Late fall/early spring mountain camping/backpacking

12:55 p.m. on September 16, 2017 (EDT)
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As some of you may know from my trip reports, recently I've started hiking the White Mountains of NH, and am enjoying it so much that I plan on incorporating camping into my hikes so I can start earlier and not be limited to whatever I can do in one day. I've car-camped overnight as part of hikes before, but only so I didn't have to get up at a ridiculously early hour to drive 2-3 hours to the trailhead - I've never actually backpacked before (well, not since boy scouts 35ish years ago.) 

Right now I'm in the research stage of acquiring the bigger, more expensive pieces of gear - backpack, sleeping bag, and tent. The pack seems to be the most difficult of the 3, finding something that offers the best combination of fit, comfort, weight capacity, durability, and price seems like a tall order. So far I've tried on a few packs (with weight in them) at the local EMS, and I'm going back again today for more. I'd also like to try some Hyperlite Mountain Gear packs but nobody local stocks them and I don't know if they have a retail store at their factory (they're made in my hometown of Biddeford ME.) I'm definitely leaning hard toward ultralight gear, but not dismissing 4-6lb packs out of hand. I'm thinking a heavier pack that's more comfortable will be a better choice, for example. 

Sleeping bags may be the simplest choice - I know I want treated down, and the highest fill power in my budget. For the time being I'm not planning on any dead-of-winter trips, so I'm thinking something with an EN comfort rating around 10-15F should suffice. The Big Agnes bags look good because I tend to wander off the sleeping pad, but some bags I've seen have pad straps on the bottom to hold it in place. The BA bags seem to be a little heavier, but I realize a 3lb bag may be 50% heavier than a 2 pound bag but still only 3lb. Plus they tend to have larger circumference measurements, though I'm not sure if that's the interior or exterior of the bag. My shoulder circumference with the tape held loosely is 57". 

Lastly is the tent. I know I want a 4-season, but don't know if I should choose a single or double wall tent. Or why. I'm assuming a double wall tent will be heavier, but also offer more protection from weather. Some of the single walls I've seen, such as the MH Direkt, have the poles on the inside so you can actually set the tent up while inside, which seems like it could be handy in pouring rain or blowing snow. The HMG Ultamid looks good and has great reviews, it doesn't come with a floor but I'd just compact a spot with my snowshoes and make a grommeted floor out of Tyvek. There's no vestibule option for the HMG, adding the optional vestibule for the MH brings the price right to the same area as the HMG but adds 1.5lb of weight for a total of almost 5lb (tent, footprint, & vestibule.) Again, I want the lightest tent that will do what I need it to do, so even if I have to carry 5lb of MH gear for my tent I'd still be looking at 10-12lb max for the pack, bag, and tent. That doesn't seem too excessive to me. 

Anyway, whatever advice anyone has will be appreciated!

9:48 a.m. on September 17, 2017 (EDT)
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Packs
Stay away from packs made of cuben, they do not take abrasions well.  Ultimately pack weight becomes a function of payload weight.  A good heavy pack will carry more weight comfortably than a lighter one.  UL hikers can get by with less weight, but even UL snow camping in the mountains is not so UL.  I like my snow backpack to have lash points for securing axe, crampons, skis and poles when not in use. 

Sleep stuff
You'll want to get the XL size bag with them shoulders! I prefer down for the temp rating you reference.  I also prefer a bag rated 10⁰ below my anticipated low temperature.  Many of us older guys take two sleep mats; an air mat and a blue foam mat.  Even if you think you'll never pop your air mattress the blue foam mat provides R-factor insulation as well as cushion.  Blue foam mats come in two densities: the denser one is the winter mat.  Go with a 3/8" thickness, your body will appreciate it.

