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Winter Gear Question Smorgasbord


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  • #3665851
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    A couple of winter gear questions! Looking for new perspectives, advice, feedback.

    Different scenarios, too—section hiking northeast AT & other long trails, 2-5 nights in the Adirondacks, etc. My comfortable min is normally -5F plus windchill.

    1. Are crampons like Grivel G10s or Petzl Leopard necessary if you got an ice axe, hillsound trail crampons (same as kahtoola microspikes) & snowshoes w/crampon (Lightning Ascents or Evo Denalis)? I feel like I only see ice slicks above treeline and since I learned to be more prepared I never really got put to the test.

    And someone told me 95% of the northeast peaks can be bagged with just my Hillsounds (they didn’t think the kahtoolas would hold up but I don’t think they’re very different at all). The ADK Winter School handbook says crampons are not only necessary but can’t be aluminum. I’d turn back before doing anything stupid, of course.

    2. I normally bring dry clothes for camp, but am I doing it wrong if I want to stay as light as possible? Should I instead just be moderating my exertion & adding/removing layers more effectively?

    3. I’ve been on top of the Greens, Adirondacks, & Catskills, but not the Whites in winter and I hear the wind is much worse there. Normally I do some combo of hat, buff, goggles, balaclava, and jacket hoods for wind. Is a neoprene facemask like a Seirus Neoprene necessary if I have all this other stuff?

    4. I normally carry two nalgenes and start with some boiling water each day. I normally keep them both in 40below bottle boots. Now, I own but have not yet used a chest pack (zpacks multipack) and also realized my wool vest has a perfectly sized internal pocket. Would it make sense to drop one of the bottle boots and keep the water on me under layers? Would probably encourage me to drink more which I sometimes forget in the cold. It’s somewhat inaccessible depending on how many layers I got on. Water wouldn’t rob heat if it starts warm. Would save a nice amount of weight.

    5. I saw a sale so I grabbed an Arc’Teryx Cerium SL down jacket and haven’t tried it yet, but someone said to me they didn’t think that was warm enough even with other layers for camp. I have been using a Marmot Avant Featherless and it’s been great. It seems fine? I have no context, maybe this is a “just try it” one.

    6. I was trimming up my first aid kit and realized I’m still carrying anti-itch, anti-diarrheal, and bugspray in the winter. I don’t think they’re necessary, but would you trim those? As long as I don’t forget to put them back for summer. Any other typical summer stuff like this you would trim from a winter first aid or hygiene kit?

    7. On that same topic, in winter I’ll normally carry a small (30g) ferrrod in addition to 2 minibics (not so good if they get too cold) & waterproof/windproof matches. I could just use the bic igniter w/the child safety off instead of the ferrorod but for the “10 essentials” I always feel compelled to have redundancy in winter. At least I always resist the urge to bring my sven saw hahaha.

    8. I got a whisperlite and I normally store the fuel canister outside my pack. I never know what to do with the pump. I just keep it in a snack sized ziploc in the same water bottle pocket, but I’ve read you can just leave it screwed in the canister. I just hate getting fuel on my stuff + I could drop the ounce of LAVA soap I bring as a just in case for getting that fuel smell out if I could figure this out. I should probably figure out a wood or alcohol stove at some point but that’s a future thing.

    9. I’m considering dropping the windscreen that came with the whisperlite for a MYOG screen made from soft tyvek (https://jwbasecamp.com/Articles/KiteScreen/index.html). Do you think this would hold up to the wind? I would probably use trekking poles + my axe to keep it secured, so three big “pockets” plus I’d sew them on with polyester thread. The whisperlite screen is SO strong though.

    10. I got vargo titanium nails for winter and msr groundhogs for when it’s not snowy or icy. Would you overlap or be redundant with these? I’m just wondering if maybe I should always keep a couple of both kinds instead of just one or the other. The groundhogs weigh like double though.

    11. What kind of electrolytes or supplements do you bring with you? “Oral replacement salts,” “emergen-C?”

    12. How much cordage do you bring with you on any given trip? Every survivalist sort of youtuber or blogger is all about how critical this piece of gear is but the only reason I normally carry it is to hang a bear bag and normally I bring 50ft of the Lawson Ultraglide 2.3mm. Is it something you see as necessary? I mean I have tape & thread for clothing & tent repair. I could bring like a couple feet for shoelace repair.

