What’s In My Pack With Emily Ford

I attempt to reside by the runner’s mantra “costume for mile 2.” It’s OK to be chilly in the beginning. You don’t wish to be frigid and unbearably sad whereas winter mountaineering, however a wee bit chilly is sweet. The purpose of understanding our layers and the way our our bodies do within the chilly is in order that we don’t overheat and sweat. Sweat rapidly turns chilly and may ship you into hypothermia with out you even realizing. So, as quickly as you’re feeling sweaty, both take off a layer, open a vent or expose your neck or wrists. Regulate this checklist per how your physique heats as it’s shifting.

Layout of cold-weather clothing such as base layer, hat, gloves and jacket

The purpose within the winter is to be like a fantastically layered butter biscuit. You desire a bunch of skinny layers (the dough) with warmth trapped in between (the butter). 


I put on Duluth Buying and selling males’s Buck Bare™ Underwear. Nevertheless, I might say that in the event you might afford merino wool underwear, it could be the best choice. I don’t assume I might must be model particular. Furthermore, there may be the saying “cotton is rotten.” I do my greatest to reside by that saying even in my “regular” life. I put on as a lot clothes created from pure fibers like merino wool or alpaca as attainable. However there may be the accessibility portion with how a lot issues value, proper? So, if the [cost] barrier of merino underwear is obstructing somebody from feeling like they will get out within the winter, cotton is simply high-quality! We are going to layer non-cotton issues on high of that.

Base layer

The purpose within the winter is to be like a fantastically layered butter biscuit. You desire a bunch of skinny layers (the dough) with warmth trapped in between (the butter). You possibly can select any model right here. I select ones that folks give to me as items or no matter is already in my closet. Should you are inclined to get chilly simply, two skinny base layers on the underside or one thicker layer is all the time a good suggestion. By no means be afraid to double up.

Aspect word: My butt and thighs are extraordinarily vulnerable to the chilly. I’ve gotten chilblains [a painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin due to exposure to the cold] a number of instances. A terrific choice is to take a pair of fleece pants from the thrift retailer, minimize them off on the knee, and put on them below your shell pants and over the bottom layers for added protection.

Mid layer

That is the place we’re trapping probably the most warmth. My mid layer has grow to be fairly particular to me: an alpaca hoodie from Appalachian Gear Firm. A fleece would do high-quality right here, however I’ve by no means really owned a correct fleece. I might say that any “animal” layer would do effectively right here: sheep and alpaca wool are nice choices. I’ll put on my merino Fjallraven Henley shirt beneath this layer as effectively.

At this level, we could be three layers in. Vests may be good right here as effectively. I wish to remind individuals that each physique produces warmth in such other ways. On milder days (above freezing), I’ve discovered that I don’t like to make use of vests after I’m shifting. Say it’s above freezing and I’m mountaineering in various terrain, I personally get too heat with a vest on with all the opposite layers. Whether it is good out and never windy, a vest and not using a shell is a high-quality choice. I do wish to have it after I get into camp: It’s that further layer that basically traps warmth. On a chilly, windy subzero day I’ll add a vest as a layer.

Fjallraven Expedition Pack Down Hoodie, $275

Puffy jacket

I run (canine sled mushing) with a Fjallraven down jacket. It isn’t ultra-puffy, nevertheless it does the trick. I can’t normally put on this as I’m mountaineering. I’ll put it on each time I relaxation to maintain any warmth in.

Outer jacket

A rain jacket is maybe probably the most versatile layers. I put on both Fjallraven or Patagonia. I put on my rain jacket all yr spherical. Practically whatever the layers that you’ve beneath, a rain jacket will block out the wind and entice warmth. The wind is a warmth thief, and the extra you possibly can defend your self, the higher. If I’m on a protracted expedition, I’ll put on my Wintergreen Anorak. Having an anorak is a fundamental should for a lot of winter explorers.

Outer Bottoms

Rain pants do effectively as shell pants. It’s like its sister, the rain jacket. I put on Mountain Hardwear or Fjallraven.

Emily prefers a midweight merino wool neck gaiter, just like the Buff Merino Transfer Multifunctional Headwear, $30.

Neck gaiter

Your neck has so many veins and arteries cruising through it. Buff and different manufacturers make gaiters of all thicknesses. I like a midweight merino gaiter; not too thick and never too skinny. I put on these to maintain the wind off my neck and for sleeping within the winter. They’re good as a result of you possibly can typically breathe by means of them. I carry a pair alongside since they often get iced up or moist from respiratory by means of them. 


Any wool sock will do right here, however my go-to manufacturers are Darn Powerful, Smartwool and Farm to Feet. That is the place you need to keep away from cotton in any respect prices. Ft sweat greater than we understand [and cotton absorbs sweat, saturates quickly and dries slowly]. Wool can retain warmth even when moist. Merino wool is a superb choice. When on lengthy journeys, a skinny wool sock, a vapor barrier after which a thick sock will assist hold toes completely satisfied. Always remember which you could layer anyplace in your physique. Earlier than I might afford so many socks, I might put on my worn-out merinos below thicker socks. Socks are the one factor that I over pack. Don’t be afraid to cease noon and alter socks. Dry toes are completely satisfied toes.

Salomon Quest 4 GORE-TEX Mountaineering Boots, Girls’s and Males’s, $230.


