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LauraT7

Winter camping sleeping gear

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Though I don't know, I believe that the 'buck naked' sleeping business started with what Slontwovvy mentioned: Wet or damp clothes. I know for a fact (we are from Wyo) that sleeping with dry clothes on is much superior and warmer than without, but the key is dry.

 

We do as Slontwovvy says, have the boys carry a set of completely dry clothes for bed. Everything that was worn on the ski in is removed and replaced. That by itself is worth as much as the technical fabrics and insulations, etc. On short trips, we have them also to put the damp inner clothes under them in the sleeping bag so the heat transfer will push the moisture into the sleeping bag insulation (not for sopping clothes, or multi day trips as you can well imagine). Well sealed water bottles go in the sleeping bag too (we check these of course), and pee bottles of a different shape can be used to minimize heat loss at night. Have them wear a dry hat. These little additions plus what is above will do it all.

JB

 

Also check out Sierra Trading Post, who are big Scouting enthusiasts

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Thanks for all your help -

 

we went on our winter campout at Lowden BSA camp on the rock river in Illinois last weekend - we did have a really cool cabin with a fireplace, and most of the boys elected to sleep in the cabin - and NONE of the adults did! LOL ! Only a few of the boys slept out (including my son) - which was a real shame, as it was a beautiful night - Crisp and clear with stars you could practically touch!

 

I was really dissapointed we didn't have any SNOW! but it did get down to about 10 degrees, and we were TOASTY WARM in our new sleeping bags.

 

I took all the advice and pieced it together; clean dry light, sleeping clothes, and we had fleece liners to keep the bags clean inside. I was so warm I didn't need the hat I brought or to pull the hood in around my bag-

 

I used the closed cell foam pad under a colman self-inflating pad (like a cheapie thermorest) and while the ground was padded, that's about all I can say for it. I was real uncomfortable - my old bones need more padding than that! I did eventually roll up my coat and put it under my knees, to raise them and put my clothes for the next day under me and this gave my back a little more support and made my clothes warmer to put on in the morning.

 

I'm going to have to do some thinking on the padding problem -

 

but all in all - the trip was such a success, It's got me thinking about going on our own in the winter... I sure did like not having to fight the bugs!!!!

 

laura

 

 

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All good ideas, with winter coming up I thought I would bring this one up from the 'depths'. I also am of good size, 6'6 250. I strongly recommend the full size self inflating pad for winter camping and a closed cell pad under that. Coats make good pillows. Also like the idea of using the bag to wick moisture out at least for short trips.

 

I like a roomy bag but have yet not figured out how to avoid the cold zipper at night. Even with the zipper buffer of whatever it is called.

YIS

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I found the fleece "blanket bags" work nicely in the winter time with a mummy style bag, resolves the "cold zipper" syndrome, and keeps the bag clean, as you can easily take the fleece out & wash it. I've seen them on sale for 9.99 at times...well worth the investment. Another tip: although tempting..DON"T stick your head in your bag! You will be exhaling moist air into your bag..and that's not good.

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REd Feather's mention of pads is very important. Remember that as you lie on your sleeping bag, blankets or no, that part is compressed to nothing. It is the 'dead air' held still by the insulation, down or otherwise, that is the insulator in sleeping bags. For those sleeping on snow, an inflatable pad like a thermorest is very nice (full length) BACKED UP by a closed cell pad that won't deflate if punctured. We always bring a tarp to be sure that the snow doesn't melt to water and seep up through the bag, even when sleeping in tents.

 

Snow caves for those of you who have snow are very nice, bringing the T up to about 40 F with bodies and candles inside. They provide an almost mystic atmosphere, and if done correctly are safe and very fun. Use the T-shape ones as they are far easier and more efficient to build (don't forget that domed ceilings are required. Insure for proper ventillation, and use the tarp to go both under the sleeping bag as over it, as the caves drip! Oh yeah...do your cooking outside, and if your stove goes out, and you cant get your matches to light...well, you are NOT breathing oxygen! Get outside fast!

 

JB

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Oh boy does THAT sound like fun! I know our boys would LOVE to sleep in an igloo!

 

But getting back to these sleeping bags....

