What to Pack for your first Winter Backcountry Hut Trip

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 What to Pack for your First Winter Backcountry Hut Trip

A few months ago we ran a post with 15 rad reasons you should take your first backcountry hut trip this winter. And now that you’re convinced, we wanted to help you get ready. In this new post by Bearfoot Theory’s Colorado experts Ben and Jenna Thomas, they share a gear checklist for your first backcountry hut trip and some other helpful tips to ensure you have a good time out there in the snow.

A couple years ago, I went on my very first winter backcountry hut trip. I was so excited when we made the plans, but as the weeks went by, I got more and more nervous. Everyone else we were going with was really outdoorsy and did things like bike up mountains in their spare time. I didn’t know what to bring or what to expect.

Well, I ended up having so much fun that a hut trip became an annual tradition. We’ve already tried to convince you why you should take a hut trip this winter. If you are still undecided or have one booked and are feeling nervous like I was, here is a complete gear list with all the details on what to pack for your first winter backcountry hut trip, as well as some specific recommendations in case you are missing any of the essentials.

What to pack for a winter backcountry hut trip

— Backcountry Hut Trip Gear List —


  • Socks: Wool is my favorite. Whatever material you choose, make it warm, moisture-wicking (again, no cotton), and taller than ankle-height. You’ll also want an extra pair of dry socks to change into once you arrive at the hut. Recommended socks:
  • A extra pair of comfy pants: unless you want to walk around in your long underwear, which hey, that’s fine! If you got it, flaunt it!
  • Slippers: not necessary, but awesome
  • Gloves, hat, scarf/balaclava: gloves should be waterproof, hat should cover your ears, and if it’s really cold you’ll want to be able to cover your face.

–Read More —

What to Wear Skiing: A Beginner’s Clothing Guide

What to Wear Hiking: Dressing for Comfort and Function

10 Pairs of Cute Winter Boots

What to pack for a winter backcountry hut trip

Gear Essentials

  • A topographic map of the area, or at the very least the map provided on the hut’s website
  • Snowshoes / Poles: These can easily be rented at REI or most outdoor gear shops. Skis or a split-board snowboard with climbing skins are another option.
  • Backpack: this is probably the most important part of your get-up. This needs to be backpacking-specific and comfortable—padded straps, padded back, and a waist strap to help distribute weight. If you haven’t got a backpacking backpack, go to REI and get fitted. Don’t pick out a pack on your own unless you know your size already. Recommended pack:
  • A small first-aid kit with Advil/Tylenol/Aspirin, band-aids, etc.
  • Sleeping bag: You’ll want a bag that is light and packs down small, and a 20ºF bag should be sufficient, especially in huts with a wood burning stove. Many huts have mattresses, but if not, you will also need a sleeping pad. Double check before leaving.
  • Sunglasses / snow goggles, sunscreen, and chapstick: Sun on snow can be really intense—even if there are clouds.
  • If you are going anywhere near an avalanche-prone area, you should also carry avalanche gear and a beacon, and avoid these areas if you haven’t taken a class in avalanche safety. A SPOT GPS Transponder is also a handy device for communicating in the case of an emergency when you are out of cell phone range.
  • A headlamp
  • Earplugs in case you have a snorer in the group

— Read More —

The Best Lightweight Backpacking Gear

Beginner Backpacking Essentials

Detailed Gear Checklist for a winter backcountry hut trip


  • Snacks: trail mix, gels, PB&J…it’s up to you.
  • Water: The amount depends on you, but bring more than you think you’ll need. You’ll be sweating more than you think, and the altitude will dehydrate you!
  • Food: If you are going with a large group, coordinate breakfasts and dinners as group meals. This way you can each carry less food, but still have some grand, backcountry feasts. For snacks and lunches, bring your own. Remember, you’ll be hungry! Bring lots.
  • Drinks: Tea, instant coffee and hot cocoa are nice and easy because they come in little packets. Booze is optional, but definitely helps you make friends at the hut. A bota bag, plastic bottles like Gatorade bottles, or flasks are the best for packing liquids in and out of the hut. Glass bottles are too heavy unless you really like carrying extra weight both in and out—there’s no recycling bin up there!
  • Cookware: Some huts, like the 10th Division Mountain Huts in Colorado, come stocked with cookware including propane stove and eating utensils, etc. Huts in other places may not. So make sure you check whether or not you need to bring a stove.

— Read More —

Simple Backpacking Food Ideas

Backcountry Bartender: Delicious and Easy Cocktail Recipes

How to prepare for a winter backcountry hut trip

Fun Extras

Anything you’ll need to be comfortable/happy on an overnight trip. Cards, a bluetooth speaker, your camera, etc.  Just remember, you’re carrying your own stuff, so the more you bring, the more weight you’ll have.

(Bonus points if you have awesome friends who will pack in a piñata to celebrate your birthday, Backcountry Style)


— Other Tips for your First Backcountry Hut Trip —

  • GET AN EARLY START. Don’t try to estimate how long it will take you to hike in, because there are too many variables. Snowshoeing and skiing in almost always take longer than normal hiking, so adjust accordingly.
  • Don’t worry about bringing extra water for while you’re at the hut or for the the hike out. You’ll melt snow for this. BUT DRINK A LOT OF WATER THE WHOLE TIME YOU’RE THERE. No one wants to deal with altitude sickness.
  • Most huts DO NOT allow pets. Since the snow around the hut is used for drinking water, pet waste would contaminate the snow supply. Check on this before you book your spot in a hut and if pets are not allowed, PLEASE obey this!
  • Pack it in, pack it out: Everything you brought with you needs to leave with you. There’s no trash or recycling at most huts.

— Read More —

Outdoor Ethics: 7 Guidelines of Leave No Trace

Back to the Basics: Hiking 101 Tips for Beginners

What to pack for a winter backcountry hut trip

Hut trips are my favorite way to get out into the backcountry during the winter. If you are on the fence about taking a hut trip, hopefully these tips will help get you out the door and on the trail!

How to prepare for your first backcountry hut trip






Disclosure: The links in this post are affiliate links which means if you make a purchase, I receive a tiny bit of compensation at no added cost to you. Any purchases you make help keep this blog going…so thanks for all of your support! If you ever have any questions about any of the products featured on my site, please email me. Thanks! Kristen

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About the author

Ben and Jenna Thomas are a pair of newlyweds who both grew up exploring the mountains of Colorado. Right now, they’re working their way around the world, from one exciting adventure to the next. Follow their journey at WildImagining.com and make sure to check out their awesome photography on Instagram and Facebook.


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