064: CHILL: The Winter Backpacking Episode

Show Notes: Episode 064

Today on The First 40 Miles, is backpacking just a summer fling? We’ll talk about the challenges of winter backpacking, and how to remain thermally neutral. Then, if you’ve ever dreamed of wrapping your legs in merino and baby alpaca fiber, then your dreams are about to come true on today’s SUMMIT Gear Review. Next, on the Backpack Hack of the Week, the forest has no lost and found, but it does have some handy free stuff laying around that you can use if you lose some gear. And we’ll wrap up the show with a little trail wisdom from our good friend on the hills and fells, Chris Townsend.


  • Challenges of winter backpacking:
    • more chance of rain/snow/high wind
    • lower temps
    • use lamp more
    • less daylight hours
    • trail obscured
    • hardest hiking conditions 34 and rain (cold + wet)
    • risk of hypothermia
    • risk of falling trees
  • However, if you go out when no one is out, you’ll see things that no one else will see

Top 5 Tips for Dealing With the Cold

Stay Dry

  • Don’t sweat
  • Don’t wear cotton
  • No t-shirt, jeans, or cotton socks

Wear Layers

  • You’ll naturally heat up as you walk
  • Wool and alpaca: great for layering
  • Down vest or down puffy
  • Waterproof shell
  • Better to layer several than to have one big jacket.
  • Include base layers (top and bottom) plus a thin base layer sock
  • If your feet are cold, put on a hat or a buff!

Use Warmers

  • Disposable hand warmers
  • Foot warmers that slip into shoes
  • Patch
  • Zippo handwarmer that uses fuel


  • So hard, but will keep your core temp
  • Tempting to tighten your shoulders and keep your extremities tucked in close
  • But you need to move: Jumping jacks, jog in place


  • Importance of feeling cold, how it strengthens us

SUMMIT Gear Review™: Woop!Wear Alpaca Field Pant


  • 70% baby alpaca/30% merino wool
  • Belt loops


  • Double layer in the knees
  • Small coin pocket on right side
  • Secure zipper inseam cargo pocket on right side
  • The fit is relaxed enough to allow comfortable movement and the hidden inseam zipper pocket allows storage without bulk for a great looking fit.


  • Pant weight: 10-12 oz.


  • Machine wash, air dry


  • $169 for women’s sizes
  • $189 for men’s sizes


  • Exceptional warmth, water resistant, durable
  • Makes winter hiking a pleasure
  • Feel of the pants

Backpack Hack of the Week™: Wooden Stakes

  • If you’ve lost a tent stake, find a stick and that can work as a tent stake.
  • Might help if you whittle it just a whittle bit on the end so it goes into the ground easier

Trail Wisdom

“It is good to escape the rush of the modern world and for a period of time to live a quieter, more basic life. Problems and worries subside as the days go by; they are put into perspective by the elemental activity of putting one foot in front of the other hour after hour, day after day. And on returning from the wilds, restored and revitalized by the experience, I find civilization can be much easier to deal with; indeed, aspects of it can seem very desirable.”

–Chris Townsend