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Winter Backpacking: Your Basic Overview

Posted by Josh Gazelka | December 16, 2019

There’s nothing worse than being ill-prepared in a dire situation or more so, using equipment that just doesn’t cut it. This can be scary especially when backpacking outdoors during the winter. Things aren’t as black and white as simply shouldering a pack and walking into the woods.

When you have to choose between a substandard gear and one whose specifics are a tad off, of course, you’d prefer the latter. With a gear made with quality material and craftsmanship, you can be sure – even if things go a bit south – it wouldn’t be at a detriment to your comfort.

6 Things to Check Off Before Winter Backpacking

Some factors will variably change the fate of the gear additions you bring along for your hike. That said, there are a few fundamental things to check off before embarking on your winter backpacking, especially if it’s your first time.

1. The Main Squeeze, Your Backpack

Yes, you are correct – to backpack, you will, in fact, need a backpack! This should be your primary concern. It must cater to your load size and do so comfortably. While backpacks come in an array of sizes, designs, and shapes, practicality of use is a big factor. The Backcountry Hauler by Pack Rabbit comes to mind. It provides multiple lash loops, compression straps, and internal and external anchor points ensuring all cargo remains fixed and secure. The Backcountry Hauler also has an adjustable padded hip belt in different fitting settings to ensure comfort. An external pouch also allows quick access to specific items without having to rummage through it. This would be an ideal choice for winter backpacking as it has several configurations for carrying your cargo and the design for comfortable travel. 

  • Keeping You Dry: Nothing sucks more than having to sit down in something cold and wet. Pack Rabbit backpacks are conveniently and uniquely made with flip-down seats, allowing you to sit on the icy, cold ground instead of having to dig through your backpack and find that piece of foam you use. 
  • Keeping Your Gear Dry: The most difficult problem facing wintertime backpackers is snow, which makes it harder to stay dry. Thanks to ever-evolving technology, the Yampa Dry Bag allows you to protect your gear in any weather condition. Its low-profile Hypalon lash loops allow you to securely strap your bag to the frame deck, and the lightweight and rugged design make it durable and easy to stack

When buying a backpack, be sure to consider fitting and sizing so you can be sure to select a frame that will provide you with comfortable and consistent support. 

2. Two Stoves – One Main, One Backup

Nothing beats the feeling of satisfaction you get from hiking miles and miles in the cold to set up camp and sit by a warm stove while heating up a warm meal. It just lifts the spirits! Yet, nothing can feel as crushing as doing all that just to have your stove fail. Bringing a back-up stove is in every wintertime backpacker’s best interest. 

3. Drinking-Water

Water freezes when it gets cold. You might want to insulate your water bottle or make sure a water source is along your hiking trail. Hydration is key while backpacking in the winter, and you can’t drink a block of ice. So, ensure you have the necessary means to keep your water from freezing in frigid temperatures.

4. Fire, Fire, Fire

You need to stay warm in the cold, especially if you’d be camping. Also, remember that lighters will not start in sub-freezing temperatures, so plan around this. Matches are a better alternative to lighters and will start regardless of temperature. So, bring along the trusty ole’ matchbook and leave the lighters at home. 

5. Clothing

The right clothing when backpacking during the winter is everything. You should stay away from cotton fabrics and wear wool or better yet, polyester – materials that dry fast and wick away moisture. Wearing latex gloves under your snow gloves will also keep the insides of your gloves dry while keeping your hands warm. Finally, put oven bags over your socks. This will keep your boots and socks dry and feet warm.  

6. Securing Your Cargo Without Fretting

You need to have an efficient tie-down system, with gear that will prove itself in every situation. The SpiderNet is a cargo attachment system that is easy to use, light, and can support up to 300 pounds. Ideal for water-sports, beach activity, this military-grade braided cord allows for a secure cargo load without worrying about the hassle of trapping snow, dirt, or debris. 

Extra Preparation Never Hurt Anybody

Though a very fun and enticing hobby, backpacking – particularly in the wintertime – can be problematic and dangerous. Remember to double-check your hiking gear, be sure not to cheat your gear quality, and always notify someone of your plans. Now that you have the knowledge to take on the elements, the backpacking excursion of your dreams is awaiting you! All you need to do is get busy putting a plan together, gathering your gear, and finally picking a destination.

At Pack Rabbit, we build and design the very best gear, we never stop evolving, and we continue to innovate novel outdoor gear solutions. Contact us today or call 214-774-4363 if you have any questions. You can also check out the full line of backpacks that are redefining how you experience the outdoors.

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