Forums The Gear Room Pack size for 2-3 day BC splitting and camping?
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  • #578514
    679 Posts

    I have plenty of summer wilderness backpacking experience and have traveled thousands of miles by sea kayak on long trips, but I have never had any desire to go ‘winter’ camping as would be required on a BC splitting outing. I am mulling a 2-3 day traverse of Kodiak Island, my home, and thought I’d pick the brains of folks who have more winter camping experience. Obviously I need the usual BC ski safety kit (shovel, probe, transceiver, etc) and the run of the mill camping gear (tent, stove, bag, pad, etc), but how much do you estimate your fuel consumption goes up if you need to melt snow for water? I usually take very little extra clothing in summer, but how much extra do you take in the winter? Like a complete extra base layer set or do you not change and just ‘wear it dry’? How many liters larger is your winter camping pack than your summer pack? I carry a 55 liter pack for trips up to 5 days in the summer here in coastal Alaska. Any words of wisdom? I have friends here who have climbed Denali unguided and are quite experienced at this sort of thing, but I am afraid of the amount of crap they might tell me I would need to bring.

    875 Posts

    Opinions will vary, and will likely depend highly on: A) the level of comfort you desire, B) the temperatures/weather you expect to see, and C) are you solo or with partners?

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg


    679 Posts

    Either solo or with folks. I would be carrying my own complete kit in most scenarios even if I went with some other people though we might share a radio or gps, etc. I tend to go pretty minimalist, but not true ultralight. My summer base weight is about 18 pounds (1 pound bag, 1 pound pad, 2 pound solo tent, 3 pound pack, etc). It would be spring tours and not terribly cold. Night temps maybe into the mid 20’s, but wind is always a real possibility. I figure you just wear your boots all the time and skip any sort of camp shoes.

    304 Posts

    Kyle has this down pat, I learn a lot after 1 trip with him. I take way to much stuff, i think a 40L packed right is heaps.

    679 Posts

    40L? So no tent or food? My BC daypack is 32L and that thing sometimes gets full on a long day with variable conditions.

    163 Posts

    I would love to see what Kyle brings for a three day trip with a having a partner to share the load with

    721 Posts

    @philip.ak wrote:

    40L? So no tent or food? My BC daypack is 32L and that thing sometimes gets full on a long day with variable conditions.

    Try and attend a splitfest with Mr Miller and he will show how to this happen as ChrisNZ said.

    Adam West

    134 Posts

    I really dig this topic.
    I’ve rocked my 45L for 2 night stays pretty easily – i don’t think it would be difficult to go 3-4 nights w/ the same size.

    Just like summer backpacking, I try to aim towards using every single piece i carry (i.e., not carrying anything extra). I like to bring a comfy bag (down, w/ waterproof cover), neo-air, half-length foam pad, for sleeping. A simple tarp (or pyramid tent) or snow cave is easy for shelter, especially if it’s nice and cold.

    As far as layers go, I bring…
    -1 set of base layers – which stay on my body the whole time (i smell goood)
    -my regular outer layers (For overnights, i default to hard-shell, over soft-shell)
    -1 down puffy (i like to bring my warmest down jacket- wear in camp @ night, stays in pack during day for touring breaks)
    -regular midlayer – stays on the whole time (patagucch R1 top)
    -the only “extra” layer i bring is a pair of R1 bottoms (for sleeping, and in case it gets cold during the day!)
    -1 extra pair of socks

    -if early/late season temps, i’ll swap down for synthetic layers

    For food… Oatmeal for morning, pro-bars and goo for the day, backpacker’s pantry for dinner (w/ laxitives, of course 😡 ). And candy/chocolate/tea!
    I like to package my own food, to help shed some weight/space.

    I’m still working on dialing in fuel estimates, but I definitely lean towards bringing more. When it’s cold, it sure is nice to sleep with a Nalgene full of hot water between the legs.

    Other than that, I try to minimize what BS i’m carrying: iphone, SPOT (depending on trip), leatherman, jetboil, avy gear, ski straps, para cord, camera, party favors, beanie, helmet, minimal first-aid (bandaids, tape, AAA), cool-rays, goggles, nalgene. And axe/’pons, if necessary.

    I’m curious to see how others minimize even further! I’m sure I could take a lighter/less-warm sleeping bag, but I like to be warm when I’m snoozin.

    Great thread- sry for the long winded post.

    679 Posts

    @acopafeel wrote:

    I really dig this topic…

    sry for the long winded post.

    Not a bit. I love the detail.

