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minimalism in winter


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  • #3700498
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    I’m exploring an idea to challenge the ethos that “____ is necessary” to be safe on a backpacking trip, and I want to see what would be a feasible, but minimalist kit for, say, a decently long winter hike over the course of 3 days/2 nights.

    Excluded would be the clothes worn and footwear/traction used, since that’s going to be pretty weather- and snow-conditions dependent. That gives me the flexibility to spike packed trails, or snowshoe/ski deeper powder. This will likely be a ski trip, with lows near 0 deg F.

    Here’s what I’ve come up with for a minimalist kit so far:

    • sleeping bag
    • sleeping pad(s)
    • bivy sack
    • parka
    • mittens or gloves
    • stove and fuel (or fire) + sparker/lighter/matches
    • pot, spoon, and food
    • 1L water bottle
    • frameless pack
    • light

    Is there anything here you’d be comfortable omitting, or anything not listed here that you’d have to bring?

    I’d adjust the bag, parka, clothing worn, etc., for the environmental conditions, of course.

    #3700501
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Warm ski hat, for day and for bed
    Warm unused dry fluffy socks for bed
    Large plastic bags for footwear for putting at foot of bag to prevent freezing (warm socks and shoes in the morning at -15 C are wonderful)
    WP Mittens AND gloves
    UL (and I mean UL) snow ‘shovel’
    Cup
    Map and compass!
    Pillow of some sort: makes a huge difference to sleep
    Dark glasses

    Cheers

    #3700513
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    With just a bivy as shelter, I would add a 52″ X 108″ DCF Monk Tarp (4 – 5 oz) to employ as a wind break or as an overhead cover in case it’s snowing and you want to cook etc.

    https://mountainlaureldesigns.com/product/monk-flat-tarp/

    #3700525
    M. C
    BPL Member

    @bluemtns

    Depending on where you are going, here are things I would bring:

    Beacon/transreceiver, in case of avalanche, with fresh batteries

    Sat messenger for SOS, e.g. InReach Explorer/Mini with active subscription

    Headlamp with extra batteries – keep these and the Explorer close to your body heat to keep the batteries working.

    Purifying drops

    Map+compass

     

    #3700535
    Christine H
    BPL Member

    @purplebird7

    Balaclava for my face for wind chill.

    #3700537
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    Balaclava for my face for wind chill.

    Or just some kind of multi-purpose wrap/buff thingy.  I get windburned quickly so I have to keep one of these on hand.  I also like to carry a small tin of some kind of wax/lanolin balm, which not only keeps my lips kissable and soft, but works pretty well for keeping cold cracks in the skin at bay.  It catches on fire quickly, as well.

    #3700551
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Looks solid to me. Depending on weather forecast.. perhaps a very small, minimal silpoly or nylon tarp if chance or rain/snow. I say silpoly or nylon since they pack much smaller then dcf.. and since you going so minimal,  you will probably be carrying a smaller volume pack, I assume.  So for the minimal weight penalty, since you are already so low and saving pack volume.. no brainer for me. However, if the weather is going to be near perfect and no chance of snow or rain, and you have a decent bivy.. then skip it altogether.

    PS.. sleeping on the ground!!! Pillow! You need a pillow!!!!!

    #3700552
    Bob Kerner
    BPL Member

    @bob-kerner

    If it works for you, then it’s sufficient!

    Your post and your recent IG stories are interesting to me. They go against the common understanding that you have to carry 3 sets of clothes, 9 pounds of insulation and a full sized Coleman canister cooktop to survive in the winter. That was the ‘general rule’ when I was in Scouts, albeit a million years ago.

    I see two parallels: there’s a guy names John Barklow who works for Sitka. Former Navy winter survival instructor. His whole brand/message is “Know your gear by using it in various conditions.” Just building a gear list without knowing how it will perform in various situations is a recipe for sadness. Another guy, Steve Rinella of Meateater fame, just published a book and one of the tag lines is that people make choices based on reality TV, which always shows the worst case scenario…so they end up bringing stuff they don’t need or don’t know how to use.

