Forums Splitboard Talk Forum splitboard winter camping thread
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  • #580174
    16 Posts

    hey guys I would love to see and discuss everyones winter camping gears and setups as well as places that are good for split camping in alberta and bc. im in Edmonton and I started getting into it 2 seasons ago and cant get enough! so far my buddies and I camped out in rogers pass, tunnel creek fernie and bow summit. fernie seemed to have a lot of potential and is a must hit this season. I find that finding an area which you are allowed to camp is the biggest challenge unless you are breaking some kind of law which I avoid to the best of my abilities.

    151 Posts

    I’ve camped in the snow a few times (so not really an expert), and only in Australia. The coldest we deal with is around -10C. In Canada you’re likely dealing with colder temps and will probably need ‘expedition’ level warmth in mid-winter (well I would – I’m a cold sleeper 😥 ).

    Here’s the gear I’ve taken on a BC overnighter.

    Dual wall 2 person tent, preferably with somewhere to hang stuff from inside.

    2 x sleeping pads – 1 foam, 1 ultra light self inflating

    -10C synthetic insulation sleeping bag (always the chance of rain rather than snow in Aus!) – Think about sizing up – I almost always sleep with my boot liners, cameras and maybe a hot water (nalgene) bottle.
    Sleeping bag liner (stops your bag clunking after repeated use and also adds a little warmth)

    Jetboil – I find the jetboil is perfect for Australian winter camping as it doesn’t get cold enough so the jetboil doesn’t work. If in doubt, I sleep with the gas canister in my sleeping bag. They’re really well designed. You’d probably be needing a liquid fuel stove in Canada though, which I find slower, less efficient and a lot more fiddly.

    Food – For dinner I use freeze dried meals, the ones where you pour boiling water into the sachet and let it sit for 10mins. They’re light to carry in and fairly hearty. “Scroggin” (fruit/nut mix) is probably in everyones pack when touring, you definitely need something sweet (e.g. white chocolate) in there otherwise it quickly tastes like cardboard and you won’t want to eat any. Those kiddy sweet yoghurt snacks (with the re-closeable mini bottle lids) are good to have in your pocket, although on overnighters you need to be careful of them freezing. Variety is the key, too much of one thing and you’ll get sick of it very quickly (e.g. 10 muesli bar of the same flavour). Given you’re sleeping in the frigid cold, a good range of hot drinks (of course tea), something like hot chocolate.

    Bowl/plate/cup – I use the sea-to-summit ones that fold flat.

    Pee bottle – Don’t underestimate the importance of this, either use a small nalgene bottle or a gatorade bottle works fine too. Getting out of your warm sleeping bag and tent in the middle of the night is a major logistical nightmare, not too mention waking your tent buddy up 😳 .

    Hydration – Forget camel baks, they will freeze in 3 seconds flat – get wide mouth Nalgene bottles – Nice to fill with boiling water and put in your sleeping bag before bed – even better, put it in your boot liner and then in your sleeping bag. I also have a small thermos (snow peak) for tea day use. When heading out for the day I fill my nalgene with boiling water and that way you take advantage of the hot water to melt more snow as you need it.

    Spare batteries – for headlamp, beacon. I usually wrap them in duct tape.

    Big down puffy – For lazing around camp, then I use it as a pillow.

    I usually don’t take goggles (too bulky) unless I know I’m getting face shots or it’s über-cold.

    A few plastic bags are handy for storing food, rubbish etc.

    The position and construction of your campsite is of fundamental importance (goes without saying I guess), minimise exposure to the wind etc. A nice flat surface for your tent without undulations and nasty lumps of ice will make your sleep a lot better – it’s worth investing some time to get this right. A low wall around the tent will protect from the wind and minimise draughts. Depending on location, I will ski strap my board/poles to a tree so they don’t blow away.

    Sat Phone for emergencies if out of phone range, otherwise dual mobile phones.

    For day trips away from the campsite, I always take one sleeping bag and ALL my insulation if there’s an injury and someone can’t walk.

    33 Posts

    ^Good info Method. Quite a few things you listed I hadn’t heard nor thought of, that could be really helpful for me out there. Peeing in a bottle is definitely a smart one, duh! I usually struggle to kneel and aim out the tent door, but that takes alot of effort and valuable heat lost in the process. Thanks!

