Tag: winter hike

The White and Green Ribbon

Meet Paolo Peralta- A New Yorker skiing the 1300 km White Ribbon.

Paolo Peralta skiing the White ribbon- 2021.

Tell us about you? Who is Paolo Peralta?

-I’m 26 and grew up in the concrete jungle of New York City. Having a Swedish mom, being a Swedish citizen and speaking the language got me to move here 6 years ago for college. Always loved nature but wasn’t great at camping/hiking, signed up to Fjäll & Vildmarksledarlinjen at Malungs Folkhögskola not even knowing what a Fjäll was. After 2 years there I worked 4 season at STF Ritsem where I got my equipment dialed in I grew my skills and got used to being alone in the mountains. Came for school, stayed for the Fjäll!

You completed the White Ribbon 2021. How did you come up with that?

I fell in love with Nordic Ski Touring on my first ever winter trip in 2016 and knew this is what I wanted to focus my outdoors career on. Met a lot of people doing Vita and Gröna bandet in Ritsem over the years including best trip-mate Paul Loss.  Vita Bandet always seemed like a safe starting point for getting experience for real expeditions, I’d like to ski to the South Pole some day and every bit of experience with equipment and my own body I can get before then will help.

Photo: Paolo Peralta

Tell us about the The White Ribbon. How was the adventure?

What an AWFUL winter 2021 was, barely even counts as winter.  Weather is always a huge factor, but even more so last year. After 2 weeks of cold I had rain, sleet and temperatures rarely below -5C for the next 6 weeks which made for wet clothes, slow progress, low morale and negated many of my equipment choices. 

I had a day where I fought for 8 hours and only gained 8km because the snow was so bad, stuck to the sled and skis like cement, needed to be scraped off every 500m. And my boots were full of water that day to top it off, I had sunk to the thighs in slush while crossing a marsh, took 4 days to dry out the boot liners which is why I carry a spare set of liners now.

But it wasn’t always awful, with the warm temperatures and being a person who runs very hot I think I hold the record for most time spent shirtless on Vita Bandet. The highpoint of the the 89 days my Vita Band lasted was when I had 5 days from Kvikkjokk to Ritsem on an abbreviated Padjelantaled. Didn’t see a single cloud or feel a gust of wind the whole time, it was mid April with long days and I skied in my underwear until I ran out of sunscreen. And I didn’t use a tent for those 5 days, slept in the open every night, would just take off my boots, crawl into my sleeping bag and eat dinner looking at the evening sky fade into stars

In front: A lighter Paris pulk with a Rab pulk bag in the bottom. In the back Pablos pulk with a Rab polar bedding on top. Photo: Paolo Peralta

Any gear you want to put a spotlight on?

One thing that worked amazingly was my kitchen set up, I have 0 complaints about it and the only changes I’m making to it are swapping out the plywood I used for a base with a sheet of carbon fiber for weight savings and changing the aluminum windscreen to .2mm titanium foil for durability. Also, my down booties, will never go on a winter trip without them again.

On a long trip like this an Arctic bedding bag is a game changer, you save 20-30 minutes a day and it’s wonderful not having to fiddle with straps, stuffing a sleeping bag into a stuff sack and inflating/deflating pads. But commercially available ones are not waterproof and not even wet snow proof. I had a nightmare of a time when the rain was at its worst, sleeping in a damp down bag for 3 days isn’t fun at all. I’m hoping to have finished some prototypes of an improved bedding bag that will keep out a modern Scandinavian winter out for testing next winter.

Hands: I used 3 gloves this trip: Thick Hestra mittens for -15C or colder, GWS fleece gloves for -10C to +10C and synthetic liner gloves for when I was in camp and needed to handle small items. But this system didn’t work well for the slushy snow and rain. Since then I have started using Showa 282 gloves for wet weather and they are fantastic. Carrying 4 pairs of gloves might seem like overkill, depending on the weather changing daily over the course of a few months, it might actually not be variety enough. 

If you where about to skii the White Ribbon again, what would you do different?

Beeline through Jämtland until Hotagsfjällen. Helags was great but going via Storlien cost me 2 weeks of struggling through forests with deep snow and seldom a snow mobile track to ease the going.

I’d want to make things more interesting, start on New Years Day at Treriksröset or something like that, get to see some more aurora, enjoy the cold and dark hopefully. 

And bring a frying pan for January/February, there’s so much time spent in the tent then that you might as well spend it cooking real food; pancakes, hashbrowns, quesadillas  and meatballs would have been a treat. 

Pablos tips fore future White Ribbonears?

You don’t need as much fuel as you think.

You don’t need as much food as you think but you can never have enough diversity in snacks.
Bring the comfort items along at the start, you’ll have lots of tent time and will enjoy the chair/book/kindle and you can always send them home when they days grow long and you spend less time awake in camp.