    We spend a lot of time making and analyzing lists……

    Back to your question, assuming you’re including the 10 essentials, inReach Mini and toiletries the list looks about right! Maybe another water bottle in case #1 gets lost or cracked?

    #3700670
    Erica R
    BPL Member

    @erica_rcharter-net

    First Aid kit.

    Sunscreen.

    A few heat packs to ward off frostbite or hypothermia, just in case.

    Toilet paper.

    Some kind of backup in case you lose your sunglasses.

    Make sure you can start a wood fire with your stove/fuel.

    Those are the fears I would pack!

    #3700677
    John S.
    BPL Member

    @jshann

    Our last attempt at this and the Saving Ryan’s Privates winter SUL gearlist.

    https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/1435/#comments

    #3700679
    Alex H
    BPL Member

    @abhitt

    Locale: southern appalachians or desert SW

    John S.  I was thinking of the same thread from the wayback machine.

    #3700692
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    Some kind of backup in case you lose your sunglasses.

    I tether mine.  It’s not the most comfortable or stylish thing, but it keeps me from having to pack a backup and it’s lighter and cheaper than a second pair.

    Agreed on a small tube of sunscreen, though; I always manage to get burned.

    TP could be replaced with a travel bidet… 🤔

    I’m wondering about the bivy+tarp: is that going to be lighter than a very small one-person tent?  I don’t use any of those options, so I’m not sure which option weighs more or offers more shelter for the weight.

    Maybe a small piece of thin plywood/titanium/carbon for shoveling and stove-basing?  I guess you can flatten with skis… 🤔

    #3700707
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Presumably with a 2 night trip, you are trusting the weather forecast to be accurate. If there were any expectation of a snow storm, I would bring an avalanche shovel to be able to build an emergency shelter snow hole or snow cave.

    The minimalist 1 liter of water storage means you get up with only one liter of unfrozen water.  When snow camping in the Sierra Nevada, I personally do not like to spend time melting snow for water at breakfast and usually go to bed with 1.5 or two liters of freshly melted, still hot water.  The water is dual purpose since one bottle serves as a hot water bottle near my feet:-)). Once you break camp and start skiing, are you assuming you can take water out of unfrozen streams?

    #3700735
    Erica R
    BPL Member

    @erica_rcharter-net

    Right. If you find a stream you need a rope to cast the water bottle down into it.

    I’m good with more water too; I like the hot water bottle lots, but I like it in a sealed bag even more.

    I too was wondering about the bivy. https://www.outdoorgearlab.com/topics/camping-and-hiking/best-bivy-sack I see they weigh between 9 and 20.5 oz. At the upper end they weigh 3.5 oz more than my Prolite tent. I guess there are reasons to have a bivy instead of a tent I don’t appreciate.

    #3700740
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    Depends on the bivy. Some weight 7 or 8 ounces.. some weigh near 1lb. If you like to “cowboy” camp and just lay out in the ground.. bivy beats at tent.

    Add a minimal small tarp for coverage.. another 5 to 9 ounces and you still under 1 lb.

    #3700741
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    #3700812
    Diane “Piper” Soini
    BPL Member

    @sbhikes

    Locale: Santa Barbara

    A credit card. I don’t think I would like backpacking in the snow at zero degrees. Sounds really difficult.

    #3700862
    Christine H
    BPL Member

    @purplebird7

    If you wear glasses, many DIY face wraps will fog them up.  I use the windstopper balaclava with holes for eyes, nose, mouth.

    #3700900
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    Wind protection. Where I am the wind can pick up without warning, and it freezes far worse than the still air temp. Does your parka have a tunnel hood and fur? Fleece balaclava and even a down hood are good, as are down pants. A small saw is helpful if you need to cut larger branches for a fire. Dermatone to protect face skin. High calorie snacks. Can you guarantee that zero temp will stay there? I have minus 38F this morning! I like rental cabins with wood burning stoves!