    Thanks for any advice & feedback!

    #3665861
    Kevin Babione
    BPL Member

    @kbabione

    Locale: Pennsylvania

    This post reminds me of Bob Moulder – he used to hike the Whites in winter all the time and could offer some great insight and suggestions.  Sorry he’s no longer a part of this community.  I’ve only done the Whites in July so I’m not worth much for advice.  I’m looking forward to reading the responses though.

    You don’t mention if you’re hiking solo or with others – I think that can change some of what you carry.

    #3665904
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    Oh interesting that’s unfortunate. Same, I am just really thinking hard looking forward to this winter. Good question, I’d say it’s 50/50 whether I’m alone or with friends or my wife. My job is constant interaction so I love to just disconnect, but I don’t do it for any hikes with any risk especially in winter.

    #3665905
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    Are you asking about two different use cases: peak bagging in winter and section hiking on trails?  Also, it is not clear whether you are travelling on off piste routes that might mostly covered with snow or routes with human traffic that might be slippery and or frozen from boot compaction and the freeze thaw cycle.

    I do not have any experience with Hillhounds socalled crampons but if they are like my Microspikes, they are traction devices for walking on fairly flat surfaces.  If you are ascending or descending steep inclines, and especially kicking steps, you need a real crampon in my opinion. One rule of thumb I read once, if the slope is steep enough to ski, you probably need to take your snow shoes off.

    The the aluminum vs steel crampon issue, if the terrain is not 100% snow and ice covered, over time like perhaps more than one trip, the aluminum points will get dull and therefore not bite into icey surfaces. Hence the recommendation of the steel crampon.  If you think there is risk of falling, and sliding down something dangerous, then you need an ice axe.

    You could search the web to see if your local alpine club is offering a course in self arrest on some local mountain. Then you will see the merit of carrying an axe.

    I also use the 40Below bottle covers to carry water outside my pack with the bottles turned upside down, since water freezes from the top. I also sometimes carry my water inside my pack in the Sierra Nevada winters.

    #3665938
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    The ADK Winter School handbook says crampons are not only necessary but can’t be aluminum.
    They have to be very cautious for legal reasons. But you will not be ice climbing with aluminium.

    I normally bring dry clothes for camp
    So do we, for both comfort and survival.

    Should I instead just be moderating my exertion & adding/removing layers more effectively?
    Removing layers – yes. We find most people are badly over-dressed, and sweating. Keep stripping until you do not sweat (except maybe on the face).

    One rule of thumb I read once, if the slope is steep enough to ski, you probably need to take your snow shoes off.
    Hum … I can ski on a 5 degree slope quite happily.
    On the other hand, if you want to Telemark …
    Snowshoes have crampons for a reason.

    I also sometimes carry my water inside my pack in the Sierra Nevada winters.
    We always carry our water bottles right inside our packs, next to our backs. I have never had them freeze. Fingers, toes and nose maybe, but they are not against my back.

    Cheers

    #3665958
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    Thanks!

    The use cases I’m thinking of are 1-2 night peak bagging trips or 1-2 weeks section hiking. I don’t think I’ll have time to through-hike until I retire unfortunately. And on established routes with some amount of traffic. I’m not experienced enough to bushwack—my only experience doing so was pretty stressful.

    So yeah I have slid before which is why I started bringing the ice axe, but I’m doing NO actual climbing, just getting past little slides on-trail or crawling up to the summit.

    In terms of crampon actual use—I expect an extremely minimal amount of use. I have been on icy flat trails and been happy with my microspikes (I like how you put it, “socalled crampons” LOL) and it’s only those summit-type slicks (which admittedly can be very long) or those slides that present a challenge. You could be kicking steps getting to the summit. I’ve had to turn back from a summit before because I couldn’t get up a slick like that.

    I’m thinking I’ll continue to bring dry clothes—definitely my preference. I do the thing where you start out feeling cold because I always find that by 15 minutes in especially once you hit any inclines at all you warm up super quick.

