Need outfitted for Dec. 2012 Phantom Ranch

7:08 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
5 forum posts

My 23 yo son and I (52) were able to get reservations for two nights at Phantom Ranch in early Dec. 2012. While I camped a fair amount when I was growing up, I haven't done it in decades. Phantom Ranch seemed an easy way back in- no tent, no food needed. We are both in good physical shape- I am 5'10"/165, he is 5'9"/145. We need recommendations for a total outfit- skin out- for the Canyon December weather. We can afford good gear but don't need trophy stuff- and since we don't know how often we would continue hiking, would like to have gear that could be used at home as well. I've spent the last two weeks doing online research and understand the layering concepts. Please be specific in your gear recs- brand names etc. Also, if you know when the best time to buy this gear is, let me know (since we have time). Finally, just bought the Patagonia Drifter A/C GTX as my hiking boot- understand I may have wanted a a mid, but wanted to keep the hiking/home concept. I have been really impressed with the help you have given other posters ie the depth of your answers, and truly appreciate the advice. Thanks.

7:48 p.m. on December 14, 2011 (EST)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

Well this can vary a bit person to perosn depending on preferences etc but here goes.

General word of advice. A complite kit for two people can get pricey. I highly recommend buying clothing if you can at thrift/ 2nd hand stores. With a little patience of looking through racks you can usually fine some awesome wool or synthetic clothes. Some will be brand name some wont.


You need to be prepared for temps in the teens.

Head: Balaclava, beanie. These can be wool, synthetic(fleece) it doesnt really matter which nor does the brand name. Some people prefer a Buff to a balaclava, even a scarf will work.

Torso: Wicking baselayer, a mid layer, an insulating layer, and a hardshell. A wicking baselayer will tpyically be a synthetic or wool.  ABSOLUTELY NO COTTON. This is where searching thrift stores can save you alot of money. It is easy to find good wool long sleeve shirts, fleece vests, shirts, pullovers, jackets etc. A mid layer is something a little thicker usually like a fleece pullover or wool sweater. An insulating layer is typically some time of puffy jacket, be it down or synthetic. A hardshell is a outer shell to protect you from wind, rain, snow. Try not to get mixed up with brands. But here are a few outdoor brands that I try to look for when possible. Columbia, LL bean, cabelas, TNF(the north face), eddie baur, land's end, pantagonia, montbell, marmot, REI, EMS. There are other brands but that is what came to mind right away.

For my torso down to the teens or so I use: While actively hiking: EMS techwick s/s shirt, columbia l/s hiking shirt. While stopped or in camp I add: wool sweater, pantagonia nano puff pullover(puffy jacket), Stoic vaporshell(hardshell) as needed. You don't always have to wear all your layers obviously, and can mix and match as needed. However, you do not want to wear your insulating layer while hiking you will sweat to death.

If your sweating while moving you have way too much clothing on. You should be slightly cool/chilly when you start hiking, you will warm up soon enough once your moving.

Legs: You just need some light weight pants, some people like track pants or other syntheric pants. Do not wear jeans. I wear winter weight BDU pants(military surplus) While in camp I add: capaline 2 long johns.

Feet: leather hiking boots and smartwool trekking socks.

I also have a capaline 3 l/s shirt for sleeping in/spare dry

one extra pair of dry socks/sleep in only

Even though your planning to stay at the ranch you need to be prepared in case for whatever chance you can't make it due to unforseen circumstances.

Stove: I recommend bringing a Supercat alcohol stove and a small bottle of denatured alcohol to make a warm drink etc at a rest stop etc. You can make a Supercat yourself for about a dollar in less than 4-5 minutes. You can google supercat and find many sites with instructions.

Shelter: I would bring a small tarp just in case.

First aid kit: a small simple kit with a few basic meds and some bandaids, gauze pads, duct tape. You can put a small kit together in a ziploc bag vice buying a premade kit.

Do they provide bedding at the ranch? If so I would stilll recommend bringing at least something just in case. A military surplus poncho liner would be a good option. Otherwise an appropiately rated sleeping bag.

Water: you should carry enough water to make it to the ranch, and don't plan on being able to find any along the way, though you may be able to. This means carrying probably 5-6 liters each.

Food: you dont need to bring meals, but definitely bring some high energy snacks. Beef jerky, cliff bars, power bars etc. You will probably want a lunch break. I like having a tuna wrap for lunch alot of times. A foil tuna pack each, a tortilla wrap, and a couple mayo, mustard and relish packs. Bring things you like to eat, apples, whatever.

