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Winter Camping Equipment List

The following list is what crack-patroller Steve Harrington consults when he plans a Sierra winter camping trip.  It might be a little overkill for some trips, but regardless of what you personally decide to bring/ leave at home, remember that the winter climate in the Sierra can range in temperatures from the upper 40's in the daytime to the teens at night.  Even the Range of Light can certainly storm; be prepared for any and all weather.

Group Gear

  • Stoves / fuel
  • Pots, pans
  • First Aid kit for the group
  • Tents/Shelters
  • Shovels, probes (snow saw?)
  • Food
  • Emergency gear

Personal Gear

  • Backpack (internal frame packs give better balance and load control; 5000-6000 cu. in. of capacity is needed; extra lash straps help; pack cover.  This could be a compactor bag)
  • Day Pack (for touring out from base camp during the day)
  • Sleeping Bag (temperature rating: 10°-0°; synthetic bags are best though heavier.  Down as an insulation requires specialized care and is a possibility if you can ensure it will stay dry; a pillow case -- or T-shirt.  can be stuffed with clothes for a pillow.)
  • Compression Stuff Sack (a warmer winter bag takes up a lot of space and this can make that more manageable)
  • Compactor Bags (2: used to make your backpack/and other gear waterproof)
  • 2 Sleeping Pads (a full-length closed cell foam pad/Therm-A Rest to insulate. 2 insulating pads are important in the snow! You might also consider a Chair conversion kit that turns your Therm-A Rest into a seat?)
  • Foam Pad for sitting/standing (foam garden kneeling pad from hardware store)
  • Ground cloth, nylon or polyethylene sheet like a heavy gauge paint tarp)

Upper Body

  • T-shirt (optional: light or mid-weight polypropylene - i.e. wicking synthetic material)
  • Base Insulating Shirt (polypropylene: light or midweight, depending on your personal temperature needs; this is your base layer)
  • Secondary Insulating Shirt (polypropylene: expedition weight)
  • Fleece /insulated vest (thick fleece, prima loft, or down works well here)
  • Top Insulating Layer (fleece/down/fiber fill jacket)
  • Insulated Parka /ski jacket (should fit over all other layers -- hooded is good)
  • Rain/Wind Jacket -- needs to fit over other layers (Gortex jacket for snow and wind; you may also want a separate light nylon wind shell)

Lower Body

  • Base Insulating Long johns (light/ mid-weight thermal bottoms of polypropylene)
  • Secondary Insulating Long johns (expedition weight polypro)
  • Fleece Pants
  • Insulated snow pants (check Goodwill, etc.)
  • Rain/Wind pants (Gortex pants for snow and wind. Optional: a separate
  • pair of nylon wind pants -- side zippers make easy entry with boots on)
  • Underwear/(sports bra) (silk/nylon/polypropylene are good; cotton, not so much)

Head/ Neck/ Hands

  • Sunglasses (and retainer strap)
  • Ski Goggles
  • Hats (Sun hat /baseball cap; wool/fleece stocking cap)
  • Neck Gaiter (wool or fleece); balaclava??
  • Gloves (two pairs of wool or synthetic gloves -- 1 (or 2) light liners and
  • 1 medium weight wool or fleece
  • Insulated nylon ski gloves/mittens (gloves offer more dexterity, mittens more warmth)
  • Mitten Shells (wool or fleece mittens with nylon mitten shells)


  • Ski Boots (if not insulated, consider bringing insulated snow boots as well)
  • Snowshoes and Poles (if snowshoeing)
  • Snow Boots (stiff and strong enough for snowshoeing. make sure they are insulated enough for standing around camp in the cold evening -- new thermal insoles :
  • Insulated over-boots are great if you can find them (insulated nylon mukluks that fit over snow boots or booties)
  • Down insulated booties can be nice in the tent, but are bulky
  • Socks (2 pairs of liner socks; 2-3 pairs of wool socks)
  • Gaiters (knee-high gaiters with a strong closure system)


  • Toilet Articles (toothbrush/paste, floss, skin lotion, contacts stuff, extra glasses, sun block, lip balm, hand sanitizer lotion; medicines, personal Band-Aids, etc.)
  • Hand/Feet Warmer Packets (those 8-hour heat packs can be nice)
  • Stuff Sacks (various nylon stuff sacks to organize gear)
  • Eating Utensils (insulated mug; bowl; spoon/(fork?); 1 qt. water bottle .
  • A hydration bladder is good if you can keep it from freezing; thermos?)
  • Bandannas (a couple are always handy)
  • Headlamp/Flashlight (Headlamps work well -- extra batteries)
  • Skis and Poles (if skiing; skins would be a help for uphill)
  • Backcountry snow shovel
  • Pocket Knife (small like a Swiss Army knife is sufficient)
  • Book (??: is the weight worth it?)
  • Camera /Binoculars (optional: need to keep it safe and dry; it adds weight!)