Advice needed on my trip to Alaska and Canada

Discussion in 'Winter Camping' started by Moondog55, Dec 4, 2018.

  1. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    I've been reading up in advance.
    Some experienced winter travelers are talking about stashing a second set of gear away from the tents with the sleds as a "Just in case" set of gear if the tent burns down in the nite. Some people are saying that when hauling sleds you should always carry a second set of warm gear in a rucksack to be secure if the sled goes though the ice and you lose all the stuff.
    I admit my total ignorance about these things but how likely is losing your tent to fire when cold camping?
    Hot tenting?
    Yes I use a liquid fuel stove but in 40 years of cooking in my tent I have never come close to a real blow-up, although I have once had a major flare-up and several minor ones before always starting the MSR with alcohol rather than Shellite.
    Ditto falling though the ice
    I have just arranged to buy a second smaller rucksack tho, my own winter sack is a bit too big to wear when sled hauling and the S/H price was right as were the payment terms. The new smaller bag is an Osprey Eather 85 and it is a full kilo lighter than my canvas 110 litre bag
     
  2. Gruxxx

    Gruxxx NRA Endowment Life Member Supporter Bushclass I

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    Not a bad idea. In a similar vein, about 15 years ago a quasi-renowned traditional bowhunter and former traditional bowhunting store owner, named Paul Brunner, was severely burned when an outfitter's camp stove or lantern flared-up. (I don't recall which.) Immediately after his release from the hospital, he became a vocal proponent for wool clothing (particularly for base layers), stating that if he had been wearing polypropylene or other modern fabrics, the fire would have melted his clothing to his skin and he would not have survived. His story made quite the rounds in the trad bowhunting world and MANY bowhunters took heed. More food for thought.
     
  3. mugsy

    mugsy Guide

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    get a couple pool noodles and affixx to the sled for emergency floatation.
    keep the extra clothes in your rucksack in a dry bag
     
  4. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    So this means a full spare set of clothing?
    Or just mid layers and storm gear?
     
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  5. Paulyseggs

    Paulyseggs Supporter Supporter

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    Tagging for interest.

    Have no experience in this . Just curious.
     
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  6. blind & lost

    blind & lost LB#42 Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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  7. Mark Knapp

    Mark Knapp knife maker and survival enthusiast Supporter

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    Of course anything can happen, but weight and space are always limited. Light your stoves and lanterns outside of the tent. When they are generating and burning nicely bring them inside. Generally, sleds don't sink when they get in water, they float. Usually they are bundled so tightly that water doesn't get a chance to soak in. I wouldn't think there would be a problem with the sled. Your feet is what you will need to take care of.

    I've logged thousands of miles and many months winter camping and never burned down a camp. I've been in overflow and in water many times while winter camping, sometimes down to 40 below. It's inevitable, if you spend much time out. Always be ready to build a fire if you have to and always have dry socks and extra boot liners accessible if you need them.

    Have fun.
     
  8. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    I am a skier not a walker so I will usually be wearing plastic telemark boots, those are OK in water up to my ankles but I will have snowshoes with me as well. I have a plan to buy NEOS overboots too
    @ Mark ? How many spare sets of socks is going to be enough then? I was planning on 1 spare set of warm sox plus 3 sets of liners [ I wear Injinji liners and these wear out fast] should I buy another set then?
     
  9. mugsy

    mugsy Guide

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    Well in the event of going through ice and getting soaked youd want a full change of clothes.
    Make some ice grippers , couple 6" pieces of stout broomstick an eye in one end of each piece tie together with 3' piece of paracord , drill a hole in other end and insert a stout screw, grind screw to a point.
    Hang round your neck when on ice, if ya go through use the grippers to pull yourself onto solid ice again.
    Unless your sled weighs more than you its likely that you will go through the ice before the sled, the sled spreads theweight across the entire bottom of the sled reducing the P.S.I. on surface of ice. Your foot has a higher P.S.I
    increasing your chance of breakthrough. I would also consider tying ruck to a separate rope and laying on top of sled,
    ya wouldnt want that on your back if ya went through. and if sled goes through ya can reel in the ruck.
     
  10. mugsy

    mugsy Guide

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    NEVER TOO MANY SOCKS!!!!at the very least 2 spares imho. If you put a hole in a pair you will still have a backup.
    Ive always been a firm believer in EXTRA socks.
    my packlist looks kinda like this: extra socks, food, extra socks, sleep bg, extra socks, stove, extra socks.........
     
