Making Winter Camping more comfortable

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ThankYouJack
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Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by ThankYouJack » Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:30 pm

I'm planning to do more camping this winter. I have some gear (tent, winter sleeping bag, lights, small stove) but wondering ways to make it more comfortable due to the cold temperatures and boredom from it getting dark early. I've thought about getting a basic barebones camper but not sure I want to go that route and spend that much. I could also sleep in my SUV with the back seats down, occasionally turning on the heat if needed to warm up.

Anyway, curious to hear from the experienced cold weather campers. Any tips?

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Watty
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Watty » Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:39 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:30 pm
Anyway, curious to hear from the experienced cold weather campers. Any tips?
How cold are you talking about?

It has been a while since I have camped in the winter but as I recall down in the 20's really was not that bad if you were dressed for it and getting too hot when you were active was more of a problem than being too cold.

I would really prefer that it was 25 and snowing and everything was dry instead of 40 degrees and everything was wet with even a light mist.

Even in my younger days camping when it would be below the 20's was not something I did.
ThankYouJack wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:30 pm
...and boredom from it getting dark early.
If possible try to schedule your trip for when there will be a full moon early in the evening. Moonlight on snow can be magical.

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Watty
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Watty » Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:52 pm

Some more thoughts;

1) Propane canisters do not work well in cold weather so research that and consider a different type of fuel for your stove.

2) Batteries also do not work well in cold weather. You may want to keep spare batteries inside your coat to keep them warm.

3) If you are car camping then you can keep things like water bottles in an ice chest to help prevent them from freezing in mildly cold weather.

4) Many roads are closed or not maintained in winter. Be cautious about going into backcountry since there may be little chance of getting help if you have a problem. Let someone know where you will be at so they can alert someone if you are missing.

Mike Scott
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Mike Scott » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:01 pm

Back in the old days when we were younger and tougher, we camped winter or summer on a ground cloth with a tarp overhead. A gas lantern for light and gas stove for hot food and drinks. These days I think a hotel is more comfortable than camping. :) It may be overkill, but look at a "wall tent" with a stove with an air mattress to stay off the ground. If you are camping by yourself, there are some cute little camper trailers not much bigger than a coffin on wheels. I always dither between minimalism and taking everything but the kitchen sink for comfort.

afan
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by afan » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:03 pm

If you are sleeping on the ground, then a good pad under the sleeping bag makes a big difference. Closed cell foam is best for insulation. If it is cold enough, perhaps two pads.
A good warm sleeping bag.
Wicking clothing next to your skin. Change into fresh clothing before you go to bed. The clothes you wear during the day will pick up moisture and lose some insulating values.

As for the boredom at night-- I wonder why you are camping if you find it boring?

If your activities during the day are strenuous you may be pretty tired by nighttime. Then you can enjoy the quiet and go to sleep.
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Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Wilderness Librarian » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:04 pm

I have been wondering more or less the same for myself. I agree that snow is often easier to deal with than rain. From what I have read the sleeping pad can be almost as important as the bag. I think some people even use two pads in some situations. Also the temp. ratings need to be taken with a big grain of salt. I do have a small portable Coleman catalytic heater. This can't be used inside a tent but it is nice to have while car camping. Although haven't tried this for about 20 years.

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Toons
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Toons » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:23 pm

I use a Propane Heater
Inside.
The vehicle
:mrgreen:
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ThankYouJack
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by ThankYouJack » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:47 pm

Thanks all. Temps would probably be 30-50 degrees. Maybe sometimes down to 20 degrees, but it typically doesn't get that cold here. I have the REI 3.5 co-op camp bed / sleeping pad with an R value of 6.0 so I think I'm pretty good there.
afan wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:03 pm

As for the boredom at night-- I wonder why you are camping if you find it boring?
I always do some adventure with the camping trips - typically mountain biking, paddling or hiking. Camping makes sense with logistics and I enjoy it, but when it gets dark at 5pm and I have 5 hours to kill boredom can set in.
Last edited by ThankYouJack on Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

livesoft
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by livesoft » Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:49 pm

I am about to do about 6 weeks of winter camping.

