- Dec 4, 2014 at 5:57 pm #1323371
I am getting ready for winter hiking (new to it). I won't experience extremes below 5F/-15C.
I have used esbit til now, and my cook kit uses to weigh less than 3 oz. Very happy with it.
However, as I understand, for winter I need to melt snow too. So I thought about getting a Kovea spider (6 oz), a gas canister (7 oz) and an evernew titanium pot 1.3L (4.6 oz).
But that makes for a whopping 17.6 oz
As an ultralighter I can't get over that number. I want to lighten up. How?
Couldn't I use t-lights to melt snow? Or would Esbit do the trick for short hikes?(I will be out for 4 to 7 days max)
Aren't there any lighter pots out there? Beer cans are too narrow for snow melting I understand.Dec 4, 2014 at 6:15 pm #2154168
"Couldn't I use t-lights to melt snow?"
Tea light candles could melt snow, but you might need to carry dozens per day. Tea lights are not very powerful, and you need some serious heat to (1) melt the snow, and (2) heat it to boiling or near.
"Or would Esbit do the trick for short hikes?(I will be out for 4 to 7 days max)"
Esbit is somewhat impractical also. It is hotter than candles, but you probably want something a lot hotter so that it is quicker. In the winter when you are trying to melt snow, it is bad enough if you are using a butane stove or a white gas stove that is only marginally hot.
Now, I don't know where you operate, but it is possible that wood fires are permitted. Wood fires have a lot of heat, but that assumes that you can get to some dry or semi-dry wood.
Personally, I have never gone snow camping with any melt pot smaller than 2 liters. If I were forced to, I might try it with a 1 liter pot.
–B.G.–Dec 4, 2014 at 8:26 pm #2154217
Not permitted to make wood fire here :-(
I'm curious to your winter gear list if you have one, BobDec 4, 2014 at 8:43 pm #2154220
"I'm curious to your winter gear list"
I do not have any general gear list for winter. Each winter trip that I do has too many factors. For one thing, I do not try to go ultralight in winter snow. The other thing is that I generally carry a white gas stove for snow melting.
–B.G.–Dec 4, 2014 at 11:03 pm #2154240
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Go out and try it for ONE night. Then you will have a much better idea of what will work for you. And one night won't (cross fingers) kill you.
CheersDec 4, 2014 at 11:19 pm #2154243
In the event that the one night does kill you, we divvy up your gear.
–B.G.–Dec 5, 2014 at 2:29 am #2154256
Haha, now that would be a nice tribute :-D
I'll take it I have to accept the whopping weight increase.
But unfortunately my bad back won't carry more than 16 lbs.
My winter pack, with the kovea would be 11 lbs. With 3 days of consumables I'd be at the limit already (16 lbs).
Maybe I'll just have to accept I won't be able to hike more than 3 days in winter.Dec 5, 2014 at 6:29 am #2154276
Jim ColtenBPL Member
Go out and try it for ONE night.
OR … you can try things at home if you are fortunate enough to have your winter conditions visit your back yard:
You can test many things at home. Example: Could I melt snow using a bushbuddy wood fired stove? Answer: YES! But … Enough to keep me reasonably hydrated and also traveling several hours each day? Answer: Not so much.Dec 5, 2014 at 11:56 am #2154360
"as I understand, for winter I need to melt snow too"
That's a generalization which isn't always true. It depends on the conditions, such as:
1. Deep snow covering water making it invisible or inaccessible
2. Ice covering water making it inaccessible. Depending on how thick the ice is, you might be able to bring the right tools to access it. For example, is bringing an ice chisel a lighter option when compared with fuel weight?
3. Just no water other than the snow on the ground
You'll need to evaluate the conditions in the specific environment.
Jim's point about testing in the backyard is important. He personally bailed me out with his stove on a winter trip.Dec 5, 2014 at 12:30 pm #2154369
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> Maybe I'll just have to accept I won't be able to hike more than 3 days in winter.
Well, there was a lot of discussion about how far you could go UNsupported even in summertime. Roman Dial and Ryan had some maths for it. So a limit in wintertime is not unreasonable.
