Things to carry for a solo winter trek.

Trekking in an unknown and unexplored surroundings sound very adventurous and fun, but with extreme surroundings comes extreme wariness towards ones safety. A casual ramble on a mountainous or jungle trail may not require you to carry much other than a hydration pack and few snack and protein bars. But a multi day solo trek in a region with high to extreme cold certainly requires a proper planning and listing of stuff that one would require. And in these situations it’s rather smart to do a thorough research and planning instead of regretting not finding an important thing in your rucksack while on the trek. 

Make sure that all of these further listed things, packed in your rucksack, should not weigh more than 12-15 kilograms, hence try to check what all things you truly require and carry minimal, lightweight and quality stuff.

So here is a comprehensive list of all the necessary stuffs one would require for a three or more days of trekking on a snowy trail. First thing first: clothing and footwear.

CLOTHING SYSTEM

Trekking in a cold environment requires special consideration while choosing the clothes, so as to be sure that those clothes would keep one’s body warm and well ventilated. Otherwise a fun trip in the Himalayan snow can turn into a shivering and woeful one. Trekking involves physical exertion and with exertion body temperature rises, which leads to sweating, and sweating can lead to undesired evaporative cold. In such a condition layered clothing can help in maintaining body temperature as well as ensuring proper ventilation. The most common clothing system among the professional trekkers is the ‘Three Layer Clothing System’.

  • THREE LAYER CLOTHING  SYSTEM

The three layer clothing system as the name suggests consists of three layers: a thermal base layer, an insulating mid-layer and a weatherproof outer layer.

Base Layer: The thermal layer can be any woolen or synthetic thermal inner, but not cotton; since cotton fabric aren’t that good at wicking moisture and can lead to evaporative cooling. Whereas synthetic fabric inners are thin, lightweight, are very efficient at wicking sweat and dry quickly.

Mid Layer: Middle layer can consist of any thermal upper like a fleece jumper or a fleece softshell jacket. Even a hoodie can be considered for insulation layer.

Outer Layer: The outer layer has to be a weather proof jacket, also called hard shell jackets. This layer protects body against snow, water and wind, which other wise can be quite a menace in the cold environment.

While selecting these later components, make sure that the insulation layer and outer weatherproof layers combined are just thick enough to provide proper warmth. One can try combinations like a thick mid layer, and a thin but tough outer layer, and vice versa. Otherwise going to a physical store and talking to an experts can be the best option while choosing a proper clothing for any treks.

The beauty of layering system is that it’s versatile, and can be tailored to one’s need and different weather conditions. Consider that if your body required more warmth in situations like snowfall or extremely cold, one can can simply put on an extra insulation layer. Alternatively on too much sweating, one can simply remove the outer layer to allow increased breathability. For the Kedarkantha trek I had layered myself in a thermal inner base layer, a fleece jumper and a Mizuno windproof thermal shell jacket. And apart from these in case of rainfall or storm I was also carrying a separate rain jacket.

  • THERMAL AND QUICKDRY PANTS

Since walking on snow could get the pants wet, a quick dry pants are preferably a better choice rather than opting for any cotton trekking trousers. And strictly NO DENIMS!

  • ACCESSORIES

Accessories like gloves, scarves, headwear and socks form an important part of clothing attire considering that hand and face can lead to a considerable heat loss. One of the fun and useful stuff I discovered while shopping for Kedarkantha Trek were the touchscreen compatible glove, which I bought without any second thought to wear them beneath a better insulated gloves. And this was certainly a very smart decision, considering I  was planning for a very picturesque trek and would only be carrying my iPhone for taking pictures.

So a collective list for clothing options along with accessories could be:

  1. A pair of woolen/synthetic thermal inner
  2. Two full sleeve fleece or softshell jacket (which can also be worn without the outer hard shell jacket)

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  3. A weatherproof shell jacket

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  4. A warm insulated jacket

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  5. A quick dry hiking pants (preferably one with many pockets)

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    Decathlon.in | Hiking Pants

  6. A pair of thin touchscreen gloves (optional) along with an insulated pair of gloves.
  7. A woolen hat/beanie or a Balaclava (optional)
  8. Three pair of woolen socks or more.

