Gear list Nordseter

Preparartions for Norway are moving along but not at a pace. There seems to be a whole lot to do with very little time left to do it. If I'm honest, it's a hard one to plan. We will have just two full days and we've been jumping from plan to plan trying to minimise time travelling and maximise time out whilst ariving at a route with the right character. Not easy. Worse, there's no elastic in the schedule. No buffer days for hunkering down in case winter shows its teeth. Common sense therefore dictates that we stay within shooting distance of the emergency exit.

The compromise we've arived at is to forgo train and bus in favour of a hire car. That gives us freedom to jump off from several possible locations a few kilometers North or South of Nordseter. Those few kilometers get us out of the ski-centre and bring unmanned DNT huts within reach. This won't bring the pack weight down though, we're still struck on the idea of sleeping out for a night or two if conditions permit so will have to carry the necessary, but having huts nearby is a welcome failsafe in Norway in February.

My kit list is taking shape. It will change a little between now and departure but probably not by much. If I'm honest, for the second time in this post, this challenges my gear so without significant purchases there's not much I can change. I've cold camped before in the UK, even my summer trips aren't exactly tropical these days, and I've spent some time in real arctic climate. But, and this is a big but, everything I've done in truely cold climate has involved day tripping, evenings warming toes infront of open fires, warming bones in Saunas and warming the spirit with, well, spirit. I have little winter-specific kit and Norway has the potential to trash my personal best cold sleep-out. Here's what I plan to take.

I run hot. Sweating at -20 is not good. At least not if when you stop you're still outside. I'm hoping that I've chosen a layering system that'll keep me comfortable and dry when active and warm when passive. It starts with a heavy Merino base layer (Icebreaker bodyfit 260g) and is followed up by RAB Vapour rise Trousers and Smock. I hope this will suffice when working hard in all but the lowest temperatures and strongest winds. I used the trousers in freezing temperaures in the Dark Peak and was impressed. I'll be packing an extra micro fleece Gilette (Mammut Trail Vest) since it gives me the option of putting a little more insulation on my torso without significant weight penalty.

By choosing vapour rise I'm conciously choosing breathabilty over wind resistance so next up is a shell layer for use if winds get too strong or if we get dealt something wet, like freezing rain. I don't trust my ultralight shell for this work, wind and wet are potential killers, the OZ pullover is definately out. This season I'll be wearing (more hopefully carrying) matching Berghaus (albeit from several seasons back). An Extrem XCR Jacket and Deluge Overtrousers. XCR and own-brand breathable fabric is not pushing any boundaries but here's the thing: I already own them and they work.

My extra insulation will be down. PHD Ultra pullover and Minimus pants and booties (I'm crossing all my fingers in the hope that the pants and booties get to me on time!). I'm aware that we may get temperatures that push the PHD clothing beyond its limit but I'm reluctant to pack one of my full-on duvet jackets since they are heavy and bulky and after years of use are less effective than their weight suggests they should be. Instead I'm packing my Montbelle Down Inner , a slim fit that pairs well with the more generous Ultra pullover, expecting that when worn together the two items will get close to the performance of a big duvet.

Looking back at this text I realise that I've just described three matching suits: a Vapour Rise work suit, Berghaus for Sunday best and PHD for Evening dress. More disturbing all are in black.

Gloves, Hats, Scarves and Goggles and such

Joe recently vented his spleen on the subject of gloves. There's not much more to say realy. My system lists as follows. Fleece liner gloves, Mammut Kompact gloves, Outdoor Reserch Goretex Shell Mittens and Buffalo DP Mittens. That's four pairs of gloves for four days. Overkill? I don't think so. Cold hands equal missery, wet gloves never dry outdoors and my fingers are quite useful so I'd like to keep them for the time being. If I had the money or the inclination I would change some things. For instance, I'd probably be better buying some power-stretch gloves for skiing in since poling is likely to trash my lightweight Mammut gloves. I hope to get away with just the fleece liners (stripped from an old pair of Alpine Skiing Gloves trashed in a single season these liners are the warmest I own), but If needed I'll pull the Mammuts on over the liners for extra warmth on the move. The OR shell mittens, bought from a bargain bucket several years ago, make me swear out loud. They're not gauntlets but instead have elasticated waisting around the wrists. Getting one on over a gloved hand is difficult. Getting the second one on using your freshly shell-mitted hand is close to impossible and involves the use of expletives (OR thankfully have discontinued them). Still I want "waterproof" shell mitts for setting up camp which is likely to involve shoveling snow and other such wet-hand activity and this is what I have available. Finaly, Big Dumb Mitts are warmer than anything on the plannet. Buffalos are lightweight tried and tested. They're also made in Sheffield like my wife.

The other thing worth mentioning here is face protection. I've skied at temperatures in the minus twenties and you need to cover your face. For the purpose I'll be carrying a Polar Buff, which also conveniently doubles as a hat, scarf , balaclava etc. Although I've never skied in them I've been pursauded that Goggles are a must for moving through falling or blowing snow so I've picked up a pair. I didn't spend too much time or effort on the choice nor did I spend too much money on the purchase and ended up with a pair of Sinner Beast chosen solely on the premice that they fit comfortably over my glasses. Time will tell if the purchase was a good one.


This is my biggest headache. Stats suggest that temperatures could be anwhere between -5 and -25 degrees C. My current bags are rated to Zero C (Cumulus Quantum 200) and -3 C (PHD Minim 300) so get me nowhere near where I need to be. I'm hoping to fudge it. My intent is to combine the two bags and wear my down clothing to sleep in. I know that doubling up bags isn't recommended since, unless the outer bag is roomy enough, the inner bag won't loft fully but having played with the Quantum/Minimus combo it seems to work okay. Sure, with all the extra cloth the weight is higher than the weight of a good winter bag but it's what I have to hand. I may invest in a winter bag in the future but not right now.

A good mat is half the work (two thirds if you listen to The Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing). That's why I'll be taking a Downmat 7. My down mat is a short so I'll be taking a Duomat for under my legs in addition to the heavy foam back of my rucksack and as emergency backup incase, horror of horrors, the Downmat springs a leak. The Duomat folds up nicely and fits in my pack so I won't have a foam roll hanging on the outside to catch the wind.

Dead reconning suggests that the set-up will be good for around -12C in comfort and a little lower with some discomfort. Realy low temperatures will see me heading straight for a hut, or at least sleeping within walking distance of one. If I get the chance I'll be trying the system out before I leave for Norway.

This is my second biggest headache. Tarps are out. Definately out. I'll be taking a tent. However my choice is limited. The only tent I have that's up to the conditions is my Exped Orion. A truely bombproof shelter that will shed snow and stand up on it's own. Weeks spent inside it in Canada tell me that it's pretty much the perfect two man tent in all respects but one: weight. It's a beast. With all the bits and pieces, including snow anchors, I'm looking at a weight of around 3.8kg. Even shared between two it's still heavy by todays standards. Still, it's what I have and, I'll sleep well in this thing since I know it's up to the job.

My intention is still to carry a bivvy bag. My weapon of choice is an MLD Alpine Bivvy. It has its limitations but it's light. I may be pursauded to leave this at home yet but I I'm inclined towards it for two reasons. It will boost my sleeping bag(s) rating by a degree of two, will keep things dry(er) and will be beneficial if we have to snowhole.

Headache number three but a minor one. The main burner will be a multifuel stove(Whisperlite?) and thankfully carried by Willem-Maarten. Of all the stoves to hand this is the one that we can be certain we can get fuel for (it will burn Lead free if needs be) and which will work at low temperatures. The stove will be working hard for at least two days, melting snow and heating water for ready meals for four hungry men and these things are reliable work horses.

Still, I think it's wise to have a backup and nice to have a stove for each of the two tents. I've toyed with the idea of taking a UL meths burner since Meths will be obtainable and works, with a little coaxing, at low temperatures and I have several options to hand. Having played with my Vargo Triad again It's off the list, filling and priming the stove is a pain and I feel the burner is too inneffective for winter. The fact that it's super light (just 27g) keeps pulling me back but I should just scrap the the thing. It's just too fidely for my taste. On the other hand the white box stove is a super bit of kit, and one I wouldn't hesitate to recommend, but you wouldn't catch me using one within 10 yards of a silny tent. No sir. Tent fires aren't us. That just leaves a Trangia then. Heavy, even if you're just looking at the burner, but, in my view still the best meths based field cooking system there is. My provisional choice is to take a windshield, burner and a kettle. It will just be required for boiling water for drinks and ready meals (dried ready meals are the order of the day this time out) and a kettle, with insulated handle, is an efficient and convenient way of doing that. I said provisional didn't I? That's because I may yet just fork out for a liquid feed cannister stove but we'll see.