There are pads with R-value above 5. The REI Flash All-Season airpad has R-value 5.2.

The ThermoRest NeoAir XTherm is 5.7.

A good quilt or sleeping bag: Enlightened Equipment with water-resistant/proof down. I have a 10 deg quilt. My pad goes INSIDE my sleeping bag/quilt, so that I never roll off of it at night.

A good down jacket with a hood for when you stop hiking, skiing, snow shoeing.

Waterproof socks are warmer in winter. SealSkinz. They are too hot in summer.

Down booties are useful when sleeping if your feet still get cold. You can put a rain jacket around your foot box, too.

Make sure your water filter does not freeze, so keep it inside your bag with you when you sleep.

Do not wear your down jacket inside your sleeping bag/quilt when sleeping as usually your bag will be too tight and reduce the loft. Instead drape your jacket over your bag to increase the total layer of down on you.

Gloves, beanie are needed.

Sleep in tights and long-sleeve undershirt that is kept dry and only for sleeping.

The standard layering system works for when active.

I hike in tights and if more warmth is needed, then put on your rain/wind pants. I could wear 2 pairs of tights. For more warmth, but I have not needed it. I will have a long-sleeve synthetic undershirt, a long-sleeve front-buttoned synthetic shirt, and could add rain/wind shell, too.

I don't build fires, but have a canister stove. Warm food for breakfast and dinner is helpful. Holding a hot pot warms your hands, too.

A heater would be way too much weight to carry 10 to 20 miles a day, so it ain't gonna happen.

A headlamp will let you do night hiking although getting up earlier before sunrise is probably better, but colder. :)

Whoops, I see 30 -50 degrees. That's not winter camping, that's late spring, or fall camping or camping in the summer at higher elevations.
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carguyny
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by carguyny » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:18 pm

I like to take the bare minimum. Outwear/shells (1 down jacket, 1 hard shell jacket, 1 hard shell pants, 1 soft shell jacket, 1 soft shell pants, glovesx2, beaniex2) and 2 pairs of tights, shirts, socks and undies (all merino) will get me through any length of time. If it's colder, I like the merino ninja suit. Down sleeping bag and foam pad. Used the same setup in blizzards at 14,000+ ft. Technical gear and food takes up the rest of the space.

The biggest key to me is quality of gear, I really like norrona and arcteryx clothing + cilo gear packs. Feathered friends has good bags and I can't remember off the top of my head the other brand I like.

Canister stove for melting snow/drinking water in the AM, dinner in the PM. Lunch is simple food like cheese/chocolate/crackers. Breakfast might be oats, dinner a bit nicer to look forward to it (high fat meat).

Never get bored, too tired from the day's effort to

edvest
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by edvest » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:42 pm

Will you always be camping within a short distance to your suv, or will you be in the backcountry for days?

hudson
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by hudson » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:43 pm

Winter camping is great; you live by the sun. Go to bed by the sun and get up with the sun. If I'm with a group, we socialize around a campfire. The group thins out and discussions go on into the night for a few...not me. I carry at least one book to read in case I can't sleep during the night. Usually before sun rise, I'm the first one up, I'll get the fire going and get hot water for coffee. We sit around the fire planning for the activities of the day...usually a half day hike. I've learned that the more challenging the weather and conditions, the more memorable the trip.

Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Wilderness Librarian » Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:56 pm

The last two or three postings have mentioned very good points. I will add that I really like wool clothing for both base layers and mid layers. LL Bean has whipcord wool pants and I have Marino wool shirts from different sources. Also have both mid and heavy gauge Icelandic wool sweaters as well as wool hats gloves & mittens.

Mickey7
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Mickey7 » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:11 pm

It appears as if you are already familiar with REI. Get on their website or go to one of their stores and talk to their reps. Nearly all of these people have good experience you can utilize. You have a good pad, but what is the rating for your bag? You might have to assume that you are cold natured and will need to consider this for the clothes that you sleep in at night. When I know that I will be pushing the limit of my 15 degree bag I will dress appropriately with a wool beanie and ski liner gloves (thin, but warm). Others here have already given you good recommendations.

