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I have a $5 moving blanket from Harbor Freight I put in the floor of the tent.  Better than the floor to walk on.  Catches anything that does make it inside and I can shake it out.  And its at least something between me and the cold ground

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Upstate NY here. We camp in subzero regularly. Here are some layering tips. Baselayer: wool or synthetic, don't overdue this. The purpose is to wuck moisture from the body not be your insulation.

I'll add to @DuctTape. More thin insulation layers are better than one thick one. The point is to stay dry and just warm enough. You don't want to sweat, otherwise you'll get wet. While synthetic

@DuctTape for National Commissioner! Spot on... To help you, your Scout Handbook has a pretty good checklist in the Hiking Section (Brown colored textblock fore edge... did you know your Sco

59 minutes ago, MattR said:

Good question! Sleeping bags are worthless where you smash them down. That and the fact that the ground is cold means you'll freeze if you don't have insulation directly under you. So, if you're on an uninsulated blowup mattress you will have very miserable night. Same goes for a cot. You need insulation underneath.

Not sure you'll need it but I put an army surplus wool blanket on the floor of my tent.

Also, I wear a hat to bed. If it gets real cold I make sure my neck is covered as well but that's just me. The sleeping bags that tie up close around my face don't quite work. I move around too much.

I sleep pretty splayed out, and I roll and move a lot.  If I zip up my sleeping bag, it is miserable.  I put down two insulated pads, and then lay a fleece blanket over the top of those.  The sleeping bag lays opened up, on top.  The more loft you can keep in your bag, the warmer it will be.  Rolling over in a sleeping bag flattens out the loft.  Stretching out in a sleeping bag also stretches your sleeping bag and kills the loft.  Basically, an open sleeping bag is like a big comforter.

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1 hour ago, MattR said:

Good question! Sleeping bags are worthless where you smash them down. That and the fact that the ground is cold means you'll freeze if you don't have insulation directly under you. So, if you're on an uninsulated blowup mattress you will have very miserable night. Same goes for a cot. You need insulation underneath.

Not sure you'll need it but I put an army surplus wool blanket on the floor of my tent.

Also, I wear a hat to bed. If it gets real cold I make sure my neck is covered as well but that's just me. The sleeping bags that tie up close around my face don't quite work. I move around too much.

The insulation going under the hammock and not between the hammock and person is making perfect sense now. Never considered it but I'm following!

1 hour ago, 5thGenTexan said:

I have a $5 moving blanket from Harbor Freight I put in the floor of the tent.  Better than the floor to walk on.  Catches anything that does make it inside and I can shake it out.  And its at least something between me and the cold ground

Perfect!! I have a little fold-up picnic-style floor mat but can't imagine it gives much insulation. I can afford a $5 second layer. Would it matter which order they're put down in? I'd think moving blanket closest to the ground, thin plastic one above it.

3 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

I sleep pretty splayed out, and I roll and move a lot.  If I zip up my sleeping bag, it is miserable.  I put down two insulated pads, and then lay a fleece blanket over the top of those.  The sleeping bag lays opened up, on top.  The more loft you can keep in your bag, the warmer it will be.  Rolling over in a sleeping bag flattens out the loft.  Stretching out in a sleeping bag also stretches your sleeping bag and kills the loft.  Basically, an open sleeping bag is like a big comforter.

I'm totally following. What about keeping your body heat trapped inside the bag?

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1 hour ago, GiraffeCamp said:

I'm totally following. What about keeping your body heat trapped inside the bag?

I think this works even better to trap heat.  With the bag unzipped and laid on top, it is twice as wide.  Heat wants to go up, so as long as you don't stick your extremeties out from under, it works well...for me at least.  That is sleeping on the ground and not on a cot, though. Give it a try and let us know...

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If you have extra sleeping bags you can layer those as well. One problem with a zipped up bag when I sleep on my side is I get compression at my shoulder, so it gets cold. I have a second bag that I unzip and use as a blanket over the first. I have a zero degree inner bag that's really only good down to about 10 for me, and then either my summer bag (good to 30) or a 10 degree bag. I did fine at -20 with that and everything else mentioned.

BTW, what to wear inside the bag is another topic. If you wear too much then the bag doesn't evenly heat, and you can get cold feet. So I just wear long undies and socks. I've seen scouts wear their snow pants in their sleeping bags and they both sweat and get cold feet.

Another thing is what to do with water jugs to keep them from freezing. We bury our water jugs in snow, all together. Snow is a great insulator and very little ice forms in the jugs.

