Author Topic: winter backpacking  (Read 29124 times)

Offline womule

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winter backpacking
« on: December 12, 2009, 06:06:16 PM »
In january I'm going backpacking for a weekend. It has been along time since I've done this in temperatures under 32F. I have all the clothing I need, with the exception of a face mask- gloves- and insulated socks.

Is there any gear that you guys could recommend?  Are there any kinds of foods I should bring to help me stay warm?

Thanks

Offline cohutt

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2009, 06:49:37 PM »
Random thoughts based on some cold weekends as a scout leader a few years back:
Take something for your skin- I use Bag Balm - being outside for 48 hrs in those temps chaps my fingers and face pretty badly.
Only synthetics and/or silk should touch your skin. no cotton. 
Layer up - for me two light layers underneath (including feet) always worked better than one heavy layer.
Ventable outer layers on upper and lower body makes life easier with changing terrain temps and levels of exertion.
Take unscented baby wipes in a Ziploc baggie to tidy up hands feet etc- my feet stayed warmer in a clean pair socks if they were wiped down first. At bedtime I would clean my feet and put on the next day's liner socks on and wear them in the sleeping bag.
I always got my stove ready to boil water just outside my tent door the night before; having a cup of hot coffee before I get all the way out of my sleeping bag helped my attitude significantly.  If my boots were clean enough I put them in my sleeping bag with my legs when sitting up & drinking the coffee; warming them up some before i put them on made a huge difference in the transition during the cold mornings.
If the temps are much below freezing at night (only a couple of times for me) I put a nalgene bottle with the top very tightly screwed on in the sleeping bag so I would have water and not ice with breakfast.
It's been a while and this is all that comes to mind -

Don't trust the weather forcast; assume it will be 10 degrees cooler, 15 mph windier and wetter.
Personal pref: High calorie food, IE higher fat food, is what I crave when out in the cold for extended periods.

Offline donaldj

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2009, 08:00:11 PM »
Get a pair of expedition weight Smartwool socks. They're $15 and worth it.

To stay warm at night, empty your bladder before you go to bed. Seriously. It helps.

I used to love winter camping. Doing the Dad thing now so it's on hiatus a bit.  =)   I used to cross country ski with my backpack (either on a sled behind me or on my back) and camp at night. Man, what a workout!

D

Offline theadob

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2009, 08:22:30 PM »
make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the weather.  I know that sounds pretty simple but my scouts have tried showing up to winter camp outs with summer sleeping bags despite warnings that this will get them an instant trip home (and it does).  My bag is rated to -15 and i have survived -15 camping trips wishing i had a -25 or better bag. 

Offline mxitman

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2009, 08:24:55 PM »
keeping hydrated also keeps you warmer, I just got done doing some muzzleloader hunting in Northern Minnesota in -10 deg F temps, thats damn cold... I didn't bring a face mask but ended up borrowing one from my father in law. I'm sure you know enough to "not ever sweat" so layering is a must. I can 2nd the smartwools I love em and $12 to $20 for socks seems stupid until you have tried them, but I also recommend doubling up on your socks. If your goign to be on the move allot wear silk or very light thermals otherwise you will sweat.

If your going to be camping where you will have campfires one of my tricks is putting hot rocks from the fire in your boots at night to help dry them out and them putting the boots in the tent with you, or add the rocks in the morning nice to slip on warm boots...

Offline teton traveler

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2009, 09:06:05 PM »
If you have problems with your toes getting cold in your boots, you can get some toe warmers. They work just like the hand warming packets that warm up when exposed to air. Another trick. If you also have a hard time staying warm in a sleeping bag, even if it is a good one then just before bed, you can boil some water, then pour it into a nalgene bottle and close it up. Put this with you in your sleeping bag, but not directly against the skin. Not only does it help you stay nice and cozy all night long, but when you wake up, you also have purified water. Nothing beats being nice and warm at night.

Offline womule

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2009, 10:21:44 PM »
Its all great advice. When you guys say to wear silk are you talking about the underarmor type of clothing?  I used thermal/insulated under shirt/pants to keep warm. My sleeping bag is sufficient for the weather I'm going into. I used to live in a drafty trailer back in college. If would get freezing some nights and I would sleep in this sleepingbag and I would stay nice and toasty.

