zurenThanks for the replies! I'm going through my packing list now for next year's trip. I'm weighing everything and putting it in a spreadsheet so I can see where I'm at and where I can improve.
I think a lot of my bulk/weight is redundancy (extra socks, extra shirt, etc.). I'm eliminating all of the redundancy. Other items I'm reconsidering:
- heavy Goretex mittens - I wear lighter, waterproof AT gloves (Balck Diamond Arc) and have never had cold hands. I've taken the mittens on 2 trips now and never worn them once. May be time to leave them behind.
- beer - The group I go with likes to take beer; I like a small flask of rum - good straight up or in my evening tea. Next year I may be more adamant that I have my flask and not carrying 3-4 cans of beer.
- water - I carry too much (100 oz. hydration bladder). Had too much trouble with the hose freezing this past trip so I was carrying nearly 100 fluid oz. of water and couldn't drink it. Switching to a bottle, or Platypus bags.
- food - I brought too much both trips, and not enough of it was dehydrated.
- toiletries - there are items I can go without.
- first aid kit - as a former ski patroller (resort) I'm carrying the first aid gear for the group, but the bulk of 3+ lbs. of first aid gear is probably too much.
I have a Mystery Ranch Big Sky (older model, 1800 cu. in./~29L, very similar to their current 3-day Assault Pack). I will practice with what I have and make changes. I'm looking at the Mystery Ranch Patrol 45 pack - its the biggest ski specific pack I've found...most seem to stop at 40L.
A few thoughts:
Something in the 40L realm that is designed to expand and contract is a great idea. The HMG system is good, so is a floating lid. Most dedicated ski bags aren't like this, so looking to the climbing pack world might help. Personally, I love my Osprey Variant 37 for these kinds of trips--did four nights, five days out of it on the Wapta traverse two springs ago.
You don't need dedicated separation for your avie tools; that's all in how you pack the bag. Obviously you want them handy, but they don't need to be separated.
Some redundant things can make a difference--taking just one pair of socks for a three day hut trip is pretty bold, especially considering how one pair of socks is pretty small, compact, and yet feels amazing on day three. I wouldn't lose the mittens either--they are clutch if you get soaked and cold.
Ditch the beer if you're carrying it in. Hard alcohol is fine.
Bladders will always freeze; winter isn't their season. A system I've seen many folks use is some kind of insulated bottle/bottle with a parka, and a thermos. They don't freeze, won't burst, and having hot liquid makes a huge difference for morale sometimes. Plus, you can melt extra snow in the hot water to gain a few more sips. I've got a standard nalgene with a parka, and a 20oz hydroflask. Might make the latter bigger for this next winter.
First aid gear: take only what you know how to use, and what you can't improvise from something else. Straps, tape, four by fours, a small plastic sheet style CPR mask, whatever meds you think are proper. Mine fits easily into a Dynafit ski crampon bag, and I've been carrying a SAM splint forever.