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Winter Packing List

The following list can be of help when you are planning a weeklong winter trip with your Hilleberg tent. Naturally there are different gear and personal preferences, but this list suggests what to take and gives examples of possible weights without jeopardizing safety or personal comfort. We assume that everything is carried in a backpack. In order to emphasize the effect of thoughtless packing we present the potential weight-range of the different items. Being consistent in your choice will result in considerable weight savings. Some prefer using a pulka (sled) but then you should still have a small backpack for day trips or for easing the weight of the sled in soft snow or while ascending a hill. When going on winter trips with a permanent base camp, a sled can be an excellent choice.

This list does not claim to provide for all needs or situations but should be perceived as food for thought. Evaluate it carefully, take into account you own preferences and do not be shy to make changes. After a while you will have your own way of packing and use the list as a back-up reminder only.

For outings during the warmer half of the year you may want to check the summer camping list.

In order to emphasize how important it is to keep track of the weight of each individual piece of equipment, we indicate both the lowest and the highest weight.

Click here to download this list as a PDF.

Individual equipment

Tap to expand

Item Min - Max weight Kg Min - Max weight lbs oz
Jacket or anorak   400 g-1.5 kg  14 oz-3 lbs4 oz
Shell pants   300 g-1 kg  10 oz-2 lbs3 oz
Suitable fabrics for the outer layer should be wind- and waterproof but still have venting qualities. Gore-Tex®, MPC, Sympatex™ etc. are good for this. Even when these materials are "breathable" they can often feel clammy and unpleasant to wear when you are physically active, but this is highly dependent on the individual.
Pullover/other warm garment   300 g-1 kg  10 oz-2 lbs3 oz
Hat   100 g-  500 g  3 oz-1 lb1 oz
Your hat should not be too warm but it should be windproof.
Goggles   100 g-  300 g  3 oz- 10 oz
Extra socks   200 g-  400 g  7 oz- 14 oz
Make sure your socks work well with your choice of footware. Soft socks tend not to chafe as easily.
Long-sleeved undershirt   100 g-  400 g  3 oz- 14 oz
Briefs   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Long johns   100 g-  300 g  3 oz- 10 oz
The choice of underwear is a very personal one. Many new synthetic materials work well and offer certain advantages over organic materials. At very low temperatures and a low level of activities a blend with wool is preferable because your body temperature does not sink as quickly with wool next to your skin. Avoid cotton next to your skin.
Mittens   100 g-  300 g  3 oz- 10 oz
In fair weather a lighter version will suffice. In severe cold and/or poor weather conditions it is good to use an unlined mitt in a “breathing” fabric and a loose inner mitt made of fleece or wool.
Gaiters   kg-  kg lbsoz-lbsoz
Clothing Total: 1.8 kg-5.9 kg 3 lbs10 oz-12 lbs10 oz
Backpack 1.5 kg-3.5 kg 3 lbs4 oz-7 lbs11 oz
Ideas about backpacks have changed during the past 10-15 years. Where formerly frame-packs dominated the market softer and more shaped backpacks have taken over. The modern “softpack” has become the new standard. However, for voluminous and heavy loads a frame is still unbeaten. But for most of us with normal demands an internal frame with its adjustability is the way to go. A backpack for ordinary winter trips should have a volume of 60-80 liters.
Sleeping bag 1.5 kg-3.5 kg 3 lbs4 oz-7 lbs11 oz
A winter sleeping bag can have down or synthetic fiber insulation. As usual there are different opinions on what is best. A down bag is lighter, less voluminous and provides good insulation for its weight. Bags with synthetic fibers cost less but have traditionally been heavier and bulkier. But here product development has improved the odds for the man-made insulators: lower weight and lesser bulk with good insulation qualities are more common today than only a few years ago. For those who do not shy away from the high price a quality down sleeping bag with an outer shell in DryLoft is still the best choice when it comes to function and longevity.
Foam pad   500 g-2 kg 1 lb1 oz-4 lbs6 oz
A closed-cell foam pad needs to be at least 12 mm thick to insulate appropriately on snow. They are light but quite bulky and always reliable. If you choose a self-inflating mattress (ex. Therm-A-Rest) it should be at least 30 mm thick, preferably more.
Compass   100 g-  500 g  3 oz-1 lb1 oz
Map   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Toiletries   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Toilet paper   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Cutlery   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Cup   100 g-  300 g  3 oz- 10 oz
Plate or bowl   100 g-  300 g  3 oz- 10 oz
Bottle and/or thermos   100 g-1.2 kg  3 oz-2 lbs10 oz
Matches and/or lighter   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Knife or multi-tool   200 g-1 kg  7 oz-2 lbs3 oz
Torch   200 g-  500 g  7 oz-1 lb1 oz
Repair kit, spares   200 g-  500 g  7 oz-1 lb1 oz
First Aid Kit   100 g-  300 g  3 oz- 10 oz
Equipment total: 4.9 kg-15.4 kg 11 lbs8 oz-34 lbs4 oz
Total weight: 6.7 kg-21.3 kg 15 lbs2 oz-46 lbs14 oz

Food

The right choice of food is often the most significant factor for the weight of your pack. It saves weight to plan and prepare your meals well ahead of the trip. Pack the food for each day into a separate bag. Share the load of carrying and preparing the food with your teammate. Alternate between carrying food, stove, fuel, and snow shovel with carrying and pitching your tent. Make sure that you get 4 liters / 1 gallon of fluid per day to maintain your physical and mental strength and to stay warm. By planning your meals carefully, you can save a lot of weight. It is not unusual that the weight of food varies between 0.5 and 2 kg / 1 lb 1 oz and 4 lbs 6 oz per day! This means that on a week trip the weight of food can vary between 3.5 - 14 kg /7 lbs 7 oz - 30 lbs 10 oz!

