Winter backpacking clothing requires careful layering to keep the backpacker warm and dry. As a base layer, the backpacker should have a thermal shirt and bottoms made out of a non-cotton fabric that wicks away moisture along with two pairs of thick wool socks. The backpacker should also bring one or two layers of mittens and a thermal hat. For the next layer, the backpacker should have thermal pants and a warm, long sleeve shirt. Finally, the backpacker should wear a windbreaker and insulated boots. Winter backpackers should also bring rain gear, an extra sweater or two and lightweight pants and shirts in case the weather turns warm.
In addition to the basic first-aid equipment required for any outdoor trip, winter backpacking requires specialized safety equipment. Chemical hand warmers can literally be a lifesaver should the backpacker get wet. A snow shovel, ice axe and avalanche beacon are absolutely essential for winter mountain backpacking. Be sure to bring along redundant navigation systems; bring a map and compass along with a GPS system to ensure that you don't get lost. Winter backpackers should also be sure to use a tent and sleeping bag rated for the lowest temperature that they may encounter.
Snow requires many of the same accessories that summer weather does. Sunglasses or, better yet, goggles will protect your eyes from snow blindness. Bring along a defogger spray or wipes to keep your goggles clear. Winter hiking also requires lip balm and sunscreen, since the dry air can chap lips and the snow can reflect UV rays. If you get dry skin in winter, be sure to bring along a bottle of moisturizer as well.
Winter backpacking shares a number of basic essentials with other backpacking with a few important differences. In addition to basic toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap, winter backpackers in very cold climates should bring insulated water bottles to prevent water from freezing. Winter backpackers should also trade in the summer campsite sandals for a pair of warm, insulated slippers to keep warm at night.
You won't be able to make fires in harsh winter climates, so a backpacking stove and cookery that fits well on the burner are a must for winter camping. Winter campers also need to take care to avoid wetness and chill at night. If you are camping in the snow, bring a camp stool to keep you off the ground when sitting in camp. Also, bring a waterproof tarp to lay under the tent to prevent melting snow from seeping in.