  11. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Ice picks are on my "To Do " list already courtesy of the fellers at Winter Trekking.
    Well a full set of clothes in synthetics won't weigh much and I was going to sew up a set in ThermalPro anyway.
    I'll make sure I pack in an extra set of insulated pants. I was planning on bringing my DAS parka as a backup Sounds like I have everything I really need except for the experience and there is only one way to get that. I am not looking forward to the ice-plunge practice but I guess I had better do it when I first get a safe chance
     
  12. mugsy

    mugsy Guide

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    you might consider goretex socks or similar over your socks to keep feet dry in your ski boots.
    @mark said what i was thinkin bout the sled floating, the look like barges so it stands to reason theyd float
     
  13. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    When I said spare I wasn't thinking of my Emergency sets. My ski boots don't use insulating socks as they have a foam inner boot; I am getting a second inner boot as a backup even if they are $200- I ski in very thin synthetic socks, a pair of Injinji liners under an ultra thin LW Alpine sock. I will need new snowshoes as mine are dead after 30 years of abuse over rocks and ice here so my other footwear isn't finalised.
    OK adding more sets of socks to my buy list, here before I leave or there after I arrive, price seems to be the same either way for winter socks
     
  14. mugsy

    mugsy Guide

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    yup, only ONE way to learn.....dive in and let the devil count the dead!!
    you might consider an outer layer that isnt synthetic for around campfire
     
  15. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Hey Mugsy G'Day from Australia, I have family in Binghamton not far from you there in Albany
    Yep a full cotton anorak is in the pipeline as well as a Ventile windbreaker. I am having a really hard time convincing my beloved wife that I really do need an anorak that is 85 inches in girth tho
     
  16. mugsy

    mugsy Guide

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    ventile is some good stuff
    binghamton is just a stones throw away
     
  17. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I'll add that anything of survival value be put in dry bags; with the lightweight dry bags available today- no reason not to put clothing, sleeping bag, emergency bits in dry bags- mere ounces

    If a sled, pack, etc get dunked, you can be assured that items are still dry.
     
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  18. southron

    southron Guide

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    I asked a fellow who went up there from Alabama

    His first words were:

    fur lined jock strap. (Southron joke meaning take warm stuff, waterproof also.)
     
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  19. Mark Knapp

    Mark Knapp knife maker and survival enthusiast Supporter

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    The number of spare socks, or anything is dependent on the amount of time or miles you plan on doing. I'm not sure if you said. I would have one dry pare that are easily accessible at all times, and a dry pare of gloves. If you get wet, your feet and your hands are going to go first. If your hands get wet at thirty below, you're not going to be able to change your socks or start a fire. If your feet get wet, your hands will get wet. You'll have a very short amount of time to take care of those things. You may not even be able to open your duffel unless it is held shut with Fastex fasteners or similar.
     
  20. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Things are still very much in the figuring out stage Mark, and partly dependent on my mates availability.
    Too early to book LOTN trip etc
    All I have so far are a tentative arrival in NY in late October / early November 2020 and a 90 day ETA visa for the USA and Canada.
     
  21. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    A group I belong to here are now planning a winter ascent of Mt Rainier, I look like joining them for that, looking for a new and modern ice axe now and I may apply for a long term multiple entry visa and pay the extra cost, spend more time with the wifes extended family in New York state
     
  22. Road King

    Road King Scout

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    I agree with you. While in the Marines I had my polypro long underwear burn up trying to get a fire going. No light weight wool was available then. I pack Omni Wool which is fantastic and economical. And I like the idea of an extra bag with clothing. Only thing I do is pack that extra stuff in a dry bag . I have had my sled roll over in small streams and puddles.
     
  23. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    The feelings about synthetic underwear are interesting, the British Royal Navy did a big study a while ago and came to the conclusion that polypropylene was easier to debride from burns than woollens but polyester and nylon were worse/harder to remove.
    Irrelevant to most of us I think unless we make a habit of sitting around a big open fire in our base layers.
    I'll be cautious but personally I am not going to swap the small advantages of wool base layers for the huge advantages of good polyester, I do intend to wear a woollen shirt when hot tenting tho as I know how quickly a synthetic shell can melt when it brushes against a hot steel stove and use leather shell gloves for minor domestic tasks.
     
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  24. Bushman5

    Bushman5 Tracker Banned

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    THIS!

    i would pack 3 emergency pairs of wooly socks and wooly gloves and a spare wool toque.
     
