Gear Lists Travel

Winter Backpacking Gear List Explained

Winter Backpacking Gear List Explained

Winter Backpacking Gear List Explained

Winter backpacking could be very totally different from three season backpacking. It requires extra gear, good decision-making, and lots of new expertise. It’s virtually like backpacking on a special planet as a result of so many belongings you take as a right throughout the remainder of the yr are totally different.

For instance: you should soften snow to make consuming water and to maintain your boots in your sleeping bag at night time in order that they don’t freeze. You want additional flotation so that you don’t sink into the snow and additional traction to keep away from sliding on icy surfaces. You must use particular stoves and gasoline for cooking that you simply don’t use the remainder of the yr, and the record goes on.

The most effective methods to know the variations between winter and three season backpacking is to take a look at the variations within the type of gear you could carry. I’ve accomplished this within the type of an annotated gear record under, organized across the core actions that make up a winter backpacking journey. There’s a variety of info packed into this submit about winter backpacking actions, gear necessities, and options that I feel you’ll discover helpful if that is new to you.

If in case you have questions, ask them within the feedback. I’m comfortable to reply.

Winter Tent

This winter backpacking gear listing is designed to be used in temperatures right down to -10F for tenting in protected camp websites. At simply over 27 kilos, with out meals, gasoline, or water, it’s a superb instance of a light-weight winter backpacking gear record and the tradeoffs you could make to scale back the load of your winter gear with out skimping on consolation or taking too many dangers.

I’ve damaged the gear record into the next sections:

  • clothes for camp
  • clothes for mountaineering
  • clothes for layering
  • hydration
  • cooking
  • navigation
  • electronics
  • first-aid
  • packing
  • shelter
  • sleeping
  • traction

Clothes for Camp

Winter backpacking includes numerous sitting round within the chilly so you’ll be able to prepare dinner and soften snow for consuming water. We do that to be social (as a result of it’s enjoyable) and to keep away from dying from carbon monoxide poisoning in our tents or burning them down round us.

When melting snow or cooking dinner, you’re not shifting, so it’s essential pile on the insulated clothes to remain heat. This sometimes features a heavy insulated jacket, insulated pants, heat gloves, and head-gear, layered over your day time clothes if it’s dry or your sleeping garments. You’ll typically put on your common winter boots in camp, however some individuals deliver down booties to maintain their ft heat.

Melting Snow - Suited up in Down Parkas and Insulated PantsMelting Snow – Suited up in Down Parkas and Insulated Pants

Most of those additional “camp” layers are too heat to put on if you’re climbing, however you do want to hold them nonetheless. Nevertheless, they can be utilized to reinforce the heat of your sleeping bag: I exploit mine that means so I can take my zero-degree sleeping bag right down to -10 levels. I’m not that fascinated by tenting in something colder as a result of it’s type of disagreeable. It took me a few years to confess this to myself, however once I did I used to be capable of change from a -25 diploma sleeping bag to a a lot inexpensive and lighter weight, zero diploma sleeping bag.

Clothes for Climbing

You don’t need to gown too warmly for winter mountaineering.  You’ll be carrying a a lot heavier pack than in summer time, sporting heavier boots, and probably snowshoes or crampons. Sweat is dangerous as a result of it should accumulate in your garments and funky you everytime you cease shifting. This could snowball in crappy circumstances and result in hypothermia. Should you begin to sweat, strip off layers or decelerate so your physique generates much less warmth.

It’s commonplace for me to backpack stripped right down to my baselayer shirt. I additionally not often put on lengthy johns underneath my delicate shell pants as a result of I get too scorching. I exploit them for sleeping as an alternative.

My Baffin Borealis winter backpacking boots require some rationalization. Referred to as double insulated boots, they’ve detachable liners. That is fascinating in winter so you possibly can sleep together with your liners in your sleeping bag and never your whole boots. You do that to stop the liners from freezing at night time utilizing your physique warmth. These Baffin Borealis boots are an actual discover as a result of they’re tremendous light-weight and you may stroll simply in them. In case your winter boots don’t have detachable liners, you need to be ready to sleep with them in your sleeping bag. Similar goes on your water bottles.

