Backpacking in the cold, especially in the Winter months can be a beautiful experience. After all, there isn’t any foliage and high elevation views can be pretty spectacular. That’s why it’s important to understand the Layering System. We like the 4 layering system and there are many articles out there explaining it.
There are three main components to a layering system.
The first layer is next to skin: The main job of this layer is to wick sweat away from your skin, then dry quickly so you don’t get chilled. Cotton sucks at this because it takes forever to dry. I still am amazed at how many hikers I still see wearing a cotton t-shirt. Big NO NO. Our favorite base layers are wool. They are very efficient, warm when it’s cold, cool when it’s hot, and they don’t stink up like so many synthetics do. The bad news is that wool tends to dry slowly when it gets wet (either from precipitation or sweat). Synthetic materials (polyesters) also make good base layers, and people with very sensitive skin often find wool itchy, so poly is a good wicking, quick-drying option. Perhaps the best of all are wool/synthetic blends which are becoming more and more popular because they have the quick-dry ability of synthetics, with the warmth and ant-stink talents of wool. A note about fit: For cool or cold weather, your base layer should be snug, because if it’s not touching your skin, it can’t wick sweat. That means your sweat sits on your skin until it evaporates, which leaves you shivering.
Second Layer is Insulation: This is the layer that traps your body heat. It can range from lightweight fleeces and wool sweaters to full-on puffy down jackets; it just depends on the season. In all but the coldest of weather, your insulation will remain in your pack while hiking, so your body heat can escape and dissipate. But as soon as you stop moving, put it on so you won’t get cold as your sweat dries.
Third Layer is the Shell: The job of a shell is twofold: it cuts the wind and keeps you dry. In summertime, you can get away with a wispy windshell, but for more challenging weather and extended trips, you want a waterproof/breathable shell (like Gore-Tex or eVent) that keeps water out, but lets sweat vapor escape, so you don’t get wet from perspiration inside your layering system.
The Forth or Optional Layer is the RainJacket: When it’s cold, many people have their second layer as a lightweight pull over. Third Layer is then the lightweight puffy down jacket, THEN the forth layer is your windshell or rain jacket. In our video we like the 4 layering system as you can see.
The main principle of layering is that you are regularly adding and removing layers to keep your body temperature even. An example. We start off on chilly morning hike wearing my base layer and a light fleece. As our body warms up, we stop and take off the fleece. At lunch break, on a breezy ridge, we immediately put the fleece back on, and possibly our outer shell to cut the wind. After lunch, it all comes off (except the base layer) and we start trekking again. If it’s starts raining or a big thunderstorm roll in. We throw on our rainjackets and open up the pit zips (underarm vents) and continue. We always make sure our extra layers are conveniently located in the outer pockets of my pack, so we can always reach them.
What is your Winter Layering system when you go backpacking? We would love to hear from you.
What is your favorite National Park? Our’s is Isle Royale National Park. On this episode we are going to share one of our favorite backpacking adventure trips. Where to go, and how to get there. You maybe suprised to hear it’s on an Island and in Michigan. Then give you 2 tips on the best way to travel with your backpack. Lastly we share one of our subscribers e-mail question
As guides for Full Moon Adventures, every year we get a chance to travel to Isle Royale National Park. It’s an Island that is 45 miles long and only 9 miles wide. It’s actually a part the State of Michigan.
On this episode we come to you right from the Appalachian Trail itself tucked, in our sleeping bags. Backpacking on the AT offers so much excitement and beauty. Especially hiking in the Winter. Much better views, less people, and often more stars. However, the sun goes down rather fast and quickly becomes pretty chilly. That leaves you with getting in your bag often by 8:00 pm with nothing to do. We call this, Hikers Midnight.
This episode was from our LIVE show on our Facebook page. We thought it had good value and wanted to convert it into our weekly podcast. Our Top 10 Suggestions for New Backpackers was a lot of fun.
Here they are:
Do you have any suggestions for new backpackers? Share them with us. You’re never too old to learn. 🙂
Do you have that special piece of backpacking gear that just makes you feel warm and cozy? We absolutely do! On our LIVE Show we discussed what our favorite “GO TO” piece of Gear is. We also share our New Year Resolutions and what we want to accomplish in 2017.
So we did a field test of the MSR Flex Skillet and I fell deeply in love with this pan. A durable, nonstick surface makes this hard-anodized aluminum skillet perfect for everything from stir-fries to the perfect pancake. Conveniently nests inside a Flex™ 4 Cook Set and outside a Flex™ 3 Cook Set. It does weigh 7 oz which in my standards would be considered a bit heavy. However, you have to be who you are in the backcountry and both Ariane and I love to cook. So the MSR Flex Skillet gives the chance to enjoy easy clean up with the non stick service.
