Winter gear list critique

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spencer said:
I find poles to be horrendous while bushwhacking. I rarely find I want them and when you stow them they end up getting caught on everything imaginable.

Spencer, at your age I never used them either, but in my advanced dotage I use one all the time, it's worth the aggravation for me. Like everything else, it's a tradeoff.
spencer said:
You bushwhack with a Z and haven't shredded it yet? Isn't that the sil-nylon one? I like the idea of the pack but never got too interested b/c I need something that stands up to the thrashing that you know well. Does it really stand up to the abuse?
I believe their G pack is the sil-nylon one. The Z version is made of a tougher material. I’ve used mine since summer, on probably 40 ‘whacks, without issue. YMMV.

spencer said:
I find poles to be horrendous while bushwhacking. I rarely find I want them and when you stow them they end up getting caught on everything imaginable.
I only use poles in the winter. Two for trailed peaks, only one for bushwhackin’
spencer said:
I can't recall ever wanting crampons while bushwhacking but I suppose if you don't ever want to have to adjust your kit based on terrain then you need to include them.
I leave the house with crampons and snowshoes strapped to my pack. I’ll leave either one in the trunk (shhhhhhhhh don’t tell anyone) if I don't think I'll need them.
spencer said:
The sense of adventure is the most important thing to carry! The less you carry, the more you need it...
Three life essentials… Map, compass, and a sense of adventure!

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Great thread so far. My list is much the same as mentioned above.

Does anyone carry rope or cord? I have about 40m of 3mm cord that I carry when I go above treeline in the case that visibility is bad to nonexistant.
jbreen said:
For the snowshoe repair kit, I carry five plastic zip ties (about 12 inches long) that I believe I read about here.

Second the Zip ties, too!!! Forgot about them. Go with the white ones. The black ones are often too brittle and stand a better chance of breaking when it's cold.

I keep 50 feet of nylon cord in the pack. might need a splint, repair gear. one time my pack frame broke and i used it, what a relief that was. one thing i have found real handy was this roll of about 5 feet of velcro I got at EMS. you can cut off the size you need. i found this perfect for attached things to my pack, etc. the roll is tiny and hardly weighs a thing. its nice to cut off the exact size i want.
comments....and reasons

Here are some of the differences, tough there are more similarities in my equipment.

2 contractor grade 33 gal plastic bags. One as a sack and the other as a poncho. Excellent waterproofness for an emergency bivy and I will not hesitate in giving them away to an injured or hypothermic hiker unlike my good gear.

little stuff: sunglasses, sunscreen chapstick, shoe lace, 2 pieces of 4mm x 15 ft climbing utility cord (rated to 400lbs), pencil (to sign in those pencilless canisters), dental floss and pre-threaded needle, extra needels, extra batteries instead of headlamp (though I respect your decision here), LED pinch light, rain cover, 2 sets handwarmers, small stub candle (excellent for morale when things go really bad.)

I've used the cord to build a litter and evac a hiker with a broken leg.
I've used the floss to sew up 2 peoples pants - one split the seam for the full length of the leg, the other had a side zip blow out. Also sewed a pack strap back onto the pack. That's a story.
I've recently stopped carrying the rain cover on colder hikes.
I also carry LLBean primaloft pants with full side zips.
Definitely redundant maps on a whack, at least 3 if I'm solo.
I also have my wallet, keys, and usually my cell phone so it doesn't get stolen from the car.

A litttle story about having 2 compasses. When you bushwhack alone, it could be life or death to have a back-up as they can get lost. I've seen the center part come out of the baseplate. Look down and there's no compass in your compass. On a remote 3ker in the dacks a quick survey of Sue Eilers, Dennis Crispo, and myself uncovered the fact that we had 7 compasses and 4 altimeters between us. We were all in the habit of bushwhacking solo.

Lastly, I'm guessing you might be over prepared on the handwear. Of course this is difficult to tell because everyone has different hand characteristics. I'd survey how many times all the gloves and mits are used.

I usually start with one set of Mechanic's gloves to wear alone as these replaced my habit of hiking in just liners because they are more durable. When these get wet I have a second pair. Then I have a pair of Smartwool gloves (a little thicker than polypro liners) that I wear with mitten shells. I'll use these instead or after the first pair on mechanics gloves when it's colder or wetter. Then I have the really thick double fleece lined mitten shells. These are my back-up for when all else fails. I go to the back-up about 5% of the time and this is usually when everthing else is wet. It's a good ballance. I don't carry too much unused gear.

