Dec 8, 2008 at 3:33 pm #1232493
So, like several here on BPL I'm trying to figure out how to survive on a backcountry trip in the winter. I've received some great feedback on clothing and have compiled a unique laying system spreadsheet from my research and the comments of smart folks on this site.
Check it out here: GOOGLE SPREADSHEET
I'll be cross country skiing in temps peaking between 20-30 F and it will drop down to single digits (perhaps zero) at night.
I'll be honest… I'm probably taking more clothes than needed, so feel free to suggest any changes. I don't have much experience at these temps so I have leaned towards the conservative side.
I also would like to be sure and have dry clothes for sleeping. I plan to sleep in a MB UL SS #0 with a WM Hot Sac (vapor barrier bag), GG nightlight pad, and a full length Prolite 4 inflatable, all placed in a MLD superlight bivy, all under a MLD 10×10 pyramid shelter.
So would the system in the spreadsheet work for you? If not, what would you change… minus the ski boots I've listed a whopping 14 pounds of clothes. I need some serious help!!! (but don't kill me please)Dec 8, 2008 at 5:36 pm #1463050
You started your post with: "I need some serious help!"
Your list was – well – a little bit over the top. There was just way TOO much redundancy.
I didn't understand what the DRYING and KEEP DRY rows were for? THe ONLY thing in this catagory is ONE pair of socks and ONE pair of gloves.
Have you ever winter camped before? It's not like you can change your clothes. You should plan on putting on the clothes you will wear before you even drive to the starting point, and (except for a few insulating layers) you will wear it all from start to finish, NO CHANGING BASE LAYERS. Do you plan on having a nice little changing room? Like, two pair of boxers? You should plan on NEVER taking off your long underwear bottoms.
The key skill you should make sure to master is to manage your layers WITHOUT getting them wet. Unzipping your coat when appropriate so you don't over heat is important.
I work for NOLS and I teach 30-day courses in May in alaska, that's winter camping FOR 30 DAYS and I wouldn't let a student take this much stuff.
I also teach in the northern rockies during the winter months, two week courses.
Also – Have you read the book ALLEN & MIKE'S REALLY COOL BACKCOUNTRY SKI BOOK? This is a really good instructional, I recommend it highly.
You list tells me you are a novice winter camper, with unrealistic idea about what's required to stay warm.
If this is your clothing, I am wondering about everything else. Are you takeing too much un-needed stuff in the rest of your gear department? I would have to guess yes.
Please answer these imortant
a. How long is the trip?
b. How much skiing?
c. Where will you be?
d. What kind of team mates (Novice or advanced?)
e. Are you trailing a sled?
f. What are your GOALS?
The Integral Designs Hot Socks isn't really a true insulated camp bootie. But, it's a nice layer to sleep in.
NIX EVERYTHING BELOW:
Head – high loft balaclava
Head – windproof balaclava
Hands – vapor barrier surgical gloves (???)
Torso – high loft insulating / Patagonia micropuff – medium
Torso – midweight layer (you don't need 3 of 'em. ONLY ONE)
Legs – EXTRA underwear (???)
Legs – waterproof shell
Legs – heavyweight layer
Legs – midweight layer
Feet – water proof oversocks (???)
Feet – non wp trail running shoe (???)Dec 8, 2008 at 5:50 pm #1463054
Sleeping bag – MB UL SS #0 (Zero degree down – right?)
a WM Hot Sac (vapor barrier bag) I am not a fan of VB sleeping. Especailly when you have all those clothes. I wouldn't take it, but that's just me.
GG nightlight pad (+) a full length Prolite 4 inflatable
(GOOD PAD COMBO)
all placed in a MLD superlight bivy (bivys get frosty in winter, it might not work, the sleeping bag often gets WETTER with a bivy in winter)
all under a MLD 10×10 pyramid shelter. (THat's big, Are you alone?)