  25. KFF

    KFF Supporter Supporter

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    Never done something like this, but still my first thought was packing everything in drybags.
    Securing a long enough rope to sled when crossing water and let it drag after me would be the second and the third thing was that is the 85l on your back too much? Dragging an 85 and sled would kill me.
    One of those lightweight 65 would be my choice if it holds spare clothes, tarp and fire and first aid. Something like exped backcountry or similar.

    If I was going it would be even smaller as a girl can't drag that much gear.

    Wool, down, leather, waterproofs. That trip is all about layers, thin, lightweight, warm, easy to put on and peel off and you will be doing that many times a day.
     
  26. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    G'Day all
    85 litres is a big pack but much smaller than my old canvas bag. That one is 110 litres.
    I'll be taking the advice and getting a couple of extra dry bags. One for the sleeping bag and another for the complete spare set of clothing. I already have a 90 litre dry bag liner for the big rucksack although it is a very heavy duty one that is weighty compared to new stuff.
    KFF I need a big pack simply because I'm a reasonable big sort of feller and my stuff is more bulky and weighs more, but I have no intention of carrying suck a big pack while dragging the sled train, it will be for day trips/ summit climbs etc and will stay on one or other of the sleds.
    I started making a set of ice crawlers today; interesting exercise.
     
  27. KFF

    KFF Supporter Supporter

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  28. mugsy

    mugsy Guide

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    most definitely mittens are the way to go, though id have a midweight waterproof glove for dexterous use
     
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  29. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    OK While my plans are still tentative I have acquired some big dry bags for my sleeping bag and my emergency clothing I have also got myself a huge dry bag liner for the big rucksack and I might add a set of my LW ski gloves for the times when I need dexterity and only a little warmth. I'll by some cheap leather gloves or choppers when I get there for
    I haven't yet started on sewing up anything. Things here in Australia are very, very tight and there has been no spare money for a long time, luckily I traded for the dry bags and I managed to sell some UL gear I no longer needed and my spare Telemark skis
     
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  30. Luke Dupont

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    Couldn't disagree more. Hot tent camping is something that I would not feel comfortable doing wearing synthetics.

    It's like wearing a seat belt. You may not ever need it, but the consequences of not wearing it when you need to are too severe to ignore. Burns while wearing synthetics are nasty, nasty, nasty stuff. If you're not convinced, take a lighter to a cheap piece of polyester or fleece, and decide for yourself if that's something you'd want to have against your skin. Maybe I'm slightly biased, because I've had melted plastic on my skin before. It isn't pretty.

    In any case, I also have to say this: I realize that you're a skier, and so you have good reason for liking synthetics -- synthetics are awesome for that kind of high activity sport. And, overall, have a very good value to performance ratio.
    However, for general use, merino is pretty much superior. It's not only just about fire proof and odor proof, but slightly warmer and more breathable to boot, and after spending several days out, you'll come to appreciate it more and more.

    You might also consider a cashmere layer. It's nearly as warm as down -- perhaps even better or on par, depending what metric you use, and gives you a wonderfully thin layer that adds more warmth than any wool or synthetic and hardly takes up any space when you're not using it.
     
  31. rbinhood

    rbinhood Scout

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    I wouldn't trade my merino wool underwear for anything.

    Remember to keep a waterproof container of lifeboat matches on you at all times, and wear a good knife.

    If you go through ice in AK, odds are it will be on a river. My biggest concern would be my gear going under the ice and getting stuck there where I couldn't get at it.
     
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  32. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Hmmm I have to say that my personal experience is different, very different where base layers are concerned. I own and use cashmere but while it is wonderful as a very warm midlayer it isn't as good at moving sweat or vapour from my skin to the outer layers as polypropylene or polyester.
    I have owned and used wool base layers, both the old fashioned heavy stuff and new Merino UltraFine from several makers but it doesn't suit my needs at all, apart from the cost it wears out too quickly.
    While I agree about burns on the skin while wearing nylon or polyester the Royal Navy study was definitive on the debriding of polypropylene.
    That said I think my comment was regarding open fires and I did say I would wear a woollen shirt while hot tenting, I have 2 very expensive garments here that I burnt just brushing against my own tent stove so I am aware of the danger. I may bring the cashmere as other people also recommend it.
    After a couple of weeks sled hauling and skiing we all stink pretty much the same and don't really notice all that much.The worst thing about woollens is simply how heavy it is and the imperative really is getting the weight on the sleds down as low as possible.
    It is however likely that I'll bring 2 completely different sets of gear with me, a predominately natural set for the Boreal and hot tenting and a synthetic and down outfit for the tundra and Denali but using Patagonia base layers in both outfits, simply because I know it works for me.
    Excess luggage charges are going to hurt at $175- a suitcase
     
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  33. Luke Dupont

    Luke Dupont Tracker

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    I would be interested to hear / see more studies on polypropylene. My guess is that it is still a fire hazard and or will act as shrinkwrap, but it's worth experimentation rather than speculation -- it could be that it's far better than polyester.
    Oh, and I wasn't recommending cashmere for a wicking layer -- I don't think it would be good at that!

