Winter Gear Selection III: Gear Tour and Basic Layering

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 25 January 2011

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Gear Tour

After figuring our backpacking route and determining the range of our possible weather conditions, let's take a look at our basic Winter backpacking gear options, and discuss layering that is approiate for our route and the weather conditions we are expecting.

A written-out gear list covering all these gear catagories can be viewed on the trail guide.

This backpacking gear list is additive, starting with your basic Summer Gear, adding heavier layering as necessary for Spring and Fall backpacking at high elevations, and ultimately replaces lighter gear with heavier pieces as the temps drop down to Winter conditions.

Basic Layering

Days and Nights

As we are expecting clear and sunny days, and very cold nights, we are going to have to have a layering program that will comfortably cover this range.

Most important during the day is to be able to hike without sweating. Though the temps will be down to the teens, our heavy pack, very difficult powder snow, the high angle of the ascent, and the elevation will all conspire to make me perspire, if my base layer is too heavy.

This has caused me to choose two base layers: The skin layer will be a thin poly thermal layer, composed of thin poly pants and a matching poly tank top. The next layer will be nylon zip to shorts pants on the bottom, and a thin long-sleeved poly layer on top.

This layering set up will allow me to hike in a poly tank top, and poly lowers under shorts during hard work on "hot" days. 

This setup should work as an effective day time base layer, though it will have to be considerably supplemented to work at night.


Clear skies will bring very cold temps, so my layering is being selected to deal with low single digit temps.

On the bottom I have the thin poly pants, the zip to shorts pants, medium poly pants, medium fleece pants, and the outer shell.

On the top I have the poly tank top, a poly long-sleeve, a medium poly long-sleeve, a heavy fleece coat, a medium weight down coat, and the upper shell jacket.

 Check the full gear list on the trail guide.

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