First and foremost, when winter backpacking you need to be aware of the possible dangers and safety concerns that winter backpacking entails. Spending multiple days in the outdoors during the winter means that you may have to contend with changing weather, which can come on quite suddenly in the winter in many parts of the world. You should be prepared for snow, wind, rain and dipping temperatures before you leave the house.
Winter backpacking isn't all safety concerns, however. There are a lot of interesting things to be seen during the winter in the outdoors, and winter backpacking, spending multiple days in the outdoors, is a great way to experience those various things. As long as you go out prepared, you shouldn't have any problems, and should be able to enjoy yourself.
Winter Backpacking GearGoing winter backpacking is all about being prepared, and that comes down to gear. Here are a few suggestions for your winter backpacking gear list.
- Winter Tent - A summer tent might do, but a winter tent will provide peace of mind when winter backpacking. As someone who has personally weathered a wind storm in a flattened tent, I can tell you that it's better to be over prepared than under prepared.
- Winter Sleeping Bag - A winter sleeping bag is another important piece of winter backpacking gear. You need to be prepared for temperature dips, and a summer sleeping bag wont cut it. If you plan on going winter backpacking you should have a standalone winter sleeping bag to use.
- Winter Sleeping Pad - Sleeping pads have what are called an R-value rating, which is a rating of how well the sleeping pad insulates you. A sleeping pad with a high R-value, then, will keep you warm and toasty at night.
- Winter Backpacking Boots - When venturing out in to the winter landscape, shoes wont cut it. You will something with a little more substance that will keep your feet dry, no matter what conditions you encounter.
- Insulating Layers - Even if the weather seems good when you leave to go winter backpacking, things can change quickly in the colder months, and it might be beneficial to bring along a few extra insulating layers. Mont Bell makes some excellent down top (women's) and bottom (women's) garments that pack up small and weigh next to nothing, but will keep you warm when you need it.
- Hiking Snowshoes - If there is the possibility that some of the trails you will be travelling along have snow, or will have snow while you are out backpacking, then it might pay off to bring along hiking snowshoes.
The Winter Backpacking ExperienceWinter backpacking is a lot different than summer backpacking, and everyone should definitely experience it at least once. You see wildly different things, like fields of snow and frozen lakes, that you aren't able to see any other time of the year.
One of the best things about winter backpacking, however, is that you often have the trail all to yourself. Most people don't bother to step outside much in the winter, and winter backpacking can be drastically different from the overcrowded summer trails that many of us are used to.