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Thread: Winter day hike pack contents

  1. #1
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Winter day hike pack contents

    As I consider it exercise until someone starts paying me to hike I don't mind carrying a little extra weight. This has been discussed and if you are compelled to link me to previous threads, that's fine. I thought (in light of the recent rescue) a re-hash of winter day hike pack contents might be in order.

    Besides the usual I carry;
    - a mummy bag VBL; a cheap, light emergency bivy.
    - a 2/3 length shaped ensolite pad
    - VBL socks for anyones cold feet
    - an Esbit Pocket Stove and small metal pot
    - a GPS, even if I don't plan to use it during the hike

    I am prepared to spend a night in the woods, or leave a hiking partner, in a reasonably comfortable situation. All the above items weigh only a few pounds.

    What else ?
    Last edited by Chip; 01-23-2007 at 01:18 PM.
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    Senior Member sleeping bear's Avatar
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    handwarmers
    down jacket
    shovel
    tarp

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    Senior Member cbcbd's Avatar
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    One thing I started doing is replacing the foam back of my backpack with my 3/4 thermarest prolite4 (I cut a slit at the inside top of my pack for easier access). I know it's not advisable to use blow ups in winter, but it saves space when packing (and when camping I use it with my ridgerest anyway), it's always there, and it's comfy on my back.

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    Senior Member Neil's Avatar
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    Has anyone ever put all their warm clothing on from their daypack and just sat around for about 30 minutes on a cold day? I have and I got cold in spite of layers of dry shirts and fleece, a down parka, 2 hats and a hood. I would hate to spend an entire night out like that. I have only carried a sleeping bag and pad once but maybe a good 0 bag and bivvy would be cheap insurance. I get the impression that only a few people routinely carry sleeping bags in the winter.

    I do carry a saw and birch bark but I doubt I could do much with it if I was injured. I'm thinking....

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    Senior Member hikerfast's Avatar
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    interesting thread. I was just talking about this with a friend. I have a 1969 amc guide, which has an entire CHAPTER devoted to winter hiking, equipment, and conditions. This guidebook takes a much more serious view of winter hiking than is taken now. It says people should carry a sleeping bag, in case of 'unexpected night out', in addition to stove, etc. Basicly, you were just about expected to have everything to camp out in the winter. At the time, this was probably considered common sense.
    I was thinking about why this change in attitude would be the case. I think back then, hardly anyone went out hiking in the winter, especially up the big peaks. The trails were unbroken, and it could take all day(at least), just to get up on a ridge. Having to biviouac or camp out could probably be a reasonable expectation to have to do. Nowadays, with the increase in hiking traffic, all the trails usually are broken out early in the morning, with smaller snowshoes pushing the snow down farther and more firmly, and the last few winters, I have been able to crampon up the high peaks in a fraction of the time it would have taken previously. This has led to a sense of security regarding winter hiking. Most of the time, this security is correct. One can blast up to a high summit, have much less fear of losing the trail than years ago, and blast back down in a hurry, especially if need be.
    The trouble is, you can stick your neck out so easily and high up, that if something DOES happen, you are way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, lost, without the equipment necessary to spend the night. Once lost, you are just as lost and in as dangerous a condition, as you were back in 1969. If you have to bushwhack, the crampons or small snowshoes you have, that are great on packed trails, are very inadequate for flotation in deep snow.
    Another thing,
    Years ago, people knew how to build a fire, and would build them when lost. Someone would always have a campfire going. I don't even know if people are carrying matches anymore, and if so, don't seem able to have the skills to start a fire if they need to in the winter, with wet branches and snowy conditions.
    I think more of this kind of thing(people getting lost, deaths or lucky escapes) will continue to happen if people are going to be hiking with the continued 'comfort level' that winter hikers have grown accustomed to, without realizing the conditions they can suddenly be trapped in if they get lost, pinned down by wind, or otherwise have to spend the night.
    On the other hand, hiking lighter enables one to go faster, and get away with it 99 percent of the time. It is an interesting debate.
    If anyone can get hold of the older guidebooks, or some other older winter hiking material, you will notice how much more seriously they take it.
    just a few thoughts while I'm waiting for my programs to run
    Last edited by hikerfast; 01-23-2007 at 11:57 AM.

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil
    Has anyone ever put all their warm clothing on from their daypack and just sat around for about 30 minutes on a cold day? I have and I got cold in spite of layers of dry shirts and fleece, a down parka, 2 hats and a hood. I would hate to spend an entire night out like that.
    A very good exercise: Using just the contents of your typical daypack and your normal hiking clothing, see how long you can stay out in your backyard (or wherever outside) at night. (You are allowed to go inside to pee, but nothing else. )

    I have only carried a sleeping bag and pad once but maybe a good 0 bag and bivvy would be cheap insurance. I get the impression that only a few people routinely carry sleeping bags in the winter.
    Back in my college outing club days we always used to carry a sleeping bag and pad on winter dayhikes. And if above timberline, a tent shell or bivy sack. (The group sizes were generally big enough to spread the gear out.) Somehow, I doubt if such is carried by many these days.