NOTE: To prepare for the trek I bought almost every thing from one of the Decathlon Stores in Pune. It was also the most convenient way, since myself being a beginner in trek arena, I myself wasn’t sure what would be the best choice of clothing or other necessary things required for the trek. 


FOOTWEAR AND ACCESSORIES

Walking on snow can be a challenging task, considering the cold that the feet would be subjected to and also the fact that trails are mostly uneven and required proper ankle protection. Therefore ankle length construction boots made with thermal insulation and waterproof material can be the best choice. One must buy good quality boots, on which they can totally rely upon, considering that trekking would put them under high wear and stress. And one would want their boots to be broken on the trail and end up walking in a sandal until some other pairs are arranged and ultimately ruining the trail experience. Along with a high quality and comfortable trekking boots, one should also carry a pair of camping sandals or slippers. Crampons and Gaiters can be an optional shoe accessories  which can highly assist walking on a hardened icy trail or in soft snow respectively.

So the footwear category essentials can be listed as follows:

  1. A pair of ankle length boots (waterproof)

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    1. QUECHUA FORCLAZ 100
    2. QUECHUA FORCLAZ 500
    3. SALOMON X ULTRA Mid 2 Gtx
    4. ADIDAS AX2 Mid
  2. A pair of light-weight camping sandals/slipper
  3. A pair of crampons (optional)
  4. A pair of gaiters (optional)

TENT AND SLEEP SYSTEM 

On a multi-day hike through a snowy territory there can be no other option than to shelter inside a tent. Whereas one can have multiple options when it comes to choosing a sleeping system. A sleep system basically consists of a sleeping platform and a sleeping bag. The sleeping platform provides cushion against the ground on which the tent is pitched and insulation against cold; whereas sleeping bag is what covers and insulates ones body against the outside temperature.

Sleeping platform come in various styles, such as a foam mat, inflatable air mattress and airbeds. Sleeping bags based on design structure come in two styles: rectangular and mummy bags and are rated for different temperature categories, which range from 20° C to -30°C. One can even use a insulating fleece lining in case the sleeping bag is not warm enough.

So a shelter and sleep system list can sum-up to:

  1. A tent for 2
  2. A sleeping platform
  3. A sleeping bag (preferably a 10°C graded, that can serve multiple weather conditions and not just winter)
  4. A fleece or insulating sleeping bag lining (optional)
  5. An inflatable pillow  (optional)

COOKING SYSTEM & FOOD

Camping cooking system consists of mostly compact and lightweight components such as a compact foldable burner stove that can be categorised based on the type of fuel that they use, i.e. a gas based canister burner or liquid fuel burner. The other component being the fuel itself, which can be either a gas-filled canister (to which the gas burner can be directly attached using special adapters) or the other one being any liquid fuel like kerosene, paraffin oil, petrol, etc. There are also solid fuel stoves that use special fuel cakes. One can also make a DIY soda can stove using instructions linked here. Then comes the cookware, which could be any small aluminium based utensil set.

FOOD

Choosing what food to carry on a trek can be one of the most important question while preparing for a trek, since it is the fuel that our body requires for churning out the required energy for the physical work & exertion on the trek. The thumb rule is to carry dehydrated and lower weight to energy ratio food such as ready to make food items like oatmeal, maggi, soup, dehydrated meals, etc and dry fruits/ energy bars respectively. One can also get innovative by carrying special ‘made to last’ food items like farsan, namak para, khakhra, thepla, etc. 