    I think mixing to get the best of both worlds and use each for what they're good at is a good approach!

    In any case, have fun and be safe!
     
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  34. Muskeg_Stomper

    Muskeg_Stomper Supporter Supporter

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    Not knowing the circumstances and variables in mind behind the original post, I’ll offer up a few thoughts as well as a shameless plug for a very good line of gear. First, being by yourself or with others helps to determine the amount of gear to carry. Distance and likelihood to get help are other variables. Camping alone and far out in the toolies? You had better have an emergency plan be it spare gear or a way to easily build natural shelter. Closer to help, maybe not a big consideration. If camping as a group you may have multiple shelters avaible in an emergency situation even if the shelters are crowded. My recommendation for taking care of yourself is to try to limit your always on you kit to butt pack size if at all possible so that you don’t wear yourself out while dragging a sled with the majority of your gear. In the butt pack I recommend a good knife, firestarter, warm balaclava (full face), mittens (not gloves), spare wool sox, a metal pot and two pieces of gear from Blizzard Survival/Persys Company.
    https://www.blizzardsurvival.com/

    The 3-layer Blizzard Survival Bag provides shelter for one.
    SPECIFICATIONS
    • Size (vacuum packed): 21 x 11 x 4 cm.
    • Weight: 385 grams.
    • Size (unpacked): 2.3 x 0.78 metres.
    • Colour: Orange or Green.
    The Blizzard 3-layer Full Length Rescue Jacket provides a serviceable backup parka for one.
    SPECIFICATIONS
    • Size (vacuum packed): 24cm x 11cm x 5.5cm.
    • Weight: 480 grams.
    • Size (unpacked): 1.8m long x 1.6m diameter
    • Colour: Orange or Green.
    All will fit in a butt pack and only weigh a few pounds. This small kit improves your chance of survival dramatically.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2019
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  35. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    I was thinking somewhat bigger than a butt pack myself.
    My winter day pack here is 40 litres and carries well when skiing or hauling and with my minimum kit in and a few thousand calories weighs just over 8 kilos
    That pack and its multiple iterations is discussed in mtwardens post here
    https://bushcraftusa.com/forum/threads/re-thinking-my-winter-daypack-contents.143674/
    And my day pack would now include my "Oh-shit" parka; I bought a Mountain Hardwear Absolute Zero for this trip and I would have in it spare warm mittens now too.
    A thank-you for reminding me about those Blizzard bags and coats, I can see the utility of them in a deep winter kit and for deep winter I will take note of the advice on shelter building and add in a Mors style kit on top of what I usually carry, dropping something to keep the weight down
    I'll buy a roll of "Lash-It" when I arrive.
    But if the kit becomes too heavy and bulky it won't work because I may not have it when I need it. Maybe a small chest pack is a good idea to spread the and balance the load
     
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  36. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Yes Exactly this.
    Thanx for the advice.
    The thing I am most worried about is being worried, packing my fears and due to lack of experience in deep cold bringing too much gear
     
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  37. Pinnah

    Pinnah Tracker

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    I know this post in particular is old but I see the thread and is active still and you #Moondog55 are still following it...

    I'm a cold camper I guess. I don't rely on fireboxes in a tent but use traditional ski touring/mountaineering approach of a white gas stove and nylon tarp/tent (Megamid).

    I've seen 3 significant flame events with white gas stoves: 2 with MSRs and 1 with a Svea.

    The Svea event was in Yellowstone on an extended bike tour. It was very windy and we had a bunch of water bottles around the stove for a windbreak. The stove got too hot and blew the safety valve on the fuel tank cap, which then turned into a roaring flame thrower flame about 3' long. It was astonishing but once the shock settled down, it was pretty clear it wasn't going to go bang and I was able to reach in and turn the stove off. After letting it cool down, we restarted the stove and finished cooking and used the stove for several days before finding a replacement 0-ring at an outfitters we happened upon. Lessons learned... Use windscreens with care. An overheated Svea will flash melt any clothing or tent in line with it's filler cap (don't sit in line with it). The Svea fails gracefully.