    When I was a lot dumber, I’ve had my water bottles freeze in the Adirondacks in my pack even up against my back. It was only one trip and I don’t know what I did wrong there. I was just thinking to save the bottle boot weight (it’s 4oz) by keeping one of my nalgenes in my jacket. It’d be secured by my pack’s hip belt, too. Just an idea, I haven’t tried it out yet.

    I asked my wife for the ADK backpacking class for Christmas :-) includes real ice arrest training. Hopefully covid doesn’t preclude them having that class next year.

    #3666014
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I do the thing where you start out feeling cold
    Good move.

    I’ve had my water bottles freeze in the Adirondacks in my pack even up against my back. It was only one trip and I don’t know what I did wrong there.
    That’s rather strange. Try again?

    save the bottle boot weight (it’s 4oz) by keeping one of my nalgenes
    They are very heavy. I had one which eventually shattered. Not good. So these days I use rocket-based 1.25 L fizzy water bottles. All of 38 g each, no leaks and ultra tough. They pass drop tests onto sheet rock with no trouble at all. And … they are free!

    includes real ice arrest training.
    Training? Before the need? Smart.

    Cheers

    #3666090
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    I normally bring dry clothes for camp

    So do we, for both comfort and survival.

    Question on spare clothes—do you bring spare liner gloves? I’ve seen in various gear lists that some do and some don’t. I just have some smartwool liner gloves and they’re pretty okay wet or dry. Even when they get sweaty my second layer (a simple fleece glove) stays pretty dry so I could always just slip that on.

    #3666148
    Tipi Walter
    BPL Member

    @tipiwalter

    #2—Dry clothes for camp yes or no?  Always yes for me.  Exertion can produce wet layers—but so can a sleetstorm or winter rainstorm—then your hiking layers are soaked.  Vital to have dry clothing once in camp.  Btw, Adventure Alan likes to buy his hiking clothes one size smaller to save weight.  Crazy.

    #5—Down jacket?  The bigger the better when temps stay at 0F or 10F for a week.  My current fave is Feathered Friends Icefall parka with 15.3 ozs of down fill.  Used only in camp and never when hiking.

    #7—Bics have never failed me even at -10F.  I carry two minis and one large in an emergency never-used container.

    #8—I don’t leave my MSR pump in fuel bottle when hiking as the dang on/off throttle will inadvertently open slightly and leak gas.  I learned this the hard way over time.  When packing up I put the pump in a hefty quart bag and use a regular cap for the fuel bottle as it doesn’t leak.  And not one of those new-fangled child-proof caps either—the old style.

    #9—No windscreen for my Simmerlite as I cook in my zippered up tent vestibule during high winds.  Sometimes I place my boots and food bag around stove to keep wind away.

    #12—Only cordage I bring are a pair of spare boot laces which doubles as a laundry line.

    #3666152
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    do you bring spare liner gloves?
    For winter ski touring, we carry one set of liner gloves, one set of heavy fleece mitts, and one set of GTX overgloves.
    For non-snow cold alpine trips we carry the liner gloves and very light overgloves, not GTX.

    The liner gloves are often sufficient, but the overgloves are the real saviour in bad weather – rain, snow or high wind. They are pretty valuable when pitching and striking the tent too. Trying to handle stakes and poles with utterly frozen and unfeeling fingers is no fun at all.

    Our UL non-GTX overmitts are there to keep the wind and rain off the liner gloves. Our hands might get a bit sweaty, but that usually means we don’t need the overgloves.

    Two Bics, yes, remote inverted canister not white gas, and always a good windscreen. There’s morning coffee to be considered, around 10:30, after all. Spare Spectra string, yes, but it weighs only 1 or 2 g. On the other hand, in some country we carry 20 m of 4 mm nylon ‘rope’ for use on cliffs. Many has been the time!

    Cheers

    #3666167
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    @ John

    Self arrest training before the outing. Yes do it. It is very fun learning how to stop your sliding. They also teach you how to do a simple stationary arrest with the ice axe in case you are on the middle of an ascent/descent and need to stop by placing the spike in the snow and holding onto the shaft near the head.

