Backpacking Ecliptic Fermi Paradox Great Galaxy of Andromeda Milky Way Navigation Northstar Star Gazing Stargazing Uncategorized Winter nights

Embrace the Winter Night

Discover the beauty of the night

Getting out at night in the quiet is one of the high points of the winter backpacking experience. The snow reflects the moonlight and the winter nighttime landscape becomes radiant. When the moon is gone, the Milky Way arches across the sky. Most of the seemingly endless number of stars are merely the ones visible to us within our galaxy. You will find that the night can provide some of our deepest and most memorable wilderness experiences.

winter landscape at night

The more you go out at night the more you will fall in love with the experience.

Foot warmth Four Rules of Foot Warmth Layering while hiking Liner socks Merino Wool socks Outer socks Uncategorized

What are the Best Socks for Winter Backpacking?

No one likes cold feet. To keep my feet warm I use a variety of socks depending on the weather conditions. Recently the retailer I used for wool socks dropped the ones I liked and so the search for new options began. Here are a few options that I think work well: The REI Merino Wool Expedition Crew socks, the Wigwam Merino Woodland socks, and the J.B. Fields Icelandic socks. All are good, but my main preferences are the REI Merino wool liner and either the Wigwam Merino Woodland socks or the –40ºC Islandic socks from Canada depending on expected temperatures.

I do not use hand warmers or any type of heating system that relies on batteries. I think these methods are unnecessary and unreliable. I want a system that is long lasting and dependable.

I use a 2-sock method to keep my feet warm. I use this method even on some summer trips. This method increases comfort and warmth and reduces the chances of blisters. It consist of a thin liner sock covered with a thick outer cushioning sock. Together, both need to allow the foot to flex and wiggle in the boot.

The two-sock layer method. Thin Merino wool liner socks (black) compared to the thickness of an outer layer wool cushion socks.

For the best results, the fit, thickness, and materials of the socks has to align with the season conditions and what I call the basic Four Rules of Foot Warmth

Backpacking Gear Lists Car Gear Circumstantial and Miscellaneous gear Cooking Supplies Mosquito Net Tent Mosquito net tents Snow Camping Summer Backpacking Gear List Ten Essentials The Big Three Uncategorized

What’s in my Summer Backpack

Some hikers ask me, “Do I hike in the summer?” Yes. Despite my focus on winter backpacking and my dislike of the bugs and hot weather, I try to get out year-round, even in the summer and early fall when there is minimal or no snow. The goal is to camp on snow whenever possible even in July and sometimes in August. This usually means going farther and higher up, but it allows our group to experience some excellent views. It also provides a comfortable clean surface and allows us to leave no trace where we stay.

Backpacks Granite Gear Crown 3 backpack Granite Gear Leopard 58 AC Ultralight backpacks for winter Uncategorized

Granite Gear Crown3 Backpack Review

One of the best ways to lower the amount of weight you are carrying in winter is to get an ultralight backpack. Years ago when I set out to find a light winter backpack, I settled on the Granite Gear Leopard A.C. 58. Up until now, it was my gold standard. It was built with Granite Gear’s award-winning “AC” (AirCurrent) suspension, made with durable 100- and 210-denier high-tenacity Cordura nylon, and has a 58 liter/40-lb. capacity. At around 3 pounds (lid removed) it allowed me to keep my total winter pack weight at around 28 pounds, or 32 pounds with snowshoes attached (both base weight + consumables). It worked so well that when my pack began to show signs of wear, I resisted the newer Granite Gear packs and instead picked up a second-hand Leopard that I kept around as a backup.