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#45721 - 04/11/16 05:39 PM Gear Rx
rusty Offline

Registered: 03/27/16
Posts: 12
Loc: upland
I'm looking for some gear rx for winter gear. I currently am a 'fair' weather backpacker. I lean ultra lite, but, I try to get the good gear regardless of weight. I'm planning on extending my backpacking into the winter. Mainly, the s-cal and sierra mts. I have some gear that will transition. However, I still need to get a bunch of gear. Here's some of the things I'm looking at;

-Soft shell pants
-mountaineering boots(needs to accept crampons/snow shoes)
-tent (leaning towards Jannu or BA Shield 2
-Hardshell top and bottom
-jacket/parka. Leaning towards RAB Infinity Endurance
-I use a 15deg Marmot Helium. I figure I can wear the parka or puffer too. Or, should I get a 0 deg bag.

I will be taking the 6 day Rainier course via AAI, however, will rent gear. My gear will be used mainly for our 'lessor' mtns and not really tech stuff.

#45724 - 04/11/16 08:40 PM Re: Gear Rx [Re: rusty]
WanderingJim Online

Registered: 02/09/15
Posts: 290
Loc: California
Yeah, I'm looking on expanding to snow camping next year too. smile
Started with buying a good pair of snow shoes in a sale a couple weeks ago. Just in time for spring. smile

I'm actually been okay with various layers during below freezing day hikes (rain pants, fleece pants, hiking pants, long underwear for the bottom and rain jacket, down jacket, various layers of thermal shirts, long t-shirt, t-shirts), but not 100% sure if I need some heavier winter gear for overnight hikes.

I was looking at some sleeping bag liners that add insulation to my 32 degree sleeping bag, hoping to not have to buy an entirely new one. That with layers should keep me warm enough. I hope. smile

Not sure I've seen any mention of different tents be needed for snow camping, so I'll be looking for some suggestions in the thread as well.

#45726 - 04/12/16 06:52 AM Re: Gear Rx [Re: WanderingJim]
Fishmonger Offline

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1034
Loc: Madison, WI
Winter gear is very dependent on how high and how long you plan to go in the backcountry. On a high peak deep in the Sierra, I recommend a bag rated at lower than 10F. Camp is your safe haven when things get nasty. If you sleep warm and really want to be in your insulation layers

Tent - I prefer a bombproof tent. I have two for winter, both the same design. Mountain Hardwear EV3 and EV2, which in my book are a 2 and a 1 person tent you can live in. Easy to set up with the poles outside. Great ventilation, and once pitched there's no flapping even in a 50mph wind. Whitney tested, both of them. Overkill during nice nights, fantastic to have when the wind wants to sweep you off the mountain.

Boots for me depend on the distance to be covered. Short and steep, I like my Dynafit Mountain TLT5 touring boots, which are super light for a ski boot, walk as good as a classic plastic mountaineering boot, and take crampons like a champ. Plus, you can step in your ski and move at speed. I don't know if I'd like them with snow shoes. I never figured out what boots work well with snow shoes, except maybe those northern trapper type insulated arctic boots, which in turn are useless when you need to put on crampons. For mixed rock and snow travel in the Sierra, I have a pair of La Sportiva boots, yellow with insulation layer and stiff soles compared to my red summer GTX Evos, forgot the name. Work ok if you slop enough waterproofing on the leather, but for longer trips, I'd need to get something more water resistant. The type of boot that works in that category and stays dry is rather expensive - $500 and up, and so far I haven't really seen the need for it, as on longer winter trips I would be on ski that require the touring boots.

Insulation layers - more layers are good, but you want one that's warmer than the typical 5 ounce fill insulation layer,and hooded if possible. Below that there is only one thing for me - merino base layers and a heavier merino sweater.

Pants - I have some Mammut technical softshell pants (current version of it is called "Base Jump Touring Pants"), zipper vents on the legs, stretchy Schoeller fabric, built-in gaiters, etc - love it. Used it for everything from skiing to winter bicycle commuting. Get too warm in the Sierra sun, just open the zippers. Not totally waterproof when you sit on wet snow on the ski lift all day, but for normal backcountry travel where you can sit on a pad, I'd take it any day. Any similar piece of gear will work.