    @ Roger

    Yes I did not explain my self very well. In the Sierra Club we take newbies out snow camping who know a bit of downhill snowboarding and skiing on groomed slopes but tend to abuse their snowshoes and like to walk straight down slopes which is OK when the snow is soft.

    To restate, if the slope looks steep as your black diamond slope at Tahoe, think about side stepping or traversing.

    I do not want to go down a rat hole, but there are limits to the crampons on snow shoes and a lot depends in the brand and design. But when conditions are icey, obviously the best place to decide to change from snow shoes to the crampons is where you can safely do a stationary self arrest, especially before the descent (or ascent) gets steep.

    #3666172
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    if the slope looks steep as your black diamond slope at Tahoe, think about side stepping or traversing.
    Me, I’m a coward. I would go (not think, go) elsewhere!

    Cheers

    #3666212
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    Ah you are all amazing thank you for the wise words.

    Walter,

    First—love having run across your pictures & stories from the last few years. Great reads, thank you, also led me to your blog.

    I got yelled at about the Bics by an experienced guy, so I appreciate hearing that they have worked for you down that low. I was surprised especially if I planned to keep it close to my body or wrapped up in my pack.

    Great point on the MSR pump in the bottle. I’ve been wavering between bringing a heavy duty ziploc or risking leaving it in. My preference is always less risk, but I also don’t want to get fuel on anything (I tend to be a klutz if I get in a rush).

    Great point on the vestibule cooking. I like to boil & carry enough water for the whole day in the morning, but I was thinking about maybe stopping midday to boil more and if that’s worth the weight savings, and that’d probably necessitate a screen of some kind.

    I know there’s all sorts of survival situations to imagine needing cordage but anedotally & considering I got safety pins & tent repair tape, it’s hard to realistically imagine what else I’d use cord for other than 1)bear line or 2)shoelace repair.

    If you’re desperate for that last 10g of weight, I could see buying clothes one size smaller. As long as they don’t choke you out!

    Bruce,

    I’m excited to do some real training instead of this trial and error thing. I have been foolish in the past and hope I’ll be less so in the future hahaha.

    On crampons in general, I’m leaning toward always bringing something like the Petzl Leopards since they weigh about as much as the microspikes. If I have to wear them for hours like I sometimes do for the microspikes I guess I can look at them as disposable or needing sharpening/repair(??).

    I have another question, this time on clothing/layers:

    For my midlayers I normally do a smartwool vest covered by a marmot reactor jacket (polartec grid fleece 100% polyester). I’ve been reading maybe too much and was wondering what you think about replacing these two layers with a single layer of something warmer but more breathable like the Rab Alpha Flash made with one of these newer fabrics (polartec alpha?).

    This might be a trial and error sort of thing, but I know my current setups keep me happy down to -5F or so moving or in camp and I know what to add to go a little warmer, but I was just thinking if I could save 10oz without (much?) suffering, maybe it’s worth it? Talking specifically about while on-the-move, not in-camp.

    #3666223
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    Another additional clothing/layering question:

    All four seasons I normally wear smartwool 150wt long johns under marmot precip rain/wind pants. But I’m reading more articles on here—what do you all think about switching that bottom base layer to the Brynje or Wiggy’s or one of those brands of fishnet-style wool bottoms? If it really is just as insulating this would really improve wicking I would assume. And if I need extra warmth I would throw my wool sleeper long johns over top.

    #3666242
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    A third additional question: what temperature do you target for stuff like sleeping bag/quilt ratings in the whites/greens/adirondacks/catskills, AT/Long Trail, etc? I usually aim for -20F  in general just to be safe, but is that too much cushion? (bad pun)

    #3666257
    David Thomas
    BPL Member

    @davidinkenai

    Locale: North Woods. Far North.

    2. In summer, if you didn’t wear all your clothes at some point, you brought too many clothes.  In winter, I want more redundancy.  And comfort in camp gets more important because of the longer nights spent in camp.