There are also some really cool companies that we think are on the move in 2017. One of those companies is Eddie Bauer and their First Ascent Gear line. Now don’t get confused with the first version of First Ascent. That gear also rocked. But this version is a re-brand. But even now, this gear looks really bad ass.
Another company we think is going to rock out gear is of course, Sea To Summit. They have really been innovative is the last few years and they keep coming up with new and lightweight gear.
We wrap up with a Primus Stove give a way and some New Year Resolutions.
On this episode we sit down with Robin League and discuss what backpacking in South Africa is like. Most people know what “backpacking” in the US is. But in different countries around the world, the word “backpacking” is or can be a little different.
Our guest Robin League spent 2 years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland Africa. She often went backpacking from Hostel to Hostel on the Wild Coast of South Africa. How is backpacking on the Wild Coast different than backpacking in the US National Forest’s? Robin gives us the low down on what it’s like and what to expect.
We also discuss the different water treatment systems and what to expect when driving around South Africa. You would be surprised to find out what taking Public Transportation is like.
We also give you a few tips and how to’s if you ever travel to South Africa and want to go backpacking on the Wild Coast.
This podcast was a lot of fun. Robin is a good friend of ours and has gone backpacking with us in the US. Have you ever gone backpacking in another Country? Let us know where and what your experience was like.
On this episode we are going to discuss use of technology and is it useful on the trail? Do you need it, and how do you use it? We’ll also do a Throwback Thursday and look back as to what was used to communicate while on a Thru-Hike all but 15 years ago. Wow! Has it been that long?
Can you effectively use technology without it disengaging you from your outdoor experience? We find it goes both ways. Yes, it can be beneficial to bring a little tech out into the Wilderness, but it can also be aggravating as hell when you find cell service.
What’s your opinion? If you bring your cell phone on the trail, what do you use it for?
#throwbackthursday Do you remember the Pocketmail device? – Back in my day (Wow, never thought I would say that) there was no cell phones on the trail on a large extent. It was a huge debate to bring or not to bring.
Wireless mobile data is extremely expensive or entirely unavailable, high speed broadband just a dream. Pocketmail was a PDA type device which featured an acoustic coupler modem which you could slap onto a phone after dialing a number and download/upload e-mails over the phone. The PDA itself had memory internally to store e-mails awaiting transmission, and ran off two AA batteries.
We had a blast doing this podcast. Share your stories with us and let us know how you feel about technology on the trail.
Thanks for listening.
This was one of our favorite shows that we’v done. Why? We are talking tasty deserts that are easy to make on the trail. We also review Backcountry Pantry Foods, which in our opinion, makes some pretty good deserts.
Have you ever been on the trail and run into a bunch of Blueberries? Well, we always stop and pick ourselves some so we can make a Blueberry Pie desert. Yes, that is possible. Below we share our recipe.
Here are some of our favorite desert mixes we bring on the trail.
Jell-O Simply Good Banana Mix. It comes in a small 3.4 oz bag and is really good. It packs well, and if buy Carnation Instant Milk mix, you only need 2 cups of instant milk and you have a very lightweight desert. In fact, most of the deserts we mention work much better with Instant Milk. 9.6 oz of Carnation Instant Milk can make 4 cups. You normally only need 2 cups with all of these desert mixes which gives you a nice cup of Hot Chocolate with the other 2 cups.
We also really like the Backpantry Desert line. They are a bit expensive, but the bags they come in our re-usable. Our favorite is the Creme Brulee that comes with little sprinkles in a separate bag that make this desert really good.
Our Blueberry Pie Recipe:
Buy some Keebler Mini Pie Crust’s. They come in a package of 6. They are very lightwieght and have never broken while in our packs. Bring a couple sheets of tin foil with you. After you pick your Blueberries, put them in the tinfoil and put them next to your campfire. Not directly in the fire, but next. While your blueberries are cooking. (Usually 10 minutes is all you need to cook them for) Mix your Dream Whip Whipped Topping Mix. This is a bit tricky because you will have to experiment a little. We opted NOT to follow the directions and use less instant milk.
Mix whipped topping mix, and already mixed instant milk in a small Tupperware bowl. Mix for 4 minutes or until topping thickens and forms peaks. Makes 2 cups.
You should bring a small piece of Tupperware to mix all you deserts in and it makes a great piece of gear to store stuff in also.
After your blueberries are hot, put them in your mini pie crust. Then pour your Whipped Cream on your pie.
Try it! Let us know how it went? Do you have a favorite desert that you love to eat in the backcountry? Share it! Nothing like a sweet tooth craving out on the trail, right?
On this episode we reflect on 2016 and the leap into mobile living. We also share our 2017 hopes, trips and going on the road with our 1976 Airstream.