Do you recommend any insulated sleepingmats?

Offline cohutt

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #7 on: December 13, 2009, 06:19:03 AM »
Yes to some sort of insulating mat - a basic 1" blue foam one from Wally world at a minimum.  the insulating loft of your bag is compressed under your body weight and you can lose a good bit of warmth vs the cold ground otherwise.

I have a thermarest self inflating one- seems like i spent 20-$30 many years ago and it works well. it insulates and takes the edge off of the roots and rocks for comfort.

what i have is similar to this one at campmor:  http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___60358

re: silk

Before Patagonia and underarmor made the light weight base layers a true silk layer was the way to go.   But yes that's what I am referring to.  If you exert yourself and sweat a little it will move the moisture off your skin to the next layer keeping you from getting a chill.
more from campmor: http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/SubCategory___40000000226_200368505
the patagonia caplilene 2 is light weight but outragously priced imho.
terramar makes a $20 treated silk top that would be cheap and an ideal base layer though http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___68159

Offline womule

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #8 on: December 13, 2009, 04:15:15 PM »
Come to think of it... My dad gave me a habbit since I was little to wrap me feet with plastic bread bags then put on 2 layers of socks. My friends teased me but my feet were always warm.

I think I'll bring some bacon and eggs and some aluminum foil on this trip.  Then I can cook some great breakfasts

Offline Jackson76

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #9 on: December 13, 2009, 11:05:15 PM »
wrap me feet with plastic bread bags then put on 2 layers of socks. My friends teased me but my feet were always warm.

I'm not sure that I'm reading that correctly.  I hope you ment socks, then bags, then boots. Hiking in plastic bags all day would be a bad idea, in my opinion.  We did this as kids before we had water-proof boots,  long before gore-tex! 

Offline donaldj

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #10 on: December 14, 2009, 06:24:25 AM »
I'm not sure that I'm reading that correctly.  I hope you ment socks, then bags, then boots. Hiking in plastic bags all day would be a bad idea, in my opinion.  We did this as kids before we had water-proof boots,  long before gore-tex! 

The concept is known as "vapor barrier", which is what plastic bags and the like act as when used as insulation. There are a lot of people that believe in the idea, and many that don't.

http://www.warmlite.com/vb.htm

This link is a company that makes outstanding backpacking equipment, but they have some "interesting ideas" on some things. That page specifically talks about vapor barriers.


In short, if you are prone to sweating a lot, or "stink up" a shirt after a couple days of casual wear, you are probably not a good candidate to use vapor barrier insulation successfully. You need breathable gear. If you don't sweat that much at all, and can generally wear a shirt for a few days without it getting too gross, you are a good candidate for successful vapor barrier insulation use.

I was a good candidate for vapor barrier gear, but found it had a slick, clammy feel, so I prefer the regular, breathable gear.

Offline womule

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2009, 07:55:47 AM »
You read it correctly. I wrote it wrong lol!  Socks, socks, THEN bread bags.

Offline Jackson76

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2009, 03:35:30 PM »
Ok, good!  Otherwise I was going to have to send you a tub of goldbond!  Although, I always carry a good foot powder w/ me.  Interesting stuff in that link donaldj, thank you for that.

Offline joeinwv

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2009, 11:51:48 AM »
Wool - stays warm when damp / wet. Dry gloves and dry socks are key. I have slept with hot rocks from the fire wrapped in a towel / blanket, never put them in my boots - good idea.

Offline broken1

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #14 on: December 15, 2009, 01:49:05 PM »
If you have problems with your toes getting cold in your boots, you can get some toe warmers. They work just like the hand warming packets that warm up when exposed to air. Another trick. If you also have a hard time staying warm in a sleeping bag, even if it is a good one then just before bed, you can boil some water, then pour it into a nalgene bottle and close it up. Put this with you in your sleeping bag, but not directly against the skin. Not only does it help you stay nice and cozy all night long, but when you wake up, you also have purified water. Nothing beats being nice and warm at night.