 

my son and I have used our new "Black pine" bags a couple of times last winter, but haven't gotten them out yet this season.

However, this summer we broke the zipper on one of our old summer bags (it was probably 20 yrs old) and it was cheaper to buy a new regular bag than to replace the zipper! So I was out bag shopping again!

 

For us "healthy sized" people - be aware that the standard bag is 33" to 35" wide (laid flat). That's alot for a boy - not much for me! I'm sure some of the men have a similar problem - you feel "bound up" in those bags. You can't roll over inside them - you have to roll over WITH the bag around you - and then you feel even more constricted.

 

For about $20 I found a 40" wide, extra long bag at Sportmart.

The Extra width is well worth it. The outside is cheap nylon, and the inside is cheap, rough flannel. but for summertime campouts (not back packing) it's fine, because I ALWAYS use liners, anyway.

 

Take a double-bed sized flat sheet, fold it in half lengthwise, and sew across the bottom and halfway up the side. This gives you a "bag-in-a-bag" with almost no weight or space.

- If you get debris in your bag, you can pull out the liner and shake it out easier than shaking the whole bag.

-if you get sweaty at night, you can pull out that layer the next day and dry layers faster than drying the whole bag.

-If it's hot, you can use the sheet alone.

-on a hot night, a cool sheet feels so much better than flannel or nylon!

- the long length of the top of the sheet can be tucked under your pillow or mat to pin them down so they don't "scoot" from under you.

-if you sleep under the stars you can put the extra length of sheet over your head to keep mosquitoes off

-the sheet is light enough to breathe -and doesn't retain as much moisture as putting your head IN the bag itself on slightly cool nights

 

Mostly - it keeps your bag Cleaner, so you have to wash it less, and makes it last longer and stay warmer!

 

I DO have and use the fleece blanket liners as well - but the pre-made ones are also only 30" to 33" wide ( flat). Thats AWFULLY narrow, even for a skinny adult! and to make them - well, the long zippers are really expensive - more than to just buy the bags! You could zip two together - but you'd have alot of extra fabric inside your bag. Since I sew, I took one of ours and split it on the fold, and inserted a V of the same fabric - so my liner is now kind of "mummy bag" shaped - narrow at the feet and wide at the shoulder - I also added a 12" strip around the top to "fold over" the top of the bag or to line the hood of my winter bag.

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I have a brand new tent so I plan to use a cot with an egg crate type pad. I am also buying a new sleeping bag( probably a mummy style).

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For LauraT7: Remember that one thing that you have to deal with in the winter for camping when setting up your bedding is sweat. The more cotton that you include in your sleep system, the wetter it will get. While a nice cotton sheet is fine, feels good, and is comfortable, its use for several days if it is not thoroughly dried out will freeze you out. I like to use all fast dry components in my sleep systems, and to keep them very simple (its lighter to carry). I am always sure to spread out my sleeping bag in the sun (if available) each morning so as to try to get rid of as much moisture as possible. This is critical for multiday trips.

 

This also brings up the difference between using down sleeping bags and synthetic bags. Sure, I was lucky enough to get a great 'Feathered Friends' Gore Tex covered bag which I use normally in the winter (being a fully addicted gear hound). However, for kids, I highly recommend synthetic bags as it is really difficult to get even well trained kids to manage moisture in their bags. The synthetic bags will not lose loft with moisture as will down, and are a much safer (as well as cheaper) alternative to down, even though down bags are lighter for the warmpth.

 

For Hopps_Scout: Cots are fine in cool weather and comfortable, they by nature will sleep cooler than when on the ground. If you are sleeping on snow or when the temps are near zero, a cot will provide you with a very cold night.

 

For sleeping in snow, I take the advice of high altitude climbers and do the following: Use two sleeping pads. The one next to the ground is a closed cell foam pad which you can get anywhere...even from Army Surplus for not too much. The second pad that I use is a thermorest full length which is more expensive (and kind of heavy for carrying on your back...we use sleds to haul gear over snow). This system will work very well, and won't freeze you even if your thermorest leaks. A lighter alternative would be a second closed cell foam pad.

 

I always bring along enough gear to take care of temps about 10-15 degrees cooler than expected.