Shelter
Tarp tents are actually well suited for snow.  Folks often dig a hole conforming to the tent perimeter, affording the occupants more headroom.  The HMG 2p Ultramid is large enough you don't need a vestibule if soloing.  No matter what shelter you go with, you will want to stomp down a platform area for any shelter pitched on snow.  Let the snow set up a few minutes after compressing, before erecting the shelter. I rarely ever used a vestibule.  Instead I bring what is needed for the night into the tent, and leave my pack outside covered with a plastic trash bag.  It's cheaper and lighter.  My 2p Ultramid with 1p ground sheet, guy lines for all points and stakes comes in at 22oz.  IMO if one wants more protection from the elements that objective is best accomplished with a higher rated sleeping bag than more tent.  There just isn't much R-factor in two layers of fabric.

Stuff worth mentioning
I prefer to use a white gas stove if I know the temperature will be below freezing at cooking time.  You'll want to bring a snow shovel.  I also bring a snow saw and prefer in-snow shelters over tents, as they are both warmer and quieter.  Take a snow safety course if you intend on traveling in the hills or mountains.  If you get ear aches from the cold, wear ear plugs to bed.  If at all possible go snow camping the first few times with experienced snow campers.  There are loads of little tips and hacks that will be learned much quicker and make life much more comfortable.

Ed

4:20 p.m. on September 17, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks, Ed. I called IME in N. Conway NH last night to see what they had for 4-season tents on consignment, and was told they had 2 never-used Hillebergs and a used TNF. After work this morning I headed up, and both Hillebergs were bigger & heavier than I wanted or needed - one was a 3P and the other a smaller 2P. I ended up buying the TNF, a Mountain Tent. 

They also had sleeping bags on consignment, I tried an older Marmot Col -20 and couldn't get the zipper past my hip. Next was a new WM Puma GWS -25, with a 64" shoulder girth I thought it would be big enough. Nope! It was close, though. I guess they measure the outside, not the inside. Too bad, because I would have laid down the 10 bills right then & there. So now I know I need to look for something closer to 70". WM has a semi-rectangular -30 bag called the Cypress GWS that's listed as 69" shoulder girth, it's almost $1200 but would be worth it, I think. Or maybe they can make one to my measurements, I suppose it can't hurt to ask. 

6:02 p.m. on September 17, 2017 (EDT)
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Getting your tent, bag, pad, etc first is a good way to go.  Then you will know rough gear weight and volume, which is equally important and will drive the selection of a backpack.  The pack is the most personal item to me as how it fits and rides varies from one person to the next.  I like to have a large "stash" pocket on the outside of my packs for that inevitable wet gear you don't want to put inside.  As far as selecting, depending on the weight and volume of gear, a slightly heavier pack may ride better than one of the UL ones.  I stayed with a 3-4 lb pack for years until finally switching to a lighter one (sub 2 lbs) after much trial and error (and good return policies!).  Good luck and happy hunting (for gear)!

6:24 p.m. on September 17, 2017 (EDT)
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You might consider getting two sleeping bags that zip together - cheaper than custom made.  Also look into quilts.  If you are intending to see only temps down to the teens, a -30⁰ bag will have you sweltering.

Ed 

7:03 p.m. on September 17, 2017 (EDT)
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I was told that come November there are very few nights where the temps don't get down around 0 in the Whites, and that to cover September-March having a -20ish and a 15-20ish bag is best. I figure the -20ish bag will be harder to find so I'm looking for that first. 15-20 bags are like weeds. Plus I had the money for the expensive bag today, that's not always the case LOL. 

9:24 p.m. on September 17, 2017 (EDT)
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If you are going to custom fit a bag, give Feathered Friends a look as well as WM. Both great quality.

11:26 p.m. on September 17, 2017 (EDT)
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Well, change #107 LOL. I just ordered a Nemo Sonic 0 bag, 850 fill power down. It has the core vents that can lower temps inside up to 20 degrees, which should give me a fairly wide useful range. Plus it has an inside shoulder girth of 69" so it'll actually fit me. Jumping right into a $1000+ subzero bag may be a bigger step than I need to be taking right at this moment, I'll get out and actually CAMP on one or two of my hikes in more moderate temps before pulling that trigger. If we have a good, cold, snowy winter I'll be working 6-7 days a week between turning wrenches and deicing, so my overnight trips may be few & far between.

