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» Winter Camping – Clothing and Prep

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Winter camping has always been among my favorite things to do, but as with any other activity in the snow or ice, or even just cold weather, some special adjustments need to be made to make sure that everyone has fun and is safe.

Particularly if there is snow in the forecast, remember that your travel times are going to be longer, and the daytime is going to be shorter, while certain aspects of the daytime are going to take longer so plan accordingly. Adjust your travel times so that you arrive at your destination with enough time to lay a fire and set up the tents before dark. Its not much fun to try to build a fire, and set up camp when its several hours past time to be inside the tents.

You can build a three sided shelter, and use it quite well in the wintertime by using lightweight tarps to prevent wind intrusion, which are a great deal lighter to carry than the average winter tent. They aren’t ideal of course but will fill the bill til you get some daylight if necessary.

When you travel anywhere in wintertime that is going to involve any kind of walking, or outside activities, the smart person is going to dress in layers, so that you can use your clothing to adjust your comfort and moisture level. Make sure that you have at least three layers, one against your skin, one which insulates, such as polar tech, and another outer one that will repel wind and water, and ideally wick it away from the body.

Cotton is not idea material in wintertime for two reasons. It is not an good insulator, becomes wet very easily and takes an excessive amount of time to dry. Wool is a much better choice, and barring that, synthetics are far better choices.

Wet feet are NO FUN!! Make sure that your boots or hikers have a waterproof outer layer. Fabric boots are not a good choice, and leather will absorb water and take a long time to dry well. The outer layer in a fabric boot, even one with a good lining, is going to wet and freeze.

Don’t forget a hat. Much of the heat that is lost from your body will be lost from extremities such as head, feet and hands.. and most of that will be lost through the head.. protect it by wearing a wool ski cap, a balaclava,ski mask or a double fleece hat.
Don’t leave your neck open to the wind and absolutely bring gloves and try to make sure that you have a second pair to have in reserve as well as several pairs of extra socks. Wet hands and feet will lead to frostbite, particularly in very cold conditions..

A good tip to remember when you are camping in cold areas or in winter time is to warm up your clothing , socks and so on by pulling them into your sleeping bag with you to warm them prior to getting up from your sleeping bag. You can do the same thing with your boots, by taking the insoles, or the soft inner liner out and warming it as well before you put on your boots.

Before you begin to walk take away part of your insulating layer of clothing so that overheating and sweating isn’t an issue. Standing doesn’t make the heat that hiking will and you will create moisture in your clothing as you walk that you don’t want.

Keep your hiking bag or backpack well organized. Know where all the extra things are and how to get to them easily. This will prevent having to stop and grapple around with your backpack in the event you do need to change out of some wet clothing.

Take along one or two of the hand warmers or chemical heat packs that can be used to warm your extremities in case of need. These little things have been a lifesaver on more than one occasion.


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