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For the last decade I've been on the parent side of scouting. My job required too much of my weekend time for me to do much in the way of camping and my son really enjoyed having a place away from parents, something I honored unless there was a need for extra adults (which seemed to only hit in warmer months). But things change and this year I was finally able to volunteer and leave the "just a parent" role behind. As such, I'm going to be camping through the winter season for a change and I need to gear up. 

My son ages out this year, so some of his gear is going to be loaned to me until I can get my own. However some of his gear reached end of life or is fine for him, but not for my older body. 

Looking at the forum, most posts about gear I'm interested in are at least 3 yrs old or a lot older for gear I'm interested in. Time changes what's available, so I figured it would be good to ask for recommendations on what's out there these days. I'm from Oklahoma (and I share the council with a few other members here), so our winters vary in severity. Summer is your typical overly hot situation, but I can gear up for that next spring. 

So what's a good recommendation for tents/brands or ones to stay away from? I'm interested in 2p or 3p models 4 or 3 season. I can always tarp up a 3 season one to make it work for now. 

What sort of sleep system do you recommend? I definitely need to upgrade the pad. I'm not afraid to devise a good homemade one, like using reflecting blankets in combinations with something else. 

And lastly, I need to gear up with the base/mid layers. 

I've reviewed some sites that have their personal recommendations, but having more info from this forum is good too.

Oh, I should note that I'm planning on attending Trappers Rendezvous in Kansas in January. Which either means highs in the 70's lows in the 50's or "why is the coffee a block of ice?"

Thanks!

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Things haven't changed that much. A tarp, some rope, and maybe mosquito netting, and you'll be fine. :)

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It depends on the temps. "coffee is a block of ice" only means it got below freezing. How cold is cold? We can easily get below 0 and the lowest I've seen is -20. Others have seen colder. That said:

I have a Coleman 4 season tent I got half off. It does a good job in the wind and shedding snow.

I put a lot of effort into insulation on the bottom of the tent. A wool blanket on the bottom of the tent and padding with plenty of insulation. I currently use one or two thick closed cell foam pads with an insulated thermarest on top. I used to have a big agnes 3" insulated pad, which was great, but it sprung a leak and there's nothing worse than that. It was very cold that night.

I have a Holubar down bag from way back when. It's wonderfully warm. There was a time when I used synthetic bags and the problem is I'd get tight spots when I slept on my side that let in a lot of cold. One solution to that is a second bag that's used as a blanket. If it's really cold I'll put an insulated nalgene with boiling water in it down around my thighs. Always put on dry long johns before going to bed (that means you need 3 sets). Don't wear anything more than long johns and socks in the bag. Put extra insulation on the outside of the bag as you need to warm the entire bag up.

Clothing is the usual 3 layers (wicking, insulation, shell). Pay special attention to wrists, neck, and ankles (neck gator, long mittens, gators). I added a better foot bed to my snow boots and it makes a lot of difference. Obviously a hat. No cotton.

Food is important, too. A mix of quick energy simple carbs as well as long energy fats and protein. I eat all the time but I do have 4 big meals (breakfast, lunch, and dinner at 4 and 9). This is one campout I frown on pancakes for the scouts. Too long and hard to cook and not much long term energy.

Don't sweat it. Literally, do not sweat. Stay comfortably cool.

Last item: positive attitude.

So, the gear hasn't changed much.

BTW, for you old guys, rather than take 20 minutes to put all this clothing on at night when I have to pee I bring an extra bottle. I know it was cold when that freezes by morning.

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Wool socks. 100% wool socks.  Some folks are mildly allergic to wool (sad),  but I wear wool rag year round,,,,  padding , no blisters, warm in winter (add a liner?), cool (believe it or not) in the summer. Not much more expensive than the blends (thorlo?) and all natural product.  Get the right size, not too tight.   Change socks for sleeping, dry wool socks keep tootsies warm. Wear night socks the next morning,  Hang yesterday socks up to dry the next morning. Wear the old day socks (now dry) for the next night.   

On long hikes, bring three pair.  One rinse out, hang on back of pack to dry thru the day, use for night.  One pair in reserve in the pack, in plastic baggie. One pair on feet, hiking.  

