HST Community      Cold Weather

Cold Weather | High Sierra Topix  

Cold Weather

If you've been searching for the best source of information and stimulating discussion related to Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking, hiking and camping in the Sierra Nevada...look no further!

Cold Weather

Postby maverick » Tue Jan 02, 2018 3:04 pm

Which category do you fall into? If you fall into category B or C, what personal tips and methods (not what you have read) do you have for your fellow backpackers on how to stay warm.

A. The cold doesn't bother me while out in the mountains.

B. I'm always cold, I have to take a warmer sleeping bag, pad, and extra clothing on all my trips.

C. I used to handle the cold well, but with age I have become more sensitive too it.
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org

User avatar
Forums Moderator
Forums Moderator
Posts: 9402
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:54 pm
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Cold Weather

Postby SweetSierra » Tue Jan 02, 2018 4:00 pm

I'm a B. I grew up in the heat (Fresno), and live in Tucson. I'm chilled at 65 degrees. On a backpack I bring layers, though less layers than in the past. For day use, I only wear a long-sleeve shirt. That's usually good enough until I stop at a windy pass. I used to bring a lightweight synthetic undershirt, but found I rarely needed it during the day. If I'm cold during the day (at a pass or day hiking), I bring a lightweight fleece garment, not a heavier fleece jacket. Or a lightweight windbreaker. It's good to bring a few extra garments and keep them dry if you need to change out of wet clothes.

I bring winter weight long underwear for sleeping and a zero degree (or warmer) bag in Sierra summers. I keep my sleepwear and bag in plastic bags to ensure they stay dry. I'm only really cold when I make camp. But with a wool hat and the sleepwear (and fleece socks), I'm good. I think it's a must if you are a cold person to carry the weight of a warm bag. I once brought a bag that was rated at 20. I was trying to stay warm all night long. I sometimes wear my down jacket to bed, which works if you don't want to carry a heavier bag.
User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 237
Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Cold Weather

Postby oldranger » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:14 pm

C--about 10 years ago I began to notice the cold more, especially when sleeping. Even in my 20 degree WM bag I wear my wool sweater over a turtleneck when the temp is going to drop below freezing at night. Always wear long underwear and a fleece hat. In september I add an extra pair of long underwear for sleeping. It also helps to eat something with some calories before hitting the sack. around camp in the evening after getting cleaned up I don my turtleneck and long underwear, put my longsleve shirt back on, then my wool sweater and long pants, add my lightweight windbreaker and my WM down vest. If I'm still cold I go to bed.

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
User avatar
Topix Junkie
Posts: 2434
Joined: Fri Jan 19, 2007 8:18 pm
Location: Bend, Oregon
Experience: N/A

Re: Cold Weather

Postby RichardCullip » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:24 pm

C - after 32 years in Bakersfield and now 5+ years in San Diego, anything under 70 is cold and anything above 75 is hot. In the Sierra I go to bed with a PossumDown beanie, gloves and socks handy along with my Montbell EX Light Down Jacket just in case it gets down near freezing. These can supplement my ZPacks 30deg quilt and get me thru some cool to cold nights. I also pray that I time my trips to avoid nights below freezing. My hiking season is over mid-Sept to help me avoid really cold nights.
Life is good. Eternal Life is better!

User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 168
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2012 6:25 am
Location: Poway, CA
Experience: N/A

Re: Cold Weather

Postby dave54 » Tue Jan 02, 2018 6:41 pm

Definitely a C. After all the years working in the woods every day during the winter you would think I could keep on doing it. Nope. Not anymore. Hands and joints ache in the cold.

I cope by heading south every winter and hang out along the Colorado River in AZ.
Log off and get outdoors!
User avatar
Founding Member
Posts: 906
Joined: Fri Oct 28, 2005 9:24 pm
Location: where the Sierras, Cascades, and Great Basin meet.
Experience: Level 4 Explorer

Re: Cold Weather

Postby Wandering Daisy » Tue Jan 02, 2018 9:29 pm

Always have been "B", in spite of growing up in Washington state and then 25 years in Wyoming. Proof that growing up in cold climates does not necessarily make you tolerant of cold! Getting old has not seemed to change much of anything. The only two odd times when I was warmer was when I was pregnant (did a winter NOLS course) and when I had menopausal hot flashes for a few years. The other odd thing, is that my hands rarely get cold- hardly ever wear gloves. My ears especially get cold, so I always wear a kerchief and hat, even when hiking.