    24 Posts

    A lot of winter camping comes down to how comfortable you want to be which is what will affect the weight of your pack. It is also important to know how warm you sleep. I have winter camped with people where some people are hanging out in their wool baselayer around the campfire while the other people were wearing goose down jackets.

    It sounds like you will be going on missions were you will be in the woods for a few nights. If that is the case then I think bringing more gear would be advisable. In other words bring a bigger cook pot for melting snow and bring the most efficient (considering both cooking time and fuel) stove you can. Get the nicer sleeping bag, a (hooded) down jacket and get some down booties. Down booties are amazing for camp and I prefer them to the pee bottle method.

    For myself I tend to take little stuff with me for simple overnighters where I plan to only spend minimal time in the tent. A MSR Reactor stove, a 1 liter pot and a floorless Black Diamond Beta Mid are the basics for camp. For longer periods of time in the backcountry or for zones where I plan to return throughout the winter I favor building an igloo. It’s a lot of work, but it’s something that will secure, warm and will last for months.

    16 Posts

    awesome to see serious people talking here! I agree with all of you guys. methods, your kit is super close to been identical to mine its freaky. I use wide mouth un-insulated water bottle to sleep with though, I found it retains heat twice as long and after 4am pee session I can still cuddle a warm bottle back to sleep. plastic one is good but steal is better so try it! I first thought id be a minimalist so I got a bivy but I regret not going with a tent. too much exposure or fear and thought of being exposed sucks. when my buddy corey comes with his hottent it is THE SHIT! including the floorless tent its around 8lbs, can sleep 3 with lots of room and heat. the fact that you can go on a little 2nights trip with no sun, and have dry gears on both riding days is mind blowing. we haven’t taken far and long but looking to do more this winter. in the same area last year we did 2nights during a shittiest avy condition in -25c low. it got kinda tough but nothing you cant manage. we didn’t have the hot tent and we didn’t take time to dig the floor out properly and kinda messed it up but it was my first floorless experience and once you know how to set it up properly I think it is the way to go. how cold does it get down there? and what kind of riding?
    I agree with you jonhub. when its -25c with wind and no fire and looking at that bivy, you realized you really messed up. hahahaha
    the booties are definitely must have in camps for sure. im not sure how I would live without them. though I feel like there needs to be a booties that are little more robust but still packs small so I can walk around them and gather woods without putting my boots back on.
    what region are you in?

    I feel like I need to improve on food. more light and delicious food. I mainly do jetboil and campfood but they get old fast. instant noodles are always a must but I just feel like there are more out there… and also campcraft need improvement. I I think in general im hurrying the process of building a camp bit too much.

    194 Posts

    This thread is :thumpsup:

    Looking to get to some more remote objectives this season, so I’m really going to be paying attention to this one.

    167 furberg
    163/26 Venture Helix

    134 Posts

    (sorry, i got a little carried away)
    For perspective, I probably have around 20-25 nights of winter camping under my belt. :twocents:

    – pyramid tent (mountain laurel for me) – can dig down into snow to make “cave” as large/complex as you want, depending on time/needs. for center pole… use ski poles for single nights, or cut a piece of wood for multiple night stays. use axes, poles, skis, as anchors (or plastic bags filled w/ snow). for springtime mud, use a SOL safety blanket for a floor.
    – MH -40deg down bag (has waterproof shell) for winter. HEAVY at around 5lbs, but shit gets cold here in MT, and i like to sleep well. Synthetic +20deg for springtime.
    – Thick inflatable sleeping pad (i use REI Flash)
    – full length foam RidgeRest, cut in half. Use this to sit on (I combine with the foam bivy pad from my CiloGear bag, to put under my inflatable sleeping pad)

    – Jet Boil. I’ve camped in 3 consecutive days of negative weather (lowest around -22deg) without fuel problems. Sleep with the canister(s), keep them on your body during cold days.
    – Mountain House meals for dinner (+ laxatives 😆 ). I only bring one of the foil packs, and repack the other dinner meals into plastic baggies to save weight.
    – Pro-Bars, Gu, nut butters for the day/lunch.
    – oatmeal for morning
    – tea, coffee for mornings/nights
    – dark chocolate 🙂
    – carb drink/electrolyte tabs for day
    – protein powder, for post-movement drink
    – a lil’ whikkey, for those early nights
    – Fozzil bowl/plate, spork, SnowPeak double-walled mug,
    – wide-mouth nalgene (to sleep with during nights too), extra nalgene compressible canteen
    – pee bottle- soft nalgene canteen (although peeing in a floorless tent is waayy too easy 😳 )

