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Thread: Winter day hike pack contents

  1. #31
    Senior Member forestgnome's Avatar
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    preface: this is definately not directed toward any particular person...

    If a hiker is at any greater risk of injury due to the "extra" weight of a sleeping bag and pad, then they are far too weak to be hiking in the mountains. Of corse, there is a point at which pack weight will increase risk of back injury, but face it, basic safety items such as bag, pad, coat, etc. don't add up to all that much weight. The idea of this as "extra" in such winter conditions, instead of standard weight, is IMO just plain ole foolish. No amount of flaming will change that

    Happy Trails

  2. #32
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    I post a lot on The Lightweight Backpacker (TLB) at www.backpacking.net.

    This question, in one form or another, especially for winter hikes and camping has been an ongoing debate for several years. Most of the posters don't have the severe winter weather you guys have back East, even in the Sierra, it doesn't seem to be as nasty. I tend to agree with the "take enough to stay alive if caught out overnight" crowd ("benighted" as they say). However, it's hard to convince many people to take what they really should have. If I know I'm not far from the car, and other people are around, I don't bother with everything I probably should have-just enough to be comfortable for a few hours, if I got stuck. A shovel and emergency blanket usually come along if I'm alone, which I've only done a couple of times and not all that far from civilization.
    Last edited by TomD; 01-24-2007 at 12:53 AM.

  3. #33
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    Ah,.... to build a fire

    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish
    The "MacGyver" factor

    Second mention of "can you" -- I can't. How do you?

    Tim
    Wet wood is different than in the rain....though the latter is more difficult but possible too.

    It's all in the preparation.

    1) Start the preparation process at home. There are many good firestarters but my preference is cotton balls soaked in wax. They burn hot, with a high (4-6") flame and longer than those soaked in vasiline. They store well. Also, I prefer an adjustable flame lighter on a string arond my neck to keep it dry enough and warm. A second in the pack as back-up.

    2) collect, sort, and break-up at least a 1-2ft pile of various sizes of wood before you start. Select the drier wood from under trees, lower dead branches on the trees, etc. Peel the wet bark off some of the wetter wood. Store collected wood in a dry place (put it under your pack or a pine tree). Do not colllect too much big (over 2" diameter wood.) Of course you need some, but most of the wood needed in the start is matchstick size, pencil size and 1" diameter. Do all of this before starting the fire because a wet wood fire requires alot of attention and you won't have time to collect more wood until you have a mature fire with coals.

    3) pick a good spot. Shelter from wind and dripping branches (and rain if appropriate). Provide a good foundation - fires on snow do not work. One of the challenges. Plus give yourself a good spot next to it for sitting, laying down etc.

    4) Building the fire is essentially the same as with dry wood - positioning the wood for good airflow; adding wood on top to catch from the flame below....I cant teach you this in a posting.

    5) The flame will dry the wood on the outside of the fire so in general, you over feed the fire (put more wood on it than necessary) to get with the outer wood starting to dry. Basically you are cooking the wood first then burning it. of course there is a balance. All wood must be air spaced and the extra wood can't collapse the active part of the fire.

    6) You need more patience with wet wood. You need to give the fire time to do it's "work" When my wet wood fire fail it's because I'm forcing the process and doing too much moving around of the wood.

    7)In the beginning keep an small open space in the front of the fire to add your "good wood" to help the flame if it starts to struggle or if you are really having a problem, a second cotton ball. The good wood is some of the drier small best pieces you hold on the side. Obviously you need enough of these to get the fire going but you need to keep some in reserve. When I'm done with a fire there is usually a 5" diameter pile of pencil sized sticks I have not used. For wet wood, the good wood is a combination of matchstick and pencil sized wood.

    Most novices fail before they even start with inadequate preparation.
    "I've been kicked by the wind, robbed by the sleet, had my head snowed in, and I'm still on my feet, and I'm still,...willin"

  4. #34
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Thanks... Now I'm curious about building a fire on snow -- you state "fires on snow do not work" but sleeping bear says "am capable of making a fire from wet wood in the snow."

    I was aware of the fire starters described earlier, and it makes sense that they aid in drying the wood.

    Most places I've hiked do not allow campfires, legally. Of course, if your life is in danger I'm guessing they won't punish you too badly.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  5. #35
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish
    Thanks... Now I'm curious about building a fire on snow -- you state "fires on snow do not work" but sleeping bear says "am capable of making a fire from wet wood in the snow."
    You have to make a pad (wet wood will do) and build your fire on top of it. Otherwise the melting snow is likely to put your fire out.