I simply bring more clothing than the average backpacker and have always had a 0-degree to 10-degree bag. In the Sierra, I always have a wool base layer (Ibex top and Smart-wool bottoms), 100-wt fleece top, 6-oz down sweater (Montbell), fleece hat plus balaclava, three pair wool socks, and a hefty rain jacket (Montbell) that also acts as a warmth layer. Lighter rain pants (REI kids). Always wear knee high gaiters (Rocky Mountain Highs). I hike in long sleeve shirt (Orvis fishing shirt), with light weight undershirt (cheap cotton from Walmart), long nylon pants (Craghoppers bug-proof). In spring and fall I wear soft shell pants (Mamut schoeller-dryskin and REI guide pants). Never wear shorts. Often I bring a light wind shirt to walk in if at higher altitudes.

I am very careful with eating a hot meal at night, with plenty of fats, hot chocolate, never go into the sleeping bag cold, always walk or run in place to warm up before. Getting up to pee at night really helps keep me warm the remainder of the night, even if it is chilly for a few minutes. I am seriously thinking about a hot water bottle to just initially warm up the sleeping bag for a few hours (too risky to actually sleep with it). Even when above freezing, with a 10-degree bag (WM Super Antelope), I cinch up the hood. I can't hang around camp at night- I have to get into my sleeping bag while still warm, otherwise I never warm up.

It is now recognized that women sleep colder, so my 5-10-degree bag, a man's bag, is the equivalent of a 15-20-degree woman's bag.

Not too bad keeping warm when walking, but have to immediately put on more when in camp. My system seems to stop producing heat the minute I stop moving. I sometimes take a stove, cup and soup mixes on day hikes to warm up if needed.
User avatar
Wandering Daisy
Topix Junkie
Posts: 3351
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 7:19 pm
Location: Fair Oaks CA (Sacramento area)
Experience: N/A

Re: Cold Weather

Postby balzaccom » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:17 am

It's not so much the cold weather that bothers my in the winter---although as I get older, it bothers me more. It's the short days and long nights. That's just too much time spent wrapped up in down and trying to stay warm in the dark.

check out our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
User avatar
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1491
Joined: Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:22 pm
Experience: N/A

Re: Cold Weather

Postby Snowtrout » Wed Jan 03, 2018 8:44 am

My wife is a B and I am a C. I learned quick that she needed warmer gear than I and have tried a few things to keep her warm and happy (yes, happy wife, happy life). We always have a fleece pullover in the pack and usually carry a down jacket. At night, if it's going to be cold, she usually has a beanie, fleece jacket, down jacket, fleece pants and socks on. Had 2 ounces of extra fill put into her FF bag to help keep her stay warm too. Might in the future buy her some light down pants because her butt is always cold ❄️

For me, I can get away with a light fleece jacket and pants along with socks on at night, if needed but usually get too hot with the pants.

Most important factor for us, when it's going to be cold that night (below 35), we put on the rain fly. Usually makes the inside of the tent 5-8 degrees warmer than outside.
User avatar
Topix Regular
Posts: 182
Joined: Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:06 pm
Location: Fresno, CA
Experience: Level 3 Backpacker

Re: Cold Weather

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:14 am

Thin people usually are cooler because we lack blubba blubbuh blubber. Decades ago there was a "love bottle" party product that people would hand grab the bottom glass bulb of that held a colored fluid that would then rise to marked levels indicating how warm a person was. I was always easily the coolest person causing much laughing. As a young twentysomething found women liked that because at least at cooler night temps they could wrap up around me like an octopus and never get overheated and clammy. (:

Little wiry me now past official SS age with a 22 BMI at 5'6" 137#. What B. should read instead of "always" is

B. I easily become cold, thus have to take a warmer sleeping bag, pad, and extra clothing on all my trips.

In other words I am not "always" cold because I bring adequate clothing and gear. As a long time snow skier despite easily becoming cold, learned how dress for cold. And yeah backpacking bring more clothes than an average person making good use of layering strategies thus during summer never a single warm parka. Use the Marmot Pinnacle 15F bag. My hands and feet are especially prone to become and then stay cold even after then layering with clothing. And yes I still would very much welcome one improvement. Like a cozy backpacking wife to help keep this lively juvenile body warm at night.
User avatar
Topix Junkie
Posts: 2273
Joined: Thu Nov 17, 2005 10:18 pm
Location: Silicon Valley
Experience: N/A

Re: Cold Weather

Postby Cross Country » Wed Jan 03, 2018 11:19 am

I'm a C. My solution: I never went from mid Oct. to mid April. I was still in the Sierra, downhill skiing. I spent the same number of days skiing as I did backpacking. By spending 50-60 days in the Sierra each year I almost never missed them. I'm 74 and imagine I would still be BPing and skiing if it wern't for the injuries I got playing sports and my bad heart. I still ride my bike or play golf 5-6 times a week.
Cross Country
Topix Fanatic
Posts: 1258
Joined: Thu Dec 24, 2009 10:16 am
Experience: Level 4 Explorer


Return to Backpacking / Hiking / Camping

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests