Winter gear guide: packing warm and light for a month in the Himalayas

Packing light but packing warm is going to be essential for my next journey, a month in Nepal in January 2010. Here are a few things I am hoping to take with me.

mini10vs.pngDell Mini10V Hackintosh: I want to be able to jot my thoughts down or look for a wi-fi connection in Kathmandu. As difficult as it was dealing with Dell customer service, I am happy to be taking my Mini10V with me so I don't have to lug my MacBook with all its data around. By the way, the Hackintosh is working great — I was having problems with the trackpad and the sleep function, but after some Googling and some Blam magic, it works wonderfully.

975c9caf-952a-408f-8224-ba79f446ab4f.jpgA portable water filter: Exposure to unclean water is the number one cause of traveler's diarrhea. There are a lot of ways to purify water, but one of the most handy, reusable ones that I've found is the pocket-sized Steripen's JourneyLCD handheld water purifier. It decontaminates a liter of water in about a minute and a half using ultraviolet light, which alters the structure of viral and bacterial DNA and stops them from reproducing.

1197_1_2_sd.jpgA warm puffy jacket for rain, city, and snow: Sierra Designs Flex Down jacket is big and puffy with 750-weight goose down — the kind they use in good winter sleeping bags — but looks decent enough to wear out on a night on the town. It also has pockets within pockets, so you can stick your hands in your pockets and not lose your keys. It's a small detail that I know I will be grateful for when I'm on the road.

napali 50.pngMountain Hardwear's Napali backpack: I reviewed this pack for Boing Boing Gadgets a while ago, and absolutely love it. At 3lb 7oz, it's lightweight, has a mesh backpanel to prevent sweatiness, and has lots of extra pockets for compartmentalizing gear. My favorite part of the design is the dry sack-style roll top, which prevents water and dust from entering the bag, but also makes the whole thing a lot more compact to carry when there's less inside.

84020_155.fpx.jpegA super compact midlayer: I get cold really easily, but I also hate carrying a lot of bulk. The Patagonia Nano Puff jacket weighs just nine ounces but is remarkably warm — I have one that I wear over everything in San Francisco, and it's almost too hot. It stuffs itself into its own chest pocket and has a carabiner clip so you can hook it onto your luggage.

keen summit county.pngWaterproof hiking shoes: The North Face's Hedgehog GTX XCR uses Boa lacing and Vibram rubbersoles, two of my favorite technologies for high performance athletic shoes (climbing!). Keen has this awesome hiking boot called Summit County that has an outsole that hardens under cold weather and added insulation at the toes to prevent frostbite.

tar_ventra_system.jpgTherm-a-rest's Ventra Down comforter: Parf of Therm-A-Rest's sleep system, the 650-fill down Ventra Down comforter has the warmth equivalent of a 40-degree sleeping bag without the mummified feeling. It weighs about 2lbs and packs tightly into a little stuff sack — the system also comes with a self-inflating mattress pad and a fitted sheet so you can essentially pull out a bed where everyone else might be strapped into a sleeping bag.

LayerBaselayer-Spyder093710001203_large_image1_111810.jpgWarm but lightweight base layers: My current favorite is Spyder's new X-static series, which is made of multi-layered textiles that are bonded with silver — a highly conductive metal that transfers heat evenly across the body. Also, it makes you look like Spiderman.