– – – – also – – – –
You have a ZERO degree bag, and you say the temps will be in the teen's – PERFECT for the job – right? … But then you have a VB liner and a BIVY? I'm confused? What for?
NIX the VB liner and maybe the BIVY…
I have tried the VB system for sleeping, and it just doesn't work foe me. I hate having to change in a cold environment. I prefer to wear a lot of clothes, and then I just get up in the morning – easy and simple and quick.
I suggest that you sleep wearing these items:
torso – mid-layer
Torso – high loft insulating
Legs – underwear
Legs – base layer
Legs – high loft insulation
Feet – insulating layer
FEET – HOT SOCKS (great winter sleeping layer!)
You'll have puffy lofting polly all around you, and you will be in a down sleeping bag. THis is a good combo, it seems to keep the interior of the bag nice and dry. The exterior will be a little damp no mater what you do. The VB, the bivy will both still create a little exterior moisture. THis is normal.
The best way to keep a down bag dry in the winter is to NOT use a bivy, and to hang it out as soon as you get out of bed in the morning, even if it's cloudy (even a dry snowfall!). A little breeze helps (don't let it blow away) too.Dec 8, 2008 at 7:34 pm #1463082
@hotrhoddudeguyLocale: New England
droping the windstopper bala, bring 1 merino wool top, dropping the cap and other one, In the same environment I've been successfull with merino wool midweight, R1 hoody (you could use a woolbase+beanie+balaclava and get a better setup), micropuff, rainjacket, and huge puffy from apocalypse design. You may not need the windshell at this temp, just the rainshell. The balaclava and 1 micropuff would be near as warm as the puffy I had, which was veeeery overkill, but that's also a good safety margin to have.
for bottoms get 1 pair LJs, softshells, puffys, and the powerdry. You can skip the rain layer (Bring them maybe for snow shelters though, and then change in your shelter once your done into dry layers, that's been the only time I've gotten soaked from the environment and not from something like me spilling a pot) and be careful not soaking the softshells, and even then its not a terrible problem, you can dry using layers ON TOP, like puffy's to draw moisture out
With the hands, you are probably good with the liners you have, the puffys, the VB, and thats it. You can probably take your hands out quickly for things that require dexterity, like lighting stoves, or fixing bindings and shove them back in the puffy gloves with nothing else. I'm a big fan of RBH UL mitts, 6.5oz vapor barrier with climashield in it, without liners its actually warmer and I was not cold at all below 0*F. ACTIVELY REWARMING HANDS is going to get you warmer than alot of gloves, swing them like your Pete Townsend to get the blood back in them, and often times that culls the cold.
You can get away with alot less layers on the feet as well. Sleep socks that stay always in your bag are awesome for comfort and warmth in the night. Apart from that you can probably carry 2 pairs of socks and be golden, especially with the VB liner thrown in. The goretex socks may not be that useful, because they may trap as much moisture as they keep out, so why bring them? See if you can get your pants to work over ski buckles and be your gaiters, and then carry boots, the tyveks (cut some foam warming insoles in there) and get some inner booties from somewhere like 40 below, Feathered friends, or nunatak.
That should shave somewhere around 5lbs offDec 8, 2008 at 11:11 pm #1463113
Mike and Johnathan – Thanks guys for the great feedback. Your combined comments (and a few additional tweaks have helped me drop from 17 pounds to 12). Minus ski boots I’m down to 9 pounds (for all clothing – worn and carried)! Much better… See the updated list here: GOOGLE SPREADSHEET
As you can tell, the closest thing to winter camping that I have done is tossing snowballs around in the backyard or shoveling snow on the drive. Thus, I thought I’d overshoot (apparently really overshoot) and get some help pairing this down. I have a fair amount of 3 season, multi-day, lightweight (not UL or SUL), backpacking experience so my other gear is looking good. However, as you can tell it’s the clothing, shelter, and sleep systems that I’m struggling with. Mike, I have your book on order and am excited to read it! I hear it’s a great resource. Here are the answers your questions:
a. How long is the trip? 7 days, 6 nights (the 5th night will be in a 10th Mt. Div. Hut, so a good time to dry gear out). The first 2 nights will be car camping.