Skis and Boots
I'll be hiring skis and boots in the Netherlands before departure. Simply out of expedience since we won't have to waste time fitting up in Norway. That forces one choice. They'll be waxless skis. For the rest the set-up is pretty standard for Nordic Touring. Fischer E99's, paired with leather boots and standard Nordic bindings. Lightly taylored skis that will fitt in the tracks and comfortable boots. The teraain will not be extreme and we will be, potentialy, on track for much of the distance covered. I've used Alpine skis and skinny nordic track skis before so the touring set-up is new to me. I'm hoping it will be kind to this bad skier!


Here the choice boils down very quickly to one. I need a pack that caries a large volume and high load with comfort and, most importantly if I hope to stay off my backside for at least some of the time, stabilty. I have two packs that fit the bill. A Macpac (A variant of the Rimu) and a Granite Gear Vapour Trail. The Macpac is not far short of 3kg. The Vapour Trail is a little over 1kg. The Vapour Trial is up to the job and I love it. Choice made.

Camera Gear
Definately the Oly E400 Body but which lens? My heart says the 14-42mm just like in Rondane. My head says take the standard 25mm pancake lens because, although it's more limited, it makes for a smaller lighter package. Yet to make up my mind on this.

My Full (as yet provisional) gear list can be found here.


  1. You've put a bit of thought into your kit list Dave, I like the way your clothing and sleeping kit combine to make a flexible system. I'm definately getting a pair of down trousers, either PHD Minimus or Montbell UL Down depending on if PHD can make me a small pair with longer legs and how much they'll cost.

  2. Dave, lots to think about here, mind if I add my two pennies?

    I agree with the Vapour Rise choice, after reading Andy Kirkpatrick's article on true softshells a long time ago I finally have a VR smock or order, specifically for a 5 day school ski tour in February. As you rightly point out sweat is your enemy at -20C! I still plan, however, to have a go with Paramo for back-country stuff later this winter...

    Ha ha! Even my dad couldn't believe I wrote so much on the subject of gloves! Having a selection of liners to pick from is the key to warm hands. And I'm still on the hunt for the bastard son mitt of the Tuff Bag/Buffalo DP/Baltoros.

    Goggles? Most definitely. In a swirling snow storm they'll allow you to see the endless nothing-but-white whiteout clearer :-) They also keep your face warm.

    For a winter stove I'd be inclined to take a liquid feed cannister stove. I think that will give you the nest combination of weight and performance.

    I like waxless skis. Far lighter (no waxes and tools to carry) and a lot, lot less hassle. Any loss of 'performance' is negligible with my level of skiing!

  3. Mac: Plenty of thought now I've got to get some practice in. My guess is the Minumus trousers will be significantly warmer than the MB Down Inners but fits important.

    Joe: More than welcome. I was hoping you'd pop by! In an exchange with the great Chris Townsend (we're not worthy) on the TGO forum he told me he rates VR but that Paramo is his clothing of choice for ski touring. It's so UK specific right now that I havn't realy had chance to get my hands on it and "feel the width" so I'm reluctant to make the investment right now. My natural inclination was to go for a Buffalo mountain shirt or the Montane Extreme Smock but on reflection I think I'd melt. Still there's something fantastically retro about fibre pile that holds my interest:something that's been selling for as long as I've been doing this has got work right?

    I guess with gloves you get there with practice. I need some practice. Your level of skiing is probably better than mine. Glad to be using waxless skis.

    Thinking very hard about stoves right now. Problem is I've been given a heads up for what seems to be the right remote cannister stove here http://www.petesy.co.uk/?p=873#comments but the Primus Express Spider is, from what I can see, available from the spring (get that, introduce a winter stove to the market when teh snows melting?) and I don't want to buy a stove now and still end up buyimg teh Primus in three months time (know thyself).

