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#123755 - 11/13/09 01:36 AM keep it simple
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
I think amongst experienced campers the difference in weather, altitude, humidity, snow depth, angle of incline, etc, creates need for different specific equipment.

HOWEVER

I think there is a constant. Simplicity and efficiency. In really bad weather you simply cannot spend your time fussing with gagety stuff that requires removing your gloves and wastes energy, especially at altitude and extreme low temps. That goes from zippers to tents and stoves and bindings.

Talking with phat on our camping trip I was struck by how much our gear was alike yet different, largely dictated by use and weather. phat is a hunter used to extreme cold, I'm a recreational ski camper. Regardless of what "system" you use, it has to deploy easily and keep you warm in all conditions.

Over the years my pack weight dropped 50% not so much by buying gear, but by leaving gear at home. Not that I am unprepared, but now I know exactly what I will need and take no more. While I am very conservative and want a comfortable trip, I know I can use my experience to make up for lack of gear.

I don't want to talk about ten essentials nor gear list, but about equipment needs. I rely on a small set of extremely reliable bomb proof gear. Just a few pieces that I can easily locate in the dark. I mean I don't have even one color coded stuff sack! That went out 40 years ago.

In my large pack I have a bombproof tent, goretex shelled winter bag, down air mattress, balaclava and 4 ounce foam pillow stolen from an airline years ago, which makes up my shelter/sleeping needs.

I have a very hot reliable, heavy 14 oz, easy to start stove that can be lit with a spark in ANY weather. I have a heavy headlamp, and a photon on my pack harness where I can locate it by feel. I like a big fat heavy BPA nalgene with OR insulating jacket so I have liquid water all night long. And I carry a 3 ounce towel to wipe up spills and to use spread over my knees as a dinner table.

My clothing consists of ski clothes - long underwear (preferably montbell) with packlight full zip pants and jacket over a fleece jacket with pitzips that match the shells zips, and a warm hat that can cover my ears and is snow proof. Skiing is aerobic and staying dry and warm is a trade between venting and keeping in some warmth. When I stop I pull on a REAL winter down coat(39 oz), again goretex shelled down. When I get to camp the goretex pants are replaced with goretex down bibs (32 oz). I may take my mukluks which I can walk with in deep snow, as a treat to my feet after wearing ski boots all day.

The top pocket of my pack has 2-3 BIC lighters, a small collection of pills, maybe a light pair of fleece "sleeping gloves", batteries for my GPS, and some tp, Ti Spoon.

This isn't a gear list of course - I carry more - but the majority of my gear is a handfull of heavy rugged dependable items that I put my complete trust in. I know I can get in and out and stand up to any storm that can come at me, cause I've tested it in the real world.

My luxuries are a coffee cup, pillow, down air mattress, sleeping gloves and maybe mukluks. My tent can be set up from the inside in a couple of minutes (still gotta pack down a platform though). I could burrow into the snow (in my snow suit) without a shovel tent sleeping bag or pad and be a bit cold, but survive the night. After spending a night out in the open at -40F in the ALPS I learned a lot about the difference between being cold and "freezing".

Final thought - tight clothing cuts warmth and comfort. 4 layers sucks, 3 is more comfortable, 2 is better but requires specialised gear with weather proof shells built in, like goretex shelled down bibs over long underwear.

You might explore the concept of making a gear list with 12 items, or 18. How simple can make you it? A bag of small stuff weighing a pound or two can count as one.

I do not have an axe, repair kit, first aid kit, snowshoes, bivy sack, tent footprint, layering clothes, cell phone, spot and generally not a shovel. All of this weighs around 25 pounds less my ski gear.
Jim crazy
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#123767 - 11/13/09 11:14 AM Re: keep it simple [Re: Jimshaw]
Zalman Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Olympic Peninsula, Washington,...
Originally Posted By Jimshaw
I have a very hot reliable, heavy 14 oz, easy to start stove that can be lit with a spark in ANY weather.