b. How much skiing? ~5 miles per day (not increasing more than 1000 feet in elevation per day) We’ll have youth (scouts) along with us.
c. Where will you be? Early March, near Leadville, CO at elevations between 10-12K feet
d. What kind of team mates, novice or advanced? a dozen or so people, half experienced, the other half novice (including me!)
e. Are you trailing a sled? Nope
f. What are your GOALS? Have fun, learn how to winter camp, learn how to cross country ski.
I’ve deleted the following from the list:
The notes about “drying” etc…
Head – windproof balaclava, Outdoor Research WS Gorilla Balaclava – L – Black (3.10oz)
Hands – midweight layer, Patagonia Windzone Fingerless Gloves – M (2.20oz)
Torso – midweight layer, Icebreaker Bodyfit Midweight 260 Merino Wool Shirt(11.70oz)
Torso – high loft insulating, Patagonia micropuff – large(12.75oz)
Legs – underwear, Ex Officio Give-N-Go Boxer Breifs – L (2.95oz)
Legs – heavyweight layer, Simms Rivertek Polartec Power Dry (200 weight)(10.90oz)
Feet – water proof oversocks, Rocky Gortex – Size 9(2.60oz)
Feet – winter insoles, Toasty Feet(2.00oz)
Feet – non wp trail running shoe, Montrail streak – Size 9(22.40oz)
Feet – insulated camp bootie,Integral Designs Hot Socks (4.70oz)
Feet – overboot, Tyvek Boot – Duct Tape Bottom (7.50oz)
I decided to keep the high loft balaclava (since this is a great excuse to buy a piece of gear I’ve always wanted, and I don’t have a hooded jacket)
I want to try out the surgical gloved as an experiment (learned about it from someone here at BPL).
Double check my torso layers now… think they’d keep me warm at, say, 10F? Since I dropped the second micropuff and merino 260, I really think I’ll need the Patagonia R2… maybe not?
I also changed from the Integral Designs Hotsocks to the Feather Friends Down Booties with the EPIC shell (9oz). Lighter and warmer than the ID hot socks + the tyvek boot. I really like that the FF insulation can be removed from the EPIC shell for sleeping, but the shell can be used to walk around camp.
So regarding rain shells… you guys say nix 'em. My rationale behind keeping them was to wear over the Montbell insulated pants at camp. They’d also be nice if it warmed up above 32F and things started getting wet. Not sure what to do here… This will be my first trip using a soft shell pant so I still don’t trust the MH synchro’s.
So, bivys and winter don’t play well together? I was thinking that it would be a good idea since we were going to use a floorless tent. Of course we’d have our sleeping pads and some sort of ground cloth. Does the shell on the Montbell bags block wind sufficiently?
As for vapor barrier sacks in the bags, I’m concerned about loosing loft after 6 nights in down bag at 0-10F. In your experience, is this not a concern?
Thanks again!Dec 9, 2008 at 9:05 am #1463148
Now that you've answered the questions, everything is clearer.
"As for vapor barrier sacks in the bags, I’m concerned about loosing loft after 6 nights in down bag at 0-10F. In your experience, is this not a concern?"
YES! Don't worry, be careful! The bag WILL dry out – But, you need to be proactive. Just hang it up each morning, just 15 minutes helps a lot. (see the really cool book)
"Double check my torso layers now… think they’d keep me warm at, say, 10F?"
Yeah, sure. The ONE thing I "might" add to your list is a really big down coat. This is a nice way to just put on one big simple layer, and be warm. If you are gunna be looking after a slew of boy scouts, this may make life a little easier.
"So regarding rain shells… you guys say nix 'em. My rationale behind keeping them was to wear over the Montbell insulated pants at camp. They’d also be nice if it warmed up above 32F and things started getting wet. Not sure what to do here… This will be my first trip using a soft shell pant so I still don’t trust the MH synchro’s."