I checked out the FF website and their bags were a little smaller as a rule, but maybe they can make one to order, too. 

12:10 p.m. on September 18, 2017 (EDT)
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My one season tent, aka winter tent, that I picked up for search and rescue is a GoLite three person single wall -- a Shangri La, with a single aluminum pole. It weighs 2.5 lbs.

My three season tent is a hybrid double wall.

Reason being -- in winter, in the Sierra Nevada, I am dealing with (in a normal year) 5 - 12 feet of snow. A floorless single wall three person tent is a great option for a single person in winter. Set up the tent with deadman anchors and leave ventilation around the bottom, then build a short wall of snow around to block wind. Use extra guy out points to stabilize and further pull out the walls a little. Dig out under the tent, until you can stand up inside. Create a bench to sleep on, a bench to cook on, steps to walk up out the door. In a storm you can dig a potty pit at the bottom of the entrance. The tipi shape sheds snow and wind like a champ. There's ventilation at the top and bottom. The net inner wall isn't used when there's no bugs, so I don't have one. 

I don't take the Shangri La in spring, summer or fall. I have a lighter solo tent with a bathtub floor, bug netting and sets up with trekking poles.

Four season is not the same everywhere. If you aren't going more than a single night you can get away with using a three season tent - at worst you're up all night knocking off the snow. If you get very little snow, you're probably fine with a three season. If you're looking at deep snow and a ski/snowshoe expedition, that's a different animal altogether. Real four season shelters will have features like powder skirts, multiple cross poles instead of one or two, inner guy lines that stabilize the shelter in high winds. Tunnel tents are popular for winter. Floorless is popular. Beginners sometimes assume that four season is versatile and can be used year round -- that's not the case at all. A winter tent can be heavier and have features that are useless in summer months. You don't need a powder skirt or inner guy lines unless you're waiting out a blizzard. Most people have a four season tent for winter, and a three season tent for the rest of the year.

I have a three season tent for when the bugs are out, a tarp for when they aren't, and a one season single wall tipi tent for snow.

4:40 p.m. on September 18, 2017 (EDT)
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Phil I am a little late with my reply...but I was going to recommend that you get a higher temp rating on your bag and then supplement your horizontal insulation (sleeping bag) with vertical insulation (clothing)...it gives you a lot more temperature variation than the combo of bag and base-layer alone...helps with the shock of drafts...you can walk to the bathroom in it...and wear it around camp being all warm and stuff. I start with a cotton t-shirt and boxers in the summer with a light poly sheet and add layers till I have more total (horizontal and vertical) insulation than I need for expected temps. All but my UL puffy parka and pants were super cheap pullover fleeces and poly warm-up items that I sleep and lounge around the house in...I bought them loose fitting with no buttons or zippers and large enough to layer.

As Worry mentioned you will want to get some kind of foam sleeping mat...I really like my Z-lite...but a few friends use the cheaper knock-offs you can find on Amazon and think I am dumb for paying x3 what they did (they are correct). In addition to cold weather sleeping...these folding pads make great lounging furniture on wet ground...a sandy beach...or partially draped over a downed tree or against a bolder. I really cheap friend used the cheap blue pads you can find at Walmart and cut it into sections and taped them back together for a DIY folding pad...and he loves it...and think my friends are dumb for paying x2 what he did for their Chinese knock-offs (he is probably correct).

9:20 p.m. on September 18, 2017 (EDT)
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Lori,

Thanks for all the advice. At this point in time I don't think I'll be out for long enough in temps cold enough to require all the digging. To be honest, after having to dig in 10-man arctic tents a few times in the army, I think I'd forgo it even if the temps were cold enough - do you have any idea how long it takes to dig in a 10-man arctic tent 5 feet down using only entrenching tools? LOL We dug the floor level instead of with a cold sump, and the 5-foot depth was to reduce the silhouette of the tent. 