I'd love to know what stove fits this description. I've been having trouble homing in on an appropriate stove for winter.
_________________________
It's easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.
-- Larry Darrell

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#123776 - 11/13/09 01:13 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
You've got more high end gear than I have Jim. I can't afford the Gore-Tex stuff, but I get by with what I have. The few times I have been out when it was below zero, I had my old snowmobile which I could start up and leave if needed. 20 minutes or so from my truck. Never thought of the gloves to wear at night. I use my old MSR Internationale stove for winter or snow trips, I keep it going in the morning to warm my hands up while packing up. I still don't have a good four season tent, can't warrant the price, have gotten by with my summer tent, a SD Halfmoon. It did suffer pole damage a few years ago, when our group was in a "slight chance of snow" trip where we received 2' of snow overnight and very high winds. I just had to take the small bends out of my poles later. While holding the poles up that night when a high gust came thru, I would be forced off of my pad. More experience to add to the years.:) My outer gear that trip, in which I stayed warm along side the Gore-Tex wearing folks, was a Columbia rain coat and my Golite synthetic fill jacket. For some reason I stayed warm, right food I guess as it normally isn't that warm.

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#123782 - 11/13/09 06:14 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: Zalman]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Zalman, Jim has a two burner Coleman Xtreme stove that uses a proprietary gas canister and unlike a standard butane canister stove, will work in cold weather down to at least 15F, maybe colder. I have the single burner version. Jim might be referring to another stove, but that's one I know he has because I've used it myself.

I also have an Optimus Nova which burns white gas and most anything else and an MSR XGK which will burn any flammable liquid commonly found, including av gas, jet fuel and kerosene and in spite of the fact they say don't do it, alcohol.

The Nova is a bit fussy and I have railed about it here many times, but it works pretty well once you understand what can go wrong with it. Never take one without the tool that comes with it. I had to take mine apart a couple of times, including pulling the fuel filter out of the line because it froze up on me.

Phat has an old school Svea 123. I have one of those too that was my first camping stove many years ago. Burns only white gas, but is a simple design with few moving parts that rarely fails to work.

Duane-I use an REI rain jacket and Marmot Precip pants in winter. I also have that big parka in my picture and a pair of GoLite synthetic insulated pants (no longer made, I think). Goretex, eVent and so on are nice, but you don't need them; you just need a way to stay dry.


Edited by TomD (11/13/09 06:19 PM)
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#123789 - 11/13/09 10:14 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: Zalman]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Zalman
As TomD mentioned I have a 2 burner (expedition model) coleman Xtreme, and I have the 14 ounce single burner version. The single burner is easier to put a wind screen on, but the double burner weighs 21 oz, or 1.5 times the single burner and I often take it when camping with someone as TomD mentioned. Its really great to be able to cook the pasta and the sauce at the same time so both are hot when eaten, and I can melt snow on one and cook on the other. Mostly Propane, The fuel and stove have performed flawlessly for me at -5F, which is warm to phat. My second fav is my original XGK white gas, but its much harder to light in a cold wind. I feel perfectly safe cooking in my vestibule with it (The coleman NOT THE XGK - changed) and I also have a bibler hanging stove, but it suffers from the cold tank syndrome of most compressed gas stoves, however sometimes I crank it up with the tent door half open and enjoy a sweat lodge atmosphere which is warm enough to help the bottle stay warm.
Jim crazy
Hurricane ridge in February? Woah...


Edited by Jimshaw (11/14/09 01:05 PM)
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#123790 - 11/13/09 10:31 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
TomD turned me on to WinterTrekking, a group out of Canada mostly. Since it is much colder up there, they can use less waterproof clothing.

