Even if you're just going for the day you need to bring all the items below with you. You never know what could happen to delay your return. You might have to spend the night out in the woods. If you are unprepared for this you are very likely to die or get frostbite and have your arms and legs amputated. Don't let this happen to you, bring all the items on this list with you every time you go out into the backcountry in the winter time.
|3 pocket lighters||Pocket lighters are cheap and light, and
fire is very important on a cold winter night. Bring at least three of them just in case one or two stop working.
If your lighter gets jammed with snow it may not work until you remove the
snow and dry it, so make sure your lighters are in a place where
they don't get directly exposed to snow. Don't use matches, they run out quite quickly, and
once they get wet they'll never work again.
|Multi-purpose tool||Either a Leatherman tool, Swiss Army knife, or something similar will
do. These tools are excellent if you need to fix some broken gear, such as
a snowshoe or a ski binding.
|Lightweight wood stove||
These stoves have not been around that long and most people have never heard of them. You need to have a stove in order to melt and boil water to drink, to keep your body temperature up and your energy consumption down. Anyone who has tried to use a gas stove in very cold temperatures knows how much trouble they are, sometimes they just don't work, which could mean death on a cold winter night, not worth it. Wood stoves are a much better option, they always work. I would recommend the Trailstove, this wood stove weighs around one pound but you don't need to bring any fuel since it runs on wood. Another great feature of these stoves is that they generate quite a lot of heat, enough to raise the temperature inside your emergency snow shelter to a descent level, just make sure you have good ventilation (see the section on snow shelters).
The reason I'm writing such great things about portable wood stoves is that mine saved my life in January of 2001 during a snowstorm. I was stuck for three nights in a snow shelter, I didn't have much food but I was able to drink plenty of hot water to keep me warm. I believe I would have frozen to death without my Trailstove.
|Camp Saw||With a camp saw you will be able to
quickly cut down branches to make a snow shelter or for fire wood. You can
do this with your multipurpose tool too but having a real saw will save
you a lot of energy and frustration. You can also use a campsaw as a snow
saw to cut hard snow into building blocks for a snow
|Light weight cooking pot||This is a very important item, you will need a pot to melt and heat
water. Drinking hot water will warm up your whole body. I would recommend
just getting a cheap mess kit and using the pot from it. You could just
grab a pot from your kitchen but these tend to be relatively heavy which
is OK in your kitchen but not in your backpack.
|Tarp||A tarp is a very useful item in the
snow. You can use it as an inner roof for your snowshelter, see
the section on snowshelters.
||String is very useful for making
snowshelters, emergency snowshoes, or fixing broken equipment. Bring at
least 20 feet.
|Food||Bring plenty of high energy food.
Don't waste your money on fancy energy bars though. Chocolate bars and
granola bars are just as good and they taste better too.
|Extra Clothes||Find out how cold it gets at night where you will be going and bring enough clothes to keep you warm at that temperature. This is extra important if you are planning a day trip only since a sunny winter day can be quite pleasant and you may be comfortable in a t-shirt, but after the sun goes down it's a different story...|
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