And ,of course, properly fitted boots.  Snug across the instep, looser in the toes, wiggle room. Your feet expand when you hike seriously, they need a little room to "spread".  snug into the heel cup, but not so tight it is uncomfortable.  Seek out the Gortex clones, all but 100% waterproof in small puddles, but breath for your sweaty feet.  True story:   Bought a LLBean pair, and their "Gortex Type" liner was installed BACKWARDS.  They soaked up rain water and dew, my feet sweat so much , it was like walking in a lake shore.  Returned for refund.  Bought  Vasque pair, (as my last three pairs) and exact opposite: Dry feet, puddles no leak into boot.  Happy hiker.   

See you on the trail...

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

Clothing is the usual 3 layers (wicking, insulation, shell). Pay special attention to wrists, neck, and ankles (neck gator, long mittens, gators). I added a better foot bed to my snow boots and it makes a lot of difference. Obviously a hat. No cotton.

 

Everything is 3 layers.  Your lent is your shell, it needs to keep out the wind and water, you're never going to warm the inside of the tent up, but you need a good bag that's rated to about 10 degrees colder than you expect it to be.  The ratings on bags describe what will prevent hypothermia, comfort depends on more insulation than that.  

For boots I recommend pac boots with removable liners, if you can carry the weight two sets of liners are good, but either way put the liners in your bag with you at night and you're closer towards warm feet in the morning.  

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I use my two-man summer tent (REI Half-dome) in the winter.  I normally throw a cotton sheet between the tent and the fly as a frost freezer plus the normal ground cloth under.  On the floor of the tent I have a couple of wool blankets, an old saddle-like blanket, and my thermarest.  If it's been really cold I throw my old coleman sleeping bag down for additional insulation and padding.  I've seen people use insulating board like you'd put in a house but it always seemed uncomfortable to me and noisy.  I second all the recommendations about 3-layers of clothing.  I prefer the poly base layers (gloves, socks, and skivvies) and synthetic-fleece insulating layers.  MIttens instead of gloves on the outside.  Unless it's wicked cold I change into clean and dry clothes for bed.

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22 hours ago, walk in the woods said:

Unless it's wicked cold I change into clean and dry clothes for bed.

Especially if it's wicked cold I'll change to clean and dry clothes for bed. Sure, it sucks for a minute while you change but it's much warmer than sleeping in damp clothes.

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

Especially if it's wicked cold I'll change to clean and dry clothes for bed. Sure, it sucks for a minute while you change but it's much warmer than sleeping in damp clothes.

agreed.

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Should I mention how much I enjoy 'winter camping' here in Florida?  Coldest I have run into here with Scouts was a 27 degree night on an OA weekend.

(did see plenty of cold in Colorado, however)

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Posted (edited)

Is this your trip to a cold place? If most of your time is spend city than a good pair of shoes made from leather and a good pair of socks (some % of wool) will be good enough. A good example is Timberland boots. You may also look at hiking boots that is well insulated example Columbia omni heat shoes. Both you can wear for long hours outdoor or in city. Another good look is Keen brand shoes with logo stating how cold it can take. I have both the Keen shoes and Timeberland boots, and used them extensively in winter. Even did 4hrs snow hiking in my timberland. As for Columbia i am using their omni heat gloves and its proven

Edited by JohnyWalter

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Mostly camping in Oklahoma. With one trip a year expected to Kansas. The weather varies after October. Either you've got sunny skies and 70 degree weather or you go down the temperature range to highs in the 20's generally. Typically you don't see Okie kids camping below 20 for highs. We deal with heat, not the cold! Most of the scouts aren't well outfitted for below freezing weather, so there's a limit that various troops choose on when to go camping or not. 

But yah, my situation is that I need to gear up for winter camping and wanted to know what sorts of things people would recommend to look into (brands or items). I'm planning on getting the standard winter gear stuff, but if someone had something that they thought was the best thing ever, I'd like to know. I might not be able to afford it this year, but I'll be planning on getting it eventually. 

So thanks to everyone who has responded! 