I used my isobutane powered MSR Pocket Rocket on a five day trip in the southern Sierra in early Oct. The coldest morning was four degrees and after warming the canister a minute or less between my legs, I fired it up and when my water warmed up a little, I dipped the canister in the warmed up water and the stove instantly put out more heat/noise. I repeated this a couple times and got my water boiling for hot cereal in short order. With no wind finally that morning, that was the warmest morning while packing up camp.

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#123815 - 11/14/09 01:12 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: hikerduane]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
HD said-
The coldest morning was four degrees and after warming the canister a minute or less between my legs, I fired it up and when my water warmed up a little, I dipped the canister in the warmed up water and the stove instantly put out more heat/noise. I repeated this a couple times and got my water boiling for hot cereal in short order.___________________________________________

Thanks for that HD, yes thats the way. If its really cold start with a small amount of water and warm it NOT TOO HOT, then dunk your fuel bottle in it, and then rewarm and add more water, you may have to warm the fuel again and its critical to do it BEFORE the water is too hot. Another way is to warm the fuel as said, then put the fuel canister in a spare pan and pour some warm water in it. Its not very efficient, but if you havelots of fuel it does solve the canister cooling problem. Always carry extra fuel, bringing home a full cannister is not a bad thing, what if you were pinned down by weather and needed it?
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#123826 - 11/14/09 04:54 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: hikerduane]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
My "winter stove" of choice is an MSR Dragonfly multi (liquid) fuel stove that can roar like an XGK or simmer very low to conserve fuel. That stove is ultra reliable but I still carry a field repair kit. The stove rests on a plastic MSR base made for it. This keeps the stove steady on packed snow and won't let it melt the snow beneath.

True, my winter gear is, of necessity, heavier than summer gear but it IS reliable and simple to use.

FOOTWEAR is crucial. I use Canadian Sorrel feltpacs with VB liners over thin polypro liner sox to keep the felt insulation dry. Simple.

The felt booties ALWAYS go in my sleeping bag, either on my feet or at the bottom of the size long bag, with my water bota and extra batteries & headlamp. That's why yer winter bag neds to be long. I'll never again suffer the agony of warming frozen insulated boots in the morning. Don't ask me how I know this.

At night I put my Gore-Tex mountain parka, zipped up W/ sleeves inside, over the foot of my sleeping bag for more warmth and to keep the foot of my bag from getting wet by melting frost from the tent wall. Simple.

And as I posted (too often) last winter, I'm a believr in GTX gloves that have removable fleece liners. Carrying at least one extra liner pair allows for dry liners when needed.

Eric
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#123857 - 11/15/09 11:47 AM Re: keep it simple [Re: TomD]
Zalman Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Olympic Peninsula, Washington,...
Originally Posted By TomD
Jim has a two burner Coleman Xtreme stove that uses a proprietary gas canister and unlike a standard butane canister stove, will work in cold weather down to at least 15F, maybe colder. I have the single burner version.


OK, I did some reading about this stove. It looks awesome -- liquid feed, genius. Unfortunately, it also looks scarce. I've only found one place so far (Handsome Bear) that purports to have one in stock. More disappointing, I can't get the fuel canisters locally, and with the scant availability of the stove itself, I fear for the life of the canister distribution in general (especially after recently watching Coleman phasing out Gaz canister distribution in the U.S.)

Even if I can order the canisters somewhere, lack of immediate spur-of-the-moment fuel would mean I need a backup stove anyway. It's like buying a membership at a gym that is too far away -- inconvenience = disuse.

So at this point I'm thinking I'll go with the XGK, a stove I have used and have great faith in. I wasn't too sure about this one meeting the "lights with a spark" requirement, but I've always been able to get it lit one way or another.
_________________________
It's easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.
-- Larry Darrell

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#123867 - 11/15/09 03:18 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: Jimshaw]
Echterling Offline
member

Registered: 08/21/09
Posts: 52
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By Jimshaw


I do not have an axe, repair kit, first aid kit, snowshoes, bivy sack, tent footprint, layering clothes, cell phone, spot and generally not a shovel.


