Winter camping kit

Discussion about winter adventure sports in the Sierra Nevada mountains including but not limited to; winter backpacking and camping, mountaineering, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, etc.
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Re: Winter camping kit

Post by Hobbes » Tue Feb 02, 2016 6:28 pm

If you're looking for a pair of boots, La Sportiva & Scarpa seem to be the two favorite "light" alpine boots (3/4 shank) suitable for the Sierra. When Schmalz & I did the Whitney MR last year, both guides were wearing these (mens): ... evo-womens

Later in the year when I was hiking up Shepherd, I passed a group of 3 who were being guided up Williamson - the guide had the same La Sportivas.

Scarpas appear to be aimed at people with wider feet. I tried on (indoors) at least 6 different pairs of LS & Scarpas (from AMZ with free shipping & returns) before deciding on these (mens):

As a basis for comparison, I moved from a really wide NB trail runner to a really wide Altra Lone Peak 2.0 for regular backpacking. The Altras are the shoes I wore when I did back-to-back 30 and 32 mile days on the PCT last spring. (They are also what I run in every other day).

I've got around 150+- miles on the Scarpas, including a 12 miler in the Canadian Rockies (where I saw a woman in a pair as well) and a few 7-9 mile days in the local mountains. I absolutely love these boots because they fit almost as well as my Altras. The La Sportivas I tried (multiple sizes) were all just a little too tight.

The reason I got the boots was to be able to open up a bit more winter/alpine conditions. To that effect, both boots are designed to be able to use clip-in crampons as well - you can see the rear lip in each photo.

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Re: Winter camping kit

Post by hjldennis » Wed Feb 03, 2016 12:41 am

I am no expert by any means, but here are my few cents. We had our first couple outings with mixture of 3 season gears, and it is definately doable, but with less comfort. We backpack with 2 small children, so I am more cautious with everything. Now our winter set up is almost complete. I think a solid 3 season tent should be good enough. I am sure the guides won't take you up to a windy and exposed area. I think you should take a adjustable light weight shovel. It's good to have on any winter outing anyhow. We take one shovel and one snowclaw as a secondary tool. I think good boots and gators are must. I have la sportiva which is a good all around boot, but this winter I wore an inexpensive insulated boots (since we weren't doing any sort of difficult climbing), and they were much more comfortable (but i put it on luxury item column). Good sleeping pad (high r value) and of course sleeping bag (we use 0 degree double quilt). In addition to insulated air pads, we take ccfs like z-lite to sit on or to use as a floor mat in front of the tent. They are very useful. At night we slip them under the air pad. For tent stakes, we use cheap yellow plastic stakes and bury them in T, and they work great (and surprisingly light weight). Down booties are very nice but a luxury item, I think. Definitely a plus especially if you are doing more than an overnight. We have feathered friends with over boots, and it's my wife's favorite piece of winter gear. Also very helpful when my son wakes me up to go in the middle of the night. But then again, a freezing boots for a couple minutes won't hurt anything either. Did the guides recommend a saw? If you are digging alot, a saw is much easier. You should take extra fuels since it takes alot to melt snow, and it's good to have Nalgene full of hot water to bed. I think we use more than double the fuel during the winter.

I am sure I missed many items.

Hope for no wind and enjoy your trip!
wandering outdoors and the universe

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Re: Winter camping kit

Post by oldranger » Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:38 pm

I prefer skiis due to the positive effects of gravity when going downhill. Just completed overnighter "camping" trip. 2 hours up to campsite 30 minutes back to parking lot. Trip report pics in Beyond the Sierra.


Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!

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Re: Winter camping kit

Post by rlown » Thu Feb 04, 2016 1:42 pm

oldranger wrote:I prefer skiis due to the positive effects of gravity when going downhill. Just completed overnighter "camping" trip. 2 hours up to campsite 30 minutes back to parking lot. Trip report pics in Beyond the Sierra.


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Re: Winter camping kit

Post by Shhsgirl » Wed Feb 10, 2016 12:29 pm

My husband and I are tagging along with Oleander on this one. We are taking ski pulks (gear sleds), if snow conditions permit. My husband will use skis and skins, and I will use snowshoes. We are bringing a two person four season tent with a vestibule, since we will have stuff that needs to be nearby as we sleep. Depending on temps, we will keep our boots (just cheap insulated Gortex brands without removable liners) in trash bags in our sleeping bags at night. We are bringing a liquid white gas stove, with four ounces fuel per person per day (and some extra, in case this calculation, which we got from a guy we met in a store, is incorrect). Because temps will probably be mild, but by chance they might not be, we will have the full nine yards of clothing. For pants, I will wear a mid weight base layer, with soft shell climbing pants over that, and a hard shell Goretex pant if it rains or snows or gets too cold. The top is basically the same, except the mid-layer is not soft shell--it's just a mid weight shirt. I will also have a down layer top and bottom, and to supplement my 20 degree bag, if necessary. (This down layer is part of my summer and fall sleep system, since I carry a light quilt). I am bringing two pairs of hand protection (probably overkill, but this is practice)--mittens and gloves with removable liners. I don't own any goggles, and am not bringing them unless forecast is for snow. Thank goodness we only bring 18 hours worth of food, but will follow Daisy's advice with the added fat, if it is cold. Thank goodness, also, that we have four adult children from which to borrow all this stuff and clothes.
You're right, this trip is for learning, so we are, if we are allowed, going to dig (we had to buy shovels) and stake out the tent as if it were a snowstorm, and bring all the necessary stuff for a snowstorm. Now you can see why we hope to pull gear sleds, rather than hump packs. I just hope it doesn't rain.

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Re: Winter camping kit

Post by Bluewater » Wed Feb 24, 2016 9:16 am

This sounds like a fun class. Embrace the fourth season!

There are many years of experience behind all of the posts already but I wanted to humbly add some of my experience from just the last few years.

I did a blog post with a detailed 5 Day Sierra Winter Gear List here:

http://seatosummitultralight.blogspot.c ... -2014.html

I have used this setup (or similar) down to 10 F during 4, 5 and 7 day snowshoe trips in the southern Sierra. As usual I try to stay lightweight while staying safe, warm, dry and well fed.

I use a winter footwear system outlined in an article on BPL:

Silk liner sock, wool sock, Rocky GTX sock, MLD eVent Snow Gaiter & oversized non-GTX trail runner (with Toasty Feet inserts).

MYOG down booties with Goosefeet waterproof shells for around camp. The down booties are good sleep socks too (worn over a liner sock, feet are always toasty)


MLD Solomid
Suluk46 Ti snow anchors
MYOG bathtub groundsheet


Neo-Air xTherm (XL)
CCF 1/8" thick insulation pad
GG sit pad
MYOG quilt


MSR canister stove with invertible canister for temps below 15 F
1 litre Ti pot/lid to melt snow


Lightweight synthetic or Smartwool liner
W\B cuben mitts (during the day)
Blackrock down mitts (at night)


Snow Claw just for use around camp to gather snow for water or build small walls around my shelter. A shovel with a handle would be nice if doing anything more.

A hot water bottle inside my quilt a few minutes before going to bed pre-heats the inside and doubles as a warm drink at night.

Have fun!

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