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Cold weather clothing/base layer/gear necessities

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2 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

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

Yes, propane camping gas, which is mostly butane. 

Agreed ... but typically at Klondike our time (and number of fire areas) are typically limited.  Traditionally we haven't been able to have fires outside of 1 fire pit (with 3-4 patrols total).

We do have adults handle the white gas stoves.


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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

On 1/31/2022 at 5:36 PM, InquisitiveScouter said:

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...

On 1/31/2022 at 7:24 PM, yknot said:

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 

On 1/31/2022 at 6:13 PM, MattR said:

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. ;)

Thanks! I've always opened it up like that when I'm too hot or sharing on an air mattress, but I've sometimes been too cold that way. It's hard to tell if that was from another person pulling the covers off or my own moving around. I think it will be different on a cot! And the extra laying over the side will probably function quite well at trapping in heat.

I think based on my own experience, the two-bag method is what I'll try first. I don't move much when cold and on the cot. Insulating the bottom is probably my biggest opportunity for improvement. I'll take a moving blanket for that. I'm feeling much more prepared to go with the flow.

On 2/1/2022 at 6:47 AM, DuctTape said:

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.


On 2/1/2022 at 12:46 PM, RememberSchiff said:

We have put tightly sealed Nalgene bottles filled with hot water in our sleeping bags...YMMV,

This brings up a great topic! On my last chilly (cold to me) campout, I put my jacket over the summer-weight sleeping bag, over my feet. Now I know how to warm up my feet from the posts here but I'm wondering if the jacket would generally be more useful on top of the sleeping bag, as a layer inside it, or worn.


On 2/1/2022 at 12:38 AM, 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. 

On 2/1/2022 at 1:41 AM, yknot said:

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

On 2/1/2022 at 12:31 PM, yknot said:

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.  

Ingenious! This is the kind of thing you only learn from people who've lived it. Thank you!!


On 2/1/2022 at 8:42 AM, Eagle1993 said:

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.


I will take all of these to heart. Thank you!!


23 hours 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.


22 hours ago, DuctTape said:

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. 

22 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

Yes, propane camping gas, which is mostly butane. 

Agreed ... but typically at Klondike our time (and number of fire areas) are typically limited.  Traditionally we haven't been able to have fires outside of 1 fire pit (with 3-4 patrols total).

We do have adults handle the white gas stoves.


This is extremely helpful! Thank you!!

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