QFT. You can always do what I did. Put two bottles in your bag, inside wool socks. Keeps it from being too hot, makes for a nicer texture to touch with your feet, helps it stay warmer longer and makes for warmish socks in the morning. It has made the difference. Also allowed me to stretch the heat range of a bag a little. I never got to try using them to prewarm boots because they went in the bag with me if it got to the point I would have thought I needed it.

Yes to some sort of insulating mat - a basic 1" blue foam one from Wally world at a minimum.  the insulating loft of your bag is compressed under your body weight and you can lose a good bit of warmth vs the cold ground otherwise.

I have a thermarest self inflating one- seems like i spent 20-$30 many years ago and it works well. it insulates and takes the edge off of the roots and rocks for comfort.

Also true, conduction losses literally suck in mountaineering/winter backpacking conditions. I have a thermarest as well for those exact reasons. The ground will suck the heat right out of you regardless of your sleeping bag, which will be compressed under you... Site selection can have a big impact on comfort too. A natural obstacle to wind can help a tent retain heat better, as well as reduce flapping which can wake you up.

Layer your clothing. Being too hot means you sweat, then you have to consume more water, which means you have to collect and filter/purify more and then carry more so you don't have to stop and repeat too often. Controlling your temp through removing and adding layers saves you more of everything in the long run. I've been snowshoeing in base layer pants and a light shirt, and everything else tucked into my pack because I was burning up and drinking up my supply too fast.

Oh yea and everything from cohutt's post. He says bag balm, I use regular Vaseline cause that's what my coach taught us in ski team. Wind burn on your face and such can make fun suck fast. Also if the ground is snow covered DO use a full coverage goggle or sunglasses that fully cover from all angles, snow blindness is no joke and in addition to vision and or contrast loss can give you a real bitch kitty of a head ache.

Offline Beetle

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2009, 03:34:12 AM »
Are you going to be in avalanche country at all?

Offline Beetle

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2009, 03:39:22 AM »
GPS
Two way radio
File a "flight" plan with your friends.

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2009, 08:51:27 AM »
Yes to some sort of insulating mat - a basic 1" blue foam one from Wally world at a minimum.  the insulating loft of your bag is compressed under your body weight and you can lose a good bit of warmth vs the cold ground otherwise.

I have a thermarest self inflating one- seems like i spent 20-$30 many years ago and it works well. it insulates and takes the edge off of the roots and rocks for comfort.

what i have is similar to this one at campmor:  http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___60358

I'll have to second the thermarest... although depending on what conditions you are in, you might want to consider adding a closed cell pad to your list.  Sometimes if the ground is cold enough, it will chill your inflatable pad and cause the air in it to contract, which can mean you are sleeping on the ground (no insulation).  I've read of many people who take a closed cell (Thermarest Ridgerest) to put under their inflatable mattress... I'll be trying that out in a few weeks here... I'll try to remember to post how it worked.

Oh, gaiters are really nice to have in snow!  Look into a pair...

~CRCJ

Offline marauder

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #18 on: December 31, 2009, 02:55:53 PM »
All very good suggestions so far.  The best of the bunch is the insulated pad or thermarest.  To save money, look at the Z-rest from Thermarest.  It is a closed cell design, which means there is no air inside the pad.  Not quite as comfortable to sleep on, but excellent insulating quality.  You need an "break" between your body and the ground.  If you skip this, it won't matter if you are using a -40 bag.  You will freeze your onions off.  I'm in New Jersey and do a lot of winter camping in New Hampshire.  I can't stress the insulated pad enough.

Cotton kills all year long, but especially in winter.  Don't even pack it, that way you won't be tempted.  Synthetics...fleece, long underwear.  Wool is great but bulky for insulating layers.  YMMV...

Under Armor is pretty good stuff, but for what it costs you can do better with Patagonia, Smart Wool (they make longjohns, hats and liner gloves in addition to socks) or Marmot brand underwear.  UA makes my skin feel damp all the time. Might just be me, but not a feeling I want on a winter trip.  EMS is a retailer in the North East. Their proprietary brand underwear and outerwear is excellent for the price.  Campmor, REI and MoutainGear are 3 other reliable names in outdoor backpacking centric gear.