  4. I too recently conversed with Chris about this subject! Paramo, despite it's initial weight, could prove to be a pretty light set up as it acts as hard-shell, windproof, mid-layer, etc. All you need to carry is a big belay jacket to throw over the top in camp and you're done! I also like the minimal hassle factor. The Quito (coz that's the one I'd go for) gets thrown on over a merino base-layer at the start of the trip and stays on the entire time. I like the idea of not having to stop in -20C and fumble around with layers, especially on a wind scoured ridge. Just yank up the zips and keep skiing!

    I know what you mean about the fibre pile. I love my Buffalo gloves and when money allows in the near future I might treat myself to a piece, even if I only use it for walking to work in the Norwegian winter.

    Not sure about my level of skiing! I only started last year but I'm a very enthusiastic amateur! This cold snap has enabled me to ski every day for the past three weeks and I intend to make the most of it.

    Yep, I'm waiting for the Spider too, it does look good.

  5. Death to layers! One adjustable piece of clothing is indeed a very attractive proposition. Now sorry I didn't stop off at Hitch and Hike on the way back from teh peaks to get a good look at teh Paramo on offer. I can feel a reserach project developing.

    I also understand that Paramo is very long lived. Wash it , reproof it, repair it, good to go? Fibre pile seems also to just go on and on. Walked with a mate of mine in the lakes a while ago. Hadn't walked with him for around 10 years. He was still wearing the same mountain shirt.

  6. Just a tip from someone who've been in the same situation as yourself regarding the sleeping bit. I.e. I also had a too thin sleeping bag for the winter tour I was doing, and used my down clothes to help out.
    The tip is: Don't wear the down jacket inside the sleeping bag, just throw it on top of the sleeping bag as an extra insulating layer/duvet. This way, you won't unnecessarily compress your down jacket and/or sleeping bag, and gain some extra degrees sleeping rating (compared to wearing the jacket).
    / Karl

  7. Karl, Many thanks for the advice. It's much appreciated! Good tip. The most reasuring thing is that, after putting yourself in the same situation, you're still here to pass comment :-)

  8. Ah, I forgot to add this tip in my previous comment. If you've been camping in snow you know this already, but if you haven't...
    When going inside the tent, be absolutely an..l about not letting any snow into the inner tent. Sooner or later this snow will make gear wet, and you really don't want that. A small brush to remove the snow from your clothing helps a lot. Doeasn't wheigh much, but makes a world of difference for staying warm and dry.
    / Karl

  9. Many thanks for the tip Karl your effort is much appreciated.

  10. I think Karl's point above about not wearing your down jacket inside your sleeping bag is valid. Maybe there is room here to carry a summer/lightweight hooded insulation pull-on/jacket (possibly in lieu of your fleece) to act as your 'PJs'.

  11. I've worn both the Montbelle Inner and the PHD miniumus inside the Cumulus and both combine perfectly well. The Cumulus is wide enough and the jackets light enough that neither gets compromised. I certainly couldn't wear a full down duvet jacket inside either the Cumulus or the PHD (the latter being an especially narrow fitting bag)withough compressing the down. My intention here is to carry carry both lightweight down jackets when I'm moving around (they work well togther). Wearing both to bed, with the bags doubled up, may not be effective but I think the MB down inner will be fine. Using the PHD pully as a quilt isn't an option (half zip). I realy need a night out before I leave for Norway so I can getter a better feel for what works otherwise things have the potential to get a bit too "experimental" for my liking. I just need suitable weather and flu windows to open up simultaneously. I still have the option of a) packing a Duvet Jacket b) getting over it and shelling out for a winter bag.

  12. Hi!

    Have a nice trip to Nordseter!

    We would love to give you advice and updates on the weather if you'd like. Follow us at www.twitter.com/nordseter_no or our page at facebook.

    You are allways welcome in our cafè for some warm drinks :) We do also have wireless internet connection :)

    We do now have - 10 degrees and snowy weather :)

    Have a nice trip!

  13. Thanks for stopping by. I understand teh hot chocolate is a very popular choice!



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