Since I'm a climber, I always have an ice tool or ice axe (I suspect you are refering to woodcutting axes though).

Again, since I'm a climber, I also carry a repair kit and a first aid kit. Having tons of razor sharp gadgetry strapped all over my body means lots of blood loss and regular patching of gear, even on a normal, highly successful trip. Not to mention, altitude necessitates the carry of the altitude drugs.

Shovels are mighty useful in avy terrain, when snow caves can be easily dug, or when a flat tent platform needs to be cut.

Different purposes = different perspectives on necessary gear.
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#123873 - 11/15/09 07:44 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Jim, I think I have a little bit of born in Missouri, the show me state, in my blood. I have always heard that the canister stove fuel would not evaporate enough below freezing or there abouts to run the stove and if it did run, you would burn off the part of the blend that evaporates first then you are only left with the part that needs higher temps to evaporate. I wanted to try my Pocket Rocket on this trip to see what I could get it to do and save a little weight. Now I know what is required, plus, I don't have to sleep with the canister in my sleeping bag to get it to start in the morning. I had planned on staying out for seven nights, but the fishing was poor and I didn't like the wind above tree line, so I was only out for five nights. I was southwest of Mt. Whitney. A small canister will last me a week in the summer, so I brought a large cansiter, thinking the water would be colder and take longer to heat up, plus give me some lee way.

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#123879 - 11/15/09 09:55 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: hikerduane]
Zalman Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/09
Posts: 97
Loc: Olympic Peninsula, Washington,...
Originally Posted By hikerduane
I have always heard that the canister stove fuel would not evaporate enough below freezing or there abouts to run the stove and if it did run, you would burn off the part of the blend that evaporates first then you are only left with the part that needs higher temps to evaporate.


The Coleman Xtreme apparently uses a liquid feed from the canister, rather than the typical vapor feed, so the fuel doesn't need to evaporate to reach the stove. I guess this stove is OK until it gets cold enough to freeze the fuel solid.

Edit -- Oops, I think I misread, you seem to be talking about the other stove.


Edited by Zalman (11/15/09 09:57 PM)
_________________________
It's easy to be a holy man on top of a mountain.
-- Larry Darrell

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#123883 - 11/15/09 10:11 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: Zalman]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
There are one or two in our N. California group that have one of the stoves that burns in two modes. I am happy with my MSR's. At this point I can't see spending more money for something that does not peak my interest or only saves another oz. to a oz. and a half, like the little bit lighter stoves similar to my Pocket Rocket. I use my Internationale in the winter on snow trips to melt snow. I used my Pocket Rocket on one Spring trip, where we camped on snow with no running water, it took a bit to melt enough snow to drink or cook with. Just had to try it. Per Jim's other thread, I don't start melting snow in small enough quantities, I just fill my pot and poke at it with my spoon. When that gets warm, I add more snow then slowly.

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#123891 - 11/15/09 11:48 PM Re: keep it simple [Re: hikerduane]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
hd
yes my stove is obsolete and I have a lot of fuel that I save for winter, and as Zakman points out - the fuel does not vaporise in the can so it comes out in the same proportions at any temp. the propane vapor point is -40 F and as it burns it provides more than enough heat to vaporise the butane. Normal butane has a vapor point about at 32, but isobutane is at about 14 degrees F.

Somewhere in the archives is a proper technical discussion of the heat output going down as canisters burn down but its not because the propane burns off first, its related to the longer path that a molecule takes to find the exit hole.
Jim crazy
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#123897 - 11/16/09 05:41 AM Re: keep it simple [Re: Jimshaw]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
Jim, the first stove I ever bought was at the drug store, some off brand thing that uses small butane containers like you would use to fill up a lighter. Gets used once every 10 years as I bought it years ago to use as a backup to my wood fires when it was too windy. Real simple, I used it one Easter weekend and had to warm up the thing with my hands to vaporize the fuel as it was frosty out.

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