Traveling in the backcountry in winter provides ready access to water by melting snow. This can be problematic in areas frequented by travelers throughout the season if snow collection is done close to established camp areas. Even if the area looks pristine, under the snow deposits of the past week lay the remnants of prior weekend warriors—possible discarded food scraps, yellow snow, or just boots tracking contaminated snow from the latrine on the walk back to camp.
I like to make it a practice to scan the camp surroundings and look for an isolated area, usually above camp, that is away from established routes. Take a walk several hundred feet from camp and with your avalanche shovel, shave off the top 3-4 inches of snow, then dig in and collect your snow for melting. But how do you collect a sufficient amount of snow without shuttling back-and-forth with your 2L pot?
Gigantic Ziploc bags!
The Ziploc Big Bags XL is the ideal size for this task. It is listed at 10 gallons/37.8 liters and can be filled with snow and still carried back to camp (I’m neither big enough or strong enough to carry the XXL back to camp). They come in a package of 4 bags and can be purchased for around $7.00 to $10.00 US.