minimalism in winter
Feb 23, 2021 at 3:14 pm #3701132Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Changes Often
I understand that it “looks” miserable – but it’s really not
Okay if you say so.
I admittedly didn’t realize what kind of bivy Ryan was referring to. My bad. The one he’s using reminds me of my Montbell Breeze Dry-Tec sleeping bag cover. It’s WPB and weighs 8.2 oz for the Long/Wide. But let me pose this question: If you have to have a sleeping bag with more insulation (weight) and/or you need more clothes to keep warm enough using the thin bivy (sleeping bag cover), then it seems like the weight savings become less than it might appear. Just think how much more warmth a real bivy adds to a sleep system. And some of the hooped bivies set up pretty easy.Feb 23, 2021 at 6:31 pm #3701153Tipi WalterBPL Member
When I look at this picture I think about the jacket radiating heat and possibly melting snow on the surface—and esp any snow that falls at the waist getting sandwiched between the bivy and the jacket thereby melting. Snow is water after all. Maybe a short 1-2 night trip makes such compromises moot—not so sure doing this on a 2 or 3 week winter trip.
And then there’s the bugaboo of changing conditions. Here in the mountains of NC/VA/TN we get 2 day January rainstorms at 35F or wet snow blizzards or polar drops to 0F or -10F—something to think about when using a stand alone bivy.Feb 23, 2021 at 6:41 pm #3701156Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Very nice photos.
location, location, location. Looks like a lovely and well protect camp site. Trees are our friends in winter.
BTW I think I also see a plastic snow scoop sticking upright in the snow.Feb 23, 2021 at 7:08 pm #3701164
Here in the mountains of NC/VA/TN we get 2 day January rainstorms at 35F or wet snow blizzards or polar drops to 0F or -10F
Don’t we, though. I’d be afraid of a warm snap, and consequently sleeping in water… until it freezes again the next day.Feb 24, 2021 at 7:54 pm #3701310Christine HBPL Member
Both the little Sigma dome and the little Hexamind pyramid look great!
However, many times I yearn for the simple, fast, stealthy set-up of a bivy.
Those of you who use them in the snow, how much condensation do you get inside?
How do you feel when you use them in hard rain? I mean, getting pelted all night?Feb 24, 2021 at 8:02 pm #3701312rubmybelly!BPL Member
@sleepingLocale: The Cascades
“not so sure doing this on a 2 or 3 week winter trip.”
I assume you kinda missed this part in the initial post: “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.”Feb 24, 2021 at 8:13 pm #3701315dirtbagBPL Member
Uh huh… 2 nights it is just fine. No worries. If it was extended.. then the tarp would help.Feb 25, 2021 at 7:34 pm #3701503Diane “Piper” SoiniBPL Member
@sbhikesLocale: Santa Barbara
I don’t have much opportunity for snow, but I have done a lot of backpacking trips where instead of a parka I bring a wearable quilt. I bring it as a second quilt and stuff it inside my main quilt for extra warmth in winter. It weighs about the same as a parka. If I don’t mind looking like a fat person, I can stuff it inside my rain or wind jacket to wear while hiking if needed.
If you are looking at short trip where you can look at the weather report, the pocket tarp without the doors isn’t too bad. You can make a partial door at one end with your rain skirt.Feb 26, 2021 at 9:02 am #3701561HkNewmanBPL Member
@hknewmanLocale: Western US
One thing about a waterproof/breathable bivy is that feeling of “coziness” and the added warmth that made one too hot for my 3-season trips. Mine was GoreTex but pretty sure eVent is better.
Maybe some sort of light mid over the opening to ensure a dry entry?Feb 28, 2021 at 3:19 pm #3701899
Did a quick overnighter last night on skis.
In addition to my original list in the first post of this thread:
- sleeping bag
- sleeping pad(s)
- bivy sack
- mittens or gloves
- stove and fuel (or fire) + sparker/lighter/matches
- pot, spoon, and food
- 1L water bottle
- frameless pack
- kicker skins for the skis (which actually stayed on the skis the whole time)*
- snowclaw shovel (didn’t use it or need it)
- pocket radio (winter nights are long)
- water bottle cozy*
- pillow (nice to have but I could have improvised, but with a little less comfort)
- lip balm*
- snow goggles*
- disposable handwarmers*
- down pants*
- kestrel wind and temp meters/loggers
* = critical for the conditions I faced.
Temps were in the teens F during the day and below 0 F at night. Wind chill was the biggest challenge, at the high point of my route, the crossing of a ridge complex that took about an hour and a half, winds were steady at 30 mph and temps around 10F. That doesn’t sound dramatic, but it’s definitely “don’t take your mittens off and expose bare hands” kind of weather.