 

A super source for inexpensive but quality outdoor bags is Sierra Trading Post and Campmor .

 

Sierra Trading Post is very Scout oriented.

 

What with global warming happening, we may be all using hammocks and sleeping in shorts through the winter soon.

 

JB

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For the same reason a bridge freezes before a roadway -- you have cold air moving over, under, and around you, instead of just over you. Even if you put a pad between you and the cot, it's still working in a way it wasn't designed, with air moving under it...it's working harder than it was supposed to, and will not be as efficient.

 

The main advantage of cots isn't comfort, it's the storage space under the cot.

 

KS

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Hi Hopps_Scout

KS is absolutly right. Cots are definitely colder as per his explanation.

 

A compounding and perhaps less understood reason for cold nights is that the bottom of the sleeping bag is crushed flat by your body and therefore provides no insulation. [insulation is provided by the dead air space that the sleeping bag "stuffing" provides by making the sleeping bag 'thick' (called 'loft' by the sleeping bag makers).] When you sleep on a cot, or on the ground for that matter, the bottom of the sleeping bag provides little insulation, necessitating the sleeping pad.

 

KS is further correct in that 'convection' or moving air under will make your cot colder.

 

[Convection is a big cause of loss of heat to the body in the outdoors - the other being 'radiation' meaning the loss of from your body as it radiates away from you, the third being 'conduction' meaning loss of heat directly from the body to a colder object...like the ground. These latter two are what the sleeping bag and pad limit].

 

Convection is further aided in the loss of heat by moisture, on your skin or in the bag insulation.

 

Stay Dry and you will Stay Warm.

 

A tip: Staying dry is one thing to teach your Scouts on winter and cold day trips. Convence them to wear no cotton (read the clothing labels), which absorbs moisture and promotes convection heat loss. Also impress on them the necessity to vent out heat, and moisture during physical exertion by opening their coats, taking off a layer, or even by taking off the hat (heat loss from the head accounts for about 20% of body heat loss). Small boys never think much about getting sweaty until it is too late. Even if they do pay attention (lots of training), sweat inevitably accumulates in the clothing promoting chills. This residual moisture in the clothes has less an effect during the day if they wear polypro underwear (get it at Wal Mart at the start of hunting season...a great deal!) - and no cotton tighty-whities or athletic sox allowed.

 

At night this problem is eliminated by wearing 'sleeping clothes' and sox that have not been worn during the day as discussed earlier in this thread.

 

Good discussions of this subject can be found in "Backpacking, One Step at a Time" or "Mountaineering, the Freedom of the Hills" available on Amazon.com.

 

Spend several sessions at the Scout meetings on this subject with your boys proir to an outing, complete with a discussion of layering using a 'volunteer' with a full set of outdoor gear to physically demonstrate it, and a sleeping bag, pad, tent etc. fully rigged, and another 'volunteer' in appropriate clothes to show it. Pictures and hands on demos are worth a thousand words to kids this age. (Also a discussion about keeping their small gear in bags instead of being strewn about the snowy campsite is a good idea...these being a major cause of kid gear loss on snowy nights.)

 

JB

 

 

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Just came back from the 3rd winter campout since I started this post over a year ago -

 

have tried and done some of the things suggested by all of you on this post ....

 

we've used our new synthetic bags - they are rated for 15 - 20 below in temps down as low as 0, and colder with the wind chill.

 

I use sheet liners in the summer in our regular bags - but those fleece blanket liners in the winter bags. I've found the easiest way to get into the bag is to step into (wear)the fleece liner - and then slip into my sleeping bag like an inchworm.

 

because I NEED padding that no foam pad (even multiples of any kind)can supply - I put my cheapie foam pad ON TOP of my air matress. yes the Air mattres is COLD - but as I never get near it (foam between my bag and the cold air) I haven't been even chilly!

 

I LOVE the way the hood of the bag keeps my little neck pillow from escaping!

 

When it got REALLY REALLY cold - only my nose got a little cold - as I hate sleeping with something over my face - I draped a scarf over my face and went back to sleep.

