Cold Weather Gear List

(based on a 2-day, 1-night camping trip)

Gear List for Each Participant

How Many Should Each Participant Bring?

Gear & Explanation

Provided Framed Backpack

    Because we carry all gear and food to our campsite, a backpacking framed backpack is necessary. Your backpack can have an internal or external frame and must have a hip belt.
Provided Sleeping Bag

    Many inexpensive sleeping bags are heavy, bulky, and are hard to pack. We recommend mummy-style sleeping bags rated to at least 30 degrees. Three pounds or less is a good weight for a warm sleeping bag.
Provided Sleeping Pad

    From inexpensive standard blue sleeping pads to self-inflating therm-a-rests, the purpose of a pad is to insulate your body from the cold ground and provide some amount of comfort. We insist you camp with a sleeping pad on Sure Foot trips.
1 Headlamp or Flashlight – check or change batteries before the trip!

    Because it frees up your hands, a headlamp is by far preferable to a flashlight when camping and backpacking. Headlamps also weigh less than flashlights.
optional Extra Batteries

    If your light source has an incandescent or halogen bulb, we recommend that you bring an extra set of batteries because these bulbs deplete batteries quickly. If you are using a device with LEDs, extra batteries are not necessary.
1 of each Cup and/or Bowl & Spoon

    We highly recommend a bowl with a snap-on or locking lid. Your bowl can be used as a mug for cocoa or tea, so a cup is not necessary. All of our meals are easily eaten with only a spoon, so a knife and fork are unnecessary.
2 One-liter Bottles for Water

    Because we purify our water with Polar Pure, wide-mouth bottles are preferred. Used Gatorade or Powerade bottles work as well as high-tech Nalgene or metal Sigg bottles. Camelbaks or other bladder-style water carriers are not as functional and we recommend that you not bring them.
1 of each Toothbrush & Toothpaste (and floss, if you’d like)

    We take care of our teeth on Sure Foot trips, so be sure to bring your toothbrush and a travel-sized tube of toothpaste. Though single-use toothbrushes are now sold, we ask that you not bring these as they create more trash.
1 roll per family Toilet Paper

    You need not bring a whole roll. Be sure to pack your toilet tissue in a plastic zipper bag.
optional Journal & Pen or Pencil

    We often journal on Sure Foot trips, and having a writing pad and utensil is an excellent way to remember your adventure. Pack your paper and pen in a plastic zipper bag.
optional Lightweight Book

    Reading is a good way to pass the time while driving to the trailhead and before falling asleep at night. Hardcovers are too heavy, so bring a paperback! Be sure to pack your book in a plastic zipper bag.


1 pair Hiking shoes

    Though we do not require participants to wear boots, your footwear must have a rugged sole. Though running shoes are acceptible, ankle support is preferable. First and foremost, your shoes should be comfortable! Do not wear a brand new pair of shoes or boots on your Sure Foot trip. Break them in beforehand.
3 pairs Socks

    Cotton socks get wet and stay wet, causing blisters and cold feet. Wear wool or synthetic socks. At least one pair of thick wool socks is nice to wear at night.
2 pairs Pants

    Convertible pants (with zip-off legs)made of nylon or another synthetic material are our favorites because they dry quickly, are durable, and serve as shorts and pants. Other options include jogging pants and other non-cotton athletic pants. Please do not bring cotton sweat pants, as they are heavy, bulky, and absorb water like a sponge.
none Shorts

    A bathing suit is a good option for hiking shorts, but any other athletic shorts work well. Pockets are useful.
2-3 pairs Underwear (and sports bras for women)

    Though we do not require synthetic underwear, we recommend it.
2 Long-sleeved Shirts

    Non-cotton shirts are a must in cold, wet weather. Since we cannot ensure dry weather, you must have a least one non-cotton shirt to be worn in the rain. Synthetic materials wick moisture away from your body in the summer, keep you warm when wet, and dry quickly.
none Short-sleeved Shirts

    Though t-shirts are not used for warmth, it is REALLY nice to have a shirt that dries quickly so you don’t have to put on a wet cotton shirt in the cool morning. We recommend that all your short-sleeved shirts be made of a synthetic material.
1 Long Underwear or Fleece pants

