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Topic: Accumulating winter gear, now or later?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 11:53 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'll be doing some winter hiking/backpacking for the first time this coming winter, and this means I need some new gear!!  So my question is, am I better off renting most of this gear through this winter and wait for the end of year sales to pick up what I need, or do I take advantage of some good sales right now (20-30% off on a few websites), or somewhere in between (buy a few things now and wait for the rest)?  Here's what I need:

Tent - I think I can definitely wait this one out
Sleeping bag - Going with a -20 degree bag
Crampons - I have microspikes and snowshoes, but there will likely be times where crampons are necessary
Backpack - largest I have now is Gregory Z55, I'm thinking I'll need something bigger for overnights
Stove - Thinking about MSR Whisperlite
Ice axe
Gaiters - Gonna go with Crocs, I think.  Probably going to buy this now.

I'll be doing my hiking in the Whites, so I really do need full winter gear, as conditions can get hairy pretty quickly at times.  It will be in a group setting (AMC Winter Hiking Program), so it will be possible to get away with renting gear and even not having to carry everything immediately (i.e. sharing a tent with someone who has one already).  I have plenty of good clothes from being a skier, and am in the process of adding to that where necessary.  I've got good leather Sorel's that have a couple nice features (grooves, nubs, and rings to help secure snowshoes, gaiters, etc.).  You can assume I have my clothing needs down, and I have all else that would be carried for 3-seasons.  So what do you think, buy, rent, or other?  Is anything glaring missing, that would be need to transition into 4-season?  A big thanks in advance!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 11:54 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Rent. Not the time of year to be getting good deals.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 11:56 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(skinewmexico @ Oct. 30 2012, 11:54 am)
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Rent. Not the time of year to be getting good deals.

True, I guess my concern is the rent/buy analysis.  If I rent the above items 5-6 times this winter, am I just throwing money to the wind, that could have gone towards purchasing the items in the first place.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 12:56 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'd suggest that you purchase the gear now. As you have already discovered, it is always possible to get deals online if you do enough research. Also, if you should buy the gear at REI before 31 Dec, you'll get 10% back in March.

Even if you happen to spend a small premium on any particular item, that will be more than offset by the rental fees you will avoid. Renting gear only makes sense for occasional use.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 1:20 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You'll want to be sure you get the right crampons for the job, and the right boots for the crampons. If you need them.

Avalanche probe? Ice axe? Training to use all of this without hurting yourself? Where and when are you planning to go - and with whom? Hopefully experienced winter mountaineers, if you truly need real crampons and not just spikes.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 1:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What they said above (either way you slice it).

Personally, if you know what you want/need, I'd buy now instead of blowing all the $$ you'd save on clearance deals by spending it on rentals instead.  However, if you're still waffling on items, or unsure of what you want (like perhaps the tent?), I'd rent and use that as an "evaluation" period to make a better informed decision come spring.  If you get a clearance deal, all the better.  This assumes, of course, that you plan to use it for the long haul, and not just this season.

But that's just my personal $.02.

I'll say one thing that's worth saying, even if you already know it.  The crampons and ice axe (ice axe especially) are only useful with training and practice.  Good self-arrest needs to be a trained reaction.  Otherwise all you're carrying is an expensive pointy piece of metal upon which to impale yourself.  If you're already well-aware of all that, feel free to ignore the comment.

Edit:  I saw your edit above, about the Winter Hiking program.  That kinda changes the equation, IMO.  *IF* you're able to borrow gear items this season, I'd personally wait and accumulate them after you've used other models and have a better idea of what you want.  And I assume you'll be getting good practice with more seasoned vets, so that helps that part of the equation as well.  Have fun!


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 1:32 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just re-read - good, a program.

Read Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills to be able to ask better questions about what you need, and find answers more easily.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 2:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yup - There will be ample time in the field with more experienced folks from the AMC.  I do own Freedom of the Hills, and am working my way through it. Definitely aware of the training necessary to be proficient with crampons/ice axe, and am considering supplementing the AMC's program with a class more specifically geared towards the use of these two tools (but your advice/warning is well received nonetheless).

I guess I just posed the question for the opportunity to hear from more experienced winter hikers, and see if there was any gear you'd definitely recommend borrowing/renting before buying (say like a tent, backpack,  carmpons, possibly sleeping bag) vs. items I could probably make a rational decision by putting my hands on it in an REI (maybe like a stove, ice axe, or possibly sleeping bag).

So that's the direction I'm currently leaning towards, and I appreciate all the advice so far.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 2:58 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I can probably help you out. I don't know that I am ever going to be able to comfortably wear my mountaineering/BC boots so that is a lot of associated gear I can start getting rid of.