2016 was kind of a rough year. We had a lot of obstacles that through us for a loop. We never in our wildest dreams thought Lucy would come into our lives. Our 1976 Airstream Argosy that we decided to buy and renovate. Oh, boy was that a big undertaking. Not too mention 2016 just kind of sucked.
We also continued to try and grow our guiding business Full Moon Adventures which we decided to scale back and focus on a much more intimate experiences for our customers and students.
Then of course re-branding TheBackapckerTV. Since 2009 this site has been video focused specializing in other videographers content. This year however, we decided to put our years of experience and be a more of a “teaching” site with focus on learning the amazing world of the outdoors and backpacking.
So, how was your 2016? Do you have any plans or trips you are going on in 2017? Let us know and we’ll share them on our Podcast.
Have a great 2017. Get outdoors. Even better yet, come backpacking with us. Always looking to meet new friends.
Happy New Year!
On this episode we are going to share two of our favorite places to backpack to for the Holiday’s. It’s our personal trail traditions that we embark on every year. Swan Cabin and Donley Cabin are both located in foothills of the Smoky Mountains.
Both of these cabins you can Backpack to…remote! Both have no electricity or running water and both have outhouses and steeped in History as they are about 100+ years old. Which is why we love it so much.
Joyce Kilmer – acquired some fame as a journalist, serving on the staff of the New York Times from 1913 to 1918, but most people remember him as the author of the poem “Trees” (“I think that I shall never see/A poem lovely as a tree”). He died in action in World War I. The 3,800 acres of North Carolina’s Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest–perhaps the single most impressive growth of eastern virgin forest in the United States, with many trees hundreds of years old. Swan Cabin Is over 5,000 feet and was Built in 1931 by Frank Swan, this rental has absolutely no modern facilities. The cabin was the former home to district rangers for a number of years before entering service as a rustic lodge for travelers seeking solitude.
Donley Cabin – Jack Donley was trying to evade serving in the Confederate Army, so he constructed a small cabin deep in the mountains of southeast Tennessee. Like many Southern mountaineers during the 19th century, he squatted on property that suited him, built a dwelling and grew corn and other crops.
Sometime after the War, Donley moved to Montana where he met and married an Indian woman. He later moved back to the upper Tellico River area with his bride. Donley died in the 1940’s, asking in his final days to “be carried back across the river” to his old homestead. He is buried in the Coppinger Cemetery in Tellico Plains.
In 1916, 50,000 acres in the North Bald and Tellico River drainage’s were purchased by the Babcock Lumber Company and aggressively logged for several years. Seven years later, this entire acreage, including Donley’s log cabin, was purchased by the Forest Service. During most of the 20th century, a family was permitted to use the cabin as a summer residence and apiary for producing honey.
Have a special “back in time” place you backpack to? Share with us!
When you are new to backpacking and getting ready to start buying gear, one of the things that get very confusing is trying to buy a sleeping pad. There are so many to choose from and priced between $50.00 – $150.00 dollars. Which is the best, the lightest, the most comfortable. AHHHHH!
The most common question we get when we take new backpackers out is “what kind of sleeping pad is the best”? The answer to that is not so cut and dry.
We usually go backpacking in the winter, so it’s important to us to keep warm. Mainly because we sleep under a Tarp. So R-Value is important to us. When looking for a sleeping pad you have to ask yourself a few questions.
How important is comfort to you?
How important is staying warm?
How much do you want to spend?
We can tell you for sure, that the lighter, and the warmer you go, the more money you will spend. But that’s a good if you want to give yourself a better chance at staying warm at night. In our LIVE Show we talk about the different kinds of sleeping pads and what is important when looking to buy one.
If you have a question, join in on the conversation and let’s talk sleeping pads.
On episode 14 of Trust the Trail, we are going to share and explain how to overcome your fear of backpacking solo. Then give you 9 tips you can use to help overcome YOUR fear. Lastly we share one of our subscribers e-mail question.
Where does the real fear come from that stops you from going out in nature alone? It’s control of course. People are usually fearful when they can’t control their environment. The reality of course, is that none of us are in control of our environment. If you spell out FEAR it’s False Evidence Appearing Real. So, stop being afraid of Big Foot, they haven’t proven it yet. 🙂
Ariane and Scott share what their fear is
Ariane shares how she managed her fear backpacking solo on one of the toughest trails in the Country
Scott describes how not to let your fear take over your thoughts.
Do you have a fear out in the wilderness? Post in comments and let’s start the discussion.
In this 12th episode we share our feelings, thoughts, and prayers to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and Gatlinburg, TN.
The wildfires that swept through Gatlinburg, TN on Monday will go down in the history books for sure. There was devastating loss, and brought tears to so many people that have visited the Park, and the neighboring town of Gatlinburg, and Pigon Forge.