    Doug

  6. #36
    Senior Member Chip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish
    Thanks... Now I'm curious about building a fire on snow -- Tim
    Another good multi-use thing to carry is a length, maybe 6' to 10', of a medium guage wire. This can be used for repairs, traps , bindings, etc as well as to make a mesh pad to build a fire on.
    Dead Last > Did Not Finish > Did Not Start

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  7. #37
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    Hi Chip--
    I've slept soundly at 0 d F in the following, each time in an open front AT leanto, once in a high wind blizzard at Wilson S in MA. The point of this approach is a body heat system, intended to assure that all clothing is dry by morning without recourse to fires, stoves, etc. So its mostly synthetics. Some of the stuff is custom or home sewn*. This is all from memory:

    Silnylon/Pertex Bivy/bag cover* 12 oz
    Primaloft Parka 34 oz
    Primaloft pants*, Pertex, 14 oz
    Primaloft booties*, 10 oz
    Primaloft mittens (insulated stuff sacks)*
    Polarguard bag, 2 lb (35 d F) North Face
    polypro bike jersey 11 oz
    polypro bike tights 9 oz
    Pertex wind shirt, hooded*
    silnylon windsuit, hooded, Dancing Lite Gear
    disposable poly gloves vb
    silnylon stuff sacs, vb for feet
    polypro long johns+top, 12 oz
    neoprene socks
    polypro liner socks
    OR fleece mitten liners
    gortex mitten shells*
    polypro bike balaclava
    blue foam pad + evazote pad

    The vapor barriers on hands, feet, and body and the stretch layers over them are really necesssary to make this system work. It is very uncomfortable above freezing. For below 0 d F, one must either dig down in the snow or carry more insulation.

    Walt





    Quote Originally Posted by Chip
    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 ?
    Last edited by whcobbs; 01-24-2007 at 01:52 PM. Reason: complete initial post (cut off by timer)

  8. #38
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DougPaul
    You have to make a pad (wet wood will do) and build your fire on top of it. Otherwise the melting snow is likely to put your fire out.

    Doug
    That makes sense. I've seen bonfires on lakes in the winter while ice fishing, along with the half-submerged and re-frozen remains of a fire, so I know it could be done. I've never tried to make one myself. I have used a LNG heater/stove and a Coleman lantern to heat bob houses.

    My fire-making skills are limited to charcoal grills, fireplaces, and wood stoves, where a propane torch makes an excellent (and low-smoke!) fire starter.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  9. #39
    Senior Member erugs's Avatar
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    I've just started reading a book by survival instructor Cody Lundin called "98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive." Have any of you read it? Seems that fear is one of the biggest elements in surviving a situation or not, so an important key is carrying the right balance of gear and attitude.
    Ellen

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    "Through winter-time we call on spring/And through the spring on summer call/And when abounding hedges ring/Declare that winter's best of all/And after that there's nothing good/Because the spring-time has not come... William Butler Yeats

  10. #40
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish
    a propane torch makes an excellent (and low-smoke!) fire starter.
    A little heavy for the backcountry...

    Paraffin soaked corregated cardboard, vaseline soaked cotton balls or dryer lint, esbit tablets, etc work and are much more portable. You can also make fuzz-sticks with a knife and an appropriate piece of dry wood. Liquid gasoline is lousy for starting wood fires.

    Not very good at this--I normally use a stove and almost never a fire.

    Doug

  11. #41
    Senior Member Mad Townie's Avatar
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    For fire starters, I tear the cover off a paperboard egg carton, tear the cover up and put it in the "cups." Then I melt some paraffin and pour it into the cups, being careful to have something underneath since the paraffin soaks through and can make a mess!

    I cut them into individual cups and always take a couple with me. They light easily, last a pretty long time and make enough fire to dry and ignite small twigs. Another positive factor is that they don't blow away very easily, although if a wind is strong enough to blow your fire starters away it's probably strong enough to blow your fire out. (Sorry, Doug, I don't know the math on that one. )
    Mad Townie

    Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary. - H. D. Thoreau

    Easy trails, nice days and comfort are good, too. - M. Townie

  12. #42
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mad Townie
    if a wind is strong enough to blow your fire starters away it's probably strong enough to blow your fire out. (Sorry, Doug, I don't know the math on that one. )
    Turbulent flow, etc. Probably requires the full Navier-Stokes equations. Too much for me too...

    Doug

  13. #43
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Where does one find blocks of paraffin cheap? I went looking once and didn't come across any.

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

  14. #44
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish
    Where does one find blocks of paraffin cheap? I went looking once and didn't come across any.
    Good old fashioned hardware store. It is used for home canning. (sealing the jars) I know there is one in Arlington, MA that has it.

    Doug

  15. #45
    Senior Member sapblatt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikehikeskifish
    Where does one find blocks of paraffin cheap? I went looking once and didn't come across any.

    Tim
    Isn't this the wax that you can find in a supermarket in boxes along with mason jars and other canning supplies?
    - Mike

    How bad can it be?
    Bobby

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