If you want to shoot me an email we can see what you need/want.

rayestrella
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DOT
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 3:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks, Ray.  Message sent.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 3:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would buy, focusing on individual items first.  If you're going with groups I'm guessing things like stoves and tent space could be shared/borrowed.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 4:00 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I would buy the gaitors. That is a no brainer in my opinion. I'd get the sleeping bag if you can get it on sale (assuming that's the temp range you know you'll be dealing with). I would hold off on the tent unless you know what you want - In winter, I want space and "bulletproof". I like the floorless option so I can dig a cold pit and make even more room. I use a bivy for my sleeping bag in winter to ensure it's dry and have a backup shelter. In regards to a backpack, For me, it doesn't matter because I pull a sled behind vs. hauling it on my back. It's not for everyone but I've made it work. It sounds like you'll be into a backpack anyway because you're heading toward crampons and ice axe territory. You can't go wrong buying anything Down for winter insulation in my opinion. Just be aware that you won't be hiking in it. It's only for around camp.

+1 to what Goblue said.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 5:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Ah yes, winter backpacking.  The zenith of our passion for this game is found and often times lost there, amid those wintry folds of ice and cold and long, dark, eternal nights. Nary will your breath hang long in the air before you will come to your conclusions if the winter trail is for you or not. I dare say, if you can get past the penetrating cold and the long nights short of forever, you are most of the way there.  If when you come home from said expeditions, and find yourself stirred to return again, to those frozen hollows from whence you came, then the notion of winter camping is probably for you. If however, you find yourself clopping around your house in your snow shoes, or aerating your lawn whilst dashing about in your crampons, then you are most probably, and irrevocably, addicted to winter camping, and you should probably seek professional treatment less the condition worsen and you become like Tigger.

It is well to enter a winter campaign knowing the full grit of one's gear. Whether you rent or buy gear, I guess that's up to your wallet, but I would suggest you test it some before taking to the deep woods in the winter theater. Only a green horn enters the field of battle with unproven equipage. You would do well to at least sleep with some of the stuff on the first date, so-to-speak. Whether out in the back yard, or some near by park for the night. Get to know your equipment - what it is capable of, and more importantly, what it not capable of. For few things suck the face of misery more astutely than an ill-selected sleeping system on a frigid winter's night. The cold, it will descend on you like a thousand icy bayonets, penetrating slowly into your very core like a reverse crock pot through the night. The cold, it doesn't fancy your political persuasion, or that your a good person, no it will be more than happy however to sit on your chest and pinch your nose, and then slap you across the face. And you will squirm and turn in your sleeping bag moaning your own name in vain, wrestling the night for positions of warmth, save for there are none. But then, this is how it must be I guess. I do not know many a winter camper who hasn't at least once, passed the night in a wretched sort of way, merely hanging on, waiting for the promise of a rising sun. And when he gets up in the morning, I do not know one winter camper who hasn't resolved never to go through that sort of ordeal again. From that moment on, all his gear will be aimed towards convincing, unabridged victory over all that is cold.

So at the very least, ensure that you will sleep warmly. For a fellow can take just about anything through out the day provided he's sleeping good at night. But if you are miserable at night, then you will slowly go to pieces over the course of the trip, no matter how gritty you may be.

-GJ
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 6:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Advice from a Georgian on winter camping seems strange but consider that I HATE cold weather.  My winter trips have been with lows between 17 and 40 F.

Like GJ said, get your sleeping kit squared up first.  Cold days are very different from cold nights.

Figure out your kitchen next.  Hot food, hot water, happy camper.

Clothing is always trip dependent.  You'll accumulate stuff like crazy to have what you need on hand.

I use the same tents I use year round.  YOU will want bombproof.

AS always, you get your pack after you got everything else.

Test, test, test.  Try stuff car camping, dayhiking, or even in your back yard.  DO NOT take untried gear into the backcountry.  In the conditions I'm in, I could probably survive gear failure in winter and just walk out.  You, and my other northern kindred, wouldn't be found till spring.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 6:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I did not see anything in your list about a sleeping pad. A -20 bag does little to no good if you are not insulated from the cold ground.

Try renting a pack only if it fits you well. Treat it just like if you were buying. Spend the time to fit it,load it down, and wear it around the store for a while. If it does not fit, look for the best deal you can get for one that does.

Tent: You are likely correct that you can wait.

Crampons and Ice Axe: I cannot help you there, but how much are you figuring to spend on rentals over the winter?

Stove: Can likely be borrowed or shared.

Gaiters: Get 'em.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 6:16 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

What Grizzly said...LOL!

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 6:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Most of the winter gear sales take place ...in fall or winter.For example steep and cheap is just starting to sell winter gear now.I got a lot of great sac winter gear last nov,dec.During summer there was no winter gear for sale.I dont remember any good wintergear sales during spring either.
I think internet and retail stores like rei from what  recall have changed their strategies on end of season sales.Now they just try to clear out stuff in season before its out of season and has a greater chance of just not selling at all.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 6:48 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

