Winter Gear

Imagine hiking in sub-zero windchills for ten miles, then post-holing three feet deep in snowshoes for three miles through the woods, to arrive at a camp site at dark and temps dropping to -15. You're exhausted, in need of calories and your warmest clothes, almost out of water, and need to set-up camp and melt snow for cooking and hydration. So, you do all this and as you light the stove, you realize the fuel pump isn't pressurizing because it's too cold. Uh-oh. That means the stove will barely work. This is where I said, 'Well, you can fix anything by sleeping with it,' in reference to cold weather camping and how most problems are associated with the extreme temperatures. A simple warming up will often fix it. Overnight in a sleeping bag is the method.
What did I learn from this? Pressurize your fuel bottle at home, before you leave for the trip and before you can have it in your sleeping bag the first night. If it doesn't pressurize more when you use it, at least it has some residual pressure from earlier, which it shouldn't have lost.

My old school MSR G Expedition stove has been proven to dominate its prodigy, the XGK. It roared, even at -35, and coupled well with my one gallon pot. For melting snow, size is everything. Although the G (or XGK) is the most reliable multi-fuel expedition stove on the market and has been to the summit of more high elevation mountains in the world than all other stoves combined, I might still opt for my MSR Dragonfly, as it uses the same burner, has a better stove-to-pot contact surface and support, and fits inside the one gallon pot, which the G does not, as it has a rigid fuel line (which I might look into replacing it with a flexible one). [Post-trip update: I made a mylar-covered bubble wrap cover to insulate the top of the pot, to increase heating efficiency as much as possible at extreme temps.]

The homemade GSI Fairshare mug food cozy helped cook 1,000 calories of Ramen, peanut butter, and sesame oil at 30 below. I cut the handle off for a sleeker profile and insulated it with mylar-covered bubble wrap. Also, bring a plastic/lexan spoon instead of titanium or aluminum so it doesn't freeze to your lips and tongue!

I brought two methods of keeping water warm: a one liter Thermos and a Powerade bottle in a Sea-to-Summit neoprene skin inside an OR water bottle parka. The Thermos kept water warm far longer than the bottle parka combo, but the weight difference is huge (1 lb). If I wouldn't have had the Thermos, I would have had ice in a bottle by the time I got to drinking the second liter. Plus, when I did drink the water out of the Thermos, it was hot! That was quite a pick-me-up at -20, after hiking 12 miles.