The Baffin Borealis Boot has a translucent TPU shell and separate insulated liner

Clothes for Layering

Exterior temperatures or wind chill can differ extensively on a winter backpacking journey, relying on the time of day, your location, and the quantity of surrounding vegetation. It’s greatest to hold further layers that you simply maintain in reserve so you’ll be able to layer up or off as circumstances change. That is regular on winter hikes and backpacking journeys, with individuals calling for layer breaks on a regular basis.

identify description weight/oz. CAMP Wind Gloves Wind shell exterior, mushy shell glove three.5 Golite Reed XL Rain Pant Ladies’s boot zip, not made 6.7 Marmot Softshell Gloves Dries quick 2 Outside Analysis Cornice Mittens Waterproof shell mitts, restricted dexterity w/Primaloft internal insulated gloves eight.four Outside Analysis Panorama Level Jacket WTB Shell with pit zips. Measurement XL Smith Information OTG Fan Goggles Inner fan to stop fogging 6.1 Sun shades + Case Glare safety four.2

Your additional layers ought to be straightforward to placed on or take off and they need to be packed the place they’re straightforward to entry in your backpack. This consists of additional hats, additional gloves, jackets, pants, a buff (neck gaiter), balaclava/face masks, gaiters, sun shades, or goggles. When you put on huge boots, deliver rain pants than you possibly can placed on or take off with out taking your boots off – often pants with full or three/four aspect zips. My boots are sufficiently small that I can put them on with simply boot zip rain pants.

Will probably be uncommon so that you can want your tenting garments through the day, except your massive puffy jacket, when you cease for a snack or water break. However you have got these heat additional layers in reserve for those who want them.

40 Below Neoprene Water Bottle Insulators40 Under Neoprene Water Bottle Insulators


The quantity of water you keep it up a winter backpacking journey often varies between two and three liters, so that you don’t need to cease and soften extra utilizing a range through the day. It is best to shoot to have a half-cup of water left on the finish of the day as a starter for melting extra snow. In case you attempt to soften snow in a dry pot, you’ll burn it and perhaps gap your pot.

You’ll need to carry one bottle in an insulated container (foam or neoprene) outdoors your pack for straightforward entry, positioned the wrong way up so the cap doesn’t freeze. You possibly can retailer the opposite bottles inside your backpack, snuggled amongst your insulating layers in an effort to save weight on added bottle insulation. You need to carry your water in vast mouth bottles that are much less more likely to freeze and simpler to open in the event that they do. I like to hold gentle propylene wide-mouth Hunersdorf bottles in winter, which gained’t crack if frozen, and are straightforward to open whereas sporting mittens.

If yow will discover water in liquid type, you continue to need to purify it. Boiling is an efficient method to do that, because you’ll need to warmth it up anyway to maintain it from freezing in a single day. A Steripen can be used. Chemical reactions are too sluggish within the chilly and filters break in the event that they freeze.

Red hot glow of a MSR Whisperlite Stove melting snow on full powerPurple scorching glow of a MSR Whisperlite Range melting snow on full energy


All this boiling and melting snow takes a whole lot of time and range gasoline. I like to make use of a liquid gasoline range for winter as a result of liquid gasoline (white fuel) is the very best BTU gasoline obtainable and it’ll burn right down to -40F. Whereas you should use a canister range in winter, it turns into more and more troublesome to make use of beneath 20F. You’ll be able to push that right down to about zero levels with a particular inverted canister range just like the Jetboil Joule. However liquid gasoline continues to be the most effective all spherical answer for my part, and makes it straightforward to share gasoline in a gaggle, since so many different individuals use liquid gasoline stoves in winter. That additional redundancy is good.

Packing area is at an actual premium in winter, however winter cooking gear might be cumbersome. Excluding my gasoline bottle and insulated cup, my whole prepare dinner system matches in my range pot, which retains it good and compact. At 1.three liters, the pot is about as small as you’ll be able to go for melting snow, since you possibly can solely soften one bottle’s value at a time.


Navigation wants can range extensively in winter. Whereas a map can suffice when you’re on a well-used path system and visibility is sweet, trails turn out to be harder to seek out in winter once they’re coated in snow, the horizon is fogged in, or the snow is so deep that the blazes are buried underneath your ft. I all the time carry a compass for route discovering, nevertheless it takes some apply to have the ability to use it successfully in winter.