 

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1 hour ago, Buggie said:

Mostly camping in Oklahoma. With one trip a year expected to Kansas. The weather varies after October. Either you've got sunny skies and 70 degree weather or you go down the temperature range to highs in the 20's generally. Typically you don't see Okie kids camping below 20 for highs. We deal with heat, not the cold! Most of the scouts aren't well outfitted for below freezing weather, so there's a limit that various troops choose on when to go camping or not. 

But yah, my situation is that I need to gear up for winter camping and wanted to know what sorts of things people would recommend to look into (brands or items). I'm planning on getting the standard winter gear stuff, but if someone had something that they thought was the best thing ever, I'd like to know. I might not be able to afford it this year, but I'll be planning on getting it eventually. 

So thanks to everyone who has responded! 

 

Buggie,

I live in Tulsa, so I am very familiar with the weather conditions you mentioned.  And, I LOVE Trappers Rendezvous.  I have been there when it was 40 degrees, and when it was 4 degrees.  With little in the way of a planned program, it is amazing how many people come.

I camp in a camping hammock year round.  This is on troop camp outs and private trips.  I found 10 years ago that I could not sleep on the ground anymore, and alternatives like air mattress and cot seemed either too heavy or too prone to failure.  I would seriously consider using a hammock when you go camping.  When used properly, it is comfortable, easy to set up, environmentally friendly, light weight, and perhaps a bit provocative.  I cannot tell you how may people came up to me at camporee and said "you sleep in that?"   

As far as brand names for gear,  I see a lot of Ospree packs,  MSR and Kelty tents and tarps,  Merrell boots, and of course, Coleman is always in someone's truck.  For me, you just have to see what you can get a deal on, and decide if you care about light weight,  Ultra-light, or just good enough for car camping.  

Good luck, and have some fun out there.

 

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Yah, I have a CPAP so I tend not to sleep in hammocks outside of a nap. The hose and apparatus don't work so well with it. 

The fun thing is that my hammock broke at summer camp this year. I just got comfortable and suddenly I was on the ground.  The rope coming out of the hammock and through the carabiner connecting to the straps on the tree went *pop*!  I joke that the two other adults in camp woke up long enough to ask if I was okay. 

Actually I was pretty lucky. I had a camp pillow that cushioned my head in the fall. Also I always try to clear the ground beneath me. Lastly, because I was relaxed and hit the ground square, the contact was spread out and easy to deal with.  

Needless to say (but I'll say anyway) I did not get my nap. 

p.s. Hooray for Trappers! 

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10 hours ago, Buggie said:

Yah, I have a CPAP so I tend not to sleep in hammocks outside of a nap. The hose and apparatus don't work so well with it. 

The fun thing is that my hammock broke at summer camp this year. I just got comfortable and suddenly I was on the ground.  The rope coming out of the hammock and through the carabiner connecting to the straps on the tree went *pop*!  I joke that the two other adults in camp woke up long enough to ask if I was okay. 

Actually I was pretty lucky. I had a camp pillow that cushioned my head in the fall. Also I always try to clear the ground beneath me. Lastly, because I was relaxed and hit the ground square, the contact was spread out and easy to deal with.  

Needless to say (but I'll say anyway) I did not get my nap. 

p.s. Hooray for Trappers! 

I have to use a CPAP too.  I have a net suspended above my hammock with the CPAP and a battery with a 2 day charge.  The hose reaches down from this net and into my hammock.  I camped for years without it, due to lack of power, and sprang for the battery this March with some yearly bonus money.  I had this setup at summer camp this year and slept very well.  I never realized what a difference it makes.

Sorry to hear about the gear failure.  It happens to all of us.  I went camping with a different troop a few years ago, and decided to use an extrawide Tablecloth hammock.  I tied the ends into a gathered end and attached the suspension rope.  I was in it for a minute when I heard a TWANGGGGG, and then landed on the ground.  Fortunately I had my ground pad in the hammock for insulation, and it cushioned my fall.  I was embarrassed when all the men came running to see what had happened.  After that I started using whoope slings to attach the hammock to the suspension straps, and all is good.

Where in OK do you live?  I am originally from Louisiana, but have been here for 30 years.  I had my sons in scouting, and probably had more fun doing it than they did.  They are all grown and gone, and I am still making it to scout camp outs every month.

 

 

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