However, you have another option in wintertime: towing a pulk plus zero pack.
CheersDec 5, 2014 at 1:37 pm #2154385
In winter snow, you can get by a lot easier if you are using a base camp and not trying to move camp each night. In a base camp situation, you can construct an igloo or a snow cave. The interior of a properly constructed igloo will be very close to freezing temperature as long as there is a live human inside. It doesn't take a tremendous amount of sleeping gear to be comfortable at freezing point with no wind. Then set up your good stove just outside for cooking.
I dug a snow cave one time. I got all of my sleeping gear ready inside it. I fell asleep reading a book without completely crawling into the bag. Then I woke up in the middle of the night, and I wondered why I had not gotten cold. As soon as I walked outside, I was cold.
–B.G.–Dec 7, 2014 at 9:51 am #2154751
Thanks for the wonderful insights and suggestions, everyone!
I love the pulka idea, I'm sure it will be great in the north (Laponia), but am afraid it won't do in the mountains (Alps), right? Any ideas how to cope in the mountains?
I could dig a snowcave, that's a great idea too, I'll have to get myself well educated, it seems a bit risky, but it's very inspiring.Dec 7, 2014 at 10:41 am #2154759
@glacierramblerLocale: NW Montana
For what it's worth, that's the exact set-up that I use in winter, except that I carry a MSR WindPro II instead of the Kovea Spider. The WindPro isn't as compact, but it's an excellent stove otherwise.
Bob has me thinking, though, if I can get out more this winter, maybe a 2 L pot will be in order.Dec 7, 2014 at 8:51 pm #2154929
"I could dig a snowcave, that's a great idea too"
It depends on what kind of snow you have. In California, we tend to have very little powder snow. If we do get powder, it consolidates rapidly. Quickly we end up with what we call Sierra Cement. It tends to be better for snow caves than it is for igloos.
For an igloo, you want so-called styrofoam snow, because it has the texture of styrofoam plastic. It is better to be cut or sawed into chunks of the right size and then fitted together.
There is a gadget that used to be on the market called an Igloo Tool, or something like that. It required two people to use it, but basically it was a rotatable snow form to make a round igloo. It makes an absolutely fine igloo, but there is a certain amount of time and work to construct it. So, it is better for making a base camp igloo, and not a move-every-night igloo.
–B.G.–Dec 7, 2014 at 8:56 pm #2154932
In April one year, six of us skiers went out on a six-day ski tour over and back on the Sierra Nevada Crest. This was actually three teams of two men each. Each team had one two-man tent, one white gas stove, one 2 L pot for snow melting, typically one small teakettle, and one snow shovel.
–B.G.–Dec 22, 2014 at 3:33 pm #2158644
An alcohol stove like a Caldera Cone works fine for cooking in the winter. It would use a lot of fuel if you had to melt snow, especially if its for two people. If its cold enough, canister stoves perform pretty poorly to not at all. At that temperature alcohol doesn't volatilize either, so it won't start with just a flame. What I do is put a little alcohol in the primer ring, put a little piece of paper in the alcohol (like a paper match, or a piece of paper as big as a thumbnail). Light the paper, and in a few seconds the alcohol nearby is warm enough to volatilize, and the vapors catch fire, pretty soon the alcohol in the stove is warmed up, and catch fire. This process takes about 30 seconds, so its no big deal.
Put something under any stove, like a piece of thin plywood, metal tent stakes, a piece of bark, or a commercial stove stand, so the stove doesn't melt into the snow. I use a 1.9 L pot, or a 900 ml pot, depending on if I need a fry pan.
Put a little clip on the end of a sky/hiking pole, so you can lower a water container into a stream using the pole, to get liquid water. It might be otherwise out of reach, if the snow is 4' thick.