Last bit of advice.  Sleep with a thin hat on.  Either a "watch style" or SmartWool makes a great thin liner hat.  Lastly, resist the temptation to keep your head inside your sleeping bag.  Exhaling INTO your bag is bad news on a multi day drip.  All that moisture will saturate your insulation robbing your bag of precious loft.  To that end, if the sun is out, take your bag out of the tent unzip it and let the sun dry out the inner lining.  You'll thank me later!  Good luck and have fun!!
 

Offline williams_79

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2010, 02:20:59 AM »
Have something good to wipe your nose with. It will run, and your sleeve will destroy your nose by day 3, if you are out that long. Make sure you ears are covered, and wear good gloves. take some kind of chapstick, and keep a couple of hand warmers on you. Try to set up camp where there is something to act as a good windbreak rather than a field, canyon, above the tree line, or on a river bank.

Offline CountryRootsCityJob

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2010, 10:01:20 AM »
Well now that I have gone backpacking in the snow two weeks back, here's what I learned... backpacking in the snow is HARD!  Just about everything wants to get wet... and too many things achieve that!  So here I go...

Batteries- take lithium-ion batteries... they won't die in the low temps.
Boots- make sure they are water proof... or at least HIGHLY WATER RESISTANT!
Tent/Shelter- make sure it has ventilation... condensation should be minimalized. 
Ski goggles would be really nice if its going to be snowing while you hike...
Water... you can boil it (Take more fuel), chemical treat it (It takes longer for chemicals to work at lower temperatures, or you can use a steri-pen* (http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/SubCategory___40000000228_200368935)  Also, MSR makes something similar (http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___87855) but it also takes a while... I'm not sure what the benefit is over the Steri-pen except for maybe weight?
Hiking poles- these things are nice because sometimes you can't see where the ground is under the snow... and sometimes you slip and fall... poles help.
LAYERS- when you start hiking, take off layers till you are almost chilly... but keep a windblocker on the outside layer!  When you put your pack on and start hiking, you'll be glad you didn't have more on.  Hopefully you won't have to wait for everybody else to take off layers. 
Your pack- when you get to your camp site, we use a sleeping bag strap and wrap it around a tree.  Then we hang our packs from it with carabiners.    This keeps it out of the mud and off the ground...
Lastly, we typically use hydration bladders... we don't have the insulation kit for them (http://www.campmor.com/outdoor/gear/Product___67541) so they freeze while hiking/at night.  I've been told to just blow into it and get the water out of the tube... but the valve still froze.  ANYWAY... we found that nalgene bottles work better... besides, then you can fill them with hot water and put them in your bag before you go to bed and they'll warm you up nicely!  Also, when you are carrying them in your pack, put a sock/insulator around them and place them upside down.  That way if any of it freezes, when you turn it right-side-up to drink it, the ice will be on the bottom, not the top of the bottle  ;D
Lastly, carry some sort tarp/tyvek or something to sit on while you are at camp and maybe some insulation... it'll be nice to sit down somewhere dry and warm. 

~CRCJ

Offline mxitman

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #21 on: January 27, 2010, 06:54:33 PM »
If your going to be in high elevations be sure to bring lots of fuel as mentioned before, we usually always end up melting snow and it takes awhile. I use a Kleen Kanteen wide mouth;


Makes it easier to put snow and ice chunks in and you can boil the container, I just use a carabiner with paracord attached to it, drop it in the top and it will turn sideways catching the lip of the container and allows you move it in and out of the fire easy. I also painted one side of mine flat black to absorb the sunlight when it's sunny but cold out, keeps it from freezing!

Be sure to have a good mattress pad, the picture below we had to camp overnight @ 10,000 ft. The snow was way too cold, and it was actually warmer to sleep on the rocks because they were warmed by the sun and was probably 5-10 degrees warmer, it just really sucked trying to get comfortable. The 2lbs of the sleeping pad was well worth it.  I also recommend to buy the best/lightest hiking poles you can. One of the guys on our trip had some cheap ones that broke in half about 4 hrs into our climb and he had a heck of time staying up the rest of the trip. I tried to duct tape them and even put a piece of metal in the center of the pole material but it just split the pole right down the center.




Offline CyborgX

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2010, 09:43:03 AM »
Your trip is probably already over, but here's some things I can add in case other folks read this thread.