Soft shell gear is awesome! Most NOLS winter instructors and Alaska mountaineering instructors wear SOFT SHELL pants exclusively.
And – Rain at 10,000 in colorado in March?!?!? Oh c'mon. You should be more worried about meteorites.
Your LEGS list:
* Legs – underwear (ONE only)
* Legs – baselayer
* Legs – midweight layer
NIX one or the other above, no need for both, since you can't change in or out anyway.
* Legs – high loft insulation / MontBell UL Thermawrap (these are NOT full side zip, it' will be very awkward to change in the winter)
* Legs – soft shell (GOOD!)
* Legs – waterproof shell / GoLite Reed / NIX these!
You have TOO much for your lower legs. You WON'T be able change your pants in the winter with boots, so y'better have it figured out. I strongly suggest FULL-SIDE ZIP insulating layer (in extra large, so they go over EVERYTHING!Dec 9, 2008 at 9:41 am #1463153
Suggested style of winter FULL side-zip pants. Lots variety and variation.
COCOON SIDE-ZIP PANTS:
– – – or – – –
I have these, and they are AWESOME for winter camping.Dec 9, 2008 at 9:44 am #1463154
Mike, Thanks for looking over the list again. It's very comforting to have someone with your winter experience "guide" me on what layering system to bring along… I was able to visit with Igloo Ed as well, and he and you must have trained under the same mentor!
I'm going to add a hooded down parka (Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka – XL (4.1oz fill, +16.5oz), replace the capilene II l/s shirt with a merino wool s/s 190wt shirt (net delta +0.8), drop the patagonia capilene leg layer (-6.95oz), drop the rain pants (-5.95oz), and replace my high loft insulation layer with one that has side zip to easy getting them on and off.
Do you have any recommendations for a size zip high loft leg insulation?
All these changes keep my total clothing weight the same (at ~9 pounds) and improve flexibility…
Thanks so much!Dec 9, 2008 at 9:45 am #1463156
Sorry – you answered my question about the leg insulation layers while I was posting. Thanks!Dec 9, 2008 at 10:44 am #1463163
The COCOON pants are the lightest, but maybe a little thin for super warmth. But light!
The FF pants are the mondo creme-de'la CREME of the super warmth! Heavy, expensive but the BEST.
Shop around. THere are LOADS of options, and every company makes a similar version (patagonia, TNF, GG, Mountain Hardware, etc…) None of 'em "bad"Dec 9, 2008 at 12:47 pm #1463193
Unless you are going to stand around after the sun goes down, do you really need insulated pants?
I have never carried a pair in my few times winter camping since we are active most of the time during daylight. My trip temps are highs in 30s lows near zero farenheit.Dec 9, 2008 at 1:26 pm #1463201
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> Unless you are going to stand around after the sun goes down, do you really need insulated pants?
Have to agree here!
I don't need padded pants travelling – they make me sweat.
In the evening – into tent, and if necessary into sleeping bag on Therm-a-Rest. Then cook.
CheersDec 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm #1463228
John and Roger – Thanks for the input. I agree that while active and in a shelter/bag I wouldn't need puffy pants. However, since it's a Scouting event, I anticipate having some significant downtime hanging around camp.Dec 9, 2008 at 4:15 pm #1463239
Not sure that 4 ounces of fill counts as a big poofy parka. Check out the FF website–something like the Frontpoint has 13 ounces (mega warm), or Volant (jacket length) 9 ounces.
Also, since you're new to winter camping I'd consider not gutting every last layer that you can. We can all make recommendations, but your personal metabolism will play a big role. While you're learning how the whole winter camping thing works, it might be a good idea to have a safety margin built in. Especially since you'll presumably be an adult leader–might even need a spare layer for an unprepared Scout! Just a couple thoughts.Dec 9, 2008 at 4:41 pm #1463247
I chimed in wen I saw 5 mile days (short!) and boy scouts. Warmth is important when monitoring young folks.