    Your winter kit sounds a LOT like my summer setup. I do live in AK, after all. 😉

    I guess I would not have to add any real clothing after all other than some real thermal bottoms. I already haul an ice ax and crampons on some of my summer trips. This is a route I have hiked in July that could make an amazing late spring 4-day cruise:


    Poking around I found some good threads on Teton Gravity discussing pack size:

    Seems like the consensus is 45-60 liters. I can see 60L but I wonder how I could pare down to 45L, honestly, just given the room avy tools take not to mention skins on the descents. I’ve already worked on whittling down my crap pile pretty hard. In that first TG thread, about halfway down, there is a good gear list.

    700 Posts

    I have done 4 days full-on camping and 5 or 6 day backcountry cabin trips w/ a Mystery Ranch Big Sky (49 L). Works well for me. I use the BD Megamid as a shelter, which helps me get away w/ a smaller pack. The ‘mid is super packable and light, quite nice for winter and spring when wind isn’t much of an issue. It can be easily augmented w/ various snow walls too, which is nice.

    875 Posts

    My experience is similar. Solo in winter is ~60ish L, and with partner(s) I take a Deuter Guide 45+ L. When I finally update my 15 year old 15 degree bag I will probably be able to get by with the 45+ pack for both.

    How are your snow cave digging skills? Great way to cut weight and volume…though if solo you get to do all the work.

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg


    34 Posts

    Still rock’n my Tom Routh Cirque Works pack! Nothing like it that I know of.

    679 Posts

    How about VBL (vapor barrier layer) socks or sleeping bag liners? I could see not needing a VBL for your sleeping bag for shorter trips, but your boots would get plenty damp inside every day from perspiration. Or do you just put on frozen boots in the morning, or sleep with your boot liners/bladders on?

    875 Posts

    I use VBL socks on any winter/spring multi-day trip, and still sleep with my liners in my bag. VBL socks tend to be somewhat polarizing, you either learn to use them and embrace them, or you hate them and find other ways to manage your socks/footwear. While not as critical on a 2-3 day trip, anything longer using VBL will require very diligent foot hygiene, drying them out well every night and likely rotating pairs of socks. GoldBond foot powder really becomes your friend, and you can apply ant-perspirant to your feet approx. a week before your trip to help reduce perspiration. :twocents:

    165 Venture Divide/Spark Frankenburners/La Sportiva Spantiks
    163W Jones Solution/Phantom Alphas/Dynafit TLT5s
    162 Furberg


    254 Posts

    Hey Phil

    I use the Dakine Guide Pack 49L

    Generally i am always with 1 other guy,so we split up the tent North Face Mountain25 and all the food we use is pre dehydrated meals,homemade energy bars for during the day and oatmeal for breakfast with choc bits and dried fruit,loads of sachets of hot chocolate too.
    Just bring 2 pairs of socks and spare thermals to get into after a days touring,always use sleeping bag liner also as trying to dry out liners inside the bag a night it gets a bit damp and the liner is easy to dry out during the day.
    Nothing beats trying to squeeze your feet into frozen shells first thing in the morning then putting on your down and skinning as hard and fast as you can to try and get heat to your feet

    679 Posts

    I’ve analyzed my own needs and biases, and have concluded I need the following:

    1. An separate avy tool pocket big enough for shovel, probe, saw, and my skins on the rides Down.
    2. A REAL hipbelt. That will support the full load like a real backpacking pack.
    3. Something around 50-55 liters.
    4. Should accommodate both an A-frame and diagonal ski carry.

    I would normally assume a haughty and dismissive tone towards Sierra Design products since they are just soooo pleb, but their Ymir 55 pack looks vaguely functional.

    SD Ymir 55 pack

    376 Posts

    Phillip, when are you planning on going?
    If you’re not waiting till spring I’d go with a snowcave over a tent. Sure you’ll have to dig a new one every night but it would be much warmer and with the relatively short hours of daylight will give you something to do.

    Another consideration is doing a little presupply work. Carry supplies from your origin point to first camp and from your end point to your last came on overnight trips and leave cashes. Then you’ve got a good part of your route down, you’ve prepped for your multiday tour with a couple of overnighters, and you wont have to carry as much with you.

    679 Posts

    Some good suggestions, PF. It will be a late spring trip (if at all). Digging a cave cold be fun as a base camp, but this would probably be a point-to-point tour, and as a restless traveler I can’t see spending a few hours digging snow each day when I could be making miles over another ridge or dropping my pack to do an unenencumbered lap near camp. Caching gear also would be a way to save some weight, but the only thing to dump ahead of time would be food in this case, and that’s only 1.5 pounds per day. If we get a hankering for a single location ski-in-and-do-laps, then your plan would be the way to go, for sure.

    376 Posts

    Yeah I was only thinking snowcaves for winter trips whens that days are short. In spring the time savings of a tent what you want.

    17 Posts

    I go 40L on the road system when I’m using my gore tex bivy and 0 deg down bag. Other than a stove and a bit of food, what else do you really need in the pack? Your tampons can go in a jacket pocket. :doobie:

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