Tips for a Great Winter Hut Trip

Winter is an interesting season — when the temperatures drop and snow starts falling a whole slew of new outdoor activities become available; however, the adventures summer is known for don't necessarily go away. Rather than packing away backcountry gear and sidelining wilderness exploration the people who love the snow will add layers and head out for winter camping and hut trips. We've already addressed all the wonderful things about winter camping...but what about hut trips? What exactly are they? What should you expect in the hut? How do you prepare?

Know What to Expect from a 10th Mountain Division Hut


Each hut within the 10th Mountain Division hut system has the same basic set up — a kitchen stocked with all essential cooking utensils, a great room with tables and seating areas for eating and relaxing, a sleeping area with sleeping pads/ pillows and an outhouse nearby.

 


The great people in charge of the hut system do a fantastic job of keeping the huts stocked with the basic luxuries of home like toilet paper, silverware and dish soap. There is also a wood room full of wood to keep the fire stoked. That being said, there are some expectations of people using the hut — clean up after yourself, chop wood, make kindling and have water waiting for the next group of visitors.

EisemanHut
LindleyHutTagertHut


Of course, each hut has its own layout and personality. You can get more details on exactly what to expect at each hut from the 10th Mountain Division website — huts.org.

Get Together a Large Group...or a Small Posse


The reservation system for the 10th Mountain Division hut system allows you to reserve each bed individually. This means you can get a group together and reserve every bed in the hut giving you the entire place to yourself, or you can just reserve a few beds and take a gamble on who your hut-mates will be.

McNamaraGroup


My experience with huts has been limited to the large group method — everyone knows at least one other person in the group. One major benefit to this set up is being able to plan out meals and have full reign of the kitchen, living and sleeping spaces. However, getting 15-20 people to commit to a trip can be challenging. This is why the hut trip we are currently scheming involves a small group and completely random strangers. At the very least we all have the same love for the backcountry — anyone can bond over that, right?

Plan Family Style Meals


When you're hut trippin' with a large group it makes a lot of sense to work together to plan out family style meals. Break the large group into smaller "meal groups" and assign specific meals. This will distribute the weight of the food, give everyone some meal responsibility and provide a little variety in food.

McNamaraHut2014-02-16 08.08.29


And don't be afraid to get creative with your hut meals! I have experienced amazing food cooked on a woodstove with melted snow! The meals on my hut trips have included bacon breakfast sandwiches, mushroom risotto, egg fajitas, Thanksgiving pies, sweet potato hash and chicken pot pie. With a little thinking you can make pretty much anything in a hut kitchen...chili mac and cheese is going to make an appearance on our next hut trip!

Bring Backcountry Entertainment


Do a little research to find out what the hut you're headed to has to offer in terms of backcountry fun. Are there great backcountry turns be found right off the porch? Or is more touring required to get the fresh powder? What do the people in your group like to do? Will people have backcountry touring gear or snowshoes?

If backcountry touring isn't something your after bring a sled! The huts are in the mountains...sledding hills are easy to find and many huts have sled luges just waiting for you! The childish fun to be had while flying down a mountain side on a plastic sled or building jumps should never be underestimated!

McNamaraSledTagertHutSled


Looking for a more relaxing day in the hut? Pack in your favorite card game or book. The huts usually have the basic card games (ie: playing cards, Phase 10, Skipbo, etc) and backcountry related books as well as notebooks with the stories of previous visitors. If you're looking for some time just to disconnect from the world you'll fall in love with the sitting area in front of the wood stove, trust me!

Stay Safe — Bring the Right Gear & Know Who You're With


The backcountry is an incredible place...but it comes with extra risks. The first
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