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I have been a SM for about a year. Our troop has never done a winter campout and the boys want to do it, so we are going to give it a go. It will be done locally at a nearby campground and will be a first for all leaders and boys. I have done some research on the subject and have consulted the BS Fieldbook. I am now looking for any tips that are not in the books that you may want to share. Our tents are just the standard Coleman type dome tents.



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What makes me a little more comfortable is :

changing socks before getting into sleeping bag (feet may not feel damp but change socks)

extra blanket inside sleeping bag to kill cold spots

a pair of sleeping pants or ? under pants/coveralls so that I dont have to change to get in sleeping bag

lots of warm drinks available

big fire

pack extra sleeping bags for those scouts that get cold easily (1 inside the other)

extra gloves/hat (someone is bound to loose one or the other) I know be prepared.

always something hot with meal (soup etc)

wind break for those blustery days/nights

hubby and I throw a piece of plastic over the netting in the top of tent keeps out blustery winds somewhat (not sealed but better than normal)(under the rain fly)

I keep hand warmers but very rarely use them. Had same ones for couple years.

Remember lots of things take more time to cook when its cold.

Water freezes at 32 degrees LOL.

If you have a tarp use big pieces of plastic to make a wind break. (home improvement stores sell it buy the roll)


Have a great time



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We go cold weather camping every February.


The most important thing is that all the Scouts participating be prepared both in gear and knowledge. We will spend much of January discussing cold weather camping and first aid. It's important they understand how to both camp in February and June. It's also important they have the right equipment, which will make the difference between a really fun time and a miserable cold time. I have found that cold weather camping is a real confidence builder, as those Scout who are scared of the cold realize they can over come their fear, stay toasty warm, and have fun. Plus they really like to come back and say they survived a night at 2 degrees!


In addition to the wisdom offered by kbandit, we really stress not bring any cotton clothes - especially jeans! The cotton soaks up all kinds of water - sweat, wet snow, rain, and then looses it insulation properties and gets very, very cold. This makes for a miserable time for kids wearing jeans. Wool pants are the best, but synthetic pants and snow pants are excellent too. The same goes for cotton socks -- wool is 100 times better. We also feed the Scouts string cheese at bed time, as this keeps them warm all night!


To ensure Scouts have the proper equipment now, I will be distributing the message and list pasted below at our Troop meeting this week (and also emailing it to parents), hoping parents will spend some of their scarce resources on equipment rather than video games! The cost of good winter bag at campmor is just about the same as one game for the xbox or other systems! Plus Cabelas alway seems to have amazing prices on long undies (called performance underwear!) and other warm things in last year's colors!



The Troop will be going on a Cold Weather Campout in February 2009, and many Scouts need to upgrade their camping equipment for this event to stay dry and warm. Let Santa help! These make wonderful Christmas presents!

Wool socks

Synthetic long underwear

Synthetic t-shirt

Water proof gloves / mittens

closed cell foam pad

Synthetic mummy sleeping bag that is rated to 0F or below

waterproof insulated boots

wool shirt, sweater, pants

Snow pants

fleece jacket or sweater

shell jacket

wool or synthetic hat

good flashlight

backpack or duffel to carry things on Scout camping trips

A few of Santas secrets: Campmors Web Bargains (www.campmor.com), Cabelas Bargain Cave (www.cabelas.com), REI Outlet (www.rei.com).





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I've gone out in winter a few times and had lots of fun and I think learned a bit.


I like to have a mylar emergency blanket. I wrap up in it inside my sleeping bag.

Wear a knit hat to bed

Always change clothes before bedding down.

My feet tend to get real cold so I bought some North Face down tent booties (down slippers) and am now nice and toasty.

Take a snow shovel

Jam water bottles down into the snow to prevent them from freezing

If you're using a dining fly, get sides for it. We got some last year and it stays very warm inside.

NO COTTON. Repeat 15 times.

A 0 degree bag isn't really necessary if it's not going to be massively cold. A 15-30 degree bag can be made warmer by using a sheet as a liner.

Take an insulated mug for coffeee/hot chocolate.

Use a foam or insulated core sleeping mat. I've heard it's more important to insulate from below that to warm from above as the earth acts as a huge heat sink. The other day, I rolled off my mat a little bit. My knee was hanging over the edge but not touching the ground. I could actually feel the difference.

If the ground is really frozen, a cordless drill and a 1/2 to 3/4" long drill bit might help for making pilot holes for tent stakes.

Resist the urge to overdress. Remove layers before you begin to sweat.

Have fun. The challenge is worth it.


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Can't reiterate enough the value of good headgear. A huge amount of the body's heat escapes out of the top of your head... I get hot and sweat really easily, so when I go winter camping or hiking I have to keep taking my hat on and off because it's so effective at trapping the heat. Also makes you toasty at bedtime.


