Winter Newsletter 2021

Veteran Member Spotlights

We wanted to get to know some of our Veteran Members better. Read on to meet Chandler and Yvette!

Chandler Sam

Sheetz is better than Wawa.

– Chandler Sam

How did you get involved in DC UL?

I moved to DC for college, and I was unable to find ways to get outside consistently. I felt that I needed to get out of the city, so I searched for groups that would be able to help me get both outside and out of the city. Luckily I stumbled on DC UL (not knowing what ultralight backpacking was).

What was your first trip?

I went on a trip with Karan leading to Reddish Knob. I had never been backpacking before so to prepare I would leave my dorm at midnight to go to my university yard and pitch my tent and play with my stove— I wanted to avoid the confusion of some kid pitching a tent in broad day light for everyone to see. I felt like I shouldn’t have liked Reddish Knob because there was no view at the top, and the night march to camp was brutal but for a strange reason I left the trip with a list of UL backpacking brands to buy from and the “bug” to hike more.

What has been your favorite trip so far?

Every time I do a trip I finish thinking that it’s the best trip I’ve been on so far. That holds true except in the case of my last trip which was 4-State Challenge.

I think the Black Forest trail has been my favorite trip so far. It’s such a well designed trail with some great view spots and a nice place to grab a bite midway through. I’d love to go back again one day.

What’s a trip – anywhere in the world – that you’d like to do someday?

Short term: I want to climb Mount Rainier within the next 3 years.

Long term: A peak ascent in the Alps.

Any “lessons learned the hard way” that you’d like to share?

Rain jackets on the east coast in summer is not a great idea, skirts and umbrellas are in fashion. Chocolate is the best on trail. And Sheetz is better than Wawa.


How did you get involved in DC UL?

I was looking for long mileage trips as training hikes for my PCT thru-hike in 2022. I went on this backpacking trip with another group, and both the organizer (Darwin) and a participant (Chandler!) recommended DC UL to me. They also very casually gave me some warnings, such as early wake-up calls, fast pace, and the fact that you’re supposed to be self-sufficient for any trip above low mileage (LM).

What was your first trip?

I went to Shenandoah with Noah O. I was actually extremely nervous before the trip thanks to all the warnings. Darwin sent me an even longer list of tips on “how to survive a DC UL trip” right before the weekend which did not help ease the tension. Luckily, it turned out to be a perfect first trip. We started hiking way past 8 in the morning, chatted late into the evening around artificial fire and newbies like me got a lot of good advice from veteran members! If you’re reading this, Noah, thanks for not scaring me off 🙂

What has been your favorite trip so far?

I really enjoyed “20 the Hard Way”, during which we covered 3 Ridges, the Priest, and Spy Rock. The climb up the Priest was challenging enough to be a good training hike and the view from Spy Rock was absolutely amazing. I’m going back in January!

What’s a trip – anywhere in the world – that you’d like to do someday?

I have a long list! But recently I really want to trek Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and the O Trek in Torres del Paine, Patagonia.

Any “lessons learned the hard way” that you’d like to share?

If you hike with trekking poles, ALWAYS take them inside the tent at camp. Once I night hiked up to Chimney Top and I was so tired that I left one of them outside. The next morning when I woke up, the cork grip was entirely gone. Whatever critter that chewed it was so ferocious that it even chewed off some of the plastic beneath. Luckily, I used the other pole to set up my tent so I still had a good one left!

Tips for Winter Backpacking

The temperatures haven’t dropped too low just yet, but it never hurts to be prepared for a trip in the winter woods. (Photo credit: Photo by Renato Pozzi on Unsplash)

It’s important to give yourself lots of insurance against wetness and cold. Incorporating some of the gear below will help you stay safe, dry and warm.

Here are some of our best tips for successful winter backpacking:

Base Layers

If it’s going to be very cold, it’s smart to invest in some base layers. These are usually wool, silk, bamboo, or even synthetic, and will keep you that extra degree of warm that you’ll need for more extreme temperatures.

Extra Dry Layers

You never know what you might run into. It’s a good idea to have a couple of extra layers for added warmth or in case one of your layers fails from dampness. Extra socks especially!

Down Booties

You want to be comfortable at camp, right? Make sure you’ve got down booties for your camp time.

Warmer Sleeping Pad

You may want to switch out your summer sleeping pad with something that will provide more warmth and comfort.

Are you new to choosing a sleeping pad for winter? Remember that the higher the R-Value, the more insulation it will provide.


Make sure you have the capability to start a fire in case you really need to. It can provide you with warmth, dryness, and even visibility if you need to be located.

Waterproof Shoes or Boots

Waterproof shoes or boots can be a real lifesaver and help you avoid cold, wet feet!

Crampons, Spikes, or Snowshoes

If you encounter ice or deep snow, having traction devices or snowshoes will be incredibly handy in helping you navigate difficult terrain.


If you’re expecting deep snow or stream or river crossings, insure against wet, frozen feet with this extra layer of protection.

Rain Gear

Your goal is to stay dry and warm. A final layer of rain gear is always a must have!

Do you have a submission or idea for a future newsletter? Would you like to be featured in our member spotlight? Write to!

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