Foot consolation is a particularly private a part of mountaineering. Listed here are my completely different boot decisions, relying on the climate:

  • Baffin Borealis: The detachable neoprene liner may be dried out at night time in your sleeping bag. The draw back: If the terrain is tough, you may put on by means of the underside of the boots. However if you’re mountaineering on ice or snow, they’re superb
  • Salomon Quest mountaineering boots: One other waterproof boot, a bit extra breathable than the Baffins as effectively. Nice for any terrain. When the climate is above freezing, I’ll put on a path working shoe: Salomons are my go-to right here. I’ve very sweaty toes and path runners are fairly breathable. With pair of socks, you possibly can go a great distance with runners.
  • When it’s arctic chilly and there’s a lot of snow, I put on Steger mukluks or Cooke Customized Stitching® Mukluks. They’re each the warmest boots that I personal which are additionally snug to hike in. Not a lot stability, although. I’ll carry these with me as camp boots if I’m not utilizing them for mountaineering.
Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System, $74.95

Winter Traction Units

Kahtoola MICROspikes. The perfect. The one microspikes I’ll ever purchase for mountaineering.


The fingers are just like the toes in that they range for each particular person in how a lot they sweat. I hardly ever run with gloves. My fingers are too chilly and delicate for me to not have my fingers touching one another for accrued physique warmth. Listed here are my go-tos:

  • Skinny, crappy “one dimension suits all” glove: These are normally cotton, however they’re simply sufficient to maintain the warmth in on a hotter day. They’re additionally a pleasant further layer inside a mitten.
  • Manzella mittens: I really like my skinny, fleece-lined mittens to the moon and again. They block the wind, however the materials additionally breathes so that you don’t get too sweaty.
  • Hestra leather-based mittens with wool liner: Often known as “choppers” within the Midwest. These are good and heat! A perk is that the liner can come out as a way to use the leather-based mitten as a shell layer or only a wind-protective layer.
  • Helly Hansen mittens: Extremely heat, no liner, good for a extremely, actually chilly day.
  • Black Diamond shell mitten. These are good with a skinny layer beneath to maintain the wind off, or as an additional heat-trapping layer with thicker mittens. Don’t let the skinny design deceive you!
Blue water bottle nestled in a blue and red sleeping bag
Camp hack: Fill a water bottle with scorching water and tuck it into your sleeping bag to assist heat you up.

Water Bottle

Nalgene bottles are sensible to have. I wouldn’t ever carry alongside the rest. At night time I wish to throw a hot-water bottle into my sleeping bag earlier than I get in to “preheat.” I really like my Forty Below Bottle Boot [insulated sleeve], however any will work. I made one out of the legs I minimize off my fleece pants after I turned them into shorts. I don’t use a hydration bladder within the winter as a result of I all the time overlook to maintain the road away from water, which may then freeze.

Petzl Tikka headlamp, $34.95


Petzl Tikka headlamp. My largest advice for no matter headlamp you carry is to pack further batteries or a method to cost your headlamp. In northern Minnesota within the winter, it’s darker longer all winter and I take advantage of my headlamp for portion of the day.

MSR WhisperLite Worldwide Backpacking Range, $159.95


MSR WhisperLite. In winter, having a pump range is perfect. Colder climate can depressurize pocket rocket canisters. You possibly can put them in your jacket to heat them up, however I desire a range that I can pressurize. On a day hike, I’ll carry a glass with a scorching beverage and go away the range at house. On in a single day journeys, I’ll carry the MSR WhisperLite. I don’t wish to get up within the morning and shove a chilly canister in my shirt.

Left, Therm-a-rest Z-Lite Sol Sleeping Pad, $47.95 – $57.95; Massive Agnes Rapide SL Insulated Sleeping Pad, $149.95 – $199.95

Sleeping pad

Therm-a-rest Z-Lite. For any winter sleep system, take note of insulation, which is measured in R-values (the upper R-value, the hotter). Once more, we are able to layer up and compound our R-value. The Z-Lite is an efficient first layer: It blocks the chilly from seeping by means of a blow-up mattress. I additionally use the Massive Agnes Rapide SL on high of my Z-Lite.

Sleeping bag

One other spot the place you possibly can layer! I take advantage of a Western Mountaineering 0-degree F bag for many nights. If it’s going to be under 10 levels F, I’ll add on a 0 diploma F Enlightened Equipment quilt. The canines can sleep below it too! If it’s going to be past 50 under, I’ll add an Appalachian Gear alpaca liner to assist hold the warmth in. I like having this layering system on lengthy journeys since each night time can range in temperature.

Hand heaters, like these by Ignik, $1.95 for a pair, or a multi-pack, $6.95 – $22.95

Hand heaters

By no means be afraid to carry a couple of alongside on a visit. I take advantage of these to maintain myself heat on chilly mornings and to maintain my batteries heat whereas they’re charging.


Granite Gear is all the time my go-to. I’ve discovered that these packs match many various physique sizes and shapes, and they’re tremendous useful with becoming if it’s your first time (or your millionth time … I nonetheless go get fitted after I get a brand new pack).

Trekking poles

Any model will do right here. On slippery or troublesome terrain, having an additional steadiness system is essential.

Study why Emily Ford loves mountaineering in winter on this Wild Concepts Value Dwelling podcast.