Night in the bivy was fine. The wind gusts flattened my sleeping bag, and you could definitely feel it. I wasn’t sheltered enough. I actually skied into the night, and didn’t camp until a few hours after dark. It was calm when I put the bivy down 😬… peak gust was 45 mph at my camp, but otherwise it was 10-20 mph for about 4 hours during the night. After the wind subsided at around 3 AM, I slept much warmer, in spite of the continued drop in temp to -8 F.
Woke up to some frosty condensation and a dusting of new snow, but nothing dramatic, and nothing was wet – nothing really gets wet when it’s this cold.
I wasn’t really wishing for anything else, and woke up this morning to wind and cold but blue skies with welcome sunshine:
Managing hand warmth was definitely the biggest challenge with this combo of temperatures and wind. It pays to have gear you can operate while wearing mittens.Feb 28, 2021 at 4:45 pm #3701923Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Managing hand warmth was definitely the biggest challenge with this combo of temperatures and wind. It pays to have gear you can operate while wearing mittens.
+1Feb 28, 2021 at 5:02 pm #3701926dirtbagBPL Member
Awesome!!Feb 28, 2021 at 7:11 pm #3701937Kevin BabioneBPL Member
@ryan – Can you talk a little bit about campsite/bivysite selection in those conditions? It was dark when you stopped, and pretty windy. Was the wind coming from just one direction or was it swirling around you? What made you stop there?
Being an east coast hiker, I’m curious about the thought process for site selection on a trip like yours. When hiking with friends we pretty much stop for the night at planned established campsites. Looking at the photo, your site seems to be more of an ad hoc selection. In those conditions what could you have done to shelter yourself from the wind more?Feb 28, 2021 at 8:07 pm #3701944
Three things I look at in terms of wind protection:
- macrotopography – camping on the lee side of peaks and ridges that are several dozen to several hundred feet high, to provide protection from the worst of the prevailing winds, which will away occur dozens of feet above the ground surface on the lee side of them.
- microtopography – small undulations in topography that can’t be seen on a map – those little 5 to 20 feet high hills and valleys.
- terrain features – mainly rock formations and trees, that can help break up or “spill” gusts if you camp on their lee side.
The prevailing winds were coming from the west (red arrow), and I camped on the lee side of a small ridge (gray box). When I crossed that ridge en route to camp, winds were blowing steady at 30+ mph. When I arrived at my campsite, they were 5-10 mph, but I could still hear it howling above me.
Then, as I scouted the area, I found a small hill (green) about 15 feet tall, upwind of my camp about 50 feet, and then camped on the lee side of a large ponderosa, just a few feet from the trunk.Feb 28, 2021 at 8:37 pm #3701947Roger CaffinBPL Member
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
We try to camp with similar protections.
Snow gums give good shelter, (but not underneath them). Ridges are good, but isolated rocks are not: the wind around them can be turbulent.
CheersFeb 28, 2021 at 9:38 pm #3701958
Ryan: not to drag out the tent question, but as you said that you were “fine” although you “[weren’t] sheltered enough” with the bivy/site combination, do you think that a tent would have been preferable in that situation, or could you have been more comfortable in the bivy with a slightly-better campsite?Feb 28, 2021 at 9:42 pm #3701959
Bonzo: A tent would have been warmer at that site. Finding a better site would have made for a warmer bivy. So the answer to your question is yes/yes.
When I saw the area in daylight the next day, I realized I could have walked another few hundred yards to the north, downslope, and tucked into a pretty thick copse of trees for even more shelter than what I had.
I actually passed a great bivy site, very protected, 15 minutes earlier, but I got spooked by a bunch of beetle-killed pines in the area. This place is well-known for falling tree hazard in the wind.Mar 1, 2021 at 5:29 am #3701980Kevin BabioneBPL Member
Ryan – Thank you for the detailed (and graphic) explanation. It really helps.Mar 1, 2021 at 7:18 am #3701993
This place is well-known for falling tree hazard in the wind.
That is not a good site, then. ;)Mar 6, 2021 at 2:27 pm #3702947Jim MorrisonSpectator
@plinyLocale: Pacific Northwest
I assume I need not mention a few essentials like tooth brush, map and compass, FAK, pocket knife, etc. Living in the Pacific Northwest, where it can rain occasionally to say the least, I always carry my WPB rain jacket and pants in winter.Mar 9, 2021 at 3:08 pm #3703453Paul McLaughlinBPL Member
In discussing what is appropriately minimal for a particular sort of trip, perhaps it should be part of the description of the trip that it is or is not a “big effort” sort of adventure. By that, I mean the sort of trip where one would, as has been mentioned here, ski on after dark – or even just to last light. The big difference that makes to me is that if it is a travel long and hard, lay down and sleep sort of trip, as opposed to a stop earlier, relax for a while in the evening, sort of trip, then shelter requirements differ. A bivy is one thing if all the time you spend in camp is eating and sleeping, and another if you expect to lounge a little. Sleeping in a bivy in the wind is okay if your sleep system is up to it; lounging in a bivy in the wind, not so much.
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