2013 18:57:41 MST Print View

Thanks- I have been emailing Patagonia for years to make just such a product, but I don't see it listed on their website

Kathleen B

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Paramo on 02/13/2013 19:32:23 MST Print View

Tjaard, thank you very much for that info!

Tom Kirchner
(ouzel) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest/Sierra
Re: Re: Re: Patagonia Hoody? on 02/13/2013 19:44:21 MST Print View

"I have been emailing Patagonia for years to make just such a product, but I don't see it listed on their website"

I suspect they're in the process of transitioning to a new model year. The Cap 4 Hoody is one of the best pieces ever to come out of Patagonia, my personal all time favorite, and I'm betting it'll be back by popular demand. It's everything you probably had in mind and possibly more.

Craig Gulley
(cgulley) - MLife

Locale: Midwest
Re: Re: Re: Re: Patagonia Hoody? on 02/14/2013 07:45:54 MST Print View

I found one online still and ordered it to try- Thanks

Ronald Bishop
(Compass) - MLife

Locale: Ontario
A Fine Article on 02/14/2013 08:47:09 MST Print View

I always enjoy information on gear selection, but especially so when it pertains to the challenging fringe season(s). Great article & photos, Ryan.

Edited by Compass on 02/14/2013 10:55:17 MST.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness on 02/14/2013 13:32:56 MST Print View

Nice article. These conditions sound like typical winter in my area (PA/NJ/NY). I agree that tarp camping is easily done in those conditions, but sometimes wish I had walls when the site doesn't easily allow a pitch to block the wind.

A few questions/comments...
- I thought eVent was the miracle, waterproof/breathable material for jackets. Sounds like you have the inside track on something new this year, but what happened with eVent?
- I would be curious to hear (i.e., photos) more about your two-quilt system. You must have a nice set of attachments because it seems like it would just be a huge hassle wrestling with two puffy, slippery quilts in the middle of the night. I would have thought that the extra outer material of the second quilt, the weight might have beeen better spent with a single over-stuffed quilt.
- With the potential for slushy conditrions during the day, I agree with an earlier poster that down booties are much appreciated as things start to freeze up at night, and when emerging from the shelter in the morning.
- Any comments about how you handled the LNT aspect of the large fire?
- No hiking poles? Sounds like the old back is doing better. :)


David Eitemiller
(DavidE) - MLife
Re: Re: Paramo on 02/14/2013 15:57:52 MST Print View

I am surprised this hasn't been asked yet, but regarding the search for a waterproof breathable jacket so a rain jacket and wind jacket can be combined with something ultralight. Ryan mentioned his use of the Zpacks cuben fiber breathable pants. Zpacks also makes a jacket with this material which weighs 4.5 oz (about the weight of a Patagonia Houdini). Much less than the Paramo suggestion here (although appears that the paramo has more uses and warmth perhaps) - but just for purpose of wet conditions and wind, I am interested in anyone's experience with this breathable cuben fiber for a rain/wind jacket.

The 4.5 oz weight would save 10-12 oz on a wind shirt + rain jacket combination many people (including myself) are currently carrying.

Update: I see there is a thread earlier in 2012 about the Zpacks jacket. Any updates in light of this discussion?

Edited by DavidE on 02/15/2013 01:55:29 MST.

Michael Gillenwater
(mwgillenwater) - M

Locale: Seattle area
Re: Re: Re: Paramo on 02/14/2013 16:13:50 MST Print View

I find this topic interesting because I will be in London at the Paramo store in a little over a week (there on business). I'll report back if I find anything new or interesting. But there seems to be several serious Parmo-aholics here that can say more.

You would have to troll the threads here to find it, but i remember reading somewhere here that the breathable cuben fiber material is just barely breathable. And if put in rank order with other options (Gore tex, event, etc., etc.) it would probably be the least breathable. But it sure is light. I have no data, though.

Having said this, I have asked Joe at ZPacks when he might make a size small jacket so I could buy one.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Deep Frreze
Re: Re: Re: Re: Paramo on 02/14/2013 18:17:41 MST Print View

I have up known about Paramo for about 10 years but only bought it at Xmas, I have used for 6 cross country skiing days, 2 day hikes in England and an overnight snow shoe trip and I am completely blown away by it.

First off I am saving the weight in my Pack by not having to carry a hardshell and its very comfortable to wear all day.

For me it has replaced a hard shell, wind shirt and mid layer, I find I can regulate temperature all day by using the leg and body vests and rolling up my sleeves.

James Sutton
Tarp Camping on 02/15/2013 04:11:17 MST Print View

I gave up tents entirely a few years ago. A tarp shelter - constructed properly - will handle any conditions. I use the Noah tarps, and I will never go back to a tent. They are too heavy & too confining.

Nico .
(NickB) - MLife

Locale: Los Padres National Forest
Notes from the Field: The Wintry Fringe Season in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness on 02/15/2013 09:46:48 MST Print View

I like these field reports; hope to see more in the future. The notes/reflections on what worked well in given conditions is valuable information for others to help them further refine (or re-think) their own personal kits.