M!Dec 9, 2008 at 4:47 pm #1463249
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I have Patagonia Micropuff pants with full side zips (a must). They are 2.6 oz/sy polarguard delta. They are on the heavy side, 18oz for size large (which are generously sized). You can find them on a good sale from time to time.
I prefer synthetic insulation for pants since I don't have the confidence that I can keep them dry. With these Micropuffs, I can sit on a rock or log on a CCF sit pad and not worry as they have reinforced seats and knees.
Montbell thermawrap pants get good reviews on this site, as you know.
I know that your trying to get rid of stuff but, I really liked your idea of an insulated balaclava. My head gets cold quickly so I made a balaclava out of left over nylon and Climashield XP. Weighs nothing and is comfy!Dec 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm #1463260
What I know for sure is the side zips that Mike and you suggest is imperative… The choice between down or synthetic is harder to make. Down would be great for it's warmth and compressibility. I'll be bringing a lot more clothes than my summer trips.
Synthetic is nice as insurance since I'm bringing a down bag and I'd be more willing to wear them while active if the weather get super cold.
The Micropuffs would be right on target for warmth, but I'm concerned the Montbell thermawraps don't have enough insulation given I'm only bringing a 200 wt wool bottom layer plus a soft shell pant.
On my GOOGLE SPREADSHEET you notice that I still plan to bring the PRO 90 balaclava.Dec 9, 2008 at 5:30 pm #1463264
I would consider using fewer gloves/mitts – if I take 10 gloves/mitts, I will return with 7, and only 4 will match.
I have tried the surgical gloves as vbl liner gloves. (I have also used neoprene kayaking gloves as well). I find they did not work very well for me – made my hands very wet from sweat, still conducted away a lot of heat. I have also used polypro liner gloves, and they did not work very well for me – they get wet once in contact with snow.
Now I use a pair of Gore N2S liner gloves – they are wind-resistant, water-resistant, and the (wet, PNW) snow generally brushes off easily. Better dexterity than polypro liners. 2 ounces for the pair, half the weight of your liner/surgical combo. MEC shows the N2S liners on their website.
I have also used the MEC puffy primaloft mitt liners – very warm and water resistant. And I used something similar to the Endeauvor overmitts (MEC Cypress). Good combo, but I found I was fussing over the combo – when I wanted to remove the entire combo, I would often just get the overmitt, and then have to repeat the process to remove the puffy liner. Why not try a pair of MEC Yukon mitts – primaloft insulation, gore-tex protection, tougher exterior, fewer items to fuss with, might weigh fractionally less.Dec 9, 2008 at 5:36 pm #1463266
Brad – All good points… and well put.
Here is what I'm working with now for torso layers:
Icebreaker Microweight 190 S/S Shirt – L
Icebreaker Tech Midweight 260 Shirt
Patagonia R2 (~200 wt fleece)
Patagonia micropuff – medium
Montbell Alpine Light Down Parka – XL (4.1oz fill)
Ex Officio Give-N-Go Boxer Breifs – L
Icebreaker Skin 200 Merino Wool pant – L
Feathered Friends Helios Pants (4.9oz fill) – L (switch to synthetic?)
Mountain Hardwear Synchro Pant
I'm not certain if I'll need a highly filled down parka (e.g. Montbell Alpine, etc) with the addition of the other layers. Perhaps Richard Nisley could weight in using his super cool regression techniques?
Also, I plan to be out with this system at (hopefully) similar temps at least twice before we depart to validate it works for me.Dec 9, 2008 at 5:41 pm #1463269
Steve – Thanks… much appreciated comments on the hand layers. The Gore N2S liners sound interesting. As for the MEC Puffys and the PacLite Endeavors, I personally like being able to layer my hands. There are times I want a thin liner with mitt level water protection (Say 40-50F and raining). A combo product does allow for this and they also take longer to dry if wet.Dec 9, 2008 at 8:37 pm #1463303
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
In summary, I strongly agree with Mike C’s recommendations that you take "a really big down coat" and "down pants". 1 1/2" – 2" of loft is optimal for hanging around camp in temperatures to 0F and making sure the scouts are OK.
