New York Backpackers Message Board › Winter gear

Winter gear

Group Organizer
Brooklyn, NY

I am writing to everyone to touch base on a couple of points regarding gear that we might need as the winter approaches. If someone feels like I'm leaving something out of this list please contact me.

One of the most basic things is clothing. You should not wear cotton. Avoid it at all costs. Cotton will absorb your sweat and keep you nice and wet. In the summer this might not be a big deal but in the winter it will make you very uncomfortable and could lead to hypothermia. Wear synthetic fabrics.

Wear several layers, adding or subtracting as needed to keep from cooling down or overheating (overheating leads to sweating and damp clothing, which greatly increases heat loss). Inner layers provide warmth, while outer layers protect from wind and wet.

Base layer: Wicking long johns to carry moisture away from your body.
Middle layer(s): Insulation to retain body heat.
Outer layer: Wind and waterproof shell.

Long underwear: polypropylene or polyester.
Shirt: Synthetic fleece.
Synthetic fleece jacket.
Pants: Synthetic.
Hooded shell jacket and pants: For wind and water protection. Essential on summits.
Thinsulate or Primaloft jacket and synthetic vest.
Hat with good ear protection.
Balaclava/Facemask: Essential above treeline.
Mittens or gloves with waterproof overmitts: Gloves are not as warm as mittens and are not recommended alone, but may be worn inside mittens.
Glove liners.
Socks: light wicking inner sock and heavier outer socks, plus dry spares. (Your socks will get wet.)
Winter boots: Insulated and waterproof boots will keep the snow and cold out.
Gaiters to keep snow out of your boots.

I stole this list from ADK website and made some modifications. I would say that the synthetic shirts and long johns are essential. Gloves and a hat especially when you stop hiking will keep you warm. A good pair of boots and socks are key too to winter hiking. The rest of the list is up to you.

Also you should have at least have a pair of instep crampons which should cost you around $30 they are not not full crampons but good enough for most of the stuff we are going to be doing. It not only might make your hike up an iced trail but will keep you on the trail. Going off the trail to avoid the ice might seem like a smart, safe idea but it will harm the fragile ecosystem of the mountain we are hiking especially at higher altitudes. Also, it will prevent injuries due to ice slippage on the way up or down the trail/mountain.


Food & water
Stove, fuel, waterproof matches, and pot
Emergency blanket and/or bivy sack
Ensolite padding or sleeping pad to insulate you from the ground during rest stops or emergencies.
Map & compass
Headlamp and extra batteries (lithium works best in the cold)
First aid kit including splinting materials and triangular bandages.
Sunglasses or goggles
Crampons or instep crampons for icy areas, difficult stream crossings, and above treeline.

I also took this list from the website. The most essential things on the this list are the headlamps, first aid kit, whistle and at least the waterproof matches. The sleeping pad will raise your sleeping bag off the cold ground and give you an extra insulation when you are sleeping. I usually carry a map and scan a copy for you guys but you can always get an original copy of the trail map of the place we are going to. If you don't know where to get a copy, you can contact me and ask me where to get one. I get my maps at the outdoor stores like Eastern Mountain Sports.

You don't need to buy any of these gear right away but little by little you should figure out on your own what is it that you are already and what is it that you need.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me by e-mail.


user 3301474
Butler, NJ
Post #: 1
Note that the stove should be a gas stove. Stoves that use butane canisters do not work well below freezing. The newer butane/propane mix performs better, but still are not great.
Ion F.
Brooklyn, NY
Post #: 148
Francisco just sent out a link to, so I thought I'd share a link to, another website I use. REI is a Seattle (well, Renton) -based cooperative for 'individual sports', focussed on backpacking. It's revenue is driven by retail mensware, of course, but the outlet is where it dumps all of its clearance goods. CampMor is hard to beat, but as way of illustration, REI Outlet has a 0 degree mountainsmith long mummy back for $130 as of this writing.
New York, NY
Post #: 9
Here is a link for the list of hiking gear ..It might be more for summer. So check the list for the winter pack additions.

user 3301474
Butler, NJ
Post #: 4
Another good resource for cold weather gear and backpacking gear in general is Sierra Trading Post.

They deal in overstocks, closeouts and the like so you can get some very good deals on packs, trekking poles, clothing and boots (though beware of buying boots that you haven't tried on first).
user 3301474
Butler, NJ
Post #: 6
As an update to my previous post about stoves, we had several canned gas stoves and gas stoves along on our recent winter trip. Temps were in the teens and the liquid gas stoves worked fine, while the butane/propane stoves didn't perform well at all.

So it appears that the newer propane/butane mix canister stoves still are not advisable for winter backpacking. They can work for a while if the canister is heated up, but once the canister gets cold the stoves are practically useless.
A former member
Post #: 476
Don't forget the snowshoes! In the Whites in NH, we wear them when the snow depth is 6" or deeper. This starts in mid-October. Last winter I bought MSR Lightening Ascents at 50% off at EMS. They have the heal bar elevators (high heal snowshoes!) that make ascending a breeze since it is like you are walking on level ground.

Originally I bought Yukon Charlies for $59 and change at Wal-Mart in Gorham, NH. I was extremely skeptical because of the low price. After using them and showing them to my AMC hut croo friends who I wished them to tear them apart, they said they were a bargain at that price. I've had them for 7 winters and they work as perfect as the day I bought them.

Do you want a VW or a BMW? They both get you from point A to point B.
Ion F.
Brooklyn, NY
Post #: 300
Backpacking Magazine's 2004 Best Buy midweight boot is on sale at the New Balance site for $36. It's not in my size, but I thought someone else might be able to use it.
A former member
Post #: 395
Let me add to this list something you will find very valuable....A change of clothing! An extra dry weave top or 2, fleece pullover, 2 sets of extra gloves and hat. Those under armour base layer types are great- and you can pack extras in minimal space. Down is warm but very heavy when wet.

If your on a high energy hike, even with venting, you will be perspiring. in cold weather your "dryweave" will pull the perspiration away from your body, but not evaporate. If its cold enough that means ice. Along with that you could also have snow falling from branches even on a clear day.

The pre or post summit break (out of the wind) is a great time to change out of your wet clothes. What a comfort!

You must stay dry, or you put yourself at risk of hypothermia.
Pack for the unexpected.
A former member
Post #: 13
Backpacking Magazine's 2004 Best Buy midweight boot is on sale at the New Balance site for $36. It's not in my size, but I thought someone else might be able to use it.

You don't want to be hiking in "midweight" backpacking boots in winter - that's for sure! If one can't afford mountaineering boots, heavyweight backpacking boots (don't forget to apply extra waterproofing before you go) is a minimum requirement IMO. Or there are what they call 'lightweight mountaineering' boots, that can double duty as backpacking boots. These (NB boots) may work for day hikes in Harriman in the winter though.
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Brooklyn, NY

Founded Mar 14, 2006

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Francisco, Chris Mayville

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