Right now I have a 3-season, a 4-season hybrid that does get blown snow inside because of the window covers that don't zip along all 3 sides, and as of yesterday a true 4-season alpine tent. I'd considered a pyramidal tarp tent but the highly-rated ones were quite a bit more, and I wanted to put the money into my sleeping bag & insulating pad/mattress. It's definitely on my list for the future because the simplicity is nice. And the light weight. 

Joseph,

Going back to my army days again I absolutely hate wearing more than necessary when sleeping, after having to pile on the clothes to stay warm in our 10F (hahaha) bags. I've done it a couple times when seeing how cold I could go in my modular sleep system patrol bag, optimistically rated at 30 degrees. With the bag snapped into the bivy sack and wearing expedition weight polypro, wool socks, and a hat, and with my poncho liner inside the bag, I was pretty comfy down to around 18F. But I'd rather wear less. 

I've always kept a GI foam pad, it's cut down to fit under the sleeping bag in my bivy sack and it definitely makes a difference when I put it under my 3-season Trail Pro. Its only drawback is that it rolls up and in the cold it takes forever to stay somewhat flattened out. 

10:13 p.m. on September 18, 2017 (EDT)
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To my surprise, Stephenson's Warmlite is still in business.

https://www.warmlite.com/

Their gear may be relevant to your interests...

6:49 a.m. on September 19, 2017 (EDT)
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I remember reading a Stephenson's Warmlite review from 2 or 3 years ago and thought it was an interesting concept, one which the army did a somewhat decent job with when it came out with the Modular Sleep System that's so much more versatile than the old feather-filled sleeping bags. The MSS sure isn't as durable as the old ones, though! Anyway, the Warmlite does look good, especially the semi-rectangular shape. I've never used a VB in a sleeping bag so I'm guessing it'll take a little while to get used to it. But the price isn't much more than the Western Mountaineering bag I'm interested in, and when you add the cost of a down-filled air mattress to the WM the Warmlite is definitely a value with its versatility. Another thing to add to my wish list!

7:46 a.m. on September 20, 2017 (EDT)
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Obsession, sometimes it can be good and sometimes it can be bad. I was looking at reviews for shelters & tarp tents here and elsewhere yesterday, saw one for the MSR Twin Sisters 4-season shelter, and when I saw that Campsaver had it for 50% off I decided I couldn't pass it up LOL. So as soon as it arrives (unknown backorder time) I'll have a lightweight solo shelter. This weekend I'm hoping to head to EMS and load up a few packs with what I plan on bringing with me this winter, and after that I'll start carrying it on my weekday training hikes. 

8:24 a.m. on September 20, 2017 (EDT)
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jrenow said:

".. I was going to recommend that you.. ..supplement .. ..with vertical insulation..."

I normally don't like wearing more than long johns to sleep, but I have an oversize 20⁰ bag I'll use on occasion in conjunction with down bibs and jacket to take me to zero.  I also used this practice on extreme cold and high altitude outings.  But for most of my other sleep accommodations additional clothing is reserved for contingencies.

Ed

6:13 p.m. on September 20, 2017 (EDT)
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Got my $100 ExPed DownMat 9 from GearTrade today, it was a Campmor return. There are 2 patches on it, and it held air just fine. 3.5" of R-value 8 insulation should do a lot to keep me toasty warm & comfy at night, especially after 2 minutes of pumping to inflate it.

8:12 p.m. on September 20, 2017 (EDT)
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Man, you are all over the place with this one!

I've been trying to follow along but you've switched between questions about a double walled to a single walled to a pyramid and ended up ordering a tarp. My two cents- you need to narrow in on what you will (specifically) be looking to do. I would highly recommend against a single walled tent unless you are doing some mountaineering where every ounce will matter. They will excel when humidity is low/winds are high and weight is a priority but for %99 of the people they are overkill and will cause too much condensation in the wrong environments. I find both pyramid (or tarp, tarp-tents) work well in the winter but can be a little over whelming for the new to winter campers. Having to dig out a pit and sleep directly on the snow can be intimidating for some. If not for you, then they are a great option. A double walled shelter is obviously the most common, often with good reason.

