Winter Backpacking Sleep System

Today I’ll review my winter backpacking sleep system. Your daytime shelter system consists of your clothes. Your nighttime system is a bit more complicated. It is important to think of both as “shelter systems.” A system isn’t just one thing, it is several components working together. A winter backpacking sleep system is a layered set of defenses designed to protect you from the environment.

winter backpacking sleep system
Black Diamond Firstlight Tent
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Black Diamond Firstlight – Long Term Review

The Black Diamond Firstlight is a two-person, self standing tent produced by Black Diamond. Its simple design makes it light and easy to pitch in adverse conditions. Steep walls allow it to shed snow like a champ and provide ample interior head space. This is my go-to tent for winter backpacking in deep snow or bad weather. I also use this tent for quick camps the night before a three-season backpacking trip so that I don’t have to unpack and repack my primary shelter.

Black Diamond Firstlight
Black Diamond Firstlight 2P Tent
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Winter Backpacking the Blackhead Range

In February 2021, I lead a small group up into the Catskill’s Blackhead Range. The purpose of our trip was to test some winter backpacking skills and equipment and to bag a few peaks. The first day, we hiked up to Lockwood Gap and set up camp before ascending Blackhead Mountain. The next morning hiked Blackdome and Thomas Cole mountains before returning to camp, packing up, and walking out to the car. It was a successful trip and we learned a lot.

Winter Backpacking
Black Dome in the Later Afternoon
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Democratization of Hiking

The last year has seen tremendous change and stress throughout our society. Many people have found a new outlet for their stress in the great outdoors. Trails, parks, campgrounds, lakes, ponds, and marinas are all crowded with excited new faces. Many of the newbies are finding their way to the outdoors through the myriad of apps and blogs that are so easy to find right at their fingertips. It is a process I call the “democratization of hiking.”

democratization of hiking
New Hikers Enjoy the Sunset
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Winter backpacking gear list 2020

Have you considered your winter backpacking gear? With the pandemic going on and limited indoor options for entertainment, hundreds of thousands of Americans have taken to the outdoors. Now that winter is coming, are all the new comers going to head indoors, or continue to explore nature? I hope they pick the latter, so I’ve written this post to help them start putting together a complete winter backpacking gear list.

Winter Backpacking
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2020 Three Season Backpacking Gear List

three season backpacking gear list

This post reviews my three season backpacking gear list. When I was learning to backpack, I found it helpful when others posted their gear lists.  It gave me a reference point for the kinds of things I needed, what I was doing right, and what I could be doing better.  I think the most useful kit to start putting together is one that will get you through Spring, Summer, and Fall. After that you can put together specialty kits for Winter and Summer.

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Patagonia Houdini Wind Shirt: Long Term Review

I purchased my Patagonia Houdini Wind Shirt a few weeks before starting a week-long section hike in 2013.  I needed a lightweight jacket for cool mornings in camp and windy hikes along ridgelines. Seven years later, I’m on my second Houdini and it is still one of my best pieces of gear. The Houdini is lightweight, packable, durable, and breathable. It has proven to be one of the most versatile and functional layers in my arsenal.

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