    3. Neoprene face masks do work better in some situations than a buff or balaclava. You don’t need to get the $30 version from REI.  (Having kids on the ski team in Alaska), I’ve gotten a dozen off eBay for a few bucks each.   Although Amazon is a bit more $, their rating/feedback system is much better.  Lots of options in the $5 to $10 range.  The only time I wouldn’t toss a neoprene face mask in would be if I had a full-on tunnel hood on my parka and even then, what about a very cold wind-chill conditions but I’m exerting myself too much for the parka?  Then the neoprene mask really shines, just as it does during a nordic ski meet.

    4. (water bottles in your vest).  HDPE Nalgene bottles are great because they handle boiling water but any HDPE container will.  Look at hip flasks for carrying alcohol because they fit more comfortably against your body.  PET bottles (in 375 and 750-ml sizes) for vodka/rum/etc are free at the recycling center but only handle water temps to 150F.  My dishwasher gets a bit hotter than that, and while backpacking you’d need to careful to not pre-heat such water too hot on your stove.

    6. I wouldn’t bring the DEET, anti-itch or anti-fungal creams in winter.  Not sure you can rule out diarrhea in winter from contaminated surface waters or one’s own imperfect hygiene.

    7. I’d bring all those lighters/ferro-rods but would spread them out: one with the stove, one in the FAK, one on your body at all times, etc.  I’d also consider what fire-starter materials you have.  Tea candles.  A square foot of wax paper.  A few square inches of waxed cardboard from the green grocer.  Or, my favorite: a 5″x5″ square of waxed cardboard which doubles as a stove base and triples as a cutting board.  Remember your canister stove is great at getting a fistful of dead pine branches going – I didn’t that once after a kayak dunking on an Alaskan beach.

    8. Don’t we all store the MSR pump inside the fuel bottle?  If you fret about the valve getting turned, then put the whole thing in a gallon ziplock or cut a shampoo or hydrogen-peroxide bottle down into a slip-cover for the pump end of the bottle/pump assembly.

    9. The Tyvek windscreen seems a fun thing to play with in camp but nothing I’d count on.  Just bring a new 1 foot x 2 feet piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil for each trip.  Toss it at the end.

    11. I’m not bringing 100% fruits and vegetables with me, so my food has plenty of electrolytes in it already.  Too much, actually, but if you’re not salt-sensitive hypertensive, so what?

    12. Cordage is tremendously useful and almost impossible to substitute for when you need it.  550-paracord is classic prepper gear but I’m not a prepper.  5mm paracord is way more than I need or want for most tasks.    For almost everything, I use 130-pound test braided Dacron halibut fishing line.  Works for tent guy lines, clothes lines, lashing sticks together, emergency shoe laces and bomber sewing repairs to pack bags, webbing, and shoes (bring a “glover’s needle” to get through thick materials).  6 grams for 25 feet.  It’s too thin for bear hangs, – 2mm or 3mm is enough for that.  But aren’t the bears hibernating?  Here in grizzly country, I don’t fret food storage in the winter.  So for a summer trip, I’d bring one 25-foot length of that Dacron line and in winter, I’d bring 2 or 3 25-foot lengths, since I might be running longer tent guy lines out to trees and bushes, since I can’t use stakes in the ground and deadman anchors (while solid) are a bother.  3 x 25 feet = 18 grams.  I can send you some if you want.

    #3666273
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    I’d bring all those lighters/ferro-rods but would spread them out
    Absolutely.

    I’d also consider what fire-starter materials you have.
    Tiny pill bottle of Esbit chips also works.

    For string, also check out the kite shops. They are big into string.

    fishnet-style wool bottoms?
    They may work for a static situation, but when you are walking there is too much air movement around them and they contribute nothing (imho). Modern synthetic and fleece is far more effective.
    And when wool gets wet, you are in trouble. It can take 12 hours to dry, while synthetics can be functioning within 15 minutes.
    Got rained on once in the snow and my 300-weight fleece got soaked. I took it off, wrung it out, put it back on, and it was working in a couple of minutes.

    Cheers

    #3666298
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    Damn, David, thank you for all those tips & tricks. Wow.

    Fishing line is way lighter but more useful than I was thinking (already found it on ebay!)  Good idea on a different shaped HDPE container as well!

    For firestarters I normally just do the cotton balls in vaseline thing + stockpile dryer lint, but I like the idea of wax paper. And the cardboard idea is freaking top notch, so multi-use.