    Doug

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    Quote Originally Posted by hikerfast
    The trouble is, you can stick your neck out so easily and high up, that if something DOES happen, you are way the hell out in the middle of nowhere, lost, without the equipment necessary to spend the night. Once lost, you are just as lost and in as dangerous a condition, as you were back in 1969.
    I think more of this kind of thing(people getting lost, deaths or lucky escapes) will continue to happen if people are going to be hiking with the continued 'comfort level' that winter hikers have grown accustomed to, without realizing the conditions they can suddenly be trapped in if they get lost, pinned down by wind, or otherwise have to spend the night.
    SIGN ON POLE ABOVE KILLINGTON CHAIRLIFT:
    "The mountain will be as cold and lonely tonight as it was 200 yrs ago."
    Every time I read that sign I had a big chill go right through me, regardless of how many times I took the ride up.
    As I see it we have two choices. We play by the rules, and carry enough gear to survive a serious mishap, or we choose to take our chances, hike in comfort, and accept the consequences of our actions should there be an undesirable outcome. Hopefully we have lots of available cash stashed to pay for the rescue or recovery effort.
    I think if we can look at our pack contents and feel certain that we could survive one or more nights on that "cold and lonely mountain", we are giving ourselves a fighting chance if our hike does not play out the way we would like it to.

  8. #8
    Senior Member MadRiver's Avatar
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    This discussion dovetails into the light vs. heavy debate. As others have stated on this board in the past the argument goes, traveling lights “tends” to reduce the likelihood of any problems arising, yet if a problem does arise, you are screwed. Heavy “tends” to cause more problems, but having extra gear helps to handle said problem when they do arise. I have gone on several sites that make the same claim; all by the way tout the ultra-light perspective. Yet I have not been able to find an objective empirical study detailing what they mean by light vs. heavy. Is 20lbs light; is 25lbs, 30lbs, etc? Is it the weight of the pack alone, or are other issues at play. I would love to see a scholarly article that ties lbs to percentage of mishaps. If I carry 25lbs am I 10%, 20% 30% etc, more likely to encounter an accident? I do not want anecdotal claims. I want a scientifically empirical study in a peer reviewed journal that says at a certain weight your likelihood of encountering an accident goes up exponentially.
    What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Ok, I'll do lamb.

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbcbd
    One thing I started doing is replacing the foam back of my backpack with my 3/4 thermarest prolite4 (I cut a slit at the inside top of my pack for easier access).
    That's a great idea. I have to look at my pack to see if I can replace the pack pad with my ensolite and carry a 2fer.

    I don't care if threads wander, but rather than another debate about the merits of winter hiking (forget about SOLO ) I was hoping to get some ideas like cbcbd's here.

    I think you need a way to melt water, whether that's a stove or an emergency thermos with hot water. You may have finished your water by the time you're in trouble and melting snow is not easy without a medium to assist.
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    Senior Member Halite's Avatar
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    I carry a lot more concentrated calories than I would in the summer, such as cheese, chocolate and jello. That way my insulating layers--down jacket and pants, bivy or tarp and summer weight sleeping bag--will actually have some heat to keep in. I find once I'm low energy, I'm in a world of hurt trying to stay warm.

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    I ask myself how many things have to go wrong for real trouble to happen. If the answer is one or two, then I prepare for the worst. If a lot of things have to go wrong for life or limbs to be at risk, then taking a chance of going light might be acceptable. However, just like with deciding how much first aid kit to bring, I then ask myself am I prepared to help someone I come upon who is in trouble and needs help. Am I prepared to spend the night with someone who slipped, broke a leg and is stuck on the trail for hours or overnight before an evacuation can be carried out?

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    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MadRiver
    I want a scientifically empirical study in a peer reviewed journal that says at a certain weight your likelihood of encountering an accident goes up exponentially.
    Good luck, unless you can fund it...

    I suspect the definitions of heavy and light depend heavily on the current fashion, current gear technology, and how much of your [emergency] stuff you can get someone else to carry for you...

    One could also argue that the safest is bring so much stuff that you cannot get out of the parking lot. On the other hand, you might injure yourself just lifting it.

    Doug
    Last edited by DougPaul; 01-23-2007 at 02:26 PM.

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    winter dayhike pack contents

    In addition to other items, I like to take a non-breathable silnylon rainsuit. This doubles as a vapor barrrier sleep or hypothermia emergency suit, about 11 oz. My pack weight for a 7 d winter AT hike (PA--MA territory) is 28 lb.
    Walt

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    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whcobbs
    In addition to other items, I like to take a non-breathable silnylon rainsuit. This doubles as a vapor barrrier sleep or hypothermia emergency suit, about 11 oz. My pack weight for a 7 d winter AT hike (PA--MA territory) is 28 lb.
    Walt
    Care to share your specifics ? I'm interested in what you had for clothes and how cold you were prepared to go. I assume you did not carry a gore-tex type hard-shell in addition to the rainsuit ?
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    In addition to carrying hand warmers which were listed in an earlier post, I also carry toe warmers. An effective way to use hand warmers is to place them over your heart or kidneys so that the warmth is circulated thoughout your body by your bloodstream.

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