    – leatherman
    – para-cord (and lots of it!)
    – simple first aid (athletic tape, mole skin, benadryl, asprin, and a bandaid or two), fire starter stick, lighter(s), party favors
    – i always take my glucosamine 🙂
    – 2 ski straps, although lately i’ve been favoring a couple of these:
    – little notebook/pencil
    – map, compass
    – camera
    – SOL safety blanket (or 2)

    – softshell for touring (Pataguch Mixed Guide on warm days, Northwall jacket for cold days)
    – hardshell in case it gets nasty(Pataguch M10 for winter, Houdini for spring)
    – R1 (built in balaclava booya!) and capalene for layering
    – BD liners for touring
    – warm/waterproof gloves for riding
    – mitts for back at camp
    – lightweight insulation (synthetic vs. down, depending on temps)
    – beanie for cold/nights (really, i just use hoods most of the time)
    – socks, socks, socks
    – headlamp (BD Storm for me)

    I try to bring no additional layers – at my coldest (resting/sleeping), I should be wearing all my clothing. (Except socks – dry socks are worth their weight in gold).
    Sleep with fuel, boot liners, any food that will freeze. A warm nalgene between the thighs goes a long ways.

    For my pack, I rock a CiloGear 45Ski for winter overnight trips. The simplicity/multi-functionality of it is unparalleled, IMO. Tent goes in bottom, without any bag, to fill out corners, etc. Sleeping bag (in compression bag) goes next. Then goes everything else, with the most weight packed on top.
    I use sili-nylon and/or cuben fiber bags (z-packs, Hyperlite Mountain Gear) to keep things in, as they keeps things separate and most importantly DRY. Getting a cuben fiber sack for my skins has been life changing, as I can throw my wet skins in with all my other stuff and not worry about it.

    uh oh gotta get back to work!!

    721 Posts


    I do heaps of snow camping.
    Some hot tips given to customers on our overnight MRBC trips

    1. Down booties with Neos over shoes. you can take your boots off when you get to camp and put the down boots on with over shoes for walking around and then take the over shoe off for in the tent.

    2 Exped Mat. I rock the Down Mat 9. A well rested guide is a happy guide! you can put a thermarest mat underneath too if you want more protection from the cold or if you mat is supect!

    3. Thermarest z seat. Great to pack all day as seat for having lunch and for sitting around camp.

    4 Snow anchors. I’ve made these myself. These are a life saver in high winds and rain.

    5. Always subtract one person from the rating on tents. 2 man = 1 man, 3 man = 2 man etc etc.

    The only other thing is tents. Its a personal preference
    Just started using single wall tent, love them!
    Have a few going currently
    Single wall
    Nemo Tenshi, North Face Assult 2
    2 wall
    The good old Mountain Hardwear Trango 3.

    The Nemo and North face are for one, Trango is for 2.

    Use the optional vestible on the single wall tents. Great for storage of wet stuff, you can sit with your feet out of the tent if you dig a pit .

    Adam West

    721 Posts

    Keep smiling also helps!

    Adam West

    16 Posts

    neos over shoe thing looks awesome firstlight! Im gonna have look into that. right now I have a cheap synthetic bootie with okey sole but its not water proof. maybe get a real down bootie and pair them with over shoe… so glad to hear from many experienced dudes! I first borrowed my friends old downmat 9 lg and thought it was bulky and hard to pack it back in -25c temp. so I went with xtherme. I bought the only size they had which is regular I think and being 6ft tall I wish it was a bit longer and wider. especially camping with floorless set up usable lounge area is pretty small. im gonna get some some of those thicker reflective looking tarp for the bottom with floorless set up with my buddys hot tent.
    I totally agree with copafeel about not bring additional layers. ive done trips where it got to -30c with is pretty much the coldest I would go out in, and still had an unused layer in my pack.
    any suggestions on how to rig a tarp over a bivy in the mountains? I currently have a siltarp one but I think its too small. or maybe im missing the skills.

    16 Posts

    my sleeping bag is a heavy -20c hybrid bag. outer layer of its insulation is synthetic so that snow or water from outside wont get to down easily is the idea I think. it kind of give me a peace of mind of a multi day trips.