I additionally carry a whistle, one thing I carry all yr, which is sweet for signaling companions when you’ll be able to’t see them, like in dense fog or heavy vegetation. A whistle carries farther than the human voice and you may blow on it with out turning into exhausted.

Whereas I do use an iPhone for GPS navigation throughout the remainder of the yr, I change to a Garmin eTrex 20x GPS unit in winter as a result of it’s waterproof, has a greater battery life than a telephone, and most significantly, it may be used whereas sporting heavy gloves. The GPS unit just isn’t a part of my base gear record, as a result of it’s typically not wanted.

The InReach Mini is much smaller than the InReach Explorer+ or SE+


I all the time deliver a digital digital camera as a result of I take a variety of pictures, in addition to a Garmin inReach mini Satellite tv for pc Messenger. The mini lets me ship out periodic “OK” messages, which my spouse appreciates, and can be helpful in an emergency to contact Search and Rescue if I’m out of cellphone vary. I additionally carry a telephone as a result of it’s a greater solution to contact search-and-rescue if a cellular phone sign is on the market. I additionally learn books and take notes on it.

It’s additionally essential to make use of Lithium-Ion Batteries to energy digital units in winter as a result of they don’t freeze like alkaline batteries, which include a water-based electrolyte answer.

Up to now yr, I’ve additionally changed my headlamp, digital camera, and satellite tv for pc messenger with merchandise which are micro-USB or apple lightning suitable in order that I don’t have to hold device-specific batteries for them. I now carry a single 8000 mAh battery pack and some brief cords so I can recharge them if wanted. Standardizing round USB rechargeable units has simplified my journey preparation and eradicated the necessity to throw out partially-used batteries after every journey.


I exploit the precise self-assembled first-aid package within the winter that I carry the remainder of the yr. Nothing particular: Benedryl, Aspirin, Advil, ear plugs, Leuoktape for blister prevention. Another odds and ends. You will discover an entire listing of my first help contents right here: Selfmade Ultralight First Assist Package. 

identify description weight/oz. First assist package Self assembled 6.6

Backpacks have many external attachment straps on their exterior that you can attach gear to.Backpacks have many exterior attachment straps on their exterior that you would be able to connect gear to.


One of many keys to decreasing your winter gear weight is to maintain the quantity of the backpack you want as small as potential. Meaning carrying extremely compressible gear and studying the right way to connect gear to the surface of your backpack utilizing its exterior attachment system. The load of your gear is essential in fact, however for those who can hold the quantity of your pack underneath 60 liters, you’re going to be method forward of the sport. This will require some compromises in your half, for instance, not backpacking when temperatures are lower than zero levels, however you possibly can’t have it each methods.

My winter backpack is a dyneema (previously cuben fiber) Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 (55L) Southwest backpack, the identical pack I exploit for longer multi-day backpacking journeys the remainder of the yr. I can match all the gear, meals, gasoline, and water I want for winter backpacking inside it or hooked up to the surface of the pack with additional room to spare. I’ve used barely bigger backpacks up to now, however this one weighs considerably much less, simply over two kilos. It opens from the highest with a roll prime, which I discover helpful in winter as a result of I can shortly discover the gear I want.

Dyneema backpacks are usually not waterproof as a result of you have to make holes within the material to stitch on the shoulder pads and hip belt. I line my pack with a white trash compactor bag to maintain its contents dry, and whereas I exploit stuff sacks or Ziploc baggies to arrange gear, I pack plenty of garments in my pack unfastened. I discover that this reduces the pack area required by my garments, eliminating the air gaps between different bulkier gadgets inside my backpack. Experiment with this and see what you favor.

The Black Diamond Firstlight Tent does not have a vestibule.The Black Diamond Firstlight Tent doesn’t have a vestibule.


My goto shelter in winter is a freestanding Black Diamond Firstlight Tent which I feel is the most effective light-weight all-round winter backpacking tent made. Weighing simply 43 ounces, it’s really freestanding so you’ll be able to set it up nearly anyplace. It has very steep partitions that shed snow nicely, good head room, and has loads of inside area because it’s designed for 2 (very pleasant) individuals.