    In the evenings and in cold weather, we must have extra layers of warmth for our legs. Long underwear or fleece pants are the best way to provide this warmth. This requirement may also be fulfilled by layering two or more pairs of pants.
2 Long Underwear Top, Fleece, or Wool Sweater

    Because our hiking shirt is sweaty at the end of the day, we change into a new shirt at night. This warm layer can be a long underwear top, fleece or wool sweater. By far, we like fleeces best for the protection against cold and wet that they provide.
1 Rain Jacket or Poncho

    When camping and backpacking, rain jackets are far more useful and durable than ponchos. A rain jacket can be used as an extra warm layer in cold temperatures. Because they are loose-fitting and often poorly made, ponchos tend to rip and tear and provide negligible warmth. If you choose to wear a poncho, please make sure it’s made of thicker plastic and not “garbage bag” material.
1 of each Warm Hat and Sun Hat

    We lose most of our body heat through our head–especially when sleeping. Therefore a warm hat is necessary survival and sleep gear. In the summer, though we’ll be under tree cover most of the time, it’s nice to stay protected from the sun with a brimmed hat.
1 pair Gloves

    Cold hands are some of the most uncomfortable and debilitating problems on cold backpacking trips, and gloves are an easy way to alleviate this.
optional Sandals or Water Shoes

    On trips in which we’ll be playing in or crossing water, we may require sandals that strap around your foot and heel or water shoes. These can double as camp shoes.

Optional Items

optional Rain Pants

    It sure is nice to stay dry in the rain and waterproof rain pants are a great way to do so.
optional Pack Cover

    Though we line our packs with trash bags to protect our gear from rain, an external pack cover is an excellent lightweight piece of gear to carry.
optional Small Camera

    Your Sure Foot guides will be taking many photos during your trip, and you’ll get a CD of all the photos. If you’d like to bring your own camera too, be sure to pack it in a plastic zipper bag. We do not recommend bringing expensive digital cameras, as it is hard to protect them in the woods.
recommended Camp shoes

    If you’d like to take off your shoes or boots after a long day of hiking, lightweight sandals, flip-flops, or Crocs are good camp shoes. We particularly like Crocs because they are lightweight and protect your toes.
recommended Pocketknife

    Though Sure Foot provides several knives for use when cooking, if you would like to bring your pocketknife, please do. However, in our experience, knives are easily lost in the woods and you would do well to keep your knife in a zippered pocket of your pants or pack whenever you are not using it.

Not Recommended

  • PERSONAL GROOMING PRODUCTS (other than toothbrush & toothpaste)
  • ELECTRONIC DEVICES (other than a camera)

What Does Sure Foot Provide? (and I don’t have to bring)


You will sleep in one of our 2-person, 3-person, and 4-person Kelty Gunnison tents.


We always carry a large tarp that we pitch in camp in case of rain.


Your guides carry two large stainless steel cookpots with lids that serve as frying pans. We bring backcountry cutting boards, knives, a cup measure and ladle.

Water purification

Sure Foot Adventures uses the Polar Pure system of iodine purification with all water. After purification, we neutralize the iodine color and flavor using vitamin C. Sure Foot provides one bottle of Polar Pure for every three participants.


Your guides carry two cookstoves that use either propane-butane fuel or white gas.

First Aid Kit

Besides being trained as Wilderness First Responders, your guides carry an extensive first aid kit. Rest assured that your guides have medicines, wound dressings, disinfectant, even splits, cloth, gauze, and elastic bandages.

All Food for the Trip

We pride ourselves in gourmet backpacking food and having plenty of it. Please do not bring extra food or snacks, as it will only increase the total weight our group must carry on our backs. Rest assured that you will not be hungry!

Food bags

Because we hang our food in trees at night to protect it from animals, we provide a stuff sack for in which each participant carries his/her portion of the group’s food.

Sewing and repair kit

In case of gear or clothing malfunction, your guides carry a sewing and repair kit. One of the most important items is duct tape!

Insect Repellant

Sure Foot provides one large bottle of bug spray for every four participants. This is more than enough, even for people very squeamish of bugs.


We provide one bottle of sunscreen for every four participants.


For use in digging cat holes for human waste. We’ll explain once the trip starts!