Other than extra socks don’t bring more clothes than you can wear all at once.

Good prescription glacier glasses are worth the money, lived in my Julbo sunglasses the last month of the trip except when going indoors. Invest in a dehydrator, make your own meals and try them all before you head out.

While weight isn’t as critical as in summer, you will feel the difference between 20kg and 40kg when going uphill, try to save weight where you can.

Ease of access to stuff you know you’ll need during the day is huge, make it so you don’t have to dig through your sled to find stuff you use every day. 

Packing list

Starting set up: 

Base Weight 28kg


Finish Line set up: 

Base Weight 20kg




Gear Video

backpackingblogcampingessentialsGear list

My winter sleep system for ultralight hiking

Sleeping good in the winter


Keeping warm is essential to sleeping good. Hypothermia and freezing to death is not a fun past time. In the summer it’s easier to get along with Ultralight gear and probably survive.. Chances are good… In the winter however, things are different. Especially in areas like northern Sweden where I live – here the temperatures can easily drop to -30c in the winter. It’s important to be prepared and have a relatively good idea of what your doing. Here I will go over some of the details that helps keep me warm and comfortable during the winter months on longer treks:


  1. Sleep system
  2. Shelter
  3. Clothing
  4. Food before bed
  5. Run around for warmth
  6. Pee bottle
  7. Extra bottles for foot warmer in the morning


A also made a video of this article that you can watch below: 


Sleep system:


First on my list is the sleep system – this is by far the most important aspect of sleeping warm and safe in the winter. All parts of the sleep system must work in order for the whole to work. With a sleep system I mean of course the Sleeping mat and Sleeping bag.

My system for winter hiking looks something like this with an example of a week long unsupported trip in minus 20 to 40 degrees:


  1. Thick evazote mat – 14mm – this I usually have directly on the ground as I use floorless shelters most of the time. I can also use a double wide evazote mat which can also work as a nice wide ground sheet as well.
  2. Thermarest xTherm sleeping pad – added warmth and comfort. The xTherm isn’t really necessary when using a thick 14mm evazote mat, in fact I know a few people who use their summer pads or xLite in the deep winter without any problems. The 14mm evazote is warm enough on it’s own. The blow up pad is an extra comfort. Don’t skimp on the sleeping mat – it’s just as if not more important than a proper sleeping bag.
  3. I have three bags in total – known of them are meant for extreme weather. So I stack them. I have a Sierra designs cloud 800 0c degree bag, an As Tucas sestrals synthetic quilt – rated at about 0c as well, and a Sierra designs nitro 0F (-18c). In Sweden, anything warmer than a 0c bag has very little use except for in the warmest two weeks of the year unless summer is just extreme. With the Cloud 800 and As Tucas Sestrals, these bags are fantastic for the Swedish climate. In anycase, if I know I will be in – 30c or colder for extended periods than I stack my Nitro and as tucas quilt giving me a warmth that stretches down to about -35.


Here is a rather decent stacking guide that I stole from Enlightened Equipment:


Quilt/Bag Ratings 50ºF 40ºF 30ºF 20ºF 10ºF 0ºF
50ºF 30ºF 20ºF 10ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF
40ºF 20ºF 10ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30ºF
30ºF 10ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30ºF -40ºF
20ºF 0ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30ºF -40ºF
10ºF -10ºF -20ºF -30 -40
0ºF -20ºF -30ºF -40ºF


This is in Farenheit, for our purposes it works – just keep in mind that Celcius and Farenheit meet at -40, 0 Fahrenheit is equal to -18 Celcius. 32 Fahrenheit is equal to 0 celcius.

I rarely use my Sierra designs nitro -18c bag – I prefer to stack as it’s usually a warmer option in almost every situation.

For temperatures between 0c and -20 I usually go with my two summer quilts – Cloud 800 and As tucas sestrals.

Skärmavbild 2019-01-18 kl. 06.23.48.png
xTherm on the bottom, Sierra designs cloud 800 35 in middle and as tucas sestrals apex 167 quilt on top. A great winter layering system


No matter which solution I choose – I always have the synthetic quilt on top of the down bag as synthetic handles the extra moisture much better than down does.



Picture stolen from the interwebs – Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2

Shelter systems in the winter, much like summer can vary – my main recommendation is to find a tent that can handle everything. Wind, rain, snow – and is relatively easy to set up. I prefer the Hyperlite mountain gear Ultamid 2 or 4 for winter use. It’s the most solid winter tent I’ve ever used and gives me a lot of space to really live like a king. I know a few people such as Jörgen Johansson over at Fjäderlätt who likes his Black diamond Firstlight – even though it’s a tad small for him. I also like the Firstlight, but I don’t like how my head and feet mush the sides creating a lot of extra wetness on my bag and clothing. There are of course advantages to a free standing tent in the winter. If you don’t care too much about weight than there are tons of solutions out there with Hilleberg Suolo coming to mind among others.