Dress in layers. It's already been said, but it can't be stressed enough. Layers are easy to shed when you get too warm, and are more gradual than just having one big, heavy coat.

Avoid cotton like the plague. It gets wet and stays wet. Synthetic fabrics, wool, silk, poly's.. Go with those, and you'll be a lot happier. They keep you warm, dry, and comfy. Make sure your outermost layers are breathable. Gore-Tex is a nice outer shell fabric for this.

If the snow is deep, having a pair of gaiters will help keep the snow out of your boots.

If you can build a fire, dry all of your gear at the end of the day. This is especially important for your boots and gloves. Frozen boots and gloves in the morning suck!

High calorie foods and lots of water will keep you in business! Remember, you breath out about a quart of water a night. Just think how much breathing you do during the day! Also, your body uses water to burn calories and keep you warm, so it's imperative that you stay hydrated.

Don't forget toilet paper! Snow is a cold, bitter alternative.

There's tons more to be learned from trial and error, and there's some things that work better for some than for others.

Offline 18C Troll

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #23 on: July 14, 2010, 12:09:28 PM »
Another trick that I learned from a few old timers, Keep a collapsable 2 qt canteen in your sleeping bag at night.  Nothing is more cold an frustrationg than have to jump out of your nice warm bag to relieve yourself.  Make sure you screw the lid back on tight and toss it down by your toes and help them warm up at night.  Then dump it away from the trail but 20-30 m away from the campsite to help keep animals away.

Offline Cryptozoic

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #24 on: July 17, 2010, 11:01:09 PM »
A few years ago I did some serious reading on the subject.  Best sock advice is relatively thin polypropylene inner sock, wool outer sock.  The inner doesn't absorb moisture but transmits it away from the foot to the outer wool sock, which, being wool, doesn't absorb much either.  Out it goes through the boot.

Lessons learned from truck driving.  Layer technique with sleeping bags.  I have an old North Face down mummy bag which I sometimes use as a liner inside a Coleman rectangular polyester fill bag.  Throw a wool blanket on top and this layering approach gives complete flexibility in changing temperatures.  Of course I had a mattress under, which insulates some.  For packing the foam pads work pretty well but are not soft. 

The pee bottle mentioned above is a very good idea.  The nights are long in winter, bring a book.  Eating fat helps the body generate heat.  Sled dog racers live on butter and oatmeal.  Most heat loss occurs through the top of the head, wear a good hat when sleeping.  I really don't understand using ski poles for backpacking.  A good stout wood staff about armpit high has many uses.  Oak is good, being fibrous and stringy.  A 1" oak dowel is sufficient but I make my own out of thicker stock.  They make a good place to carry quite a bit of 550 para cord, wrapped around.   

Tents.  Condensation is the enemy.  Tents provide zero heat insulation, other than blocking wind.  A tarp is lighter weight, more versatile, blocks the wind and does not get all your stuff wet with condensation.  Bug screen for the tarp is not necessary in winter, so it's simple to erect.  And your visibility is greatly increased; I don't like not being able to see out of a tent.   

 

Offline elcoyote

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #25 on: July 26, 2010, 01:22:12 PM »
Best advice I can give is if you plan on wearing clothing during the day that you are not wearing at night (some people do, some people don't) especially if it is clothing that is going to touch your skin, put it in the sleeping bag with you. There is nothing worse than waking up warm and having to spend 20 minutes warming your clothes up on your skin. Whenever I sleep outside in the cold, I always try to either wear the base layers I'm going to wear the next, or at least sleep with them. I can NOT sleep in socks, so I put the socks down by my feet, and it adds to the insulation of the bag, and lets me slip my feet into warm socks the next day.


Also, remember, even if your body is warm, your face can get very cold very  fast while you sleep. Try not to put your face IN the bag though, otherwise you will build up moisture inside your sleeping bag that can lead to freezing. Wearing your face mask at night is a good idea if it is very cold out.

-ki-

Offline Lara

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #26 on: September 26, 2010, 05:36:14 PM »
If the temps are much below freezing at night (only a couple of times for me) I put a nalgene bottle with the top very tightly screwed on in the sleeping bag so I would have water and not ice with breakfast.