As for the sleeping bag. I'd be honest about what you're gonna camp in. -20f is cold. Most people throw in the towel, even if they consider themselves cold weather fans around that temp. I'd start with a 0 degree bag, like you have, get out and stretch your winter legs. once you find you like it then you can look into a colder bag. (Around those temps you'll start looking into hot tenting and then a whole new wonderful world will open up to you! noting like cooking up bacon and eggs on a stove from your sleeping bag).

Mat wise- you've chosen the best mat on the planet (IMO). I wish I had the money for the downmat 9. I own the 7 and love it. So comfortable that its just short of my bed at home. You will not find a warmer option. Bring a blue foam pad to sit on during the day and to protect it at night, you'll be darn happy.

Winter gear can seem overwhelming and intimidating at first, so get out (preferably close to your car) and see what works/ and doesn't for you. The Whites are literally the best testing ground you can find! I'm heading there in October, got a Presidential traverse and some late season climbing lined up!

Have fun man!

10:25 p.m. on September 20, 2017 (EDT)
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Jake,

Thanks for the advice. I'm not so much new to winter camping as I will be to winter backpacking. I did quite a bit while in Boy Scouts back in the 80s, but since then most of my extreme cold experience was in the army. Tents were pretty rare even though my units were mechanized, mainly because we rarely stayed in one place long enough to set them up. Most of the time, when we didn't simply sleep cramped in our vehicles getting rained on from the condensation from our breath, we slept on cots in the open next to or on top of our vehicles, with a poncho over our sleeping bags or the bag(s) inside the bivy sacks. So sleeping outside in the winter is nothing new to me, but except when we did set up the tent and had a Yukon stove going it was miserable for the most part LOL As far as tents, I ended up getting both a double wall and the tarp. The double wall is for when I go with my hiking/snowshoeing partner, the tarp is for when I'm alone. 2lb is better than 7-8!

The -20F bag is what was recommended to me for winter camping in the Whites, but I went with the 0F bag that I'll actually fit in and that was much more affordable. It'll just require me to watch the forecasted temps a little more closely and either cut my hike short or postpone it. I wasn't actually planning on being out in -20F temps, at least not till I get more experience living off what's in my back at more "moderate" temps. 

I decided on the mat based solely on its specs, and lucked out finding it on geartrade. I don't think I could have justified paying full price for it. 

Now I just have to get a pack and a stove, and I plan on taking the gear I'll be bringing to EMS this weekend and trying on the 2 or 3 packs I narrowed the field down to last weekend. That Osprey Atmos AG 65 sure was nice with about 40lb of sandbags, heavier than the Granite Gear but much more comfy. Hopefully I'll never hit 40lb! The stove will most likely be a Whisperlite.

10:02 a.m. on September 22, 2017 (EDT)
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I got my NEMO Sonic 0 bag yesterday, I actually fit in it! Closing the "thermo gills" makes it a bit smaller, but nowhere near too tight. I can actually lie with my arms at my side instead of having to roll my shoulders inward, cross my forearms over my abdomen, and use the snugness of the bag to keep them there.

My first impression of the thermo gills is that I wish the zippers for them were on the inside, but I'm sure it wasn't done on a coin toss. I can't wait for the temps to drop so I can go try it out!

i also got a Sea To Summit eVent compression sack that'll compress the bag down to about a 9-10" ball. A few shakes after pulling it out and the loft is restored. 

10:42 p.m. on September 27, 2017 (EDT)
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Well I got my winter pack yesterday (Osprey Atmos AG 65), and with it packed as closely as I can approximate* for the winter it weighs in at 31lb According to my bathroom scale. 