So a camping cooking system along with food options includes:

  1. A stove burner 
  2. The fuel (butane gas or any liquid fuel like kerosene, petrol based on type of burner)
  3. Fire starter kit (or match box)
  4. An aluminium cookware set (since aluminum is very lightweight)
  5. A swiss knife (for cutting, opening tin cans or bottles, etc.)
  6. Insulated water bottles
  7. Instant energy bars and assorted dry fruits
  8. Ready to make/ made to last food (like oats, ready mix poha/upma, dried pulav, khakhra, thepla, etc.)

NOTE: Finding a perfect stove can be difficult in India, so one can either buy it from some US/UK-based outdoor gear selling web-stores or Aliexpress. Also buying from abroad or asking a relative or friend to get one for you can be a good option.


HYGINE AND MEDI-KIT

This list is pretty straight forward:

  1. Biodegradable toilet papers and wet wipes (for obvious reasons)
  2. Mouth wash and hand sanitizer
  3. A first-aid kit
  4. General OTP medicines (for cold, allergies, fever, diarrhoea, nausea, others)
  5. Diamox Acetazolamide tablets (for altitude sickness)
  6. Oral rehydration solutions (ORS, gluconD, etc.)

OTHER TOOLS AND ACCESSORIES

This list include mandatory, optional as well as can stuffs can do without. The list is as follows:

  1. MANDATORY:
    1. A UV protected sunglasses
    2. A high performance flashlight 
    3. A tent lantern (to light up inside of the tent and read)
    4. A whistle with an inbuilt compass and thermometer(incase you ge lost! :P)
    5. Extra set of batteries
    6. A book, journal & pen and headphones (even if you won’t get time for them, carry these stuffs)
    7. Did I mention underwear already? 😛
  2. OPTIONAL:
    1.  Headlamps
    2. Walking poles
    3. Extra pair of laces
    4. A watch
    5. Hand and feet warmer
  3. “CAN SURVIVE WITHOUT”:
    1. An 18 tool Swiss knife.
    2. A selfie stick! 🙂
    3. Help me with some more down in there comments.

HIKING BAGS AND RUCKSACKS

Rucksacks come in various size & shapes and are basically determined in terms of capacity in volume. For a single day hike day or overnight hike, a 20-25 litres of rucksack is enough. Whereas for a three or more days hike, a 50-60 litres rucksack would be sufficient to carry all the necessary stuffs. I usually would prefer to carry a 50 litre rucksack and along with it a ultralight 15-20 litre backpack, which can either be compactly folded and kept in some pocket of the main sack or can be used to carry extra stuff like food, hydration pack (water bladder), etc.

The best available large volume rucksacks in India are:

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This was the comprehensive list for preparing for a multi-day trek during winter in the cold geographies. I have put in a lot of time and research in preparing this list, while I was researching Kedarkantha trek. A fact that most of the products I have listed are of brand Quechua is due to the reason it is the most trustworthy and value for money(affordable) brand available in India. Also there is Wildcraft, but its bit expensive as compared to  Quechua.

TREKKING GEARS ONLINE:

I hope this was a helpful post. Wanna read about my Solo Winter Trek to Kedarkantha? Read it here.

 

Featured Image via backpacker.com

13 thoughts on “Things to carry for a solo winter trek.

  1. Butane doesn’t burn well below in cold/freezing temps… Which is why gas canisters rated for 4 season use are a mix of propane, isobutane and some other stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It would depend upon the size of your gears like tent, sleeping bag, thermal jackets etc which take up most of the space inside. And except that there are many things that you can just hang or tie on the outside of your rucksack like gaitors, liquid fuel stoves & utensils, slippers, etc. and yeah even rain jackets and sleeping bags can be tied beneath the rucksack. It totally depends depends upon how you pack things. And yes I think that all of those can be stuffed+tied in a 55 litres rucksack.

      Like

  2. Probably this tips are very useful and credible, before i read this we done trekking in EBC (Everest base camp) and same thing we carry in our bag except tents and sleeping flatform because EBC trekking are so many teahouses to spend your coldest night.. when i compare what things we carry along the way are the same things in this useful tip..! Good job bro for posting this, really help a lots for the beginners..!

    Liked by 1 person

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