What is the best gear to bring on a Winter Backpacking trip? We have put together the best and lightweight gear we could find that is essential in the Backcountry during Winter.

While trail traffic drops as soon as the temperatures fall, having the right gear winter backpacking is as fun as a summer trip. The most obvious season-specific gear is clothes. Winter backpackers should dress in layers including a synthetic base layer, a warm layer and a waterproof outer shell. They also should use waterproof boots and gloves, wool socks and never wear cotton.

While buying season-specific gear can get costly, backpackers can always rent from sports stores. Beyond clothes, here are some suggestions for gearing up for a backpacking trip in the winter season. This list is assuming some common sense approaches, like socks, sunglasses, and miscallaneous gear. i.e first aid kit, water bottles and food. DO RESEARCH before going on a backpacking trip in freezing temps. There is alot to consider! Education about what your body is going to do, and how it will work in sub zero temps, may save your life. Winter Camping can be a very rewarding experience, but you need to be aware!!!

Let’s look at Clothing First. Layering is the best way to go for Winter trips. Our first suggestion is the Base Layer. This is the layer closest to your body.

Arc’teryx Rho AR top – “An excellent layering piece for cool weather aerobic activities, the Arcteryx Rho AR Top for Men is also an ideal expedition weight layering piece under your ski jacket. Form fitting with stretch to manage moisture and prevent constriction, the Rho AR Top will keep you warm and dry no matter the cool weather activity you undertake.” Weight: 11.2 oz (316 g) Buy it at Altrec for $124.95


Arc’teryx Men’s Gamma MX Hoody – the Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody is the proven and popular softshell middle layer for technical climbing, hiking and backpacking. Essentially it’s the hooded version of the award-winning Arc’teryx Gamma MX Jacket, with the same warm and lightweight Polartec® Power Shield™ fabric in an identical athletic cut. The fabric features a special DWR finish that keeps moisture away from your skin on misty mornings and foggy ascents. Unlike most so-called performance fleece, Polartec® Power Shield™ fabric is exceptionally resilient to wear and won’t snag like other material. Gear and gadget freaks will appreciate the five storage pockets, including a laminated sleeve pocket sized for a two-way radio. Interior front zipper wind flaps and an adjustable hem drawcord help seal out cool breezes. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself wearing the Gamma MX Hoody throughout the rest of the year.

Breathable, wind-resistant, lightweight Polartec® Power Shield™ face fabric
Scholler® Dynamic reinforcement fabric along chest and pockets
Full coverage Storm Hood™ adapts to most helmets
Trim, athletic cut
Gusseted No-lift underarm sleeves minimize exposure during extended reaches
Interior wind flap behind full-length front zipper
Laminated left sleeve pocket
Dual chest pockets with laminated zippers
Dual high volume handwarmer pockets
Laminated hem drawcord
Weight: 21 oz. (595 g.) Buy it at Altrec for $349.95

Outershell or Rain Jacket

Intragal Designs Dolomitti Jacket – This versatile, all season lightweight jacket is ideal as a layering piece in exceptionally cold conditions (same loft as 3 layers of PT200 fleece). Wear it under your shell jacket, slip it on over your shell if you are stopping for a short break or use it on its own around camp or town. The Dolomitti Jacket can also be used in conjunction with a primaliner and bivy bag as part of a light weight sleep system. Features: Insulated with single layer of 5 oz Primaloft Sport (1″ loft); Pertex microfibre shell fabric; 30 denier taffeta inner lining (black); Full length YKK # 5 vislon separating zipper with inside weather flap; Two 8″ x 8″ outside zippered hand warmer pockets with Taslan nylon weather flaps; Inside left zippered pocket; Shoulders and elbows reinforced with black
Taslan nylon; Snug fitting Spandura cuffs; Shock cord and toggle bottom hem adjustment; Supplied with Silcoat stuff sack. Options: Zip on / Zip off hood. add US $40.00 Unit price: $240.00 USD
You can buy it at backcountrygear.com