1.5 METs is a typical metabolic output for camp chores and keeping track of the boy scouts. 7 METs is a typical metabolic output for low speed cross country skiing. The MET level, in combination with the temperature, determines how much insulation you require. I used the same methodology to calculate the required clothing insulation that is used by the US Armed Services. The row in yellow is the standard Extreme Cold Weather Clothing System insulation level provided to the US Armed Services. They specify it is not adequate below 20F for "Light Work" aka 1.5 MET. Their clothing issue averages .15 clo per pound of clothes as does Inuit clothing (~27 lbs). Using 800 fill down and light nylon, an UL backpacker should be able to achieve this level of warmth with about 2 lbs of high loft insulation.
For cross country skiing, after the temperature has warmed up to an average of 20F, would only require .8 clo. This level of insulation can be achieved with your base layer, light pants, and a wind shirt. It is the light work around camp, especially when the sun isn't up, where the clothing challenge occurs.
As a ballpark figure ~9 oz of 800 fill down is ideally required for each of the outer garments. To put that level of fill in perspective, expedition parkas average 16 oz of down fill. The Patagonia Micropuff (~.6 clo), the MontBell Alpine Light Down Parka (~1.4 clo), and the multi layer air gaps ~.6 clo) will provide ~2.6 clo total. Those high loft layers in combination with your low loft layers are adequate for about 20F but, not your target low of 0F.
Only when the MET level, activity duration, and effective outside temperatures are specified is a clothing recommendation relevant. For example, you can get by with just a ThermaWrap in combination with negative thermal equilibrium for an hour and not feel any ill effects whereas you could be hypothermic in 2 hours.
After about 2.3" (4 clo) of insulation your torso mobility becomes severely compromised. That is the reason it is not optimal to just continue to add insulation to your torso past this level. Insulated pants are the optimal solution when you need more than 4 clo of insulation.Dec 9, 2008 at 9:36 pm #1463319
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> for sure is the side zips that Mike and you suggest is imperative
Ahem – NONE of our overtrousers have side zips. That's deliberate.
CheersDec 9, 2008 at 9:42 pm #1463321
Ahem – NONE of our overtrousers have side zips. That's deliberate.
Really, In winter… why?Dec 9, 2008 at 11:01 pm #1463329
@richard295Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
I thought that my previous post might be made easier to understand by breaking temperature ranges and appropriate clothing into groups. The Feathered Friends clothing insulation can be viewed as representative of three low-end temperature groups or bands. My recommendation for your trip is the 30 to 0F band.
3 seasons backpacking typically would have a low of 60 to 30 F. Appropriate for this 30 degree band would be the Lightweight Series.
-Hyperion Jacket, Fill Weight: 5.2 oz, Average Weight: 11 oz
Northern climate winter backpacking typically would have a low of 30 to 0F. Appropriate for this 30 degree band would be the Midweight Series.
-Volant Jacket, Fill Weight: 9 oz, Average Weight: 22 oz
-Volant Pants, Fill Weight: 6.2 oz, Average Weight: 17 oz
Expedition environments would typically have a low of 0 to -40F. Appropriate for this 40 degree band would be the Expedition Series.
-Rock and Ice Parka, Fill Weight: 21.4 oz, Average Weight: 51 oz
-40 Below Pants, Fill Weight: 9.6oz, Average Weight: 30 ozDec 10, 2008 at 12:10 am #1463331
Brian, please update us on your experience. I am very curious to see how things work out.
One thing I will be trying this winter is replacing the puffy mitts with the lightweight vbl mitts sold on this site – I am hoping to take them down to 0F.
Hopefully my fingers won't look like RN's photo.
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