Tips, Tricks, Videos
Backpacking in winter is challenging but is well worth your while. It relies upon many of the skills you already have as backpacker but also requires a few extra. Here are some...
Trekking in the snow is tough and slow going, depending on snow and weather conditions it may take over an hour to go a single mile. Take this into consideration when planning your route.
It is important to stay warm, but it is even more important not to be too warm. Sweating will dampen the layers close to your skin and heighten your chance of hypothermia. The best thing to do is layer up, be aware of your body temperature and add or remove layers as you need.
Navigating in the snow is also more challenging. Tracks through snow and trails are unreliable, and can easily be covered by the wind or with snow. Have a good map and compass, use a gps as a backup only as batteries die quickly in the cold. Use bright colored trail marking tape if you are returning the way you came, just be sure to remove it on your way out.
Test your gear before you go. Know how to set everything up quickly, the middle of the woods in several feet of snow is not a good place to learn how to do this. Make sure you have an efficient system and make a check list ahead of time.
Have a repair kit and a backup shelter. It is extremely important to be able to adapt in the backcountry. Keeping warm and dry is an absolute must, your life really does depend on it.
Staying warm is of course important but can also be very challenging, here are some tried and true tricks... Snack throughout the day. Digesting food is an intense activity for your body and will keep you warm. Eat something fatty before bed, like chocolate, yummm! Stay active, go out for a short night hike, tromp around in the snow to get your body working. Empty your bladder before bed, your body works really hard to keep all that fluid warm, so you'll be warmer and won't have to get up in the middle of the night.
-Pulk gear sled, allows you to carry extra gear while taking the weight off your back, ultimately helping you walk in the snow
-Snowshoes, appropriate for the conditions
-Collapsable Saw and/or axe, useful for cutting firewood
-Small snow shovel, dig out your camp area, create a snow wall to block wind
-Pocket Knife, an outdoor essential
-Four season tent or a modified three season
-Extra tarps use to block the wind, as a ground cloth or as an emergency shelter
-Close cell foam pad or a reflective bubble insulation pad, having both is best
-Sleeping bag, rated as low as possible *note: just because a bag is rated -20 below does not mean you will sleep comfortably at that temperature.
-Fleece sleeping bag liner, adds 3-8 degrees to bag temp rating
-Bivy bag, protects your bedding from moisture, adds a few degrees to temp rating.
-Pillow, inflatable or stuff sack of clothes
-Long under wear, top and bottom
-Outer shell, must be waterproof
-Socks, synthetic wool or other material
-Extra layers, long sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, etc
-Hat, gloves, scarf or bandana to cover face
-Ski goggle, necessary in high winds and snow
-Sun glasses, prevent snow blindness
-Snow boots, warm and water proof
-Stove, wood burning, white gas, propane
-Pot, appropriate for meals planned and group size
-Utensil, to eat and cook with
-Plate, bowl, Cup or Mug
-Hand sanitizer, or soap
-Pee bottle, so you don't have to leave your cozy tent in the middle of the night
-Plastic bags, you have to pack it out
-Sit pad or folding backpacking chair, like a crazy-creek, rest your back and keep your butt insulated from the ground
-Insulate mug or thermos, trek out, collect firewood, or lay beneath the stars with a warm drink
-Book, kick back to an adventure novel or anything else of your choosing
-Camera, take photos of your trip
-Osprey Aether 60L Backpack
-Cheap sled, converted with pull ropes, gear net, and plastic cover
-MSR Lightning Ascent, 26" Snowshoes
-Knife, collapsable saw, axe and small snow shovel
-Black Diamond Ultralight Tent, 3 season, 4 person, modified with a stove jack
-5'x8' tarp, miscellaneous use
-8x10 reflective tarp, folded in half and used under bedding
-Close cell foam, cheap camping pad for extra insulation
-Reflective bubble insulation pad
-North Face, -18C (0F) degree bag
-fleece sleeping bag liner
-REI minimalist bivy bag
-Small inflatable pillow
-All as mentioned above
-Seek-Outside large wood burning stove with 6ft chimney pipe
-Trangia Alcohol Stove, as a backup
-90% Isocol Alcohol
-Medium Pot, and fry pan
-Sea to Summit, fork, knife and spoon set
-Plastic plate and bowl, Metal Mug
-All as mentioned above
-Crazy-Creek, folding backpacking chair
-Book of choice