* Another good Waterproof jacket is the Arc’teryx Alpha LT


Cloudveil Ice Floe Gloves – Atomic™ grip, impressive dexterity and molded protection made the Ice Floe an instant climber favorite. This season it upgrades with bonded construction and Gore-Tex® Soft Shell fabric for a tighter seal. Schoeller® panels and a close fit shift focus back to providing biner-clipping and skin-ripping dexterity. $90.00 Weight : 7 oz Buy them at www.cloudveil.com


The North Face PowerStretch balaclava – Great for alpine climbing but also superb for skiing and snowboarding, this Power Stretch® Balaclava provides excellent face and neck coverage in cold conditions. It features four-way stretch Polartec® fleece with a brushed, bi-component construction that does double duty both as a source of insulation and a moisture-transfer base layer. The construction is intentionally snug to comfortably fit beneath all but the tightest helmet configurations.
Weight: 2 oz. (57 g.) Buy it at www.backcountry.com for $27.95 *Would bring another Wool hat for nights.

Pants (outershell)

Intragal Designs Denalli Pants – These lightweight insulated pants are the perfect layer to pull on over the top of your active layers when stopping for short break or when setting up camp. The fully separating leg zippers mean that they can be put on without having to take off boots, skis or crampons. The Denali Pants are as lofty as 2 layers of fleece at a fraction of the weight. The Special Groups version are reinforced with taslan nylon in the butt, knees and instep. These pants can also be used as part of a sleep system when traveling with a light bag or when conditions get really cold. Features: Insulated with single layer of 4oz Primaloft Sport (0.8″ loft); Pertex P685 ripstop microfibre shell fabric; 30 denier taffeta inner lining (black); Fully separating YKK # 5 vislon leg zippers with inside weather flap and anti snag webbing; Elasticized waist with front drawcord and side Velcro adjustments; Front fly / belay zip, re-inforced butt, knees and instep. Weight: 1lb 3 oz (535 g) You can buy them at www.backcountrygear.com for $210.00 *Make sure you are bringing some Long Underwear also.


Baffin Tundra Men’s Snow Boots – The double buckles keep your foot in place while the snow collar keeps the snow out so you can enjoy winter without frostbite! An all around winter boot that is perfect for active winter wear and for more serious winter use like shoveling your driveway. Comfortable, durable and ready to take on the cold temperatures! Water Resistance Waterproof base, winterproof upper Insulation 7-layer inner boot system with Thermaplush Removable inner boot liner for overnight drying Form fitting polymech foam for custom contoured fit B-Tek 4 channel hollow fiber insulation provides thermal insulation Hydromax II moisture management system Closure Strap system for secure fit Locking snow collar for deep snow protection Comfort Range -40°F to 30°F Buy them at www.winterfootwear.com for $74.00


Outdoor Research Verglass Gaitors – If you’ve ever thought about trimming a few ounces off your Crocs these are the gaiters for you. They’re designed to be lighter and more packable, with the same fit and performance of the originals. Avg. Weight (oz./g): 7.4 / 210 Buy them at REI for $40.00


The Nothern Lites Gray Backcountry – is the snowshoe of choice for mountaineering, backpacking, hiking, and general use over uncertain terrain. At a full 30″ long, the Backcountry provides all the floatation most people will require in any snow conditions. And at only 43 oz. per pair, the Backcountry weighs less than the 22″ and 25″ models of ordinary aluminum frame snowshoes. The Jan./Feb. 1997 issue of Backpacker magazine critically ranked the top ten backpacking showshoes, concluding, “I’d buy the Northern Lites Backcountry showshoes for myself. They perform great, and their light weight is just too good to pass up.”