    Both of the MSR failures I've been involved in happened in the same way and at the same place, so I'll tell it once. Both were in the winter at a high hut in New Hampshire. In both cases, something failed in the plastic pump assembly that caused the pump assembly to first leak, second catch fire, third begin to melt and forth begin dump flaming fuel. Luckily they have a stove board policy at this hut so in both cases we were able to pick up the flaming stove boards and toss them into a snow bank. Obviously, the stoves were junk after this and those parties had to bum stoves for the rest of their time at the hut. Lessons learned... Verify the health of an MSR plastic pump before any trip. Consider carrying a spare pump for longer more committing trips.

    FWIW: I continue to use my Svea. It's 30 years old and running strong. When it wears out, maybe my kids will consider a different stove. ;)
     
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  38. Pinnah

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    I'm at the point that I consider solo winter travel to be insanely risky. There is such a brutal tension between kit to keep you safe and weight that increases risk (speed is safety as Chouinard notes).

    Two things... I don't carry a bag on solo winter day hikes. I'm a backcountry nordic skier (3 pinner -> pinner -> pinnah in a boston accent) and I know a guy who did a front country solo day tour once. This particular loop spends the first mile and last 3 miles in a nordic center system that is regularly patrolled but the bulk of the trip is an 8 mile loop up one drainage, over a high of land and down through another drainage. Most of the skiing is mild old logging roads.

    On the very mild double polling descent, he hooked a tip, fell and double spiral fractured his femur.

    He's a former AMC trip leader and carries a large day pack with a stay alive parka and a (at that time) a satellite phone. But he was so much pain, he couldn't get his skis off or get his pack off of his back. He began to succumb to shock. This was about 3pm in deep winter.

    Luckily, another solo skier just happened to be on teh same route and found before dusk. He used the sat phone and they were able to call in a snowmobile rescue. Several surgeries later and much rehab, he still does winter tours. Just not solo anymore.

    I'm not saying that people are crazy to do winter solo trips. Just noting that I'm not sure we can assure our safety by what we carry if we choose to do it. When I go on deep backcountry day trips, at this point, I don't go unless we have a party of 3, a bag and tarp as part of the community load and we talk through the decision making about having 1 or 2 people going for help.

    Second, regarding hand wear... I think there are two choices. Gloves vs mittens and leather vs nylon outers. I generally like wool for my inner layer and use rag wool gloves under leather outer gloves for most bc skiing. For cold skiing, I use thick boiled wool mitts (I use a knitting pattern that mimics the old German mitt) under leather "chopper" mitts. I prefer leather outer shells as they stand up to ski edges and bindings better, but their downside is that they hold water when wet. In spring, I switch to nylon outers especially for over night trips.

    Above treeline is a different matter. And I trust my kit and abilities down to the -10f to -15f range. But, that's where I draw the lines. My entire kit is at it's limit at around -15f, not just my hand wear. If forecast temps are below -10f, I just don't leave the parking lot.

    Hope something here helps.
     
    Luke Dupont, Moondog55 and bacpacjac like this.
  39. Moondog55

    Moondog55 Guide

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    Yes it does help.
    Given your comments I may get myself a spare pump for the stove, I have been advised to also get the blue low temperature pump if heading anywhere temperatures drop below -25C.
    When you say German pattern mittens do you mean like Dachsteins?
    I take your point about the dangers of trekking solo but if I am solo I accept the risks and don't expect anybody to come after me.
    Ongoing thread because I still have a years prep to get through and save enough money for vehicle I can sleep in. If money it tight it will be a very short visit and I might not get to Denali or the Brooks Range
     
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  40. Luke Dupont

    Luke Dupont Tracker

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    I don't like the "we pack our fears" saying, as it can very well be a justification for being underprepared. Everyone who ever found themselves in trouble would have benefited from packing more fears, within reason.
    I think, as someone new to very cold / Arctic environments, having some redundancies is a very prudent precaution. I've never actually gone on such an excursion myself, but if/when I do, you'll bet I'll over pack the first time!
    So, don't feel bad about that. You're doing the smart thing. This is not an environment that you want to underestimate.
    Edit: Take my opinions with a huge grain of salt though, because I'm just using reason and logic here. I completely lack experience in Arctic environments!
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2019 at 11:19 AM

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