Lastly, I carry my zipties by weaving them through the lacing on my sherpas. That way I never carry my snowshoe repair material when I don't hve my snowshoes. :cool:
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Thanks John, lots of food for thought in your post. Lot’s of food for thought from everyone in this thread!

John H Swanson said:
A litttle story about having 2 compasses.
Back in my pre-3k days I was ‘whackin PATN with Papa Bear. After an especially thick spruce-push I looked at my compass to verify direction of travel only to see an empty base plate. The compass part of my compass was gone! I showed it to Papa Bear who then asked “where’s your backup?” My reply was “you”. Since then I’ve carried 2 compasses. Maybe I’ll be proactive and stow away an additional map, too.

Vapor barrier for hands

I sweat a lot going up, including my hands, and have found that my gloves get wet from the inside. I carry, and sometimes use, vinyl or latex medical-type gloves as a vapor barrier. They keep the glove insulation dry and my hands warmer. When you take them off, my hands are wet, so I look for a wind-protected spot so I can dry my hands before they ice up.

If I were stuck out late or overmnight, I think they would be a big plus under glove liners and mittens.
dclynch said:
I carry, and sometimes use, vinyl or latex medical-type gloves as a vapor barrier. They keep the glove insulation dry and my hands warmer. When you take them off, my hands are wet, so I look for a wind-protected spot so I can dry my hands before they ice up.
Did that once, years ago. Soaked my sleeves with sweat from wrists to elbows. :eek: That was the end of VB gloves for me.
Right down at the bottom of my pack is my best Christmas present ever, a Marmot 8000M parka. This thing is unreal, combination jacket, half bag, bivy. It is a nice feeling knowing it's there.
I carry many of the same things as is listed here. I would add one additional thing (which I consider one of the most valuable pieces of emergency equipment I carry). I cary a thin ensolite pad. It can be cut for splitting purposes or for an insulation layer. It can also cut heat loss from sitting/lying on the ground.

I also carry 8X10 tarp for shelter or for rigging into a sled/litter if needed.
A couple of things I would add..

I see some potentially dangerous omissions namely a bivy sac, a piece of insulating foam pad a metal mug (to heat water in directly) and a light weight stove.

If you should get hurt and need to wait for rescue the snow is very cold to sit in! I use a 3/4 length ridge rest, the length of at least my head and torso, and carry a very light Bibler bivy sack. You might also want to use lithium batteries in the head lamps as they are less affected by cold than alkalines.

A stove and titanium mug can be a life saver to heat your body when you get hypothermic. A titanum mug can be put directly on the stove omitting the weight of a pot or cook kit. There is no substitute for warm liquid! We are talking about less than 3lbs of additional gear that truly could save your life.

I'd loose the GPS and beef up your plotting skills with the compass this will save unnecessary weight too. Four pairs of mittens? One pair wool, one fleece and one W/B over mit should be more than enough. Take your pick of either the down or prima loft jackets but you really don't need both. If it were me it would be the down jacket! Both a face mask and a balclava seem like over kill to me as well. Cut this weight and you'll save enough to add the stuff that will actually save your life if needed.

Just carrying a bivy sack and not insulating your body from the snow with a foam insulating pad makes the bivy minimally effective at best and sitting on your pack is not an effective way of insulating yourself from the snow..

One other item that comes in handy can be a whistle...

Man I need to get out more haven't been mountain climbing once yet this season other than a few coastal hikes. I must be getting old!
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You can also use your pack to sit on, I do it all the time in the winter.
Ditto to the bivy and insulated pad. You need to be prepared to spend an emergency night out. Blocking the cold from the ground will really help. Lying on the ground with all the warm clothes you have, you would probably make it, but add a pad and a bivy and you will be a lot more comfortable. At least carry a lightweight tarp. Even if you did not get it set up, you could wrap yourself up in it to help keep out of the the weather and warmer. I, too, always have extra line in my pack. There are just so many uses for it! eg....lower your pack down over a steep ledge, so it won't be hindering you as you climb down: a center line for a tarp, lashing something to your pack, repairs, etc...etc. You also carry matches and fire-starter. A very efficient and easy way to get a fire going and continuing with a minimum amount of fuel is to use a wood burning stove. I have not had much luck making my own with tin cans, but there are some on the market that pack small and work great. eg....Littlbug (note: there is intentionally is no "e" in "littl") This would be a good way to get gear dry in an emergency, (just do not do it under a snow-laden tree like the guy in the Jack London story!)
LittlBug Jr.