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newscouter3

Camping when cold

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I, too, have enjoyed reading this thread. As a Southern boy who has now adopted the Upper Midwest as his home, I have had to learn a lot--quickly--about how to make it in the bitter cold winters. About two years ago I suggested that our Patrols consider a winter camping trip and they thought about it at first. I made the reservations for our local Council camp but when it came time to go they insisted we stay in a cabin.

 

Since then I've made a point to sleep in my tent outside even when it gets down to the 20s. And you know what? It worked. Since then some of the adults have chosen to sleep in cabins but more and more of the Scouts ventured out in tents and enjoyed it. It's all about preparation and knowing what has worked for others. Threads like this one are really good and helpful!

 

My early memories of cold-weather camping are of North Georgia where it can get pretty cold in the winter. But it's all relative to your location and what you're used to. Those Scouts and Scouters in Florida don't know the same cold I do up here, but it's still cold to them and a lot of these tips can be useful.

 

Just an aside, I was super upset earlier this year when Northern folks were making fun of drivers in Atlanta and other Southern states for not knowing how to drive in the snow and ice. When you ain't used to it you don't know how to do it! So thanks to everyone here for the great advice and being Scout-like in response to Newscouter's OP.

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Thank you everyone for all your comments. Quite interested information. Seems like everyone had lots of useful information to share with one another. I was shocked to come back on and see so many comments on here. :)

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Respectfully' date=' look at any gear list for those who do extreme mountaineering. Recommended lists for Everest expeditions for example. As far as those who do less than these extreme, even most experienced amatuers will choose down over synthetics. Instructors for the AMC and ADK Winter Mountaineering School also recommend down sleeping bags. Lastly, research dri-down.[/quote']

 

 

Oh I looked. Down is suggested . So is wool. Experts in the UK think waxed cotton is the only thing for the rain. There are many opinions.

 

Down still absorbs any water that contacts it and thereby loses insulative value. Even those who sell down garments and bags tell you it is difficult to correct that problem when out. If it is so cold that snow is like sand, like it was where I lived in Alberta, that's one thing. Ohio is something else. The Northwest, including lower Alaska is even more hostile to down.

 

Polyester surely has less trapped air when dry than does dry down, although the margin is not what is was twenty years ago. But polyester does not collapse when damp and dries relatively rapidly, often from only the body heat of the user, as I have experienced after an unplanned dip Try crawling into a damp down bag and see how it goes.

 

AMC? There are two. This AMC? http://www.outdoors.org/publications...inter-gear.cfm I presume so since you mentioned ADK. "Pile" "Fleece"

 

Speaking of ADK, note that they are suggesting a down bag with a vapor barrier to keep the down dry, a method that I mentioned. If you like that feel, so be it. Most find it uncomfortable to get out of a bag wet in the morning, even if you were wam up to that point. A vapor barrier should prevent sweat from wetting the down. Yes, the advocates of vapor barriers say you can adjust things to minimize moisture, but Murphy seems not to love adults, much less kids. Reference: plastic bag sock sandwiches to keep feet warm in the absence of waterproof winter boots. AKA warm wet feet.

 

I have researched treated down ("hydrophobic down [it's not. Just much more water repellant.]"). Those who sell it praise it as the Second Coming. Others not so much. And the cost? Maintenance if it gets dirty (Not that kids would get it dirty.) ?

 

As always, people will make up their own minds. I have. My lovely down bag that served me to well in the Southwest for ten years hangs lonely and empty since 1981 when an Ohio January made her statement. Still good in the living room when the grandkids come over.

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I'll take my Marmot Helium 15 degree down bag over synthetic any day. It weighs just over 2 pounds and compresses smaller than a Nerf football. I've never had a problem with condensation inside (that's what zippers are for) or outside (well ventilated tent equals no condensation inside). Even if there is moisture, it has a DWR coating so the moisture wouldn't effect the down. My 12 year old son has a 20 degree synthetic North Face Cats Meow bag. It weighs about a half pound more (not bad for a synthetic), was around $100 less expensive, but only compresses to around 14 x 7 inches.

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I'll take my Marmot Helium 15 degree down bag over synthetic any day. It weighs just over 2 pounds and compresses smaller than a Nerf football. I've never had a problem with condensation inside (that's what zippers are for) or outside (well ventilated tent equals no condensation inside). Even if there is moisture' date=' it has a DWR coating so the moisture wouldn't effect the down. My 12 year old son has a 20 degree synthetic North Face Cats Meow bag. It weighs about a half pound more (not bad for a synthetic), was around $100 less expensive, but only compresses to around 14 x 7 inches.[/quote']

 

I'd love to camp in your area in the winter. Here a 15o or 20o bag would be a joke regardless of compressed size. Let's just say that for winter survival training the bags that the boys borrow are -30o synthetic bags. I don't use anything other than a 0o synthetic bag except for summer camp where I just use blankets.

 

Stosh

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what I always tell scouts and their parent/guardian is yes we winter camp. Buy a 20 degree bag so it can be used all year and is easy for backpacking trips. But in the winter we don't backpack in so pack a few extra blankets.

 

Heaters aren't allowed in troop tents! And boys aren't allowed to bring their own tents - just adults can. I have 3 tents and which I bring depends on the weather, number sharing tent, length of stay, and if packing in.

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At BALOO several years ago a scooter told me he would put stones in the fire then bury them in a hole under the tent with an inch or two of soil over the rocks. Says it kept him warm. Anyone hear of that or tried it?

 

Back in my Youth when we used Canvas Baker Tents..In the Winter I would dig a Hole about 5 foot Long..2 Foot wide by a Foot deep...Build a Nice Fire..get plenty of Coals and then Bury the Coals....Kept my Tent the Warmest in Camp.. Then we discovered Wood Burning Stoves...On a side Note..Wrapped Breakfast ready while you slept..A Hot meal without waiting..

 

Problem with heating stones...not every stone is good for it..try heating Sand Stone and see what happens to it :)

 

 

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Fun thread!

As a certified member of the "old goat" patrol, I do indeed remember the old hot rock trick,as well as a number of others. It is worth noting that digging a hole is needed only when the rocks are so hot they are a fire/ melting hazard. Just heat a number of football sized rocks (start early- rotate often) until you can just hold them, wrap 'em up in a towel, and place them about the tent. They stay warm for hours.

In the old days winter camping often meant using the big heavy Baker tents. With the front flap up and a small fire ( with reflector) going in front we were toasty warm all night

Old scout

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As a former scout who did a good bit of winter camping in AK as a youth, I see much good advice in the preceding posts.

 

The tent itself won't make much of a difference, as far as temps are concerned. In AK, our troop had the McKinley style tents. Darn fine tent. But once it got cold, it was just flat cold. The main benefits of the tent (any tent): keeping the wind and snow away from you while you are inside.

 

Focus on moisture control, sleeping apparel, sleeping bag, and where you keep your water and the clothes you want to wear the next day.

 

Our troop was fortunate enough to have a bunch of old GI chicken-feather mummy bags. Each scout was issued two bags. Put one bag inside the other. Boots go underneath the bag, under the knees, between bag and tent floor. Next day's clothing, and canteen, zipped up safely between outer/inner bags. Zip both bags up, align the face holes, and settle in. As crude as this system sounds, it worked like a charm, even in below zero temps.

 

The old mummy bags had seen better days, but this system worked well. Though they have long since disappeared from surplus stores, I'm sure there is a modern equivalent/workaround.

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