Pack:                                         5lb

2.5l HydraPak bladder:                5lb

Nemo Sonic 0 long sleeping bag: 3lb

ExPed DownMat 9 LW:                2.7lb

TNF Mountain Tent**:                  9lb

BD Alpine FLZ poles:                  1.2lb

EMS Feather Pack down jacket:   0.8lb

EMS Thunderhead rain shell:       0.7lb

OR Foray rain pants:                  0.7lb           

Misc clothing/accessories:          3lb  

Total:                                       31.1lb

*no food, stove, fuel, or cook pot.

**my winter tent will be a 2lb MSR Twin Sisters without poles, the 7lb weight difference wiil probably be made up by cooking gear, food, and other misc stuff. Max weight should be no more than 35lb, tops.  

5:50 p.m. on September 28, 2017 (EDT)
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I assume the 5lb weight spec on the water bladder is a typo...  Otherwise your weight specs are in the ballpark. 

The rain gear you have is light, so I assume they are made of the non-breathable, coated stuff.  You may wish to reconsider and get shell garments made of Gore-Tex or similar breathable membrane.  The reasoning: It is virtually impossible to get around without sweating.  Activity in the extreme cold is no exception.  One challenge is how to dry out after physical activity.  As others have suggested wearing your dampened clothing articles in camp under a breathable shell allows body warmth to evaporate clothing dampness, which is subsequently vented through the shell membrane.  Coated WPB shells are much less efficient in this regard.  While on the topic of keeping dry, try to wear as little as possible while under exertion; being a little on the cool side is preferred to being a little (or a lot) sweaty.  

Jake sums it up pretty nice.  I never considered cold camping in Jake's terms, but he is spot on, sub zero camping is a different breed of cold.  Skin can frost nip quickly in breezy sub zero temps, most footwear is inadequate, and it is hard to keep fluids from freezing, short of stashing them on your person.  Given Jake's description I'll add to it there are three kinds of winter camping and campers: those who want to get into the white wonderland for its beauty but consider the very cold as a barrier to entry versus a challenge; those who resort to hot tenting when things get real cold; and those sickos :) who like to challenge themselves against the cold without the luxury of hot tents.  I am of the first group but will endure being of the third group under the right incentives.  Jake's suggestion that you ease into the fourth season backpacking may save you $$$ should you later decide to leave the extreme cold to the Eskimos.

Ed

8:50 p.m. on September 28, 2017 (EDT)
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A gallon of water is 8lb, so 2.5l (5/8 gallon) is 5lb. The jacket & pants are both waterproof/breathable. I'd wear the jacket for wind protection more than anything else, because down to about -10F or so I'm fine with a silkweight base layer and a mediumweight merino shirt during heavy exertion. Even then I sweat a little but it gets wicked to the outside of my merino shirt, where it freezes & eventually sublimates. 

I think I fall in the sicko category, because I love the winter, cold, and snow. This will be my first time actually winter backpacking in 20+ years, back then I was in good enough shape to hump that heavy army crap around LOL. Since then I've only car camped in the winter. But now it's time to go on foot, with only a 0F bag I won't be out in subzero temps. That can wait till next winter LOL

I took a short hike earlier, about 1.5 miles, just to start dialing in the pack. Man, is it comfy, I realize that 1.5 miles isn't far at all but when they named those things "anti gravity" they knew exactly what they were doing. I'm looking forward to taking this pack out on my training hikes, once I find other gear that'll make the same weight instead of leaving my down gear compressed in it. Then it'll be time to start hitting the mountains on my rare weekends off LOL

8:59 p.m. on October 4, 2017 (EDT)
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When I decided to winter hike a few years back I tried to integrate winter gear and apparel that is useful when winter camping. The Koflach boots were a great choice for me. Talking with my brother who backpacked the Whites in the early 80's recommended the Northface Mountain 35 tent. For the extreme winter camping I went with Western Mountaineering Puma gws and for the ho hum winter nights, Mountain Hardwear Phantom 15 and I always use a bag liner to help keep the bag clean. Have a safe and fun winter.

