A bit of feedback to myself on what gear worked and what didn't.

Big Four Essentials

Pack, tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, plus ancillary items.

First time my pack-- a ULA Catalyst medium--was fully loaded. It worked well, I figure it was right at the 35 to 40 pound range, especially with a 3 man tent and poles and ice ax and snow shovel. Oddly enough, food and clothing was at the bottom of the pack, tent vertically in the middle surrounded by stove and camping gear, and the very-light sleeping bag up top.

Sleeping back worked really well and kept me toasty warm. Used a silk liner when it got down to near 20. It's a Packs 20 degree wide long and not a mummy bag; it cinches around your neck. Used my down jacket on top of a Thermarest Neolite XL cushion for a pillow (good for sitting on the snow while I made dinner outside too). Feet were cold, as per usual. Keep a bandana handy to wipe my runny nose dribble and breath condensation off my mustache during the night, rinse it off in the AM.

Sleeping pads were a Thermarest NeoLite Women's R on top of a Thermarest RidgeRest Solite foam pad. These worked really well, though the inflatable was slightly too short. The tent was on snow, not dirt or rocks.

Tent was rented, a Mountain Hardware Trango 3 man, 4 season tent. Man this was roomy and stable in the 20 to 25mph winds. Loved the mesh pockets around the inside, and the little alcove for cooking. I'd buy this tent in a heartbeat if I needed a 4 season tent.

Any changes?

All worked well. Don't take the stuff sack for the silk liner--it can fit in the sleeping bag sack. Might consider dropping the pillow.

Hiking and Camping Basics

Hiking Poles: Leki Makalu with snow baskets. Definitely necessary for snowshoeing. Snow baskets worked well, and are interchangeable with trekking baskets by unscrewing them. Three piece poles, with the bottom a twist-lock that occasionally would need to be tightened, and the upper a flip-lock that never gave out. That twist-lock was annoying.

Snow shovel: It worked to dig out tent stakes, and also was a place to put snow that got inside the tent. 712 grams heavy (Black Diamond Traverse 3.)

Ice Ax: Black Diamond Raven Pro 60cm, no leash. Great, and right sized (apparently people buy them too short, it should be sized to hold across your torso, not sized by holding it along your leg to the ground). Kinda sharp. Wrapped it in water pipe insulation, need to buy the covers for the pick and adze.

Knife. Leatherman Micra. Used the scissors to cut cord. Good blend of size and weight and functionality, first-rate scissors. Put it in checked luggage if you're flying, the TSA won't let you carry it on :-)

Cord, Duct Tape, Whistle, Compass, First Aid kit, Garbage Bags, Ziplock freezer bags (1 gal, 1 quart sizes), assorted stuff sacks: All functioned well. Bags were handy to keep stuff off the frozen floor.

Any changes?

Look for different poles that don't use twist-locks.

Eat and Drink

Stove: JetBoil Sol. Worked super-quick, started right up, boiling the 500ml of water in 90 seconds even when it was below freezing.

Soap/Sponge/Towel. Well... didn't use them. Made meals in my mug. Used my finger to clean off the oatmeal, wiped it clean with the (green) Trader Joe's towel.

Pot/Mug/Mug Cover/Spork/Knife. Left the pot (a Ziplock Twist-n-loc 32oz plastic container) at the trailhead to save pack space. Mug and cover kept the coffee warm (Snow Peak titanium double-walled mug). I set my hot coffee on the snow, and got a real-life demonstration of how poorly titanium conducts heat; it was still warm.

Water Filter. Worked well (Sawyer Squeeze). Use a small 1 liter Platypus for dirty water, mark it with a small colored loop of cord. You can squeeze dirty water from that 1 liter bag through the filter directly into the cooking pot. Use the bottom orange "cup" from the JetBoil stove to scoop dirty water, which we found at the outlet of the lake in a hole. Slept with the Squeeze in a quart ziplock in the bottom of my sleeping bag so it wouldn't freeze and break.

Water bag. Regular water was a 2 liter Platypus with a Camelback bite valve. Perfectly acceptable, though to get all the water out when hiking the Platypus should be turned upside down.

Any changes?

Might save a few ounces on the mug by using a single walled mug. Mug fits in the 'pot' so it doesn't bang around, and soap/sponge can fit in the mug along with the clean green towel.


Ah, food. I once again lost my appetite.

Backpacker's Pantry Santa Fe Rice with Chicken. Not to my taste. Avoid. I find I dislike that style of food, that rice-bean-spice combination. Also too much food to consume for one person.

Alpineaire Three Cheese Chicken Pasta. Much better. Creamy starchy. I'd get it again. One person size too.

Alpineaire Thai Chicken Noodles. Didn't eat these.

Oatmeal. Quaker Instant. Does the job. Make one packet with warm water in the mug, then pour a second packet in, and add cold water.

Clif Shot Bloks. Strawberry. Surprisingly tasty.

Clif Bars. Take more, I took 4 and ate them all by Saturday evening. Sierra Trail Mix, Chocolate Chip, Blueberry Crisp are good. Didn't care for Apricot.

Belvita Breakfast Bar. This crumbled into a mess.

Nutrigrain Breakfast Bar. OKish. Basically it's half a Clif Bar in weight and calories, but I'd rather have a Clif bar in one of the many flavors.

Asiago cheese hunk. This 200g hunk of cheese had 785 calories. Nice and dense and easy to bit off a piece. Satisfying.

