Favorite Winter Gear, 2013/2014

Greetings All,

Seven months ago I published my Favorite Summer Gear, 2013 article and in it I indicated that I was going to two two articles on gear used in 2013, the summer gear I was talking about within that article, and I promised that I would publish a winter gear after the winter hiking season came to an end.

This winter ended up being the driest winter within the Redwoods of Northern California in the 19 years that I have lived here, so I got very little use out of my rain gear.

We did get a lot of colder nights than in the last few years, so that allowed me to break out the winter gear and use it for 25-30 nights on the trail.

The lowest I recorded was 16°(f) / -8.88°(c) so by no means really cold, and had a few nights it was probably a bit colder and I just did not record them.

I just do not think this is really going to be a “favorite winter gear” list… all of the winter gear I used worked and performed as expected, none of it failed and I was not out enough to play around with different sleeping bags or such. So, just going to list the few things that I ended up using and/or taking to help me keep warm on this winters hiking trips.

Let The List Being:

Montbell U.L. Super Spiral #1 – This was renamed the “Down Hugger 800 #1” for the 2014 season. Awesome sleeping bag. Crazy comfortable. Overall volume and weight are a bit higher than other comparable bags, but the comfort makes up for it.

Montbell Mirage Parka – One of the best weight-to-down performance jackets on the market. Total weight of 12.8 ounces, with a whopping 5.3 ounces of that being 900fp goose down.

Nunatak Down Balaclava – Unquestionably the best down balaclava on the market when you want your head to stay warm! Not the lightest on the market but it has  2+ ounces of 800fp goose down!

Black Rock Gear, Expedition Grade Liner Mitts – Not these exact mitts, but the prototypes that lead to these being brought to market. Crazy comfortable and uber warm liner mitts!

Feathered Friends Down Booties – I carried the inner down booties a few times (but not the outer shells) but never needed them.

Icebreaker Bodyfit 260 Tech Top – I have come to very much love this shirt! Can be used as a second-layer for the mild weather or as a third or fourth layer when the nights start getting cold. Used this shirt more than any other shirt over the last few months, both out on the trail and at home.

Jetboil Sol Ti – If you haven’t noticed it yet, I have become a fan-boy of the Jetboil. I have gone through over 20 canisters of fuel this winter. It has not failed me a single time.

Mountain Laurel Designs eVENT Rain Gloves – I did not use them very often, but when I really needed them, they were there for me and did their job! That is exactly what I expect of my gear.

ZPacks Arc Blast – All the extra winter gear meant breaking out the larger backpack and the Arc Blast was my go-to backpack this winter!

SteriPen Freedom – The much beloved Sawyer has to stay at home in the winter, so out comes the Freedom! Performed without any problems.

Well I think I will leave it at that. Sorry for a brief article, but as I have mentioned in the past, trying to not publish much anymore these days. I got reminded from a good friend that I promised to write up my winter gear list, and wanted to keep that promise to everybody.

The first of my big hikes this year has been completed and a lot of effort into making #4 happen is going well. Trip #2 and #3 will be happening here pretty soon. I hope to be able to share about some of my adventures later this year. I am still trying to be active on my facebook page so I invite you to follow me on there if you are on facebook. Also, I have decided to stop uploading videos to youtube… youtube is just getting more and more horrific, so I will be posted videos on my vimeo page and invite you to follow me there.
Thank you,
+John Abela

In accordance of USA Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255: I hereby declare that as of the day of publication of this article I am a sponsored hiker of Montbell America, Gossamer Gear, Black Rock Gear, Suluk46.

7 thoughts on “Favorite Winter Gear, 2013/2014

  1. Hey John,

    Your comments on the trail and gear are always welcomed. Glad to read what you used and how it worked.

    I hope all your trips go well this year and will look forward to any comments you make on them. I hope that this year is fulfilling for you. Go safe and God bless.

  2. Hey John
    What shoes are you wearing for winter?

    This winter I’m going to trial my Inov8 TrailRoc 245’s with Rocky’s Goretex socks and winter weight sock underneath….possibly a neoprene overboot too (if needed).

  3. John,

    Interesting list. Haven’t looked at the Mirage before, looks good.

    Do you know how the Icebreaker Top compares to Patagonia Cap 4 in terms of weight, comfort and drying time? Is it warmer? In late fall 2014 Capilene got infused with Polygiene which helps reduce the stinkage. It’s a great near-expedition weight base layer that’s only 5.8oz on scales. I heard very good things about Icebreaker from a lot of people, quite curious.

    1. Nope, have not compared the IB with the PatCap in a few years. Should be easy enough to pull up their websites though, guessing they both have weights listed (??) I have heard a lot of good things about the new Cap series. I still use my 5+ year old Cap3 bottoms as I do not like the IB bottoms.

  4. I’ll be honest I was excited to see what your winter camping gear list would be as the bulk of my camping is in winter conditions. I’ve experienced below 0°C and snow in August with some of the ‘winter’conditions in the -20 to -30+°C with multiple feet of snow, and was looking to lighten my winter pack a little more.
    I like the capacity of the arc haul backpack for my bulkier winter sleeping bag, but I’m having trouble coming up with an ul 4 season shelter?

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