    I appreciate all the advice on every item, thank you.

    #3666299
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    fishnet-style wool bottoms?
    They may work for a static situation, but when you are walking there is too much air movement around them and they contribute nothing (imho). Modern synthetic and fleece is far more effective.
    And when wool gets wet, you are in trouble. It can take 12 hours to dry, while synthetics can be functioning within 15 minutes.
    Got rained on once in the snow and my 300-weight fleece got soaked. I took it off, wrung it out, put it back on, and it was working in a couple of minutes.

    So my normal all-year-round bottom setup is rain pants and lightweight wool long johns. from -5F + windchill up to 90F in the Lousiana swamp. Call me stubborn haha it’s just the been a great combination of breathable and water/wind proof for me. I run hot so it works in the Winter and most of my Summer sweat is my pits and head.

    SO I was thinking that maybe I should play around with this setup? I had never heard of this Byrnje stuff before and it sounds very interesting. IDK—air pockets just big enough for insulation but mesh so it’s ultra breathable? I don’t think I’d do the top, but would definitely consider the bottom, plus I would keep my other long johns (my sleep pair) to throw on top of them if I need another insulating layer while I’m testing them out. No idea! Just curious about anyone’s experience with them. I have both wool & capilene long johns I could try with them and from what you’re saying about synthetics maybe the capilene would be a better backup/sleep pair to have with me.

    #3666437
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    “5. I saw a sale so I grabbed an Arc’Teryx Cerium SL down jacket and haven’t tried it yet, but someone said to me they didn’t think that was warm enough even with other layers for camp. I have been using a Marmot Avant Featherless and it’s been great. It seems fine? I have no context, maybe this is a “just try it” one.”

    As Tipi says above. “the bigger the better.” You want your puffy parka to fit over all your camp clothes.

    The dead bird web site says the Cerium SL is “Lightweight insulation for winter pursuits” and “slim fit.” It might not be warm enough for a camp parka or have enough room to layer under it.

    #3666446
    John B.
    BPL Member

    @icehiker

    Locale: Northeast USA

    Thank you for that—I like my Marmot Avant for that reason! What do you think about my question about replacing my midlayers? It might have a similar answer hahaha

    For my midlayers I normally do a smartwool vest covered by a marmot reactor jacket (polartec grid fleece 100% polyester). I’ve been reading maybe too much and was wondering what you think about replacing these two layers with a single layer of something warmer but more breathable like the Rab Alpha Flash made with one of these newer fabrics (polartec alpha?).

    This might be a trial and error sort of thing, but I know my current setups keep me happy down to -5F or so moving or in camp and I know what to add to go a little warmer, but I was just thinking if I could save 10oz without (much?) suffering, maybe it’s worth it? Talking specifically about while on-the-move, not in-camp.

    #3666554
    Bruce Tolley
    BPL Member

    @btolley

    Locale: San Francisco Bay Area

    @ John

    It is hard to make a comment about your midlayer without knowing what your baselayer is. I personally wear a hooded Merino wool baselayer (a now discontinued Ibex Indie).  I am usually able to dry it out while wearing it around camp. But if damp I have a backup syn baselayer to change into when I go to bed. I find wool fights the smell/funk factor better than synthetic.

    I personally would not switch to one thicker midlayer but my experience is in the warmer Sierra Nevada mountains. Sometimes during the day when snow shoeing wearing a pack if the sun is out, I am stripped down to just the base layer plus a Patagonia wind shirt.

    I cannot comment on the polartec alpha but I wonder how one thick layer can be more breathable than two thin layers.  Especially considering the ability to take one of the layers off if needed.  But there are lots of Covid sales so maybe your budget can afford an experiment.

    My mid layer is a hooded Patagonia R1 fleece. If I need more, I wear a syn Arcteryx Atom vest that vents out its feece sides.  Some of the people in my snow camping wear their Goretex hardshalls all the time and arrive at camp totally soaked and do a complete change of clothes.  I wear the hardshell only when I need it to block windchill or wet snow.