For your boredom you need to stretch out your evening. Don't have your dinner as soon as the sun sets, take your time to enjoy the transition from hiking/biking to just chilling out some. Make sure that you have a good headlamp and do some reading before you eat. Soak in the evening as you do that. Learn to study the stars. We sometimes forget that Man has been doing this for hundreds of years when there were no other diversions.

Enjoy the solitude. Sleep well.

ThankYouJack
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by ThankYouJack » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:19 pm

edvest wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 8:42 pm
Will you always be camping within a short distance to your suv, or will you be in the backcountry for days?
Just car camping for now

3504PIR
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by 3504PIR » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:33 pm

Why not just go to bed earlier, say an hour or two after sunset? You will be tired enough, you burn a lot of energy in the cold even if your not doing anything.

I was an infantry officer for 22 years and spent a lot of time exposed to any type of weather you can imagine. No tents in the infantry but we often had a nice hole in the ground as a home. Here are a few tips besides going to bed soon after dark.

Eat about twice your normal intake of calories. You burn a ton of energy shivering, even if you’re warmish by a fire or in your bag.

Keep your head covered, you lose a lot of heat through your head and a knit cap will do wonders for retaining body heat. Wear layers and add and remove them depending on the temperature and level of activity.

In addition to your head, keep your core warm, doing so will help prevent cold weather injuries.

Keep your feet dry. People often wear cold weather socks while active and they will make your feet sweat, turning the socks wet, making for a risky situation if you don’t change socks.

Drink lots of water. Dehydration is very common in the cold because our instinct is to not drink in cold weather.

Don’t drink alcohol, it will accelerate cold weather injuries like hypothermia.

Don’t use tobacco, it restricts blood flow in the capillaries which speeds up frost bite in fingers and toes.

Plan for the worst. We did an airborne operation into southern Georgia at sundown one time and it was about 75 degrees when we hit the drop zone. 5 hours later it was 22 degrees. A very dangerous situation.

DorothyB
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by DorothyB » Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:58 pm

Toons wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:23 pm
I use a Propane Heater
Inside.
The vehicle
:mrgreen:
Please be really careful that it is well ventilated.

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camillus
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by camillus » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:11 pm

I'm on an airbnb kick lately.

I would suggest looking at airbnb in the area you would like to camp. There might be a little cabin available, maybe primitive, maybe not.

edvest
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by edvest » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:16 am

ThankYouJack wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:19 pm
Just car camping for now.
When you do start to backcountry, and in addition to 3504's/others great tips ^...

While you may not know it now, your biggest goal of backcountry camping isn't staying entertained, it's coming back alive.
Imo, cool wet early spring weather is more dangerous than consistent dry cold. (Hypothermia and awaking hungry critters.)

That said:
In addition to your regular water containers, bring at least two collapsible one gallon bottles.
Water purification filters and tablets.

A high quality compass, topographical map and learn how to use them.
Learn how to recognize washouts and water sources visually and by map.

Stop hiking/traveling two hours before sunset and set up camp.
In addition to regular camp lights, ten or more light sticks.

A couple of high quality fire steels and plenty of practice starting fires from scratch. (The fire will be your main source of entertainment.)
Good windup watch. Avoid relying on anything that needs a electricity.
High quality camping steel cup which has a belt loop. As time go on, you will use this for most of you intake needs.
High quality hatchet or axe. (If you can/could a chainsaw..lol. But I do mean it.)
Bear spray. (Also, purchase the practice can.)
High quality fixed blade survival knife.
High quality folding pocket knife. (Folding multi-tool combos are nice but don't count.)
If you are allowed by permit and have had plenty of practice, M&P 2.0 9 shield. Always concealed.
A spare, never opened lightweight 8'x10' (or bigger) tarp with a 100 yards of small diameter nylon string.

First aid kit with tourniquet ... you should be getting the idea by now.
The above will only seem ott to those who haven't been in the backcountry very long.


