Igloo Mania

What to Bring
By David E. Myers
  |  Gorp.com

There are two sorts of backpackers: those who make equipment lists and those who get up there and say, "Oh, damn." In addition to the usual clothing and equipment you would take on a backpacking trip, snow camping and igloo building call for some specialized items, such as:

  • A sled allows you to drag up a lot of extra weight, besides giving you an igloo door and something on which to slide down hills. Reinforce the handles on a children's plastic sled. Stuff your heavy gear into a plastic bag, strap it to the sled, and tie your tow rope to the gear bag straps, not to the flimsy holes on the sled (as an alternative, Jeff prefers to clamshell two sleds together). If, when you're going downhill, the sled wants to slide past you, hang on to it like a dog on a leash.
  • Collapsible snow shovel, carpenter's rip saw, and aluminum snow saws.
  • Snowshoes (or skis) and ski poles. The poles may also be used as supports for a tarp lean-to, and as a monopod for slow-exposure photography.
  • A tarp is one of the most versatile items you can bring. We've used it as a floor for our sleeping platform, a lean-to, couch cover, igloo cover during rain, shade cover in the sun, igloo door, extension of the tent vestibule, and blanket while stargazing.
  • Extra long snow stakes for the tent and tarp.
  • Lots of closed-cell foam pads, for sleeping, sitting, kneeling, and for under the stove.
  • Self-inflating sleeping pad.
  • Sleeping bag with a breathable outer shell that keeps moisture away from the down filling.
  • Plastic bags keep snow off everything. Put boots and gaiters in them at night. Slide down hills on them.
  • Let there be light! Bring candles, chemical light sticks, and an extra flashlight.
  • Clothing means rain pants and parka, and layers and layers made of wool, down, and the hi-tech synthetic smart fibers that wick away moisture, breathe, and repel water: polypropylene, nylon, Capilene, Supplex, Polartec, Polarguard, Gore-Tex, or their equals. Stay dry, stay warm. Cotton kills.
  • Gloves (polypropylene and fingerless wool), extra gloves, and overmitts. Expose-to-air hand warmer pads.
  • Insulated booties with nonslip nylon soles. These are so comfortable as to not be optional.
  • Sunglasses. Even when the sun isn't out.
  • Goggles. We've only needed them a few times, and then they were essential.
  • Insulated travel mug for hot drinks.
  • Extra food. Your body is your furnace.

Published: 28 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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