    #3700943
    Monte Masterson
    BPL Member

    @septimius

    Locale: Changes Often

    With continued advances in tent materials and design, bivies are becoming more obsolete all the time. A quality winter bivy such as the OR Alpine for example, weighs at least 22 oz and that’s on the low end. By the time you add a small tarp for cover and/or a windbreak you’re approaching 30 oz. So why not just go with a breathable, freestanding 4 season tent instead? Take this Lightwave S-10 Sigma for example. It weighs 33.5 oz (without pegs) and is better in almost every way. I’d much rather do my winter camping in this thing than a bivy. Just sayin.

    https://www.ultralightoutdoorgear.co.uk/equipment-c3/tents-shelters-c25/one-person-tents-c74/s10-sigma-tent-p13727

    Man the dollar sure is getting weak to the pound. $1 = .71 quid

    #3700966
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    @ Monte

    In another post last year Ryan Jordan explained how for an emergency solo shelter, he had shifted from his MLD Event bivy to the 7 oz Zpacks pocket tarp with door for the very same reasons you list.

    So I posit that the bivy is on the list in order to align with the minimalist goal. Here is the URL to the pocket tarp. https://zpacks.com/products/hexamid-pocket-tarp-w-doors

    #3701048
    Ryan Jordan
    Admin

    @ryan

    Locale: Central Rockies

    The wpb bivy sack I’m using right now is about 8 1/2 oz. No stakes, guylines. Thinner, more compact fabric than DCF.

    I understand the bivy vs. light tent debate. If you’re looking at a bivy sack that “has structure” and “livability” features and … weight … and requires stakes and guylines etc … then I really do think you’re missing the point of the bivy and instead, spending weight on a really cramped, tiny tent, a market where there are better options.

    I also understand the benefits of a small, ultralight tent – the main one being livability, especially for multi-night trips.

    But I want to make an argument for a no-stake, no-guyline shelter that requires way less time and energy to set up – especially during winter. When you have to deal with frozen ground, or deadmen anchors, or nicely-spaced trees for guylines.

    A shelter that’s actually quite feasible for fair nights, and doable for a night or two of storms, if you pitch your camp in a protected-enough nook.

    I understand that it “looks” miserable – but it’s really not.

    This was in temps of about zero F.

    I stayed warm.

    I went to bed with damp clothes but I had enough other insulation to accommodate any evaporative heat loss.

    I pulled the bivy hood over my head. There was no drama.

    It was so easy and free, more so than a tarp or tent. I actually carried the tarp on this trip, and thought, “nah, it’s not worth the effort.”

    The big picture view of the mostly wind-free camp:

    #3701054
    dirtbag
    BPL Member

    @dirtbaghiker

    @Ryan.. Couldn’t agree more. Love the no fiddle no pitch real simple option. Think Im just gonna lay and sleep here tonight!! Packing up is fast and simple too.  That is a lightweight bivy you have. I use Borah Gear snowyside Event bivy and it comes in at 14 ounces, packs fairly tight/small. I would still carry a small minimal tarp.. though for 1 or 2 nights if you were sure of the weather you could get away with it with the right bivy. If it did end up surprise rain/.. in those temps, dry snow.. it would not be the end of the world. When its that cold, the snow is like powder and I wouldn’t mind a dusting to wake up to in the morning!!

    #3701055
    Bonzo
    BPL Member

    @bon-zo

    Locale: Virgo Supercluster

    Yeah, I’m too much of a pansy for that: I like my small tents when I’m hanging out in deep snow.

    #3701091
    rubmybelly!
    BPL Member

    @sleeping

    Locale: The Cascades

    So what bivy are you using, or did I miss it somewhere in the thread?

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