Mixed nuts (from Costco). I love these. Super-dense; 200g of nuts has 1200 calories. Need to take more.

Coffee. Nescafe in a ziplock bag, with pre-mixed sugar. This works fine. Maybe fancify things with Starbucks Via?

Any changes?

Yes. Take hot cocoa for the evening. I was craving something sweet both nights. I also wonder if I'm getting enough vitamin C.

Clothing and wearing

Sunglasses. Jublo Dolgan Spectron 4 with wings. Great when sunny on snow; but with overcast were too dark. The temples didn't irritate the tops of my ears, they were nice and soft. With the wings, these glasses weigh 28g.

Parka shell (North Face Mountain Light). Only took this for the snow. Worked, but heavy. Wore over the down jacket.

Wind/rain shell (Marmot Essence). Worked very well, super-light, good fit over the down jacket and still kept me warm in temps just above freezing.

Jacket. Mountain Hardware Ghost Whisperer. Man this is both warm and light. It's so light you wonder if it'll work, and it definitely does.

Hats. A 'bomber' hat. Fleece beanie. Tilley mesh hat.

Midlayer. Salomon midweight and REI midweights uppers. Both worked, the REI was less bulky. I wore this under the jacket. Ancient REI fleece midweight leggings. Also great.

Baselayer. Used REI silk. Worked great.

Pants. Mammut Traileka. These were fantastic. Warm and stopped the wind; smooth enough for glissading down slopes.

Undies. Underarmour Boxerjocks. Great.

T-Shirt. Underarmour Heatgear. Used briefly when I changed out of my damp and slightly sweaty clothes after getting to camp... something warm and dry.

Gloves. REI Gauntlet, Black Diamond Welterweight. The REIs were great but difficult to get my fingers into the fleece inside. The BD were cold when they got wet, but were needed as secondary; I wouldn't take them as a primary glove.

Down Booties. Nice to have inside the long dark hours in the tent, and also for slipping on strolls in the wee hours of the morning from the tent to the nearest tree. Not really a summer piece of clothing though!

Socks. Keep warm with one pair of warmer socks, rather than two pairs of thinner socks. Took Smartwool Ski Socks and Darn Tough snowboarding socks and my feet were a bit chilled with both (preferred the DarnTough). Using the thicker looser Holeproof Explorers (Extreme Copper) kept my feet warmer, perhaps because they allowed for more circulation and added more air pockets in the boots. I originally just brought them along for sleeping, and didn't intend to use them in the boots. Didn't use the DexShell Hytherm Pro Waterproof Socks, and wonder about their usefulness.

Boots. Sorel Paxton. Yep, these worked well, though I suspect the combination of them and the snowshoes aggrevated some prexisting conditions (plantar fasciitis in my left foot in particular, and a bit of right knee achiness.

Gaiters. Didn't need them with the snow pants.

Any changes or comments?

Leave the bomber hat at home. Take the fleece beanie and Tilley hat. Leave the Salomon midweight at home.

Take a pair of Holeproof Explorers for colder days (and nights), or maybe even 2 pair.

Leave the gaiters at home.

Take the REI Gauntlet gloves, or similar.

Take another pair of sunglasses, like the very lightweight Jublo Dolgan Spectron 3 (sans wings), for darker days.

Take a different color stuff sack, or a mesh one. Both clothing and food were in 9 liter green opaque stuff sacks, made it annoying to distinguish between the two.


Not much to mention here. Take lip balm with sunscreen. Use Leukotape for foot needs, rather than moleskin which can roll off. I put a small bit of Leukotape on an annoying corn before starting and it stayed on all weekend.

Put the contacts case in the foot of the sleeping bag to prevent it from freezing at night.


Cell phone. iPhone6 in a Cascade Designs eCase9. Worked well. Pleased with the case, you can use the phone's touch screen through the case.

Keyboard. Logitech Keys-To-Go. This was a bit over the top, and I ended up loving it. It kept me unbored in the evening, and it was how I wrote some of these long blog posts on the iPhone while I ate dinner inside the tent after sundown. I really liked the curious keyboard shortcut to highlight and select words on the iPhone.

Watch and GPS. Garmin fenix2 watch and Oregon 600 handheld. These were great. fenix didn't need a recharge all weekend, nor did the Oregon. fenix2 takes about 3 minutes or so to get an accurate reading, so prewarm it and wait before hitting the start button. The Garmin tempe external temperature sensor was fun too--at night, I wore the watch to bed, and since the watch was paired to the sensor (in a mesh pocket on the side of the tent) I could see how cold it was in the tent during the night.

Solar Panel. Suntactics S-Charger 5. Wow this worked, and even charged on a bright sunny day inside the tent.

Battery Charger. GoalZero Guide10 Plus. Charged the iPhone6 and

Headlight. Black Diamond Revolt. I liked the dual side LEDs for lighting up inside the tent. Didn't use it much outside.

Camera. Sony RX-100M3. Worked well. Used the built-in ND filter for super-bright snow pictures. The mode dial can move off of "P" though so you gotta check it before using. Used the Ultrapod mini tripod for a group picture as well, with the iPhone as a remote control for the camera with the Sony PlayMemories app.

Any changes or comments?

Put the user manuals for the GPS and watch on the iPhone. There were some settings that weren't obvious around track recording and data fields and the like.

Wrapping it up - any last comments?

Use mesh stuff sacks to figure out where things are; this prevents digging through opaque stuff sacks to locate items and avoids a gear explosion in the tent or on the trail.