Of course, a gas stove like a Dragonfly is the blowtorch of stoves, and can melt a lot of snow for water, but its heavy.
blog post on this topic: http://backpackingtechnology.com/food-and-cooking/can-you-use-an-alcohol-stove-in-the-winter/Dec 22, 2014 at 8:40 pm #2158683
@bob, that was an interesting read, and ever since joining here I had always thought that if I were to "risk" winter backpacking I would have to take white gas. Still, any idea on how much alcohol it woud take to melt 1 liter of water (say near 0F air temp)? Also, any more tests on how low one could go with alcohol? Side question, if alcohol can be made to work, why not esbit (with maybe a cotton/petro jelly starter stuck t the top). Esbit has more BTU/gram, right?Dec 23, 2014 at 8:46 am #2158749
Don't know if it's been said before on this thread (only read a couple replies), but if you keep the bottle of alcohol warm, which is much easier to do than with a canister, put in in your pants or an inner jacket pocket or what not, you can use it down to some very low temps no problem.
The hammocker called Shug, did a trip last winter i believe where it got down to -40, and used an alcohol stove. He put the alcohol bottle in his inner jacket pocket.Dec 23, 2014 at 9:05 am #2158752
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
did he choose -40 because it's the same F and C ?Dec 23, 2014 at 11:11 am #2158786
John HigginsBPL Member
how much alcohol in winter is going to very, boiling snow down to a liter of water. the best way to find out is practice before you go(or day trips). i just got home from a trip in the green mountains vt. used a caldera cone on a 1.3 liter evernew pot. there are steps for better performance with using alcohol stoves in the winter.a few that i practice are using body heat to warm the alcohol and the stove. the stove and the bottle of alcohol(heet in yellow bottle)goes inside jacket pocket or fleece pocket 30 minutes – 1 hour before boiling snow down. i collect a heaping pot full of clean snow plus a half pots worth of snow in another pan or container etc.,with everything ready to go. i light the stove and put the heaping pot on the stove. now another important step DON"T FINISH YOUR WATER BEFORE MAKING MORE. take the few ounces of water left in your water bottle and trickle it over the heaping pile of snow in your pot that's already on the burning stove. this will speed up the process of melting snow down and use less fuel. put your lid on your pot, after trickling water over heaping pot of snow, witch at this point not so heaping. a few minutes in, add reserve snow to the mix(the heaping pot of snow will give you about half a pot of water). the reserve snow added half way threw the boil will give you about a full pot of water. i was getting about 1 liter +/- to 1oz +/-of heet just up to a boil using this process in my cook kit. but i would always carry more fuel then needed and have never been out more then 3 days without resupply. also using insulated water bottles and made reflectix pot cozy but that's another part of many winter backpacking practices to look into.Dec 23, 2014 at 11:18 am #2158788
Richard MayBPL Member
@richardmLocale: Nature Deficit Disorder
i was getting about 1 liter +/- to 1oz +/-of heet just up to a boil using this process in my cook kit.
That sounds impressive.
Adding water to the snow creates steam which is better at melting snow than plain hot air, at least that's my understanding.Dec 23, 2014 at 11:52 am #2158792
"Adding water to the snow creates steam which is better at melting snow than plain hot air, at least that's my understanding."
Adding water to the snow is important. It sinks to the bottom of the snow to keep it in contact with the hot bottom of the melt pot. Then the snow melts predictably. If you don't add water, the bottom fraction of an inch of the snow will melt and then vaporize, leaving an air space between the melt pot and the snow. That doesn't work good. The melt pot gets incredibly hot, yet the snow is not melting very fast, so it is not energy efficient.
–B.G.–Dec 23, 2014 at 12:08 pm #2158793
Richard MayBPL Member
@richardmLocale: Nature Deficit Disorder
I knew there was a better explanation. Thanks Bob.Dec 23, 2014 at 1:16 pm #2158810
I don't have exact figures on how much alcohol it would take in the winter to melt snow for a liter of water. If I were to guess, I'd guess 2 oz. It would depend on the type of snow, temperature, and shielding from wind and heat loss. That is why the Caldera Cone is so nice, because it traps heat against the pot pretty well.
The solid fuel should work just fine, but would need a tray to keep it from melting into the snow. Again a windscreen or Caldera cone would increase efficiency.Dec 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm #2158814
I know on the Traildesigns site they have a bunch of photos in the gallery, of cold weather use of their set ups. One shows it in use at -29 F, another is my picture showing it in use at 7 F. Once it gets going, I think alcohol will always work, just like white gas.
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