Bring a map and compass

trekking poles-some [people like em, some people hate em. They can be a life saver on the knees though and the cheap ones at walmart work just fine and are like $20.

I havn't been to the grand canyon in winter, but others may be able to answer this. I assume there would be a possibility it could be icy in which case a traction aid would be a neccesity.

If you think about it, your basically doing a day hike to the ranch and a day hike back.

I am sure others will add more, but that's a good start. Clothes, footwear, small simple first aid kit, snacks, lunch, simple stove and mug, water, map, compass.




11:06 a.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
271 reviewer rep
1,878 forum posts

Soccadoc Welcome to trailspace!!!

Rambler is one of the people I would want to giove me advise about winter backpacking. He broke it down by layer for you. I use Marmote lightweight Long sleeve next to my skin then a Underarmor s/s tshirt. I then  layer a stoic Long sleeve merino wool. When I stop hiking and rest. I throw on my Montbell thema wrap jacket. For hardhell I use a Mountain hardwear Cohesion jacket. If I dont want to \wear the Montbell I have a 100 polarguard fleese jacket I can wear. For my lower half Convertible pants and when I stop I put on my lightweight marmot bottoms. If I need more installation I can always put on my rain pants on top of these. Or Montbell UL Down pants. For my Head a beenie or Bav. Feet Inner poly socks with winter weight smartwool. For camp Down booties. Hands are Fingerless glove /Mits made of thinsulate and wool. I hope this helps \. Welcome again to trailspace..

12:58 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
913 forum posts

Welcome to Trailspace Soccadoc

There is a lot of Stoic base/mid layers on lately.  If you want to get something off of steep and cheap and don't/can't watch it try

2:56 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
592 reviewer rep
1,522 forum posts

Ocala is right. Steep n cheap DA BOMB on quality of STOIC and prices.  Check out if you want to see if teh Stoic stuff is outright on sale....theya re the only ones who sell it....I think...

3:09 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
1,711 reviewer rep
3,962 forum posts

You can also snag up some serious deals at Left Lane Sports. I have had very good experiences with them and they carry good gear(Mountain Hardwear, Lowa, etc.)

They are alway updating their stock. When a product is gone its gone. Things sell out fairly quick. I am contemplating a gore-tex pro shell from them now at half price. 

I just snagged up a pair of Lowa Argon GTX trail runner/walkers for $93 with shipping(retail $175)

The gear they sell are not blems or factory seconds. 

Here is a link if ya want to check them out.

They do ask you to become a member(email/ create a password for your log-in at the site) but I have yet to get hammered with spam email etc. The reason for the membership is so you can create an account for purchasing purposes and so they can send you notification when new gear hits the boards so you can get a jump on it if you are interested. 

Happy hiking Soccadoc, and welcome to Trailspace. 

10:27 p.m. on December 15, 2011 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
5 forum posts

Thanks all for the replies. I immediately checked out Leftlane and Steepandcheap and will continue monitor those for bargains. The detail you all have provided is very helpful. Looking closely at Rambler's and Denis' replies, I was surprised to see either two or three shirts- baselayer plus- used on top but no insulation or shell. I assume you feel anymore would be too warm (even for the downhill trek?).  I was looking at the Patagonia Capilene 3 or the Columbia Omni Heat as my base, but are they too warm as well ? If so, I'll check out something lighter, perhaps in the Stoic gear you all suggested. For my legs, it seems a baselayer with a hiking pant would be enough, with a light waterproof (Mountain Hardware Epic?) as a backup in case it gets wet. Any other suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

9:37 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
271 reviewer rep
1,878 forum posts

When your moving or hiking you don't want to break a sweat. The way we have it in layers we can add or discard a layer when we rest or when we hike. I do wear my Monbell thermawrap at timnes but when i start getting chilled more I put on my hardshell. Patagonia Nano puff is a great synthtic shell for the cost and weights savings are priceless. Also the Down sweater but that maybe too much warmth even by itself.. I am warm blooded so I really dont need alot of layers. my stoic shirts are the bliss seriers one is 150 count the second is 200 count. That would be the thread counts. A good wool shirt from woolrichj or another manufacturer can go along way.Cap 3 is great base but it may be to warm for you what temp are you looking at hiking in on average during that time of year? Have a tarp or some type of shelter with you for emergencies. REI also has their own brand of clothing that is quit good and presently is 30% off. Alot of their products are comparible to stoic MH etc. also has an outlet on their website and REI also.

