After a long hiatus I have returned to winter camping. Let it be known that I am talking about my own style of this activity. Westerners who trek up and down frozen mountains will probably not be impressed. I am talking about one or two nights on a northern Michigan trail with snowshoes or xc-skis. We are fortunate to have several really nice trail systems not far from my home, so I can head out Friday after work, ski in to a base camp, set up the tarp or tent, eat dinner, go for a moonlight ski for a couple of hours and hit the sack. In the morning it's breakfast, more skiing, then home in the afternoon in time to do something with my wife Saturday night.
Winters here in the northern lower peninsula are generally snowy and mild. The west winds are pick up moisture and heat as they cross Lake Michigan. When they reach the eastern shore they deliver lots of snow, but also moderate the temperature. Typically we receive 125-175 inches of snowfall from November to March or April. For the record, 1995 was the banner year with 231 inches. In mid-winter one can expect a daytime high in the mid to high 20s and an overnight low between 5 and 20 degrees Fahrenheight. It seldom drops below zero.
Water: I found that, for an overnight camp, if I carry in 2.5 L of water, that is enough for the trip. Before heading out I camel up by drinking a full liter of water. I have read that any more than 8 oz. per hour will not be absorbed, so I try to comsume my liter gradually over a one to two hour period. Water is carried in a 1 L Nalgene bottle and a 1.5 L wide mouth Nalgene bladder. The bottle is housed in an insulated cozy and hangs from the outside of my pack. The bladder has a clothing wrapped around it and is buried deep in my pack, and close to my back. For two day trips, I may find streams with unfrozen water, or I may have to melt snow. With my wood burning stove, I have an unlimited supply of free fuel with which to do this.
XC-Skis: Rossignol Tempro Escape Classics. After many years of using waxable skis I have switched to waxless. They seem to be making them better than they used to because these work great. They combine great convenience with very little loss in glide.
Snowshoes: Northern Lites Elite
Winter Gear List
The gear list that follows is based on my tarp as shelter. If the weather forecast is calling for severe conditons I will take my tent which will increase my pack weight by about two pounds. Come to think of it, if the forecast calls for severe conditions, I may decide to sleep in and read a good hiking book.