I don’t carry any tent stakes to pitch this tent. If I want anchors, I take aside my poles and use them as stakes (proven) or anchor the opposite man out loops with different gear I carry, like snowshoes, crampons, or an ice axe. I not often even hassle to sinter (harden) the snow beneath the tent and simply set it up. Because it’s freestanding, I can pitch it in lower than 2 minutes, climb in, and alter into dry garments with out standing round and getting chilly. Freestanding tents are priceless in winter however few really freestanding tents are made.


It’s commonplace to sleep for 12 hours on a winter backpacking journey, so that you may as nicely take advantage of it and be snug and heat. The important thing to that is bringing a heat sleeping bag and a thick sleeping pad with a excessive R-value. Many individuals wish to deliver two sleeping pads in winter and mix them to get the R-value (which is additive) that they want.

The R-values for sleeping pads aren’t examined uniformly the identical approach throughout producers, however they’re the perfect measure of thermal resistance (insulation) out there to shoppers, so helpful for steerage. I feel an R-value of 5 or 6 is right for winter tenting, in order that’s the quantity of sleeping pad insulation I shoot for, and expertise has confirmed this out.

I convey an insulated Therm-a-Relaxation XTherm inflatable mattress (R-value =5 ) for consolation and a shortened foam Therm-a-Relaxation Zlite sleeping pad, which serves as my sit pad throughout dinner, once we sit on snow to prepare dinner and soften snow for consuming water. You don’t need to overlook a sit pad on a winter backpacking journey otherwise you’ll freeze your ass off!

I put the Zlite underneath the XTherm at night time for extra insulation. Foam pads like this are additionally most popular for shielding accident victims from hypothermia from the bottom, which is why you see so many winter day hikers and backpackers carrying them on the paths. It’s good to have a minimum of one in your group.

As I discussed beforehand, I downgraded from a -25 diploma sleeping bag to a zero diploma sleeping bag, once I realized that I don’t actually take pleasure in backpacking in sub-zero temperatures. It took me a very long time to comprehend this – almost a decade. However after I switched to a zero diploma bag, I used to be capable of change to a smaller quantity backpack, and so forth, shaving extra weight from my gear listing. I nonetheless carry sufficient additional insulated clothes that I can take my zero diploma bag right down to -10, however I’m additionally more likely to postpone a backpacking journey if the climate forecast is that chilly at night time.

Kelty Cloud Backpack loaded with SnowshoesKelty Cloud Backpack loaded with Snowshoes


I all the time deliver microspikes, snowshoes, and trekking poles on winter backpacking journeys, in order that they have a everlasting spot on my winter gear record. It’s necessary to switch the summer time baskets in your trekking poles with snow baskets for winter journey. They are surely a vital flotation help for winter climbing.

The MSR Evo Ascent Snowshoes I exploit are meant for climbing mountains and have a televator wire that lifts up underneath the heel to make them simpler to climb slopes with. This unibody plastic snowshoe can also be a lot better off-trail than a snowshoe with an hooked up material deck, as a result of branches can’t turn out to be caught between the deck and the body. I do a number of off-trail mountaineering in winter and there’s a slight weight penalty (just some ounces) for utilizing these snowshoes as an alternative of decked ones which might be barely lighter.

Additional Gear – As Wanted

Once I don’t want this additional gear, I’ll depart it at residence. It consists of additional traction, navigation, and a shovel for digging out camp kitchen or vestibule trenches in deep snow.

The choice on whether or not to convey crampons or a GPS has so much to do with the terrain the place we plan to hike, the climate forecast, and journey reviews that doc native circumstances which might be posted by different hikers and backpackers.

Wrap Up

This 27 pound winter backpacking gear listing is fairly streamlined and light-weight and will give you a superb template of the gear required for winter backpacking and tenting.  My recommendation – work out what’s best for you to be protected and cozy, and suck it up if it weighs a bit greater than you’d like. Winter backpacking gear IS heavier than three season mountaineering gear, but when you will get your full-out pack weight for a two night time journey beneath 40 kilos, together with meals, water, and gasoline, that’s a very good goal weight to shoot for.

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