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How to Pack The Best Winter and Spring Day Pack

Kelly Amber Dolan | Oboz Ambassador

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Winter and early spring are awe-inspiring times to be out in the wilderness, but they can also be dangerous if you go out unprepared. (Check out the photos below for an instant comparison - from beautifully calm to blasting winds and ice pellets). before

Before picture: gorgeous weather! All images: Kelly Amber Dolanafter
Quick weather changes are why you need to be prepared.

Bad weather always looks worse through a window, so my advice is to get outside and enjoy the views! Making sure you’re prepared with the right gear will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable trip outside. Check out what I take on a normal day trip in the mountains during our long Canadian winters.20190225 135556 01

Winter tip 101: Dress like an onion (LAYERS!) 

Here's what I carry:    

  • Wool socks (+extra pair inside pack) 
  • 1 buffs / 1 toque (+extra buff inside pack) 
  • Merino wool base layers 
  • Waterproof softshell pants 
  • Waterproof gloves with fleece liner (+waterproof down mittens inside pack) 
  • Fleece zip-up
  • Thin insulated windproof/breathable jacket
  • Down jacket (I usually keep this inside my pack and only use it when stopped/taking a break) 
  • Insulated waterproof shell jacket (for when the snow is falling)
  • Gaiters 
  • Photochromatic glasses (even on a cloudy day you can get UV damage, so having sunglasses that can go from dark to clear is helpful in the winter)  

 And then I add the rest...

  • First aid kit/fire starter/waterproof matches/multi-tool 
  • Poles with snow baskets 
  • Trail (boot) spikes 
  • Hot soup / Hot tea or chocolate / food / snacks (I like to save my camping stove fuel for overnight trips, so instead of bringing my backpacking stove, I pre boil my soup/water and keep in thermos for day trips) 
  • Water in a bottle + bottle insulator (tubes freeze too easily and end up useless) TIP: Store your water bottle upside down (triple check to make sure it’s sealed properly beforehand) so the top mouthpiece doesn’t freeze solid. 
  • Thermal seating pad (why not make those hot soup breaks even more comfortable?) 
  • Bear spray 
  • Head lamp with extra batteries 
  • Chemical hand warmers (I carry lots of these + extras in my first aid) 
  • Battery charger and cable for any gadgets/phone 
  • 2 emergency blankets 
  • Map of objective/compass 

If I am on a longer, more remote or challenging objective, I may also take:

  • Snowshoes
  • Crampons
  • Ice axe
  • Helmet

Winter gear can get expensive, but don’t let price tags scare you; you can always find great used gear with lots of life left (and owning a piece of used gear that may not be your fave color is better than not owning it at all).  

The seemingly-long list of winter gear is easy to pack and doesn’t weigh much at all, so aside from being a bit more bulky than your summer pack - there isn’t much difference.

Have a safe and fun winter and spring and see you on the trails!

Ambassador Kelly Amber Dolan lives in Calgary, Alberta, and is a Fast and Light ambassador for the 2019 Trail Tales team. Follow her here and on Instagram at: @ibex.kelly.amber

Kelly Amber Dolan

Name: Kelly Amber Dolan

Hometown: Born, raised and living in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

Where I’ve Been: I explored as a child in the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia and connected with the wilderness as an adult throughout the Canadian Rockies. As a volunteer hut custodian with the Alpine Club of Canada, I have had the opportunity to ski to historical places such as Elizabeth Parker Hut and Elk Lakes Cabin, as well as hike through Yoho National Park to Abbot Pass Hut. I have been to Iceland and Norway, and I hope to visit more overseas destinations soon. 

Why I Hike: As I venture further into the wilderness, my stress levels melt away. The sights, sounds and smells of the backcountry provide me with a sense of peace that I seldom find anywhere else. I am also thankful to have met some of my closest friends out on the trails.

Lead The Way: I’m planning a couple of ski hut trips this winter, as well as regular cross-country ski days and some small summits in between. This summer I will embark on a 4-6 day backpacking trip deep in the Purcell Mountain Range of BC, in an area with few trails or services. After careful planning, the reward will be many alpine lakes, waterfalls and expansive views. Other overnight backpacking plans and plenty of day hikes throughout the year will allow me to keep checking places off my growing list.

Ambassador Focus: #fastandlight

Find Me:

Instagram: @ibex.kelly.amber

Facebook: Kelly Amber Dolan

Women’s Sawtooth II Mid Waterproof
MSRP $150.00
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