11:45 a.m. on December 16, 2011 (EST)
2,590 reviewer rep
1,630 forum posts

In my experiences I begin to sweat once I am hiking after 10-15 minutes if I am wearing more than my techwik s/s shirt and columbia l/s hiking shirt if the temps are around 25-30F+

If it is below 25-30F down to 0F I wear a capaline 3 base with my columbia l/s shirt over it mainly to protect it from backpack strap rubbing.

Below 0F I wear a wool sweater over the capaline 3 top.

It is best to start out chilled, after moving for 20 minutes or so if your still chilled then consider adding another layer. But if you start with too many on and you sweat in them that is bad! It really does take some experimenting to find what system works for you.

My sister gets cold easily and during a recent trip where it was around 30-40F she had to have a sweater on over her baselayer where as I just had my normal techwik and columbia shirt.


12:33 p.m. on December 18, 2011 (EST)
280 reviewer rep
1,469 forum posts

Shop at REI,  if it is no good take it back.

2:56 p.m. on December 18, 2011 (EST)
625 reviewer rep
1,178 forum posts

Welcome to Trailspace Soccadoc, and welcome back to hiking and camping!  It seems like you have a full year to prepare for your hike, so, rather than give you specific suggestions for gear and equipment, let me give you some suggestions about ways to prepare.  I'd begin by getting a basic day-hiking kit together, focusing on clothing, shoes, a nice little pack, and the 10 Essentials.  Enjoy day hiking with no pressure for a few months, and check out one of the many great books about hiking, like The Complete Walker.  After a few good day-hikes, borrow or rent a tent, and go car camping.  Bring good food, your son, whatever libations are appropriate, and mess around with different gear.  I'm a huge fan of borrowing gear or buying it second-hand and giving it a good "shake-down," before taking it out "for real."  After you feel comfortable car-camping, think about taking an overnight hike close to home. The idea is that, over a year or more of just having fun outside, learning more, and talking with folks on Trailspace, you'll develop your own system.

8:59 a.m. on January 8, 2012 (EST)
0 reviewer rep
5 forum posts

Thanks again for all of the great advice. Had to get away from this new obsession for awhile over the holidays. According to the weather reports that I can find, the temps on the South Canyon Rim in December avg. 43 for a high and 20 for a low. Temps at Phantom Ranch avg 57 for a high and 37 for a low. Through visits to my local Backpacking shop, which I am trying to support if the prices are reasonable, and online holiday sales, I now have my mid and lightweight baselayers-top and bottom, hiking pants, hard shell-top and bottom, and a Patagonia Micro Puff vest. I'm debating on whether I need an additional insulating layer. I recently tested my gear (don't laugh at me...) with a 3 mile walk in the neighborhood in a 27 deg snowstorm with blowing winds and was very comfortable in that low stress environment- didn't sweat and wasn't cold. I know it doesn't mimic hiking. Do I need an additional insulating layer for my Phantom Ranch trip ? (Like a puffy?) And does anyone use a softshell with a hard shell over it as an insulating layer if they are not going to be exposed to temps much lower than the above ? It will be unlikely that I will be hiking in really low temps in the long run because I have a condition called Raynauds Phenomena, where my fingers blanch in cold temps and become unpleasantly painful. Thanks again for your advice.

5:57 p.m. on January 9, 2012 (EST)
244 reviewer rep
5,248 forum posts


I spent 20 years hiking the Grand Canyon in Dec/Jan my two favorite months of the year there.

I am used to the cooler temps tho at the bottom at te BA camp and Phantom Ranch it is about the same on any given day as Phoenix is.Its much warmer than the south rim and generally has no snow. I used to hike a little high in the canyon most of the time between the South Bass Trail in the west and the Little Colorado area in the east on the Tonto Platform. I would start from the rim in long pants and sweater and long underwear, but by the time I was on the tonto platform I was down to shorts and a light shirt in the daytime and my long underwear at night.

You don't really need a tent to sleep in unless its to keep the cold wind off, a bivy bag is good enough for that. A sleeping bag rated to 20 degree's is usually good enough also. be sure to use a pad to insulate you from the ground. My propane/butane stove worked just fine in the canyon, you can warm the canister buy cupping your hands around it should it not give a good flame. I hike in light running shoes even when I went on 30 day trips. I usually cached my food in 7 day boxes along the routes I was taking instead of carrying everything for the whole 4 weeks.

Rain gear is not needed either as it rarely does any precipretation below the rim in winter especially December.

Your hands should not feel cold at all during the day and having gloves/mittens for the nights is good.

June 18, 2018
Quick Reply

Please sign in to reply

More Topics
This forum: Older: Pack size? Newer: Questions about Down Sleeping Mats
All forums: Older: wtb: Steep Tech Suit Newer: Vintage Day's Ranger jacket