What’s in My Kit

A lot of people ask me what I pack on long distance backpacking trips and in particular, what I pack for winter camping. So I thought I would put together a post to provide some insight of what exactly is in my bag.

While I am not one for owning a lot of “stuff”, I definitely love my gear. And having the right gear makes all the difference when heading into the backcountry. I guarantee that as much as you think you know about gear for the harshest elements (or any other elements!), there is always more to learn and tips and tricks that others have mastered. Take note: this kit is specifically for backpacking and winter camping in areas that are not in avalanche terrain!

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This is my go-to pack for all seasons. There is a ton of room for lots of gear, but also packs small for shorter trips. It uses Black Diamond’s ErgoACTIV suspension system, which I have come to love over the years given its flexibility and freedom of motion, especially in situations where you are caught off balance.

The Bag > The North Face Green Kazoo
There’s nothing worse that waking up freezing in the middle of the night. The green kazoo mummy bag is incredibly warm, even if I push its technical limits down to -30 degrees in the mountains. It has a high warmth to weight ratio with 650-fill natural ProDown™. Often the down-side of down is getting it wet. But this bag has a water-resistant finish to absorb less water and dry faster than traditional down!

The Gear > Arc’teryx
If you follow me on social media, you might have guessed that I wear a lot of Arc’teryx gear. I acquired my first piece, the Stingray jacket about seven years ago and I have been hooked ever since. Arc’teryx gear is an investment but extremely high quality and designed for performance and functionality. I have a few pieces of gear that I cycle through for winter trips including the Stingray jacket as an outer shell, the Stingray pant, the Atom LT Hoody as a base layer, the Cerium LT Hoody as a base for sleeping, and a long sleeve Motus Crew for next to skin comfort that delivers excellent moisture management (because you work hard when breaking trail!). And of course to keep your digits warm, Arc’teryx mitts.

The Boots > Sorel Joan of Arctic
These are a great pair of boots for trudging through all types of snow conditions. The waterproof construction is rated to below -30 degrees Celsius with a removable inner felt boot. And this removable inner liner is key because you can stuff it in your sleeping bag overnight and have a warm liner in the morning.

The Accessories > As long as it has color!
I have learned over the years that bright colors are a must in the winter, especially if you are taking a lot of photos. Dark colors tend to blend in with the surroundings but bright colors help make photos pop. Whether it is colorful leggings with crazy patterns, neon trucker hats, or anything else, go bold or go home.

This is a great home away from home in all four seasons, especially when the wind comes rocking at your door (vestibules!). From the technical description, the two vestibules make storm bound lives infinitely more tolerable. One is twice as long as the other: the deeper one makes a good storage/cooking area; the shallower one is an excellent airlock for exits and entries.

The Kitchen >
MSR Whisper Lite International burns anything from Napta gas to Diesel fuel;) And it burns hot. I have heard Jet Boils are good, but this one is ‘ol reliable (the Butane/Propane canisters rarely work in cold weather because of a lower internal pressure). Beyond this I think utensils and dishes are a bit of a personal preference. I use a Snow Peak Titanium Spork and Sea to Summit X-pots, but customize to whatever makes the backcountry feel comfortable.

There is a lot of other equipment that gets stuffed in my bag (and packing is an art), but this gives you a great overview. Layer, layer, layer and set a pace in winter that keeps you from sweating like a pig, especially with a heavy pack on your back. Otherwise, see you outdoors and celebrate wild!

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