In anycase, while a shelter is certainly important with a winter system, you could just as well bring a shovel and build a snow cave, or find a large pine and sleep under the snow drift. I prefer even the beauty of sleeping under the stars if weather permits.




If planned properly, your winter clothing can easily be a big part of your sleeping system – allowing you to leave one of your sleeping bags or quilts at home. This is a great solution for shorter trips where condensation is not going to be as big of a problem. If I’m leaving a quilt at home, which I can normally do in temperatures down to -10c. Than my winter sleep gear might comprise of the following:

  1. Wool long johns and long arm shirt
  2. Thick wool socks
  3. Fleece or wool sweater
  4. Down puffy jacket – something like the Cumulus incredilte – a great lightweight down puffy
  5. Down/synthetic puffy pants – The Omm Mountain raid pants are excellent synthetic pants as well as the Cumulus down basic pants
  6. Down/synthetic puffy socks
  7. Gloves
  8. Down/synthetic baklava or fleece beenie


This layering system gives me a lot of flexibility and warmth in camp – sometimes I even have two puffy down jackets with me depending on how low temperatures are expected to drop. This setup easily keeps me warm and comfortable walking around camp, as well as being part of my sleep system at night.


Food before bed

In the winter, keeping food and water in your system before going to bed is vital. Keeps the furnace burning hot for many hours. I try to load up on carbohydrates before bed, usually while lying in bed getting ready to sleep. This is usually in the form of pasta.


Run around

The way insulation in your sleep system works is that it keeps the warmth in. The more insulation the more warmth the sleep system is able to keep. The system itself does not create any warmth on it’s own. There is no heating element in your sleeping bag. This means that if you go to bed frozen, chances are the insulation will work more like refrigerator, keeping you nice and cold. This is why it’s important to get out and run a bit, or do jumping jacks, create a lot of internal heat before climbing into bed. Not so much that you are sweating, as the moisture will have an opposite effect.

This also falls in line with make sure you are ready for bed, before you actually climb in. Once you are in your sleeping bag or bags, body is warm, belly is full – make sure you stay in your bag. I have made the mistake a few times of being way too warm in my bag, got panicked and opened up the bag only to start freezing again.


Pee bottle

Staying tight in your sleep system is vital for overall comfort and warmth. This is also why a pee bottle is essential. Make sure you get a wide mouth bottle as this will help take away the guesswork and leave less room for error. The important aspect is to not open up your bag and climb out in order to go out and pee. Also, remember to keep a large volume bottle for this purpose as bodily fluids coming out in the winter are usually much more than at other times. It’s not unusual to pee close to a liters worth of fluid in the winter.


Extra bottles

In the winter, one of the biggest problems facing all hikers is keeping our feet and shoes warm. Some people place their shoes in the sleeping bag with them, others not so much. I fall into the category of “not so much”. I don’t want any moisture coming along with me into my sleeping bag. Not to mention, the wettest part of my entire system – my shoes. It is possible to keep your shoes in a water tight bag and put them in your sleeping bag with you. But then they are still wet in the morning. What works for me is a rather simple system: In the morning when I wake up, still tucked nice and warm in my sleeping bag, I cook water for my early morning coffee and breakfast and with that I cook extra water for two small water bottles. After I shake out as much of the frozen moisture as possible from my shoes, I then place the hot water bottles, one each, into each of my shoes. While I am eating breakfast, my shoes are getting nice and toasty – when I put my shoes on, my feet are encompassed with a warm and lovely feeling. Later on I have the added benefit of having two extra filled water bottles that I can drink while hiking.

Small bottles are filled with warm water in the morning and used as feet warmers while I break down camp and eat breakfast. The bottles are then just regular water bottles during the day.  Picture stolen from http://www.fjaderlatt.se 



Before heading out on your trek across antarctica, it’s important to practice first, find what works for you and get comfortable with all the nuances of winter camping. Winter camping is both hell and joy at the sametime. Dangerous and fulfilling. Be smart and don’t take anything for granted. Just because you have this checklist doesn’t mean you are an expert – Theory and practice are two completely different things. This list will help you maximize your chances of success – but this is only a guide and not a guarantee. What works for me might not work for you.

A good place to practice is your backyard och nearby forest. Car camping is also a great starting place or in wind shelters. I spent a season or two just camping around in my local forest. My first backpacking trip in the winter once I was comfortable with my gear was a fairly popular mountain trail and I setup my tent about 50 meters from the different cottages. This way I could practice without putting myself in any major danger.



Backpain hell and sleeping on a pad

I love to be out in nature, I love sleeping over and just enjoying my time out in the woods. I don’t need to be gone very long, usually when I just need to get out, a one night sleep over is enough. However, I have one constant problem always bothering me and the reason I even changed over to a Hammock: I get massive pain in my hips and shoulder when sleeping on the ground. Read More