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Winter Backpacking Gear List for the Very Cold Sleeper

Discussion forums are an incredible resource for the beginning backpacker.  I either participate or lurk on several different forums for years, notable Hammock Forums, Whiteblaze, and Backpacking Light, just to name a few. The information gleaned from more experienced backpackers is invaluable. Learning from the mistakes of those who have trod the forest before me!
Crossing a semi-frozen Seneca Creek in January; 0*F

Whenever contemplating a new piece of gear, the forums are the perfect place to find firsthand reviews.   Find hiking partners, ask about the "best" campsites on a specific trail, and (my fav) get some new recipes.  My husband appreciates the fact that I have meaningful discussions with other people and don't discuss backpacking or hiking with him morning, noon, and night. When talking about camping, what he hears is "blah, blah, blah."  Forums are the perfect place to hang out with "my people."

Probably one of the most frequently asked questions is "What do I put in my pack?"  This is not the easiest question to answer, because what is in a pack is as unique as the person carrying it!  Backpacking lists are not "one size fits all."  Of course, lists are going to vary depending on location and climate. EVERYONE should ALWAYS have the ten essentials

Have you read the REI article on what to pack?  OMG, you need to carry a 100L pack to carry all that stuff in the woods! Trowel?  Not me.  I don't use t.p., but carry a small Ziploc of baby wipes (double duty). But I never leave home without my cell phone loaded with audiobooks and Nook books. 

Since I use a hammock, my gear is a little different than a tenter's gear list, but the idea is the same; insulation on the top and underneath (always packed in a waterproof bag), wind protection, and rain/snow protection.  Pack extra socks and clothes that are reserved ONLY for sleeping.  A set of warm, dry clothes is often the only thing that draws the line between being cold and wet or hypothermia. Learn this the hard way may be learning this the dead way.

Protect your feet.  Carry a few disposable plastic bags or gallon-sized ziplocs in the bottom of the backpack.  Even when boots are waterlogged, dry socks wrapped in a plastic bag creates a vapor barrier that will give you toasty toes.  Learn from my experience, boots lose their waterproofness when placed too near a fire.  

Remember to bring Nalgene-type water bottles for a great way to heat your cold bag at night.  Also, water bladders and hoses can freeze easily.  Don't forget a water system that doesn't use a filter that can crack in cold weather.  Leave the Sawyer at home for warmer weather.  Instead, opt for a Steri-pen or Aqua Mira.

This is a link to my winter gear list.  Using a spreadsheet program like is great for the spreadsheet-challenged like me.

Do you have any winter essentials not mentioned?  Please feel free to comment!

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for your wonderful article it helps me a lot.

    Please Write some thing about Waterproof Hiking Backpack