Winter Backpacking Gear: Light Weight Gear for Temperatures < 32F/0C

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The  extreme air temperatures on the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire can range from the 40°s (F) to the -40°s (F) during the winter months.

Before I delve into the details of my winter backpacking gearlist, I want to start by defining ‘winter backpacking’. Although most people define winter backpacking as backpacking between the first day of winter and the first day of spring (eg,  December 21 to March 20), the definition of winter backpacking that I use to guide my gear decisions is more accurately reflected by the lowest temperatures (as well as snow/ice conditions) that I am expecting to encounter on my backpacking trip. The rough definitions of backpacking seasons that I use are:

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The Gear That Got Me Thru (PCT Gear List)

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As I tracked down the gear that I actually carried on the PCT to weigh it and write up my final gear list, I tallied up the number of miles I’d carried each item with me… The miles added up quickly… in the last two years I’ve hiked ~5000 miles (AT 2013, PCT 2014 et al.) and some of my gear has been with me that entire time!!! (Edit: click here for my newest gearlist- CDT 2018 and >8000 miles)

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Scarlet Tanagers (Days 5&6)

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I’m not big into birding, but I appreciate the variety of songs and colors of the birds that I encounter. Yesterday I saw a particularly spectacular bird (a scarlet tanager), which has a brilliant red body offset with dark black wings. As I kept hiking I saw more and more of them (a total of 8 different tanagers). I found that if I disturbed one by the trail, it would slowly try to circle around me as it waited for me to move. Though they came pretty close to me, I was never quick enough to get a picture of one with my phone.

I spent a cozy night curled up in my tent last night and ended up getting a very early start this morning (the people camping near me were having a loud conversation at 5:45 am). I managed to pack up and hit the trail by 7 am and had hiked five miles by 9 am. The early morning sun managed to make everything look beautiful (even the poison ivy). I think that this may mean that I’ve become a morning person again.

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