Sep 14, 2009 at 11:43 pm #1239348
I'll be moving from Alabama to Boise, ID in October. I've done most of my backpacking in the North Carolina/North Georgia/Tennessee area and along the AT, so I'm not super seasoned on hiking above 7000 ft.
Could you guys give me some gear recommendations/general knowlege/useful tips? Particularly pertaining to the winter months?
My gear is typical of a lightweight thru-hiker.Sep 14, 2009 at 11:57 pm #1527663
As you may imagine, a heavier sleeping bag will be of interest, I'm guessing.
I ended up in Wyoming(from B'ham), and I've found that a 20 degree down bag is good for 3 season work. In winter, I like to add a 20 degree down quilt (eg. Golite Ultra 20) to get through the night. An Exped DownMat or Big Agnes Insulated Air Core will make sleeping pleasant.
IMHO,Sep 15, 2009 at 12:19 am #1527665
Thanks man! Yeah, I'm headed up from Mobile. I've got a 25 deg. Montbell UL SS. I had been looking at getting a quilt for my hammock set up anyway, so that'd work great. I've got a BA Insul. air core too! Convenient!
What do you think about shelters? I've got a Montbell Crescent 2, but I'm worried about its "nonfreestandedness", as I'd imagine staking situations aren't ideal?Sep 15, 2009 at 12:39 am #1527667
For winter work, I use an REI Arete – It's 5 pounds, but does a great job in wind and cold. I haven't had any heavy snow on it yet. For the rest of the year, I use an old Tarp tent Squall, 2 lb, and does a good job.
Cooking is the only issue with these tents, I got a Golite Shangri La 3 for that. It has it's drawbacks but you sure can cook in it!
Merino wool is one thing I can't say enough good about. I swear by my base layers. I do like to sleep in different base layers than I wore all day long. It's heavier, but if I don't sleep good, why am I out there anyway (IMO)? I also carry a silk sleeping bag liner (3.8oz) That has saved my bacon a couple of times. I do sleep cold.
Have a good trip cross country, I think you'll love living in the Rockies!
Later, GatorSep 15, 2009 at 12:40 am #1527668
Also, I've found that a non-free standing tent is eminently doable out here, No Worries!Sep 15, 2009 at 1:00 am #1527671
I'm pretty stoked!Sep 15, 2009 at 4:16 am #1527679
> a Montbell Crescent 2, but I'm worried about its "nonfreestandedness"
The whole 'free-standing' thing is grossly overdone. NO serious winter mountain tent is free-standing. None. learn how to put in stakes – and snow anchors.
The Crescent is OK for mild 3-season conditions, but it will not take any significant snow loading, and will suffer a bit in bad weather as well. The sides (well the one to windward anyhow) will collapse down onto the ground.
CheersSep 15, 2009 at 4:43 am #1527683
Thanks for the response, Roger.
Would you like to make any suggestions? Any gear recommendations would be great!
– AndySep 15, 2009 at 7:45 am #1527719
Dave .BPL Member
>>NO serious winter mountain tent is free-standing. None.
My Bibler Eldorado seems pretty serious. Humorless even. Might go as far as to say stern.Sep 15, 2009 at 7:50 am #1527722
" NO serious winter mountain tent is free-standing. None."
I agree – the Integral Designs MK line is complete crap, not to mention every freestanding Hilleberg. Total garbage as mountain tents.
(riiiiight)Sep 15, 2009 at 9:57 pm #1527951
I'll be sure to check those out!Sep 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm #1527959
Would anyone recommend any of the Golite shelters? Specifically the Utopia or Shangri-La?Sep 15, 2009 at 11:40 pm #1527968
Dan DurstonBPL Member
I think what Roger is saying is that any serious winter tent needs to be staked to work properly. So while the tents you guys have mentioned are free standing, you would want to stake them down if a major storm was rolling in so they could perform as designed. His point is that these tents rely on stakes to function fully, even if they are free standing, so the user should know how to put them in.Sep 16, 2009 at 2:55 am #1527983
Dan is right.
I remember someone saying they had put their free-standing pop-up in a nice position and thrown their gear in it to anchor it down – during calm weather. But while they were off somewhere the wind came up, and they returned to their unstaked pop-up to see it lift off the ground and roll away.
They recovered the shreds and most of their gear in a canyon about a mile away.
CheersSep 16, 2009 at 3:02 am #1527984
> Integral Designs MK line …
I quote from the ID web site:
'In the event of extreme wind hitting the side wall, the tent is designed to flex and collapse so as to release pressure and minimize damage.'
Frankly, I prefer a tent design which does not have to collapse at all.
CheersSep 16, 2009 at 4:37 am #1527996
Chris TownsendBPL Member
@christownsendLocale: Cairngorms National Park
Yes, free-standing and wind don't go together! And wind in winter in mountain areas is usually pretty common. If camping where you can't easily stake a tent then you either need a tent with a valance on which you can place rocks or snow or guylines attached to all stake points that you can attach to rocks or both.
Last winter I used the Scarp I with crossover poles and the Hilleberg Soulo in severe winter conditions of high winds and heavy snowfall and both performed well. I staked them every time – on deep snow the stakes were skis, poles, ice axe and snow stakes buried horizontally.Sep 16, 2009 at 7:35 am #1528013
I know what Roger meant – he prefers tunnel tents as he has explained before. It had nothing to do with staking. I simply question why freestanding is not a good approach to a mountain tent, with which no completely satisfactory answer was given – again personal preference come into play here.
