Winter days are short and every minute counts, especially on multiday trips where minutes add up to become hours and every drop of moisture builds up to make you colder as the nights go on. Theres things you can do to drop the weight of your gear and increase your endurance and strength, but if the equation is done right it should all result in greater efficiency.
things get done better and safer the more you are in a zone of stability. that means being as rested, well fed and ahead of the curve as you can. a day near the road doesnt demand much of this, but each day away shifts the equation of what matters and the ratio of weight-to-energy starts to change.
So heres a few things that save minutes here and there and go a long way to streamlining the sorts of chain events that may become risks if unchecked. Oddly, much of it revolves around getting or discarding all sorts of bags.
① Don’t stuff your sleeping bag and tent into those tiny little sacks
It’s a waste of time and space. Squeeze as much air out and just ram it into your pack, forcing into the nooks and corners. Efficiency includes things like getting out of the tent in the morning so just shove it in.
If getting things wet is a problem use a silnylon dry sack for the main pack contents, shoving the tent into the pack first and then the dry sack on top.
② Use a rope bag
Take a tip from the caving, rescue and canyoneering scene. Coiling ropes is slow, tiring and wets your gloves – get a light stuff sack with a clip loop and learn how to pack a rope properly (biner thru the chin strap of your helmet or sternum strap on your pack and zip it in)
Tie the rope to the sack and you’ve just streamlined all your rappels as well, and if you tie it a meter or two before the end may just keep you alive. If things are really windy, go SAS style and feed the rope from the bag slung from your leg loop.
The time saved will be worth the extra 10gms.
③ Use thin bags for food
Pre-pack food like granola, couscous, pasta and maybe even coffee into ultra thin plastic bags then just put the bag in your mug and pour water into that. Serious gram junkies can re-use the one bag.
Saves washing, which saves water, fuel, time, messing about and potentially spilling stuff.
④ Carry a 20cm x 20cm square of foam for a snow spade
A dozen uses (stove base, snow scraper, sit mat etc) its #1 as a spade for putting snow into a snow bag, saving wet gloves.
⑤ Use a daisy chain as a screw bandolier
Something the French do. Don’t bother with screw holsters or fancy chest rigs, a regular aid daisy chain holds screws well and has multiple functions. A bit hard to get the screws into, but easy to remove, so better suited to single pitch stuff or where you have time to re-rack.
Clip round yourself with a biner, can even keep it in its regular function if pressed.
⑥ Put your hanging stove on a long hang cord with a munter
Hanging stoves don’t need to hang out of reach. Attach a length of 4mm run thru a munter on a biner on the ceiling for adjustability. Often just off the floor is a good level to hang at.
Also, a clip loop on the hanging kit gives a place to keep spoons (see point #10)
⑦ Get a baselayer with pockets
Headtorches, batteries, lighters and gloves all live better next to your skin. God only knows why, but few baselayers have real pockets, so maybe buying a midlayer a few sizes small will have to do.
Wet things like gloves are best NOT kept in your shells pockets, where they not only dry slower but also compromise breathability by clogging the under surface of the shell fabric.
⑧ Carry a fondue fork with your v-threader
Half f a v-thread is the threading (the other half is the drilling) and half of that is just getting the damned cord well placed in the hole. Carrying a spoke to set it well goes a long way to making things faster. The best ones are made from fondue forks.
⑨ Mesh bag for at night
Everything you don’t want freezing soon becomes a night time puzzle as you fish for it around your sleeping bag in the darkness (keep your headtorch around your wrist). A mesh bag keeps things together and findable.
⑩ Put a clip loop on your cup and spoon
Every big waller knows this. And not just to prevent losing it, but so you can hang it while your pour and not knock it over.