Where I live, the snow isn't much of a issue - we're lucky to get six inches all winter long - but high, chilly winds are. So layering and making sure gaps in clothing are covered is critical - i.e., outer shell sleeves that extend past the glove wrist a bit, pants that aren't too short, etc.


Don't forget to try a winter nature hike or photography hike! A whole different side of nature is exposed this time of year.

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There's lots of good advice here but let me list some common problems you may want to consider. We are a New England unit that camps year round. Some of our best most memorable outings have been in February in the White Mountains of NH.


Good for you for being willing to help the scouts out to take on this idea.


Many folks are not used to being outside in the winter for long periods of time. Staying outside for 8 - 10 - 24 - 48 hours means you really need to follow the advice to dress in layers and having extra clothing. Avoid cotton. (There is a saying the boys have in our unit, "Wear cotton and you die.") Being outside all the time is much more challenging than just going outside for a couple of hours, getting a little chilled and coming inside to warm up in a lodge or warming hut and then going back out again, which is what most of the boys are used to.


Dress for the outdoors. That means good winter boots, no running shoes or sneakers. That may seem obvious but for 10 - 13 year olds don't bet on it, especially if they've never winter camped before. It means a good winter hat that covers the ears,(for some scouts this is a new experience, but not looking as "cool" as one can beats frostbite). Wear good winter gloves or mittens. Have several pair, as sure as heck I can guarantee at least one scout will lose a pair of gloves, or at least one glove, gets them wet, drop them in the fire, etc. Same goes for socks.


It seems every year we have to send a scout home to redress for our winter outing. Some really have never spent that much time outdoors in the winter and are truely unprepared even after a long precampout instructional session on winter camping. I don't mind them getting a little cold, but I like to bring them home with all their fingers, toes and ears in working order.


Jackets and pants should be waterproof or resistant. If there is snow on the ground you can be sure scouts will play in the snow. Once they get wet, with no place to warm up other than a fire, they are nearly certain to get cold.


Winter camping can be a great time. It is a real challenge and with proper planning and preparedness is really fun. I've noted before, there is nothing like looking at a winter night sky when it's so cold the air itself seems frozen. There is real satisfaction in taking on an outdoor challenge. But don't kid yourself. Nearly anyone can survive a spring, summer or early fall weekend even if they forget their sleeping bag, set of clothes, food etc. On a winter campout forgeting a crucial item can mean a real hazard.


Your tents should be fine, just be sure the boys have good warm sleeping bags. As noted a 15 degree bag with a liner will be fine in most cases, unless by Midwest you mean upper MI, :).


While frostbite is one extreme, read up and be on the lookout for hypothermia. Be prepared to provide cold weather first aid. If this is your first true winter outing go somewhere, where you can set up a warming hut or have access to your vehicles in case some one really does get cold.


Best of luck.



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One thing we stress is DO NOT wear your day clothes at night...including underwear. STRIP naked and put on all clean clothes. Your day clothes trap moisture and will freeze you at night. Also, roll up your clothes for the next day and put them in the bottom of the sleeping bag. THey will be nice and warm when you put them on in the morning.

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other than what was already posted...


I always pack hand/foot warmers as a "just in case" but the only time I need them is at night when I stick a pair in my boots and then stick my gloves in (opening into boot) to keep them a bit warmer for when I put them on come morning.


our troop does a "gear check" before we leave - is boy does not have change of clothes, boots, hat, coat, gloves then he does not go.


use the buddy system in that each boy has a buddy and keeps an eye on them through out day/night... make sure they don't exert themselves too much and get sweaty and make sure aren't showing signs of hypothermia or frostbite



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I always remind the boys to never breathe into their sleeping bag. It is so tempting to fill that space with warm breath, but many don't realize how much moisture comes out of our breath in a night, resulting in a damp, clammy bag.

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Our Council puts on the Valley Forge encampement every Feb here in PA.


Every January the have training for three to four Scouts for a day and those boys go back and train others. Have you checked out your local council and seen if they have any training.

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A few more tidbits...


Cotten is rotten.


Don't wear too much clothing in your sleeping or it won't warm up enough to let the insulation do its job.


Cotten is rotten


Hats/hats/hats. I've got a Mad Bomber from Cabelas.. warmest thing I've ever worn and the boys call me 'Sven'. ;-)


Cotton is rotten.


Boots in the tent at night, don't want them to fill with snow.


Boys love water. Yes, even in winter, keep 'em out of the creek.


Did I mention cotton is rotten?


Kathy is right on about the buddy system. We had a kid several years ago who didn't change before bed and was starting to show sighs of hypothermia. HIs buddy woke up the adults and we got him into the car to warm him up.


We've had a lot of fun doing it. First year I was with the troop we camped in a state park where a group had built 4 igloos. The scouts went nuts.. had a blast...


Its a good time. Be prepared!



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