Home News Winter Backpacking on a Finances: Gear Up with out Breaking the Financial institution

Winter Backpacking on a Finances: Gear Up with out Breaking the Financial institution

Winter Backpacking on a Finances: Gear Up with out Breaking the Financial institution


Winter backpacking on a budget

Winter backpacking and mountaineering are nice sports activities. However the price of winter gear may be very costly, upward of $2000 or extra. In my expertise, it’s finest to accumulate winter backpacking gear over a interval of 2-3 years, so you’ll be able to unfold out the capital expenditure required whereas utilizing a few of your present three-season gear for tenting and backpacking in much less excessive winter circumstances.

If after a number of years you resolve you wish to undertake a multi-day winter backpacking journey or an expedition mountaineering journey, you’ll be higher knowledgeable about the kind of gear required, the way to use it, and the way a lot cash it’s going to take to accumulate it. When you can all the time dive in toes first and purchase all of your gear in a single yr, it’s higher to take issues somewhat slower. Expertise can prevent some huge cash.

A Phased Method to Winter Backpacking

Within the sections under, I define a three-year timeline of talent acquisition and corresponding gear purchases. I embody anticipated value ranges for every beneficial gear merchandise so you’ll be able to estimate what your capital outlay shall be.

  1. 12 months One: Concentrate on buying the insulated footwear and clothes required for winter day mountain climbing. This contains winter traction aids, resembling microspikes, snowshoes, and crampons and growing a 4-layer winter clothes layering system that features a base layer, mid-layer, wind/rain safety, and a really heat outer layer.
  2. 12 months Two: Gear up for 1-night winter backpacking journeys in temperatures which might be 10 levels or hotter at night time. You’ll wish to assemble further gear for organising a winter campsite together with a winter sleeping pad, liquid gasoline range, winter cookware, and insulated pants, whereas utilizing as a lot of your three-season gear as attainable, resembling your tent, backpack and sleeping bag in the event that they’re appropriate for reasonable winter use (defined additional under.)
  3. 12 months Three: If after a number of winter backpacks, you resolve you wish to go for longer or colder winter backpacking journeys or take it up a notch and go on a mountaineering expedition, that is the time to put money into an costly cold-weather bag ($800 or extra), an expedition-sized backpack, tent, and mountaineering boots. You may also hire quite a lot of this gear should you go along with a information as a option to hold your gear prices down.
A Winter Backpacking Trip in the White Mountains
A Winter Backpacking Journey within the White Mountains

12 months One: Footwear, Traction Aids, Insulated Outer Layer, Fundamental Equipment.

Your focus is to construct a stable basis for winter day mountain climbing, beginning with boots, traction aids, and a layered clothes system.

  • Relying on the place you hike, you might also want actual crampons. If that is your first pair, I might counsel shopping for “common” strap-on crampons as a result of they’re suitable with any form of boot, together with mountaineering boots. Hillsound Path Crampon Professionals are a superb alternative, suitable with hard-sole and soft-sole boots. Worth vary: $100-200.
  • Get your self a pair of snowshoes with a rear-heel wire known as a televator if it’s worthwhile to climb uphill. Try the MSR Snowshoe Choice Information which explains what to search for in a snowshoe for various circumstances and the way to dimension them. It’s a superb learn even should you don’t find yourself shopping for MSR snowshoes. Worth vary: $175-380.
  • Purchase excessive gaiters to maintain your calves heat and shield your decrease legs from sharp crampon spikes. OR Crocodiles are what most individuals use. They’re bomber-tough and final without end. Worth vary: $75-125.
  • You should carry scorching water bottles wrapped in insulated covers in winter to stop them from freezing. Nalgene insulated water bottle carriers (those with the zippered prime lid) are suitable with 32 oz wide-mouth Nalgene bottles. Worth vary: $20. Placing a bottle inside a wool sock additionally works should you hold it inside your pack till you’re able to drink.
  • Winter clothes layers: You in all probability personal a three-season rain jacket, rain pants, lengthy underwear, a mid-layer fleece, mountain climbing socks, and diverse hats and gloves already. You should utilize all of them for winter mountain climbing. I might suggest investing in a hooded-down parka, nonetheless, primarily to be used once you’ve stopped for breaks throughout hikes. You’ll additionally use this identical parka for sitting outdoors to cook dinner and soften snow for ingesting water should you begin winter backpacking, so get the warmest and lightest-weight jacket you’ll be able to afford. The Montbell Mirage Parka and the The North Face HMLYN Parka are good choices. Worth vary: $350-500
Red hot glow of a MSR Whisperlite Stove melting snow on full power
The crimson scorching glow of an MSR Whisperlite Range melting snow on full energy

12 months 2: Winter tenting gear and insulated clothes

The subsequent step is to accumulate the gear essential to camp out in winter in temperatures right down to 10 levels Fahrenheit whereas leveraging your present three-season gear as a lot as attainable to economize. Verify the climate forecast earlier than you go to keep away from chilly temperatures under your sleeping bag ranking.

