Sun, Dec 4 2011 - Cold Weather Camping & Backpacking: Sun. Afternoon Free Class at REI (View Original Event Details)

Trip Leader(s): Charlie Cottingham, Kristi
Participants:Steve M, Kristi, Yan, Yana, Linxiao Liu, Brigitte, Michael Cifelli, Michael S, JFortunato

Write Up:
An casual but informative presentation/talk at the local REI store. Good to meet new members of the AOC and to know that folks are interested in learning about getting out in the cold weather... for many of us winter time is considered the nicest time of year to be in the woods here in the southeast.  Thanks for coming out and look forward to seeing you all again soon!  --Kristi

My notes taken from the presentation are below.  Some of these are points I had not considered previously so am sharing.  The AOC web site has a comprehensive list of recommended gear items for activities. I have not listed many many many recommended practices; these points below I would consider tweaks for a more experienced back packer/camper.  Feel free to ask the trip leaders for more input on questions you may have.  We all love to share what we know.

Pre trip planning important; know the weather, conditions of roads; share your itinerary.  Check in/out with rangers (particularly out west). The further removed from major roads, the more issues you can run into with weather - if for instance a storm brings down trees and blocks your exit roads, you'll need more food.
Boots/feet:  might try gore tex socks to keep warmer; might go with thinner socks to avoid sweating.  When you take your boots off in freezing weather be careful to leave them in the mold/shape that you would need to have them in the morning because they will be frozen.  
It is not recommended to put wet boots in your tent.  You need to manage the wetness and condensation in the tent; the fewer wet items in the tent, the better.

"Micro spikes" for icy conditions - almost as good as a crampon, but a lot less weight to carry. Better than "YakTrak."
Stay dry, do not sweat; if you begin to sweat, stop.  Adjust clothing layers as needed.  (The newer wool clothing is my preference; they do not hold odor).

Pee bottle at night.  Freshette for women helps the aim.  Label the container.

Bag liner can add 25 degrees of worth, the Sea to Summit product line.
A foam pad placed under the Thermarest or Big Agnes will add warmth with little added weight; a must when camping in snow.
Snow stakes - thread the tent line through it, dig hole in snow, roll up slack, bury the stake, horizontally/parallel to grown.  Bring extra cording.

Fuel bottles - and flying/travel:  remove all fuel, rinse with coca-cola to remove fuel smell.  Put a note on the fuel bottle and on the stove for TSA identifying what it is.

Soto stove recommended for extreme cold weather; has a regulator of some sort that keeps the pressure in the canister.  Simmers really well. But the presenter recommended the MSR Whisperlite and fuel bottle for long trips, as most efficient and light weight.  White fuel is sold by the ounce in many outfitter stores.

Wood burner stove, Sierra Zip Stove, good product, uses wood.
Tent ratings - for instance 3 or 4 season - mainly refers to the strength of the tent in the wind, and under snow loads.  However almost any 3 season tent, staked out properly will do fine with the weight of snow. (Yes, I can attest to this, that my Big Agnes tent held up under a snow storm on top of Mt Sterling, NC a couple years ago; however it was not able to ventilate due to the amount of snow piled up along the sides, so I had a lot of condensation, and everything was wet.)

Standard backpack size:  70 liter men/ 65 liter women
Keep batteries warm to extend their life (shirt/pants pocket) -- talking about the head lamp
Softshell pants - not so good in the East as the waterproofing wears off too fast.  Gore tex pants better in this area.  For camp, down pants very nice for warmth; it's a long night in the winter!

Stay hydrated, your body will be able to stay warm better.  The presenter is snacking almost every 30 minutes to avoid calorie deficit. The presenter doesn't eat a typical lunch while backpacking; he snacks on high calorie food.  When you get into a calorie deficit, your body will not be operating as well.

Make a "cozy" for your water filter; many are ruined if the filter becomes frozen, at the very least, they will not operate.  Melting snow is a good option for water and is clean.  Use water from as high in elevation as possible, always above 1500' minimally.