One last point is that all sorts of miserable weather during the day can be made up for by a cozy night. Part of being comfortable is attitude and feeling the heat can make up for wind and snow dumping on the outside of your tent. A 12 yo scout gets a lot of street cred after doing all this and then telling their non scout friends. That's what really warms me up. ;)

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I am also a thrasher but if I unzip my bag I get cold. I bought a cheap two person bag and stuck my unzipped low temp bag in it. Since I am a thrasher I do not trust water bottles but have used warmed rocks twisted up in a towel. They also last longer. 

Also, one of my jobs as a kid was barn nightwatchman. I spent a lot of time on hay and straw. It's itchy and dusty plus there are often a lot of dead things in it. I wouldn't use it for insulation unless you have a tarp over it 

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5 hours ago, yknot said:

used warmed rocks

Yeah, but with rocks, you don't really know the temperature, unless you warmed them in boiling water.  If warmed in a fire, they could more easily cause burns because their temps could exceed 212F. 

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55 minutes ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Yeah, but with rocks, you don't really know the temperature, unless you warmed them in boiling water.  If warmed in a fire, they could more easily cause burns because their temps could exceed 212F. 

You don't warm them in the fire you put them on the edge. Pizza stones work great too. 

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4 hours ago, yknot said:

You don't warm them in the fire you put them on the edge. Pizza stones work great too. 

Yeah, but with rocks, you don't really know the temperature, unless you warmed them in boiling water.  If warmed by a fire, they could more easily cause burns because their temps could exceed 212F. 

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Sleeping tip, put on a fresh pair of loose fitting wool socks. Even if they "feel dry" there will still be some moisture from the day. Loose fitting (not floppy) so as to not restrict blood flow. A fresh base layer for sleeping is also advised for the same moisture reason. Put clothes for next day (might be what was just taken off) in sleeping bag with you. They will be warm&dry for the next day. In ultra cold, my boots also (in a bag first) go in my sleeping bag.

 

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Already a lot of great tips.  A few more.

1) Go to the bathroom before going to bed.  If you end up waking up as you have to go to the bathroom, just head out and deal with it.  Yes, you will get cold for a short time, but your body will use energy holding it in otherwise.

2) This was mentioned and is really key.  We tell our scouts to completely change their clothes before going to bed.   They may be moist with sweat otherwise, so changing into dry clothes is key.

3) Pack clothing in large zip lock bags ... to keep them dry.

4) Open up boots/laces as they may freeze overnight.  Once you put your foot in and lace them back up, they will warm up.  Also, protect them from snow (don't keep them outside).

Finally, we tell scouts to not worry about light packing.  We don't do backpack camping in 0 degree weather.  (Some Troops may, but we stick to car camping).  So, pack heavy, bring a lot of socks, gloves and hats.  Bring good boots (not tennis shoes).  Don't wear jeans.  

Klondike is our Troop's favorite activity ... it is great if you are prepared.

 

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5 hours ago, InquisitiveScouter said:

Yeah, but with rocks, you don't really know the temperature, unless you warmed them in boiling water.  If warmed by a fire, they could more easily cause burns because their temps could exceed 212F. 

You can do that. I've never had a problem with them getting so hot they burned through layers though. You don't put them in the fire but near it.  You can stick them in an oversized oven mitt for more padding. Before central heating, this was common.  

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One other point that I didn't see mentioned.  Propane performance degrades a lot as temps drop below 20F.  We typically use white gas stoves for Klondike.  However, we found a trick where you heat a pot of water on a white gas stove (not boiling, just warm).  Then, place your propane tank(s) in that pot to use the other stoves.  It works, but we found just using white gas easier (and probably a bit safer) than putting tanks of propane in warm water.

 

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1 hour ago, Eagle1993 said:

One other point that I didn't see mentioned.  Propane performance degrades a lot as temps drop below 20F.  We typically use white gas stoves for Klondike.  However, we found a trick where you heat a pot of water on a white gas stove (not boiling, just warm).  Then, place your propane tank(s) in that pot to use the other stoves.  It works, but we found just using white gas easier (and probably a bit safer) than putting tanks of propane in warm water.

 

Propane? Or the smaller IsoButane/propane canisters?

Butane is the worst as it gets cold due to its vaporization temp is 33 deg F. IsoButane is often used b/c vaporization temp is 11 deg F. Vaporization temp of propane is -44 deg F which is why it is often mixed with Iso for the "winter mixes" problem is the propane will be used first if the temp is below and all that is left in a 3/4 canister is the Iso. The reason propane is not used entirely in the small canisters is the pressure required. Additionally as the fuel is used the pressure drops which cools the fuel even more making it even more difficult to vaporize. 

White gas does not have these issues, however it has others.

The greatest issue with all chemical fuels is they require significant supervision by an adult (GTSS) which can interfere with the independence of a patrol.

 Thus, I recommend using wood fire whenever possible and legal. 

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