  • You’ll want a hotter sleeping pad for sleeping on snow. I like to recommend getting a Thermarest XTherm NXT Insulated Sleeping Pad, which is light-weight and packs up small. You may also carry a foam pad just like the Thermarest Zlite (which additionally makes a superb insulated camp seat) to reinforce a 3-season sleeping pad. Your aim needs to be to have one or two sleeping pads, that when mixed, have an R-value of 5 to 7. See Sleeping Bag R-Values for an entire record of sleeping pad R-values for dozens of sleeping pads. Worth vary: $40-$250.
  • In the event you already personal a 20-degree sleeping bag, you need to be capable to lengthen its temperature vary by 10-15 levels with a sleeping bag liner, just like the Sea-to-Summit Reactor Plus, with a purpose to keep away from having to purchase a 0-degree or -20 diploma sleeping bag. If not, I’d suggest shopping for a 0-degree sleeping bag, just like the Marmot Lithium 0 as a substitute of a -20 or -40 below-zero sleeping bag. There’s a a lot greater choice out there and costs are way more cheap. You may also lengthen the temperature vary of a 0-degree bag with an insulated sleeping bag liner should you resolve you wish to camp in colder temperatures at a future date. Worth vary: $450-$650.
  • In the event you already personal a double-wall three-season tent it may be used for winter tenting so long as the fly comes right down to the bottom to dam the wind and also you keep away from heavy snowfall, which might collapse the tent. Most ultralight trekking pole tents are normally too chilly and breezy to make use of. You’ll wish to get snow stakes to pitch the tent on snow, though plastic procuring luggage can be used – simply bury them – and safe your guylines to the handles. Whenever you wish to purchase a tent, I like to recommend getting a Black Diamond Firstlight 2 or an MSR Entry 2 Tent as a result of they’re bomber, light-weight, freestanding, and simple to arrange. Worth vary: $350-800.
  • Liquid gasoline stoves that burn white gasoline are beneficial for chilly climate operation and melting snow to make ingesting water when it’s lower than 20 levels Fahrenheit outdoors. I like to recommend the MSR Whisperlite Common Range as a result of it may be used to burn liquid gasoline (white gasoline) or canister gasoline the remainder of the yr. Worth vary: $100-200.
  • Get a big cook dinner pot, no less than 2 liters in dimension for melting snow in winter. Anodized aluminum pots are significantly better for snow-melting than titanium as a result of they maintain extra warmth and due to this fact use much less gasoline. I like to recommend getting a Sea-to-Summit 1.9L Alpha Pot.
  •  Whenever you go tenting you’ll wish to deliver a metallic avalanche shovel to dig out snow constructions like a kitchen, wind partitions, or slit trenches for blocking the wind. Purchase one just like the Black Diamond Switch Shovel that’s light-weight and you can take aside for ease of packing. Worth vary: $50-125.
  • One of many greatest challenges confronted by winter backpackers is the way to stop your boots from freezing stable at night time. Whereas you should buy mountaineering boots with detachable liners and sleep with them in your sleeping bag, there’s nothing to cease you from carrying plastic luggage or vapor barrier socks inside your boots to stop them from turning into damps with perspiration. See Vapor Barrier Socks Utilizing Reynolds Oven Baggage.
Philip's tent below Mt Washington
Philip’s Black Diamond FirstLight tent under Mt Washington

12 months 3: Multi-day Winter Backpacks and Expedition Mountaineering

In the event you resolve after yr 2 that you just wish to take multi-day winter backpacking journeys into colder, harsher temperatures and terrain, issues can get actually costly.

  • You should carry a bigger backpack within the 65-85 liter dimension vary in winter, particularly should you’re doing longer day journeys or in a single day tenting. See the 10 Greatest Winter Backpacks for recommendation about the perfect fashions to purchase. Worth vary: $200-600.
  • In the event you plan on mountain climbing multi-day route, I’d advise getting a pair of mountain climbing boots with detachable liners you can sleep with at night time in your sleeping bag. Disagreeable because it sounds, that is one of the simplest ways to maintain your boots from freezing at night time. See the Winter Mountaineering Boots FAQ for recommendation on what to search for in mountaineering boots. Worth vary: $300-600.


Phasing your gear purchases over a multi-year interval is only one technique for regularly accumulating the gear you want for winter backpacking. As you’ll be able to see, issues actually get costly in 12 months 3 should you resolve you wish to backpack in subzero circumstances. My recommendation: take your time in deciding what sort of winter mountain climbing and backpacking you wish to do. Whereas backpacking in very chilly climate is an journey, it’s far much less comfy and enjoyable than backpacking in barely hotter temperatures. Take the time to determine what you want and let that be your information in what gear to purchase.

SectionHiker is reader-supported. We solely earn money if you are going to buy a product by way of our affiliate hyperlinks. Assist us proceed to check and write unsponsored and unbiased gear opinions, newbie FAQs, and free mountain climbing guides.

Concerning the writer

Philip Werner has hiked and backpacked over 8500 miles in the US and the UK and written over 3000 articles because the founding father of SectionHiker.com, famous for its backpacking gear opinions and mountain climbing FAQs. A devotee of New Hampshire and Maine mountain climbing and backpacking, Philip has hiked all 650+ trails within the White Mountains twice and has accomplished 10 rounds of the 48 peaks on the White Mountains 4000 footer record with over 550 summits in all 4 seasons. He’s additionally the writer of Backpacking the White Mountain 4000 Footers, a free on-line guidebook of the perfect backpacking journeys within the White Mountains in New Hampshire and Maine. He lives in New Hampshire. Click on right here to subscribe to the SectionHiker e-newsletter.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here