With respect to flexing – I agree – but the original statement was that a freestanding mountain tent is not a good tent. Which is incorrect (not sure how all of those Everest climbers survive with freestanding shelters). Roger just doesn't prefer them. I would also add that if there is an age old discussion as to whether tunnel shelters that flex are better than freestanding dome shelters that don't. I had a similar issue recently when two BPL Staffers indicated that 37 oz for a framed 59L pack was too heavy by BPL standards. Ironically, the discussion was on a gear list for a reasonably new person to backpacking.
Here is a video of some extreme wind / weather. From what I can tell, the MH freestanding winter tent is doing just fine.Sep 16, 2009 at 7:40 am #1528015
Chris TownsendBPL Member
@christownsendLocale: Cairngorms National Park
I've used tunnels and free-standing geodesic tents in severe winter weather and both have stood up well. The geodesics are more pleasant to be in though as they flex less. Of course in both cases the design and quality matter. There are poor tunnels and geodesics.
The strongest mountain tent I've ever used was a double A pole Phoenix tent with the poles on the outside of the flysheet. It stood up to winds that blew me off my feet and inside it was hard to tell it was very windy. However it was heavy (about 9lbs I think) as the fabrics were thick and the poles massive and also rather cramped.Sep 17, 2009 at 1:03 am #1528232
Sooo… Would anyone like to recommend a lightweight decently priced shelter that will work for Idaho winters in the mountains?Sep 17, 2009 at 3:23 am #1528238
There are a number of amusing videos on YouTube about tents getting wrecked in storms or bad weather. One which took my fancy was this one:
David is only partly right about tent design. A tunnel tent has to be staked at the two ends: without those anchors the tunnel just doesn't exist. I use deadman anchors for the two ends in the snow, and they HOLD. The side guys on my tunnel tent were actually only of limited function on THAT night – but I had very carefully pitched the tent end-on into the wind. Even without any side guys my tunnel was quite stable in the wind, which was gusting upwards from 100 kph.
I noticed that the guy in the video David referenced was standing up while digging out his tent. That's not so bad. During the night and in the morning we did not stand up while working on our tent: we were both crawling. later on we had trouble seeing our feet – which is how come I walked over a largish cornice.
> how all of those Everest climbers survive with freestanding shelters
Well, many of those tents do have guy ropes, and the guys get used. Without the guy ropes you at least have to stake the corners down hard. You just don't see the corner anchors in the typical Himalayan photo: they are often buried.
But many of those tents also weigh a LOT. The poles are huge compared to ours. With much stronger poles you may not always need extra guy ropes.
If you really want a serious tent for winter use:
It's made for the Antarctic… :-) The corner poles are maybe 2-3" diameter! The guys ropes are maybe 4 mm climbing rope.
CheersSep 17, 2009 at 3:48 am #1528239
Tony BeasleyBPL Member
@tbeasleyLocale: Pigeon House Mt from the Castle
>There are a number of amusing videos on YouTube about tents getting wrecked in storms or bad weather. One which took my fancy was this one:
This is a good one too, it could be called a storm within.
TonySep 17, 2009 at 3:58 am #1528240
Another very revealing video is this one, taken in Wales.
There are wrecked pop-ups and domes everywhere, including a sequence of one rolling off into the distance. Gear everywhere.
BUT: freeze the video at 1:55. You should see a quite large tunnel tent, properly pitched, and looking quite OK. It's properly guyed down. THAT is a tent …
CheersSep 17, 2009 at 5:55 am #1528253
@sprucegooseLocale: New England
>>Sooo… Would anyone like to recommend a lightweight decently priced shelter that will work for Idaho winters in the mountains?<<
Nah…we'll just post irrelevant YouTube videos.
It sounds like you've never been above tree line in winter conditions. You may want to get a taste before going out and spending $400+ on a shelter. Some people love most backpacking, but really don't enjoy above tree line winter camping. I know quite a few people who have used their "bomber" tents once or twice, and the tents sit in their closet forever after.
Apologies if my assumptions are wrong, and you're past this part of the equation already.
And if you're not gonna be above tree line, I think either of those GoLites would be fine…for me anyway.Sep 17, 2009 at 7:10 am #1528270
Thanks. While the discussion has been interesting… it was nice to get some feed back. Your assumption was correct. The winteriest place I've been in a tent was at about 6000ish feet along the Blue Ridge in North Carolina. It was 21F and pretty steady gale force winds. The Sierra Designs Lightning I was using at the time folded over on top of my partner and I. Since then, I've learned my lesson on finding proper tent zones and staking. That night was so miserable, it was hilarious!Sep 17, 2009 at 7:59 am #1528283
@sprucegooseLocale: New England
>>I've learned my lesson on finding proper tent zones and staking.<<
With the same knowledge, you can make many good "3-season" tents work in winter conditions…as long as you go in with the understanding that you can't set up camp at 12,000 feet; and that you'll have to be religious about keeping snow-loading to a minimum. Meaning you may have to get up every couple hours and give your tent a wack or two, at the least…possibly even getting out of the tent and doing some snow removal if necessary.
Many people use floorless pyramids (myself included) in pretty nasty winter conditions. They are very resistant to wind and snow…but generally offer no vestibule. They can be a very inexpensive way to get out in the winter, but they're no replacement for a true expedition tent.
Do you think you'll want to sleep in alpine (above timberline) areas? If so, you're probably looking at no less than $400 for a shelter. Are you ready for that? That's where I'd start. The answer to that question will dictate recommendations.
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