Like Jhaura posted above, we've been doing some trips here in our local backcountry this winter, trying to time them with winter storms so we can get some snow and/or rain. Our wintry trips match pretty well the conditions you describe in this report: temps 20s-40s, rain, little bit of snow but generally not enough for snowshoes, deadman anchors, etc. We're finding our 3-season kits with some slight modifications work quite well for us.

@ Ryan:
I'd be interested in learning more of the details of your synthetic overquilt and how you pair it with your down quilt. My 15*F Katabatic keeps me warm to the mid teens with just base layers on and I know I can push it farther with my insulation pieces on, but I've been thinking about having a synthetic quilt made that can do double duty as an overquilt in the winter (ideally I'd like to push my sleep system comfortably down to ~0*F) and as a stand-alone summer quilt for our late spring through fall. I've noticed a lot of moisture accumulation in my down quilts on these winter trips so the added moisture managing benefits of the synthetic quilt is intriguing to me.

A couple of questions if you don't mind...
Any sense of the approximate warmth rating of your synthetic quilt by itself?
What sort of dimensions did you need for it to work well as an overquilt? I'd assume a little wider at minimum...
How did you rig it to stay attached to, and on top of, your down quilt?

I'm looking at the EE Prodigy Quilts in a Reg length/Wide cut at the 50* rating as my possible solution, so I'm just curious how this compares to what you (or others) are using.

Eliot Levine
(eliotlevine) - MLife

Locale: Western MA
Socks on 02/16/2013 06:03:23 MST Print View

Ryan, thanks for your many great postings and for bringing us BPL. I'm interested to see you wearing socks that weigh almost as much as your shelter! Those smartwool socks look great, but I'd be interested to hear why they're worth that much weight to you. Best wishes. -- Eliot

Henk Smees
(theflyingdutchman) - MLife

Locale: Spanish Mountains
Good read & question on 02/20/2013 13:47:49 MST Print View

Very good read & many things to learn from (or take as an example), i.e. I should give the “very light footwear” a try (in winter, I mean). Suppose I’m too much of a coward but I can’t leave my old trusty double mountain boots behind. Having said so, my favorite playground is high altitude above tree line & above 3000m (≈ 10.000 ft) in winter where temps drop to (in between) -15 & -25 ºC (5 & -13 ºF) or even colder. How do you manage?

One question -I apologize for my ignorance- because there is something I don’t understand: You say that 2 quilts + parka keep you warm into the single digits but when it gets below 15ºF you have to add an insulating pant. I suppose “single digits” means in between 0 and 9 ºF). Do I read something wrong here?

William Haigney

Locale: New England
Synthetic quilt idea on 02/22/2013 08:21:13 MST Print View

Yes great article and great questions for further posts. I am particularly interested in hearing more about on your synthetic quilt concept and the ability of such a system to go down to single digits and lower (my winter venue is the Adirondacks where temps go regularly go down into the -20s and lower).

Also, have you considered using a VBL to keep moisture from entering your down in the first place? That way you could combine two down bags and get more warmth and flexibility, kinda like the Stephenson Triple bag concept. E.g., using two differently sized and temp rated Katabatic quilts, plus a VBL liner for the real cold (E.g., a VBL inside a Chisos 40, inside a Palisades 30 or Sawatch 15° for example). Expensive, yes; but that way you would have multiple lightweight sleeping bag options depending on expected conditions. I always thought Stephenson was on to something with his triple bag idea, just too heavy....any thoughts on that approach?

Pit Martin
(Pit5785455) - MLife
Re: Cool Notes on 02/22/2013 15:10:50 MST Print View

My buddy, Tommy, and I are completing the Colorado Trail in segments, and both of us are in our mid-50s. We are heavily into ultralite, with one exception: we bring the Big Agnes Slide Mountain 3 tent, which is 6 lbs with the footprint. it is a 3 man tent, with 2 doors and 2 vestibules, and is the best shelter i have used in 41 years of backpacking. We split the weight, and end up with 23 lbs instead of 19 lbs for a 5 - 8 day trip. The comfort and expansive interior make rough weather days/weeks very comfortable. Beats the hell out of a tarp in inclement weather (like the 8 days of 37 - 47 degree rain on the CT/Continental Divide trail 3 summers ago in Colorado, between Saguache and Silverton - 101 miles, mostly above treeline). Pit Martin

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
shell on 10/31/2013 12:07:37 MDT Print View

Great article and photos! I especially enjoyed the discussion of tarp options.

"The layer I wish to replace the most is my wind shirt. I’m still waiting for the day when I can bring a waterproof layer that is breathable enough to be a wind shirt in cold conditions. Maybe that day is just around the corner, perhaps sometime in 2013?"

I'm a DriDucks fan in warmer weather, but I really like the eVent Packa for winter or cold/wet conditions as both wind and rain/wet snow protection layer. I used it in the UP of Michigan in 2012 during a nearly day-long snowstorm. The pack cover portion is nice for keeping the pack and shoulder straps dry, but it also helps with back ventilation (not having a jacket sandwiched directly between the pack and my back) and allows carrying it with zero pack volume by stuffing the sleeves and front under the cover when they're not needed. If it's just used for wind, the pit zips and front zipper work great for venting when needed on an uphill section.

Edited by AndyF on 10/31/2013 12:09:53 MDT.