Have you considered cartop camping?
https://www.rei.com/product/101917/tepu ... gIXy_D_BwE

edvest
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by edvest » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:23 am

Toons wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:23 pm
I use a Propane Heater
Inside.
The vehicle
:mrgreen:
Unless there's some sort of new technology out there that I don't know about: NEVER burn anything inside a car! You'll die!

https://www.lifewire.com/using-portable ... ars-534787

MarkBarb
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by MarkBarb » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:44 am

A good LED headlamp will help a lot with the long nights. Similarly an LED lantern for inside the tent also helps. Keep plenty of batteries handy. The LED lights last much, much, much longer than what I used when I started camping, but they don't last forever. I also love a good e-Ink Kindle for reading at night.

Theseus
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Theseus » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:06 am

There is one trick I learned when I trekked twice in Nepal in December. Temperature routinely got below 20 sometimes we high winds. Although we were in tea houses, there was no insulation and cold air/wind was coming through the cracked windows and doors.

We would fill up the 1 or 2 Nalgene bottles with boiling hot water and throw them inside the sleeping bag. It kept me warm all night and sometimes warm enough to shed a layer. I used this trick when I climbed Kilimanjaro and hiked inca trail (crew was initially surprised when I asked them to boil the water before going to bed). Both of these were in tents at frigid temps and worked really well. Nepalese called these bottles their mountain wife 😂. This worked much better than gunpowder based warmers I had taken with me.

There are some really good suggestions here. And I really like the carguyny’s recommendations. Go Marino all the way and spend money on really good gear. It will be worth every penny in extreme weather conditions. And if you buy it from REI and don’t like it, you can return/exchange it - I think now it’s up to one year.

TheAccountant
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by TheAccountant » Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:46 am

Use one of these under your sleeping bag: https://www.amazon.com/Therm-Rest-Ridge ... B0775GGXM6

Don't fool around with propane heaters or running your car to warm up. Dress for the occasion and you'll never be cold.

enebyberg
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by enebyberg » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:04 am

A candle lantern helps warm up your tent. https://www.rei.com/rei-garage/product/ ... le-lantern

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F150HD
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by F150HD » Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:39 am

livesoft wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:49 pm
I am about to do about 6 weeks of winter camping....I hike in tights
I think I speak for most when I say....this requires a picture! :D

3feetpete
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by 3feetpete » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:02 am

Keeping head and face warm while sleeping is critical to getting a good nights sleep. Don’t put head in sleeping bag as your breathing will make bag damp. Instead get a wool sweater to pull over your face and head.

Also avoid temptation to get into bag with your day clothes as this introduces moisture into bag.

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Watty
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Watty » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:14 am

ThankYouJack wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:19 pm
Just car camping for now
.....
Temps would probably be 30-50 degrees. Maybe sometimes down to 20 degrees, but it typically doesn't get that cold here.
Other than a heaver sleeping bag and pad that is really not all that different than camping in the fall and winter, except that there should not be any bugs.

As for what to do when it gets dark early one option if you are not out the boondocks is to do your other activities until it gets dark then go into town for a late diner then get back to already set up campsite and go to bed around 9:00 PM.

It is hardly wilderness camping but when the sun stays up longer I have been known to get take out Chinese food or Pizza and bring it back to my campsite for diner.

Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Wilderness Librarian » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:21 pm

Don't know why I didn't think of this last night when the post first appeared:

There are a number of very interesting and appealing compromises between winter camping and full service lodging. Throughout the west anyway land management agencies both federal and state rent out low cost winter available structures of various kinds. Some are unmanned fire lookouts, others yurts, small cabins etc. Many have outhouses, wood stoves, bunk beds (with or without mattresses). Some are even more like condo units. Some of the forest service and probably other agencies are listed on recreation.gov. Some state parks run them too. Some are going to be on plowed highways, some within walking distance of towns, others various degrees of remoteness. This might be a good way of testing equipment skills strategy etc. Actually this is something that has strong appeal to myself. So pick a state and explore relevant websites.