    16 Posts

    acopafeel, repacking mountain house meals is and awesome idea too! im always surprised how big my food bag gets by the time I pack it. as for my skins getting G3 loveglove was life changing as well. so easy to handle skins without getting snow on them! agree about them whikkey. I don’t know much about alcohol but had some aged scotch at night in rogers pass and I must say if one would spend money on good booze, that was it!

    if anybody is having problem with jetboil or reactor fuel getting too cold, I boil little water and put it in a bowl, put jetboil in it and it work like its 0c when its really -20c! until I read about it online last year my jetboil started failing at around -20c.


    all this sounds great, but I’d say taking all that gear is a sure fire way to have a 60+ pound pack. Trango 3 tent weighs like 12 lbs! to me that sounds like not much fun. with all that gear your probably going to make only 5-6 miles in, which with a light pack you could do in a day trip…

    i would recommend a far lighter setup, maybe a single wall “bivy” tent (mhw direct 2, bd firstlight etc.) or better yet a sil nylon tarp or floorless tent.

    I’m usually fine with a 30 degree bag and all my layers on…as they say ymmv (your mileage may vary)

    i find that a lot of my warmth in my sleep system comes from the sleeping pad. that being said, a downmat 9 is huge and weighs way too much! closed cell foam or neo air x-therm. i don’t mess with that neo air junk on overnight or a couple night trips, closed cell foam is the way to go. get one that’s flat (no ridges or egg shape, those only get a bunch of meltwater in them)

    light is right! keep it simple, keep it easy, keep it fun

    125 Posts

    Love this thread. I think I may need a new cook system. Right now I have an MSR pocket rocket that I use in the summer. It seems that jetboil are more popular. Do they work better in the cold? Is something like the jetboil joule with an inverted canister a good idea?

    189 Posts

    Nice, I like all the idea’s here. I’ve been out winter camping a few times. I know keeping things dry equals happiness. I got a lot of great info from “Allen and Mike’s really cool backcountry ski book”. Check it out if you get a chance. For food try cheese, lots of it. Oh and bacon, precook and store in ziplock bag. :thumpsup:

    +1 for jetboils efficiency and I believe that if your melting snow for water you don’t have to boil it for purification. This saves fuel and time but remember to prime the pot full of snow with a little water first to avoid burt tasting water.

    16 Posts

    bcall8- i have jetboil sol and love it for both winter and summer. i had a few trips where it was under -20c and the efficiency of the stove went down noticeably. i read online somewhere to boil little water, put it in a bowl( big enough to fit fuel can in), then light it up. it works like its +20c outside when its really -20c. liquid fuel stove may work better in cold but i have no experience with it and it looks way complicated for me. lets say for 2 nights trip i bring 1 big can of fuel for camp use and 1 small can for bringing it on tour to have hot tea or boil water for food.

    swanny- im totally gonna precook bacon next time!

    christoph- i want to try closed cell foam but i went with x-therm because of its higher R rating. so far so good. realistically how far can you push a closed cell foam? can you do -20c and below?

    what do you guys wear to sleep? and if you can post pics of how you dig out the kitchen, chill areas and also inside of your floorless set up thatd be awesome!

    134 Posts

    IMG_4664 by acopafeel, on Flickr

    this was from a 2 overnight stay… i didnt get too elaborate with this one. gear in bag on left, sleeping platform on back, cook area in center, pisser in the corner 🙂
    about chest deep in the front, with steps leading down to enter and also up to the sleeping platform.

    16 Posts

    awesome looking setup!! do you ever make fire when splitcamping?

    28 Posts

    Great thread!

    I haven’t done any winter camping yet, but my friend and I just picked up the North Face Mountain 25 tent, and I got the Thermarest Xtherm sleeping pad and then a -29c NorthFace Inferno bag. Our first trip out is in about 2 weeks (I know it’s not winter yet, but late/early Nov in Alberta is the equivalent of winter in most places).

    I do wish more of the parks in Alberta let you do winter camping. . .

    16 Posts
    AdamBQ wrote:
    Great thread!

    I haven’t done any winter camping yet, but my friend and I just picked up the North Face Mountain 25 tent, and I got the Thermarest Xtherm sleeping pad and then a -29c NorthFace Inferno bag. Our first trip out is in about 2 weeks (I know it’s not winter yet, but late/early Nov in Alberta is the equivalent of winter in most places).

    I do wish more of the parks in Alberta let you do winter camping. . .[/quot

    hahaha whats up adam! I really hope its snowing up there…im getting worried

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