 

1:10 a.m. on October 26, 2017 (EDT)
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notice my photo - its a bibler eldorado winter tent. In a winter storm your tent is between you and the weather. There is probably no more important piece of winter gear than an a good tent. That said I have been out with no tent and only a sleeping bag at -40 degrees and it was not at all comfortable. At the very least with a "non-tent" you should have a good bivy sack to protect your sleeping bag.  Heavy boots aren't as important as down pants for keeping your feet warm.

Jim S Oct 2017

9:01 p.m. on October 28, 2017 (EDT)
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Jim, glad to see you back on Trailspace. Jim has been around Trailspace for many years. He and I have done some fairly light backpacks in the Sierra. with bivy sacks as our shelters. And we have used tarps.

I have used my Eldorado all year around and on several continents. On my Andes treks, I set it up everywhere from 10,000 ft elevation on up to 19,000 ft+. Barbara and I used it for our visit to Kahiltna Basecamp (that's the basecamp for climbers attempting Denali on the Kahiltna Glacier - we were just visiting there because Barbara wanted to see where I had been going for several summers in a row). It is my tent of choice when I am on one of my expeditions for the Climber Science Program in the Andes. You can see the Bibler tent family at https://www.blackdiamondequipment.com/en_US/search?cgid=shelter

The weight with pegs and poles is 4p 13 oz

Tod Bibler was the originator of the Bibler tents. One of the earliest was the I-tent. There are several variations, currently all from Black Diamond. They are pricey, but are light and very dependable, as well as being easy to rapidly set up in a storm (you go inside, sit down, and easily place the 2 tent poles corners in the 4 corners of the tent - it is almost self-setup). I have slept in my Eldo through heavy blizzards and on hot summers (their venting arrangement works well). It is also quite light in weight. Barb and I are small enough to be comfortable. However, I was on an arranged trip that used the I-tent, with a tent-partner who was about half again my height and tended to roll around all night (got about zero sleep that night).

OTH, we sometimes use a Triplex Z-pack which is 1p 13oz with poles (hiking poles that I carry anyway) and pegs. (see my review at http://www.trailspace.com/gear/zpacks/triplex/#review32971). Normally it gets used by Barbara and me, though we have sometimes used it with our son ("Triplex" for 3-person). It is nice to go that light. However, it is Cuben fiber, which can easily get punctured (also easy to patch). We have used the Z-Pack in heavy rainstorms, which it withstands very well. A disadvantage is that the Cuben shell is somewhat transparent. Aside from "modesty", this also means that the Sun shines in, which can produce a hot tent in summer.

And yes, Barbara and I have accumulated a variety of tents over the years. Just about anything will work. It's just that some gear sets work well, and others will have you very uncomfortable despite what the ads and some hikers have to say.

7:33 p.m. on October 30, 2017 (EDT)
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Thanks, Bill, and everyone else who responded recently. All advice and information is taken into consideration and filed away for future use, even if I don’t respond directly.

The MSR Twin Sisters I ordered ended up being out of stock with an extended backorder time, so I cancelled the order. Now it’s a toss-up between the TNF Assault 2 and MH Direkt. (The MSR sounded great for $200, at the $400 MSRP I‘d rather spend a little more for a full tent w/floor.) I’m leaning toward the Direkt because the TNF seems to be pretty useless for where it MIGHT rain. The included vestibule is nice, but if I’m using a lightweight tent I’ll most likely be solo and my pack will be inside with me (and the vestibule will be at home.) The MH strong points seem to be the interior poles and waterproof material. Those seem to be the only <=3lb true 4-season full tents available, at least from retailers like REI and Backcountry. More specialized retailers may sell other brands that may or may not cost more, I’d like to spend as little as possible but will spend what I need to since as Jim said, the tent is all that’s between me and the winter weather. 

December 13, 2017
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