I do the same thing with the Nalgenes, but with a little twist.  My feet really suffer in cold weather, so while I'm making my hot chocolate or hot cider right before bedtime, I also fill up two Nalgenes with very warm water.  I then toss them into my sleeping bag to pre-heat the bag, especially near the feet.  This gives me a nice toasty sleeping bag to get into, and liquid water instead of ice in the morning.  ;)

Offline Andy in NH

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2010, 09:21:33 PM »
I'll add on to the thread knowing the OPs trip is over, but maybe someone else will find some useful information.

I LOVE winter camping / backpacking / hiking - No bugs, less people, and snow smooths out the trail!

Spending time in the outdoors during the winter requires more equipment, but you don't always have to carry it on your back.  I find that dragging a sled with fifty pounds in it is much easier than carrying a backpack of the same weight.  Of course, the type of terrain you are in and the density of the snow-pack can make a huge difference.  If you are winter mountaineering then the slopes are probably too steep to handle a sled, and if you are bushwhacking on snowshoes through 36" of fresh powder, you have your work cut out for you!



Cutting equipment weight usually starts with the big three (Pack, Shelter, Sleep System)

When I’m dragging a sled I still like to carry a small pack.  I use it for day hiking away from camp (with the Ten Essentails and more), and to keep things organized inside the shelter.  I use the Kelty Moraine (3300 cu in, 3 lb. 12 oz.)

If I’m not using my sled, I usually pack everything into my Kelty Cloud: (5250 cu in, 5.9 lbs.)



Lately, I’ve found the greatest weight savings in the form of shelters.  If I'm going solo I like to use the Kifaru Super Tarp (1 lb.) with small stove (3 lbs., 1 oz.) as my shelter.


Here is the Super Tarp with the annex installed to support the stovepipe.  What I like about the stove is that it breaks down flat for packing.  As long as you stay below the tree line you have an unlimited amount of fuel for heat and cooking.



Nothing beats sitting in a heated shelter after a day of winter hiking.


Well - maybe a warm meal in a heated shelter does!



Without the poles (which can be fashioned out of stout sticks) and the stove, the shelter packs down really small:



If I’m going with a couple of friends then I take my Kifaru eight-man Tipi (7 lbs. 9 oz.) The stove for this shelter weights - 5 lbs., 14 oz.:



There is plenty of room to sleep four guys with equipment.  The best part is you can stand up in the morning to put your pants on in a warm shelter.



When the day gets dark and the night gets cold, there is still plenty of room to invite other campers over for a BS session.



Another great thing about packing a small wood stove is that you can dry out all your clothing for the next day.  It keeps the condensation at bay also.

The eight-man tipi packs down to about the same size as a conventional four man tent.  The tipi is floorless, but I have not found that to be a problem.  If it was in a compression sack, it would be even smaller.



For a sleeping system, I put a USGI casualty blanket down on the snow to keep the moisture away and to reflect some heat from the stove.  Then I place a USGI closed cell foam mat on top of if.  Recently I bought a DownMat 7 DLX inflatable air mattress.  This has an ingenious hand pump which uses the dry winter air which protects the down from moisture-induced breath inflation. (I still use the foam pad just in case the inflatable leaks)  I wrap myself in a USGI MSS (the three-bag system) for a bag.  I also keep a USGI poncho-liner inside the bag to protect it from dirt and grime.  When I get back from a trip, it’s usually only the liner which needs washing.  It’s also cheaper the replace the liner than it is the bag.  I like the versatility of the MSS, but its downside is that it’s HEAVY (~ 9 lbs.) and does not compress well.  The one I have still has a lot of life in it.  If it wasn’t so expensive to replace it with something else, I would have done it long ago.  



Before camping with the break down wood stoves, I was forced to estimate and ration my white gas consumption.  Basically the white gas stoves were used only for melting snow into water and for heating food.  Drying gear was a luxury and only done as a by-product of the aforementioned tasks.  White gas weight about 6 pounds per gallon.

With the wood stove and the unlimited supply of fuel, life in a winter bivouac is a lot more enjoyable.