There are always tons of MSR Whisperlite stoves on ebay, also Croc gaiters. There have been some ice axes and crampons on there also just search REI on ebay and there will be some come up.  As for the pack get it last to make sure all your gear fits in it. For the tent what type/brand do you have now? Also can you share a tent with someone who has a four season tent?
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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 7:53 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Tigger - thanks and I've read a bunch of your posts on winter camping.  Can't say I'll try every one of your techniques/options, but lots of good stuff to take into consideration.
GJ - thanks for that beautifully delivered advice.
TDale - "test, test, test" is well received with a small mishap from this summer fresh in my memory
IB - I have a NeoAir All-Season which should get me pretty close to what I need, and plan on bringing some CCF to place underneath when needed.
davela - I noticed that on SAC, good point though
QCHIKER - I'll take a look on eBay, but I usually prefer some type of return policy, just in case. I have a 2-person REI Quarterdome. Too much mesh on that bad boy. I may be able to share, and could rent from a local REI otherwise.  Since the tent will be the largest purchase aside from the bag, I can see putting that off until for the right deal.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 8:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(EastieTrekker @ Oct. 30 2012, 7:53 pm)
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IB - I have a NeoAir All-Season which should get me pretty close to what I need, and plan on bringing some CCF to place underneath when needed.

one thing I've tested: I want the CCF between me and an air pad I have to body heat.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 30 2012, 8:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Yes. Add a closed cell and R-3.5 inflatable pad to your list. I prefer synthetic over down (sleeping bag)in a tent, in 10* or less temps unless you plan a take a bivy too. Add a black diamond shovel and a good knife to your list as well.  Look into a "pulk". You can take more gear and if used with poles and your hip belt (not a rope), very easy to pull while not getting run over going down hill.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 9:20 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TDale @ Oct. 30 2012, 8:23 pm)
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(EastieTrekker @ Oct. 30 2012, 7:53 pm)
QUOTE
IB - I have a NeoAir All-Season which should get me pretty close to what I need, and plan on bringing some CCF to place underneath when needed.

one thing I've tested: I want the CCF between me and an air pad I have to body heat.

I could have sworn I was just reading a thread here, where folks were making the argument for the CCF to be over or under an inflatable pad, but I can't find it through the search function.

I thought the NeoAir warmth capability related to reflecting the body's heat back, and the CCF on top would seem to interfere with that.  That's what I thought I read anyway...

What's the reasoning for putting the CCF on top?


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 9:23 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(kcwins @ Oct. 30 2012, 8:33 pm)
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Yes. Add a closed cell and R-3.5 inflatable pad to your list. I prefer synthetic over down (sleeping bag)in a tent, in 10* or less temps unless you plan a take a bivy too. Add a black diamond shovel and a good knife to your list as well.  Look into a "pulk". You can take more gear and if used with poles and your hip belt (not a rope), very easy to pull while not getting run over going down hill.

Yup, the All Season is R-4.9 so I'm good there.  

Is your preference for a synthetic bag just because of condensation (wet down) issues, or is there something else behind that?  

Shovel.  Yes, that's on my list, I just forgot to list it in the OP.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 9:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You have to heat any airpad with body heat.  CCF blocks that.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 9:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

An Exped DownMat. Fixed! no CCF needed.

But seriously, I'd put the CCF under the NeoAir. Actually I'd probably use the Q Core now that I have one.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 10:42 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If for no other reason, you will want a CCF pad as a failure-safe option. Over or under you will have to experiment with as I have seen no personal experiments done. It's all "theory". I've found the opposite to be true in "reality" often in experiments. Either way, I would start with it under your NeoAir at first as it will protect from sharp ice, etc.

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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 10:46 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I know conventional wisdom says to put the CCF on top, but the All Season is not a conventional pad. The construction dictates that the pad go underneath. I did not even need anything more until it got down to 0 F and I was using a quilt. A CCF for back-up is a good idea especially if you are on a multi-day trip. Something like a short Z-Lite can be used for back-up and a sit pad, which you really want in winter anyway.

http://www.backpackgeartest.org/reviews....strella

As soon as the ground freezes (the last two trips were muddy messes) I am going to start using the new XTherm. At its weight if it is for real it may be a single-pad solution for most areas.


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PostIcon Posted on: Oct. 31 2012, 5:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Just to clarify:  my airpad is an uninsulated POE.  It's only good to around 45F by itself.  I have tried it and a CCF both ways in 30-40 degrees.  CCF goes on top for me.

I have no NeoAir experience.


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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 11:21 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Lots of good advice here. Two things I don't think I saw mentioned that I find invaluable in the winter.  First, a pair of down or synthetic booties for around camp.  Second, and I'm serious, a pee bottle.  I absolutely hate getting out of the tent at night in the bitter cold to take a leak.  Wonderfully practical IMO.  Enjoy the winter.  It's a wonderful time of the year.

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PostIcon Posted on: Nov. 01 2012, 12:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE


(hikerjer @ Nov. 01 2012, 11:21 am)
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 Second, and I'm serious, a pee bottle.  I absolutely hate getting out of the tent at night in the bitter cold to take a leak.  Wonderfully practical IMO.  Enjoy the winter.  It's a wonderful time of the year.

That may be one of the best pieces of advice here, since I have the bladder of a 95 year old!  :(  Oh, the booties, too! Haha

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