For really cold deep winter trips, I'd consider my hardshell pants (I have some Arcteryx and with Patagonia Nanopuff pants underneath, but that's more for the Wisconsin -20F snowshoe trips, not for the Sierra.

Gloves - you need good gloves when it gets cold. I have about 5 different sets I use for skiing and other winter activities. The warmest are some slightly larger than needed Mountain Hardwear touring gloves. Extra liner gloves from Burton make them super toasty. When it gets even colder, pop open a set of chemical hand warmer packs and stuff them in.

Lots of other special considerations for winter travel - the stove needs to be able to melt snow and not sink into the ground, the hiking/ski poles need real snow baskets, the backpack needs to be bigger, googles, facemask or buff, etc
My Stuff on Flickr

#45729 - 04/12/16 11:03 AM Re: Gear Rx [Re: Fishmonger]
rusty Offline

Registered: 03/27/16
Posts: 12
Loc: upland
Excellent reply!
I feel a little stupid. It never dawned on me SKIs! I'll need to look in to Ski's. I'll be honest I just assumed Snow Shoes. Will I need both?
As far as a pack, I have s few now. My fair weather is a GG Blaze and a Osprey Exos 48. I have an ARc Bora 80 and a Gregory Baltoro 70- but, these are heavy. I'm leaning towards packs half the weight. CCW Chaos, or Cilo. Ideas?

I like the way you stated the tent being a Safe Haven, not so true in fair weather. You made up my mind on that, 0 deg bag it is. Rab or WM? Also, I'm leaning towards a xtherm. I currently use a REI Flash.

I really appreciate your responces.

#45738 - 04/12/16 01:05 PM Re: Gear Rx [Re: rusty]
Fishmonger Offline

Registered: 01/07/10
Posts: 1034
Loc: Madison, WI
I have both, snow shoes and two types of touring ski. Depends on where and how far you want to travel in the backcountry. Terrain can be steep and not very much fun for skiing if you aren't a hotshot expert with a heavy pack on your back, e.g. Mountaineer's route up to Whitney.

I could ski segments of the Mountaineer's Route, but for me it isn't really worth bringing the ski gear to that place. I used snow shoes one year (big winter, tons of snow down to the lower parking lots, and approach plus up then North Fork was made a lot easier with snow shoes compared to postholing on foot. Ski may work in some places, but for much of that ascent we just walked on boots and higher up with crampons. Late in the day heading down things got real soft, which is when snow shoes help, but I still poked through the surface at times.

The main trail - again, on and off not really a place to ski unless there's a ton of snow.

Anywhere else, deep into the Sierra, long pass approaches and slow descents and ski are the way to go. Especially ski you don't have to constantly convert with skins (e.g. Voile touring ski with partial fish scale bases), which may not be fast and fun when you head up there for the skiing itself, but they work great to cover ground.

I have a Marmot 0 degree bag, I think, but have also used a Mountain Hardwear Wraith -20F bag. Now that one was far too warm even at 12,800 feet in a 50mph windstorm wearing nothing but base layers in the bag. It was bulky and difficult to pack, so I got the Marmot which was fine the next time I went up in slightly better conditions.

Packs - I use big packs and in winter they are barely large enough. My Gregory Whitney 95 is fine, but when the trip is longer, I may use the Gregory Denali 105 liter pack. My entire gear philosophy is "it cannot fail" which more or less rules out anything lightweight when it comes to critical items like boots or pack.

Winter packs need to be able to haul heavy loads in winter and you need to be able to fit much more stuff, foot, fuel, etc. I couldn't bring a 70 liter in summer, so your mileage may vary. I carry tons of photo gear and these winter tents, down filled sleeping pads, insulated layers of clothing, larger snow melt pots, etc.

If you have a 70 liter pack just try to pack a 4 season tent and a winter bag into it. You may be just about full at that point. strap a snow shovel, crampons and ice axe to it, a stove, fuel, food, a few layers of clothing, and you get the picture.

This image shows you what a smaller pack looks like in winter:

Winter trips are really best done in a group, not just from a safety point of view, but very much for gear sharing, as the gear is heavy. A shared 8 pound tent is always better than carrying a 5.5 pound tent by yourself.