As it seems so devastating, there is also hope that our hiking community will remember what has been given so freely to them for years. The true beauty of the GSMNP, the Rangers, and the town’s people of Gatlinburg. In this podcast we share how to help and where to bring clothes and supplies to those who have been displaced out of their homes.
Red Cross information give and how to donate just 10 bucks to help….the FireFighters!
Ariane shares her experience with the Fireflies and the magical Mt. LeConte experience
Scott shares his first experience in Gatlinburg as a Appalachian Thru-Hiker….”dinner is on us”.
Below is how you can help:
The Gatlinburg Relief Fund has been established at SmartBank. Donations can be dropped off at any location or mailed to:
Gatlinburg Relief Fund
P.O. Box 1910
Pigeon Forge, TN 37868
Call 865-453-2650 for more information.
The organization is accepting donations at the Pigeon Forge Fire Hall Station 1 at 3229 Rena Street in Pigeon Forge and New
Hope Church of God in Kodak:
2450 Winfield Dunn Pkwy
Open from 8 to 8
The Red Cross is not looking for untrained volunteers, but is accepting monetary donations. People can make a $10 donation by
texting “REDCROSS” to 90999.
Red Cross workers have served more than 10,000 meals and snacks to wildfire evacuees at shelters in the Galinburg and Pigeon Forge area as of 10 a.m. Tuesday. The Red Cross has served nearly 1,000 meals to firefighters battling the fires.
When someone first try’s out backpacking for the first time, often they get a “sticker shock” when they start pricing out gear. Of course, the first thing they get is the 10 essential list that they run out and buy at REI or their local outfitter. That’s why we wanted to do a show on buying the 10 essentials on a budget. Let’s face it, gear can get a bit pricey, so there is no reason why you need to run out and spend a ton of money. Some are not even sure backpacking is going to be a regular thing for them, so the 10 essentials often sit in a box somewhere deep in your closet.
The first step to remember is the 10 essentials can be found in a lot of different places. For example: did you know that Walmart has a pretty big camping section and that most of your 10 essentials can be found there or on their online store.
First, let’s list the 10 essentials: We have linked all the items on this list with what can be found at Walmart for a LOT LESS money. AND it’s good quality gear.
Navigation (map and compass) *Always carry and emergency whistle
Sun protection (sunglasses and sunscreen) *Get this at CVS or Walgreen’s in the Travel Section.
Insulation (extra clothing) *Learn the 3 Layering system
Fire (waterproof matches/lighter/candles) *We use Firesticks that you can break up use
Repair kit and tools *Make sure Duct Tape is in your Pack
Nutrition (extra food) *Always a good idea to bring extra food that you don’t need to cook.
Hydration (extra water)
Hydration and Insulation are important features of the 10 essentials and would advise to do your research first.
The Emergency Shelter is a big one. I have always used the Space Blanket since I can make a shelter and use it to reflect heat.
TIP: Think about what if your Backpack goes missing. Or a Bear carries it away. Or you just get turned around and can’t find it. Where are your 10 essentials? I always carry my space blanket, first aid kit, and the ability to make fire in a small bag that fits into my Hiking Pants or a hanging on a Carabiner hooked on to my belt loop. That way I always have the ability to have shelter, fire, and first aid if I loose my backpack.
Wow! Lot’s of info on how to choose a backpacking stove right? What’s the best, which one is the lightest, or the fastest too get water to a boil. It really is a daunting process if you are new to backpacking. We put this video together to explain how to choose the right one for YOU!
Backpacking stoves are pretty simple in their logic right? Small, packable, and they need to boil water. Where it get’s complicated is which one do I use? Or better yet, what fuel is the right one?
Ask yourself 3 basic questions first:
Where am I going?
How long will I be gone?
Is weight important?
Where you will be going is important because it will automatically help you in choosing the right kind of backpacking stove. Why? Will you be in cold weather, warm weather, low elevation or high elevation?
How long will you be on the trail is important also since it’s the amount of fuel you may need to carry.
And of course, is weight important to you. Why? Because there are plenty of stoves out there that are extremely light weight and you can make yourself.
For new backpacking just getting started, we recommend the MSR Pocket Rocket. It’s sturdy and easy to use. Not a lot of moving parts so it won’t break down in the field. The drawback is the MSR fuel canister that is NOT refillable. Yes, you can recycle if you rip the can apart and separate the metals. But they are NOT environmentally friendly.
However, there are much lighter stoves and fuel that is better for the environment. We love the White Box Alcohol Stove for people that don’t have to boil water in under a minute. You can also make your own alcohol stove with a little DIY project and some creativity. Why not?
Do you have favorite backpacking stove? We would love to hear your story or see your comments. Let’s talk stoves!!