 

Our last campout, the boys were told "your plane just crashed, and you managed to save some gear before it fell over a cliff. You must make a shelter with what you have on hand (no tents) and you are above the treeline so there is nothing to build a fire with" (they did use stoves for cooking - we had some who needed their first class cooking requirements)

 

Despite multiple training sessions with the boys, they are very resistant to proper gear and habits. Many came unprepared, even though we don't expect them to buy new equipment - there was equipment and gear made available to borrow and they were shown how to layer their bags to make them warmer, what to look for among what they had to dress warm, pack light, etc. One boy showed up in boat shoes! one brought two very light summer sleeping bags, insisted he needed only one and used the other to help build his patrols shelter, despite broad hints and outright warnings from the leaders. (of course, it got damp, and when he DID retrive it - it was COLD!) This same boy tossed aside his coat earlier - we found it when someone spilled dishwater on it! All of the boys were very resistant to changing their clothes before bed, and most did not change. Some changed only the outer layers (pointless) including my son - who can give a terrific lecture on the subject, but doesn't want to follow through! (luckily his patrol built a terrific shelter and he had a good bag to sleep in but was it WET when we got home!) Most would not even change their SOCKS when their feet got cold! 3 got so cold we had to let them in the cabin and start a fire to warm them. of these 3, one is a prior SPL, one a Star and only one was a new scout.

 

We have done at least 2 seasons of winter camping, and lots of training on the subject - WITH examples and demonstrations since we've joined the troop - Why are these SAME boys so resistant to following sensible guidelines?

 

i don't get it!

 

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PS - hops_scout -

 

I went to college at SIU - Carbondale - are you anywhere near there?

 

Winters are pretty mild down there - comparable to Kentucky - if you have a decent winter bag, dress properly, & change into dry clothes before bed, you'll probably be fine on your cot with your foam pad between you and the canvas cot.

 

Everybody tells me i should be cold on my air mattress, for the same reason your cot should be cold - but as long as you have the good insulation immediately under you - you should be fine. I was.

 

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Ah yes! But a cot used with a space blanket makes for a toasty night!

 

Ed Mori

Scoutmaster

Troop 1

1 Peter 4:10

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Hi Laura

 

I don't know what to do with the older boys who are obvious cases for 'natural selection' (meaning that they will eventually get cold enough not to reproduce themselves...a double meaning that they will either not go when its cold, or they will freeze themselves). It is significant that the younger ones listen.

 

A possibility that I have often used is to bring in the "outside expert" to do the lecture, and even invite on a really cold trip. Kids who might not listen to you, may listen to them. Note your son!

 

Find someone who is a backpacker (or better an XC skiier who has done multiple day trips...or even a mountaineer) themselves, and better, who can show a slide show to 'warm up the audience'. They can give the same lecture that you do and the older kids may well believe them.

 

We use this trick to re-introduce such treats as caving, ice climbing, and other fun things that spark real interest. When possible, we co-opt these people to become 'specialist' ASMs, bugging them about helping only when we do their particular recreation.

 

Another idea would be to take the kids out away from a cabin for a below zero trip (in Wyo we have a "badge" for "frost points" which are accumulated degrees below zero on several trips). Then if they are lazy and sloppy, well....frostbite!

 

Be sure to know the appropriate first aid for these! (Search for this topic under the keyword "wilderness medicine" or take a course from Red Cross).

 

One last possible suggestion to get them to do the correct thing:

I will tell them all the stages of hypothermia in gruesome detail (a real necessity if you are away from the roadhead as they can then look after each other), and then tell them that the only cure for it is to put them 'naked'('gross...you mean I have to get naked in front of my friends!!!!') in a sleeping bag with another 'naked' Scout('oh MAN UGLY GROSS')!!!! That really gets their attention! (it 'ups' the 'consequences of failure').

 

[NOTE: IN REALITY IT IS NOT TRUE...IF YOUR VICTIM IS ONLY IN MILD HYPOTHERMIA...STILL SHIVERING...STICKING THEM IN WARM DRY CLOTHING AND IN A SLEEPING BAG WILL FIX IT...THEY CAN STILL WARM THEMSELVES UP.]

 

But the AWFUL idea of losing massive face for getting too cold has worked wonders with attention! We have never had to do more than mild warmups nor since worried about non-prepaired cold kids even when snow caving...maybe it will work for you.

 

JB

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