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Backpacker Magazine – Online Exclusive

Snow/Winter Gear Packing Checklist

Get ready for winter with this comprehensive packing list.

by: The Backpacker Editors


Outerwear Base Layer Accessories
  • wool or fleece hat
  • balaclava
  • warm gloves (2 pairs)
  • synthetic liner gloves (optional)
  • waterproof overmitts (optional)
  • insulated camp booties
  • waterproof hiking boots (insulated is best)
  • wool or synthetic socks (3)
  • liner socks (optional)
  • sun hat
  • bandanna

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Reader Rating: Star Star Star Star Star


Star Star Star Star Star
Jul 07, 2014

We are talking about backpacking in the snow with average people, not Cody Lundin.

o snowshoes or skis
o heavy waterproof pants; if not insulated, then a couple layers of insulation
o liner gloves are not optional, need manual dexterity and not fully expose hands
o Hands, 2 pair of the following, mittens are for the coldest weather, and still have gloves for dexterity:
- insulated and waterproof gloves or mittens with liner gloves
- leather gloves with wool gloves or leather mittens with wool mittens and wool gloves
o insulated boots are not optional
o headlamp: don't forget the extra bulp. Have two lights, even if the second is very small.
o water freezes even in bottle parkas, allow 10% expansion, do not use water bladders with tubes.
o sunglasses should have blinders, ski goggles may be needed depending on conditions
o pocket knife AND multitool, AND a couple single-edged razors
o lighter and waterproof matches: regular butane won't cut it in high winds or high elevations
o insulated mug (optional depending on temps), I like having a mug that is backup for bowling water instead.
o TP & trowel...too funny not listed on other lists. My boot toe works in non-frozen dirt; even with a trowel, you're not digging a place in frozen ground. Snow is the easiest to bury it. Animals crap 24/7/365, only when close to established camps does this matter at all, except for the TP.
o hatchet or buck saw for processing more wood (optional depending on elevation and regulations).
o pee is sterile

Answers to other questions:
Yes, only one sleeping pad is needed.
Bag temp ranges: they are rated for coldest temp that they are "good" for. Good means you probably won't freeze, but you may need some long underwear to be comfortable at that temp. When it gets warmer, you can unzip them or just lay on top of them.

Apr 09, 2012

5 Shirts/Jackets and 4 pairs of pants? Please. explain

Apr 09, 2012

5 Shirts/Jackets and 4 pairs of pants? Please. explain

D Diaz
Mar 22, 2012

Here's a great interactive gear checklist and pack-weight calculator app that can be a valuable tool... or just fun:

Feb 20, 2012

plus you can throw it under your bag if your feet are freezing...

Feb 20, 2012

Pee bottle... Gatorade will be on the menu for the first day. lol

Dec 15, 2010

So how do women use a pee bottle? LOL

Fred Baker
Dec 06, 2010

You don't need a piss bottle. Back off your water intake a couple of hours before bed and keep an insulated water bladder or bottle within reach. Just drink if you wake up thirsty. You could keep a water bottle in your bag but I wouldn't recommend the bladder in there.

Mike D
Jan 21, 2010

Yes I do use a pee bottle and yes to the wide mouth gatorade bottle ,and it nice too. if you bunking with 3-4 persons you dont have to wake them in the middle of the night to do your duty.
most time thay dont even know that you are peeing in it,added to that extra warmth too.and i can monitor my intake so i dont get dehydrated too.,yes again
leave no trace is what I practice .and to to run yourself dehydrated before sleep is not good , you need the fuel for your body to stay warm.when its cold out, plus you will loss body heat by getting up and out , if all you have to do is pee , you will loss body core heat to get up and out ,and it will take more body core heat to get warmed up again.when you try to go back to sleep ,I know I sleep better if I am warm.when you only sleep 4-5 hrs I try to get the most of it. in the cold weather camping .

Jan 16, 2010

I see all sides of the pee bottle saga. But... if you use a wide mouth gatorade bottle you cant miss. Plus when its dark (and cold), its sooo much nicer to stay warm and pee then get cold. Plus I can fall asleep faster staying warm. By the way, I've used my gatorade portable pottie hundreds of times and never spilled a drop!

Mike F
Dec 31, 2009

Why do you need both a closed cell foam pad and an inflatable sleeping pad? I thought that you use only the closed cell pad when sleeping on snow?????

Mike F
Dec 31, 2009

Are the ratings on sleeping bags a range? So, if you get a -30 degree bag, is that going to be good for that range of tempatures up to 0 degrees. Or, does it mean that any bags with a rating in that -30 to 0 should be adaquate? Because there are so many bag ratings: -30,-15,-10, 0.

Dec 27, 2009

piss bottles are good for one thing and one thing only making a mess;if you try and piss into the bottle while still in your bag and miss...eww. Just get up and go. as for leave no trace, it's piss, humans have been pissin on the ground for a few hundred thousand years.

Neal Westendorf
Dec 25, 2009

Forget the pee bottle. Load up on the water earlier in the day and back off a couple of hours before bed. Bring down booties and learn how to run to the pisser and return when it is below zero. The first couple of minutes back inside the sleeping bag will be a bit chilly.

Dec 10, 2009

so you dont have get out of your tent when its freezing out.

Mark From Oregon
Nov 19, 2009

To drink! It's all about survival!

Oct 26, 2009

What's the purpose of a pee bottle, heat or leave no trace maybe?

Nov 02, 2008

try copying the txt and pasting in whatever text program you have. I did this with Text Edit and it worked fine.

Mike Minore
Mar 22, 2008

Love your new web page. FYI the last 7 items did not print out for me, Don't know if this is due to my printer or your end.


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