    I think it was Roger above who cautioned about wool as a midlayer.  I know people who use it. And it was not that long ago the mid layer was a thick wool sweater.  Drawbacks of wearing synthetic down or real down as the midlayer under a pack are 1) compression which diminishes its value as insulation and 2) dampness from perspiration. So maybe the wool vest is the last thing you change if you find it works today.

    You haven’t talked about bottom layers.  Once again, my experience is with warmer, wetter conditions but if I plan to be moving most of the time during the day, I start with just two layers, wool or synthetic base layer under a softshell backcountry ski pants with suspenders. Around camp while cooking dinner and breakfast,  I put some old Integral Designs (now Rab) puffy syn down pants over the softshells.

    I also bring closed-cell foam to sit and stand on during breaks and while cooking dinner and breakfast to keep my feet and butt warmer.

     

    #3666558
    Roger Caffin
    BPL Member

    @rcaffin

    Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe

    Sometimes during the day when snow shoeing wearing a pack if the sun is out, I am stripped down to just the base layer plus a Patagonia wind shirt.
    Chuckle.
    See my avatar picture at left.
    (Light racing Lycra)

    Cheers

    #3666577
    Karen
    BPL Member

    @granolagirlak

    The only tip I have to add to all the above is to carry your water bottles upside down. I ski down to minus 20 F and that freezes water quickly. If you turn the water bottle upside down, the water near the mouth of the bottle will freeze last, so that if not totally frozen, you can still get some drinkable water out, plus you can add boiling water to the top to get it melting. If you use a tube, blow any remaining water back into the bladder each time you drink so that there is not water sitting in the tube; it will freeze right away. (Don’t share that water…)

    I had never heard of bottle boots; I have used thick wool socks, foam from old closed cell mattresses, and hand warmers. All will work for a while. Darn it, now I need to buy something and try it out too!

    I like to bring a large foldable bucket for gathering and melting snow if I’m renting a cabin. It takes a lot of snow to get a liter of drinkable water.

    #3666602
    Edward Barton
    BPL Member

    @porosantihodos

    Locale: Boston

    I picked up a tip on this site (from Serge Giachetti I think) to swap neoprene bottle cozies for lighter ones made of tyvek and Apex insulation – with a double layer of 2.5oz Apex, they’ve worked well for me with night temps down to ~5F. I make them a bit longer than my 48oz nalgene bottles, seams done with a bright duct tape for finding them in the snow. Finished with a roll top and kam snap, they are about 2.5oz each. I usually keep one hard and one soft 48oz bottle in each side pocket during the day in these. If I get down to less than 500ml I bring the rest into my clothes in the soft bottle. Not really sure if it’s worth the risk bringing a soft bottle, but with the cozy I haven’t had issues with them. I do find I drink more frequently with water in side pockets or in my clothes, which I’ve read is important in winter. I imagine one big supply close to one’s back, and a couple flask bottles in one’s clothes would work well too and maybe be lighter/safer. Because I can often find or camp by liquid water in the places I go, I like to have the option of the tyvek cozy and soft bottle which stays comfortable next to my baselayer and warms the 32F water over time. I’ve also read that drinking water this cold takes a lot of energy to warm in the body and should be avoided where possible – but if I can avoid melting snow I feel it’s worth it, especially if I can warm it slowly in my clothes.

    Re: liner gloves. My hands run cold so perhaps these aren’t for everyone, but I’ve had good luck with ‘pacer pole overmitts’, which are neoprene ski pole pogies. I’ve thought of making a version out of tyvek and Apex as well but haven’t yet. With these I either wear a fleece glove inside them or nothing at all. I still carry two pairs of fleece gloves, likely more out of paranoia and habit than real need with the pogies, though I’ve found sometimes I need to dry a liner pair in my clothes, eg if I fall in the snow skiing etc. I bring a pair of GTX overgloves for camp as Roger said above – great for digging out a camp spot etc. I could probably get away with these inside the pogies on colder days, but the feeling of dry, warm hands while skiing is hard to resist. I still bring an insulated mitt – the enlightened equipment apex mitts are great, but I rarely need these. The pole cozies are admittedly heavyish and a luxury in a sense, but they take up no pack space, and having consistently warm hands is a change for me. I could probably even go without the insulated mitts on many trips.

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