Podcast Episode February 14, 2019

Episode 8 | Winter Backpacking Skills and Gear




Today’s episode is a SKILLS SHORT where we’ll discuss the philosophy and skills of lightweight winter backpacking. This episode marks the first of our BPL Podcast Shorts: 15- to 20-minute episodes that focus on a news item, a piece of gear or tech, or specific ultralight backpacking skills.

This format won’t replace our long episodes. Instead, it will supplement them, so make sure you are subscribed so you don’t miss anything!

As we recorded this episode, a huge winter storm was rolling across large parts of the country.

So that made us think: how can we take the ultralight ethos and apply it to winter backpacking: a situation that usually requires more gear and a heavier pack?

After introducing the new format and the episode’s topic, Ryan jumps straight in: listing off the building blocks of a sub-15 lb two or three-night kit. You might be surprised at what gets left out!

From there, the guys segway into a brief conversation around the idea of minimizing inputs in the outdoors.



Ryan and Andrew introduce the new podcast format and the episode’s topic: winter backpacking skills!


The question is this: How can we create a warm and light winter backpacking kit that meets our needs in the backcountry? And what skills do we need in order to compensate for the things we are leaving behind? Ryan and Andrew jump right in.

  • What goes into our pack in the winter (base weight) and what stays out (worn)?
    • Clothing worn/gear used while hiking: base layers, wind layers, light insulating jacket, hat, gloves, socks, shoes/boots, gaiters, sunglasses, snowshoes, trekking poles.
  • What does that leave?
    • Pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, extra clothing, flashlight, food.
    • Shelter
      • Tarp it up, baby!
      • Guylines
      • No stakes (use sticks and bury them in the snow)
    • Fire Makings
      • Firestarter
      • Optional: hatchet, leather gloves, folding saw, durable knife
        • Why the emphasis on fire? What skills are needed to pull this off?
    • Cooking
      • Large cooking pot
  • So what does that leave out?
    • Stove, water bottles, entertainment
  • That’s a sub 15 lb kit!
    • With that kind of weight, you can start adding stuff back in.
  • Is this system warm enough?
  • What are the philosophical ramifications of this kind of approach?
  • Here’s a link to a trip Ryan took in SE Wyoming using lightweight winter gear – read the article or watch the YouTube video:

YouTube video

Feedback, Questions, Tips?


  • Backpacking Light – Executive Producer
  • Ryan Jordan – Director and Host
  • Andrew Marshall – Producer, Writer, Host, and Editor
  • Look for Me in the Mountains – Music

Support the Podcast

  • This episode is supported by the generous contributions from the following sponsors: REI, Hyperlite Mountain Gear, My Trail Co., ZPacks, and Mons Peak IX. Thanks, guys!
  • This episode of the Backpacking Light Podcast is supported by Backpacking Light membership fees. Please consider becoming a member which helps support projects like this podcast, in addition to a whole slew of other benefits!
  • In addition, some of the links on this page may be affiliate links that refer to our partner merchant retailers. If you follow a link and then make a purchase, we receive a small commission which goes a long way towards helping us pay for podcast production, hosting, and bandwidth fees! Thanks for supporting us in this way!


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Home Forums Episode 8 | Winter Backpacking Skills and Gear

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  • Author
  • #3578356
    Backpacking Light


    Locale: Rocky Mountains

    Companion forum thread to: Episode 8 | Winter Backpacking Skills and Gear

    Today’s episode is a SKILLS SHORT where we’ll discuss the philosophy and skills of lightweight winter backpacking.

    James Marco
    BPL Member


    Locale: Finger Lakes

    Thanks, Ryan & Andrew.  You describe a nice kit for winter hikes.

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