Food (one week) 3.3 kg-14 kg 7 lbs7 oz-30 lbs10 oz

Shared equipment for a two-person team.

The weight indicated is half that of the item, i.e. the load each one carries.

Tap to expand

Tent 1.1 kg-2.5 kg 2 lbs6 oz-5 lbs8 oz
Stove (incl. cleaning kit and pots)   300 g-  800 g  10 oz-1 lb12 oz
Fuel   800 g-1.5 kg 1 lb12 oz-3 lbs4 oz
Snow shovel (1 p/person in heavy snow)   300 g-1 kg  10 oz-2 lbs3 oz
Total weight: 2.5 kg-5.8 kg 5 lbs8 oz-12 lbs12 oz
Total weight for necessary equipment: 12.3 kg-38.8 kg 27 lbs1 oz-85 lbs8 oz

Further equipment which may be good to have but not absolutely necessary.

Tap to expand

Down jacket   600 g-1.5 kg 1 lb5 oz-3 lbs4 oz
Insulated overpants   300 g-1 kg  10 oz-2 lbs3 oz
Bivy booties   400 g-1 kg  14 oz-2 lbs3 oz
Sleeping bag cover   300 g-  800 g  10 oz-1 lb12 oz
Vapor barrier liner/inlet   300 g-  600 g  10 oz-1 lb5 oz
Camera   300 g-4.5 kg  10 oz-9 lbs14 oz
Binoculars   300 g-1 kg  10 oz-2 lbs3 oz
Map case   100 g-  300 g  3 oz- 10 oz
Whisk   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Snow brush   100 g-  200 g  3 oz- 7 oz
Tent lantern   100 g-  500 g  7 oz-1 lb1 oz
Line, 4-5 mm, 10-20m long, pref. Red   200 g-  400 g  7 oz- 14 oz
Total weight: 3.6 kg-9.3 kg 7 lbs15 oz-20 lbs8 oz

Beyond this list there may naturally be further items, depending on the nature of the trip. If you go climbing or on glacier trips your need extra equipment: rope, ice axe, crampons, helmet, harness etc., perhaps even a climbing pack. One of our favorite winter activities is back country skiing. We have included a list of what additional equipment we would take as an example of what sort of variation there would be.

  • Ski gloves
    In fair weather a lighter version will suffice. In severe cold and/or poor weather conditions it is good to use an unlined mitt in a “breathing” fabric and a loose inner mitt made of fleece or wool.
  • Ski boots
    There are many different kinds of ski boots on the market, and many of them are suitable. However, the right choice can still be difficult because of the specialization that has taken place. A lot of gear has clearly a defined purpose, which makes it sometimes hard to find truly versatile equipment. Good touring footwear should be reasonably firm without being stiff or too hard, yet give enough support for the downhill sections of your trip. The boot should be high enough so that there is ample overlap of the gaiter over the shaft of the boot.
  • Skis
    A touring ski with good all-round qualities usually has appropriate camber and a side cut allowing it to swing responsively. The camber should be stiff enough to retain some ski wax. Steel edges are not always necessary but good to have. Wax-free skis are the preference of most and unbeatable in shifting snow conditions.
  • Ski wax
  • Climbing skins
  • Poles
  • Bindings
    Bindings come in many different types and styles, but they can be classified into two groups: cable bindings and toe bindings. Both are equally good. A toe binding allows you to move more freely but it is harder on the sole of your boot. A cable binding feels a little stiffer to walk with but is very easy to operate. The integrated boot-binding systems are usually a little more comfortable but they are often a little less rugged. The footwear of these systems are often not very suitable for walking.

Conclusion

If you summarize the weights in the left hand column including food without the "not absolutely necessary" items, you get 12,3 kg / 27 lbs 1 oz. If you look at the right hand column, you get 38,8 kg / 85 lbs 8 oz. The "not absolutely necessary" equipment weighs 3,7 kg / 8 lbs 2 oz. in the lighter version, and 9,6 kg / 21 lbs 2 oz. in the heavier one.

With the help of the above suggestions you should be able to manage well to pack for a winter camping trip without getting much above 20 kg / 44 lbs 1 oz, possibly even a bit below. However, do not fall for the temptation in your enthusiasm to save weight by taking inferior or downright unsuitable items. Pack a few days prior to the trip, consider and weigh all items and compare with our list. Set your own priorities and decide what you really need. Save the list and adjust it after your trip when you have gained some experience. After some time you will know exactly what you need and how your equipment works.