Up hill both ways in a snowstorm.
Let’s talk traveling. Specifically, traveling in the backcountry during the winter. A few key pieces of gear are required to make your trip go smoothly.
Snowshoes: Our favourite piece of winter gear. Snowshoes allow you to travel at a quicker pace through the deep snow in the backcountry. Picking out a set of snowshoes can be incredibly daunting as the market is flooded with a variety of shoes. The best advice we can give is do your research and try them on. A quick grab purchase can turn painful on the trail when you discover the bindings pinch. If you have the option to rent first do so, stores like MEC have a great rental service. You’ll get a feel for the brands you like before making the commitment. Personally we are big fans of Tubbs brand snowshoes as well as Faber Traditional snowshoes. The whole Paddle In clan wear them.
Pulk/Sleds: If you are going for anything more than an overnight chances are you are going to need more supplies than you can carry on you back. This is where the pulk comes in handy. There are a variety to choose from. Simple DIY pulks are great for shorter trips or for those of you on a budget.UHMWPE freight toboggans are great for longer trips at 10 feet there is plenty of space for all your gear. Different harness/rope/pole systems can be set up to make travel easier.
One of the biggest mistakes we feel people make when planning a winter hike is not realistically looking at travel time. Weather, deep snow and a sled being dragged behind you will make 6kms feel like 20kms.
Practise pulling the pulk with some weight in it. We pull our kids to and from school during the winter with our pulks. Yes we get some weird looks but most parents think it’s a great idea.
Keep an eye on the forecast and weather patterns. Better yet make sure you have a back up plan incase you don’t make your destination.
Other tips to keep the travel smooth and everyone happy are, make sure to balance your load on the pulk. You don’t want to be bulldozing snow or constantly righting a tipped load. Keep a day pack handy fill it with snacks, your map. Anything you need to get to while traveling so you don’t have to rip apart your sled for a slim jim. Keep your water bottle handy. You need to keep hydrated! A readily accessible water bottle means you’ll be drinking more. When you stop to drink remind your traveling partners to do the same. This way everyone stays nice and hydrated. Stop and make camp when you still have plenty of daylight. You’ll need to set tent and gather firewood, lots and lots of firewood. Leaving yourself plenty of time to do this will ensure a relaxed, happy and warm night.
Tomorrows post will be on different sleeping systems and tents for your winter excursion. We’re three days away from heading out ourselves. So keep an eye on our social media sites for all the updates.