To aid in keeping warm at night, I make sure I answer nature’s call before turning in (#1 & #2).  It may not be pleasant to talk about, but keeping that volume of waste inside your body steals vital heat that could make the difference in a good nights sleep or not.  Though I make an extra effort to stay hydrated in the cold, I make sure to empty my bladder before going to sleep.  I also use a pee bottle, but for some reason (psychological?) I can’t pee into it while in the bag.  I have to at the very least, get up and kneel.  Still, it’s better than getting up, getting dressed, leaving the shelter, and finding a tree in the middle of the night.

To stay warm at night I also keep a small zip lock of GORP (with M&Ms or mini chocolate kisses) near the bag to snack on if I wake up a little cold.  Snacking on some food just before bed, or during the night helps to keep the blood flowing.

Like others have mentioned, keep a warm hat (or neck gaiter) handy at night.

When day hiking, It’s always good to prepare a hot meal for lunch.  Before leaving home (or my shelter) I’ll usually heat up some chicken noodle soup and put it in a thermos.  I wrap the thermos in an extra insulating layer (normally a fleece jacket) that I’ll use to keep the chill off when taking a break.  After several hours on the trail, the food it still really warm.



When I’m back at camp and have more time to prepare food, I like to use dehydrated meals I make myself.  Here is some dehydrated pasta, dehydrated tomato sauce and dehydrated ground beef (called “gravel”).  I put all the ingredients in the pasta bag (use a freezer bag) and add enough boiling water to cover the contents.  Then I stick the bag in a cozie or my wool hat.  After 10-15 minutes the meal has re-hydrated and is ready to eat!  Yummy!



This is one of my other favorite recipes:

Cranberry Chicken Rice:
In a quart freezer bag put:
1 cup instant rice
1 Tsp. Chicken bullion (about two cubes)
1/4 Tsp. salt, if desired
1/2 Tsp. granulated garlic
1 Tsp. Parsley (or Cilantro)
1 Tsp. Dried Onion
2 Tbl. Dried veggie flakes or freeze dried mixed vegetables
2 Tbl.+2 Tsp. dried cranberries

Also take a 3-5 oz. can (or pouch) of chicken with you.

Add the chicken and its liquid into the freezer bag, and 1 1/4 cups boiling water. Stir well and put into a cozy for 10 minutes.
Serves 1.

To find more great recipes, check out Freezer Bag Cooking

The leaves are starting to change around here and soon enough it will be time again to get out the skis and snowshoes!

« Last Edit: October 10, 2010, 10:06:41 PM by DeltaEchoVictor »

Offline nimzy88

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #28 on: October 21, 2010, 04:11:54 PM »
I used to go out in scouts and have a couple below 0 patches they gave us when it got well below 0 at night and during the day. Each time we built a shelter to sleep in such as this one I just quickly found online.



It fit three high school guys and was really warm. So warm in the morning it was dripping a bit on us from the roof due to body heat. A couple groups did have it collapse on them. The key is to let the snow set for a few hours after piling it up. Also what we did was to cover the top and sides with sticks maybe 6-8 inches so when we were digging it out we had a good marker when to stop. One of the scoutmasters worked in the high school cafeteria so she could get large plastic buckets that bbq sauce came in. We would split those in half and they worked perfect for snow scoops. Also its important to dig your entrance lower than the rest of the base area where your sleeping bags go so that the cold air settles down there.

I have to warn against lighting a candle or anything else inside the snow shelter. Every year we would hear a tragic story of people asphyxiating in a shelter after lighting a candle and not adding the proper ventilation in it.

Another tip is if you have an extra piece of that blue sleep pad, cutting a 2x2 square works great for just standing or sitting around the camp area. Your feet get a lot colder if you are standing on top of the snow or ice even with boots compared if you have a little piece of barrier.

I dont know if some one talked about this too, but rubber boots with liners is definitely the way to go. I always bring and extra liner or two along so that I can keep my feet dry.

I just sent an email to a buddy, we used to make a high calorie bar that was delicious and perfect for winter camping. If I get the recipe I will be sure to post it. I have to say winter camping was some of the best camping I have ever done. Just make sure you bring a sled and add some fun to it.

Offline nimzy88

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Re: winter backpacking
« Reply #29 on: October 21, 2010, 04:19:32 PM »
Another rule was cotton kills for all your clothes, stick with blends of silk, polyester, and wool. Wool is my first choice.