Gray Decking on Black Frames with Black Logos.
9″ X 30″ and 43 oz./pr.
Surface Area 222 in2
For User Packing Weight 175 lbs. to 250 lbs.
Buy them at Northernlites.com for – $249.00

Sleeping Bags

Intragal Designs XPD1– The best all round bag for winter condition in North America and most mountain environments. Fully featured and compact. Available in 3 lengths and relaxed or broad widths. Relaxed, regular weighs 3 lbs 3 oz (1,450 g) (includes large Silcoat compression stuff sack and cotton storage stuff sack).

0 F / -20C (7″ loft). The Rockies Series is the bag of choice for most mountain trips in the Americas and Europe. Superb comfort and loft make this bag ideal for winter trips, yet it is still light and compact enough to ensure that you don’t have to haul a huge pack. It is the bag of choice for Everest guides who believe that weight is everything. Bag Size. sh. 5.4 reg 5.11 lg. 6.4 Price. $679.95 *Comes in Broad sizes also. Buy this by Phone Order at www.mountainmagicgear.com


Black Diamond/Bibler Eldorado – Two-person single-wall tents built for expedition use, the I-Tent and Eldorado are both lightweight, incredibly strong, windproof and waterproof. While the I-Tent is 208 centimeters (82 in) in length, the Eldorado is 221 centimeters (87 in) long for bigger bodies or more gear. The canopy is built with waterproof and breathable ToddTex, the bathtub floor is polyurethane-laminated nylon and all the seams are factory taped. Its single end-door utilizes hybrid single-wall
construction with a no-see-um mesh panel that gives an open-air feeling in nice weather. With two equal-size aluminum poles that fit inside, it’s easy to pitch from inside and on narrow ledges. An optional zip on/off vestibule is available for extra gear storage and cooking space.

Eldorado 2 2.04 kg
4 lb 8 oz 2.3 kg
5 lb 1 oz *Based on Two Person Tent
(7″ x 19″) 30.8 87 x 51 x 43 in
221x130x109 cm 2
Easton 7075 1 Clip On ToddTex PU Laminated

Buy this at www.REI.com for $575.00

Other good tents that are lightweight at Sturdy are: Intragal Designs MK1 and the Mountain Hardware Expidition EV2


Golite Pinnacle – Constructed of bombproof Dyneema® gridstop nylon, the Pinnacle is the ultimate large volume ultra-lite pack. Foam padding in the back and hip belt wings provides support, and Brock™ foam padding beefs up the spacer mesh shoulder straps to ensure long-lasting comfort. A large front pocket with a watertight zip and two side angled stretch mesh pockets provide easy access to stored items, and two side compression straps plus the comPACKtor system neatly decompress unused pack space for smooth hauling.

1 lb 9 oz. | 710 g
Volume: 4400 in3 | 72 liters
Buy this at www.Golite for $130.00

* For a 40lb pack we would suggest the Granite Gear Nimbus Ozone

We purposly did not mention Socks, Cookware, Water Bottles, or Hydration systmes. Nor did we mention water Filtration Systems. **Important to remember: Always bring a First Aid Kit, and a extra pair of socks just incase. When planning a camping and hiking trip in the Winter, plan for “worst case scenario”, and always make sure someone knows your route.

See you on the Trail.


Feel free to contact me at any time. Started Backpacking in 2003 and have never looked back. My all time favorite hike was last April when I hiked the Sycamore Wilderness Canyon. No trails, no signs, just wilderness and a 3,000 foot steep drop into the Canyon. I ran out of water my third day. Why? There was no water in the Canyon. You can check out my video on the "backpacker.tv" page. Thanks for dropping by.

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Feel free to contact me at any time. Started Backpacking in 2003 and have never looked back. My all time favorite hike was last April when I hiked the Sycamore Wilderness Canyon. No trails, no signs, just wilderness and a 3,000 foot steep drop into the Canyon. I ran out of water my third day. Why? There was no water in the Canyon. You can check out my video on the "backpacker.tv" page. Thanks for dropping by.

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