Also you mention temps of 30-50. Out of curiosity roughly where is this? As others have pointed out this isn't really that much different than fall/spring camping or even some summer in high elevation / latitudes. However watch out for hypothermia conditions.

dknightd
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by dknightd » Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:35 pm

If you were going to sleep below 32F my advice would have been to sleep with your boots. Not on, but kept above freezing.

brandy
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by brandy » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:30 pm

TheAccountant wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 7:46 am
... Dress for the occasion and you'll never be cold.
Absolutely dress for the occasion, temps, and activity.
Here are links to possible hiking gear and head/face warmers.
https://www.sadanduseless.com/funny-crochet-menswear/
https://www.sadanduseless.com/stay-warm/#more-63025

The next link is to cheaprvliving.com . https://www.cheaprvliving.com/
Tons of camping info there, including sections titled heating and air conditioning https://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/fo ... php?fid=12
hobbies on the road https://www.cheaprvliving.com/forums/fo ... php?fid=29

Of course, you could learn to crochet and during those long evening hours you could make your own. :mrgreen:

brandy

ThankYouJack
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by ThankYouJack » Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:51 pm

Mickey7 wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 9:11 pm
It appears as if you are already familiar with REI. Get on their website or go to one of their stores and talk to their reps. Nearly all of these people have good experience you can utilize. You have a good pad, but what is the rating for your bag? You might have to assume that you are cold natured and will need to consider this for the clothes that you sleep in at night.
My bag is an ALPS Mountaineering 0°F. It's not the highest end though so not sure I'd want to use it in temps around 20 degrees.

Wilderness Librarian wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 12:21 pm


Also you mention temps of 30-50. Out of curiosity roughly where is this?
Mostly mountains in the Southeast.
edvest wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:16 am

Have you considered cartop camping?
https://www.rei.com/product/101917/tepu ... gIXy_D_BwE
I haven't. What are the benefits instead of just putting a tent on the ground?

Wilderness Librarian
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Wilderness Librarian » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:16 pm

I suspected you were referring to higher elevations of the southeast. (A long time ago spent a year in Atlanta for grad school).

I too wondered about advantages of cartop so advocates please explain. (To keep yourself out of snow?). A strategy I have thought of but haven't tried is setting up tent to store gear then sleep in back of vehicle (I have a Subaru Outback so in most situations too small for both). I would think this would accomplish more or less the same as a cartop but with less cost and more versitility.

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Earl Lemongrab
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by Earl Lemongrab » Sun Oct 14, 2018 2:50 pm

When I was a youngster (college and early days at Megacorp) I liked the winter camping at various state parks in the region. However, I preferred fairly minimal support. I would bring:

Ax
Hatchet
Bow saw
Folding knife
Tarp
Ground cloth
Hank of rope
Ball of string
Sleeping bag
Pillow
2 wool blankets
Cast iron skillet
Food
Water jug
Cooler (to keep stuff from freezing)
Flashlight
Battery lantern

All cooking was over the fire. I'd either sleep out by the fire or make a pup tent from the tarp and rope. In the latter case I'd whittle stakes out of sticks that I found. I'd spend the day walking around the park, and gathering and cutting firewood. By the time it got dark and I'd had my evening meal, I was usually tired enough to go to sleep.

A few days of that was a good mind-clearing mission.
This week's fortune cookie: "Your financial life will be secure and beneficial." So I got that going for me, which is nice.

mageedge
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by mageedge » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:11 pm

We take the Scrabble set for camping evenings and also, perhaps more practical for a solo camper, we recently added a tablet to the camping gear. Download shows ahead of the trip and watch without internet at the campsite. Earphones ensure we don't annoy others.
We've also added a powerbank and foldable solar panel to help off grid.

livesoft
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by livesoft » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:14 pm

F150HD wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 8:39 am
livesoft wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 7:49 pm
I am about to do about 6 weeks of winter camping....I hike in tights
I think I speak for most when I say....this requires a picture! :D
There was already a picture posted in this thread:
viewtopic.php?p=4049556#p4049556
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forevernaive
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by forevernaive » Sun Oct 14, 2018 3:47 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:30 pm
I'm planning to do more camping this winter. I have some gear (tent, winter sleeping bag, lights, small stove) but wondering ways to make it more comfortable due to the cold temperatures and boredom from it getting dark early. I've thought about getting a basic barebones camper but not sure I want to go that route and spend that much. I could also sleep in my SUV with the back seats down, occasionally turning on the heat if needed to warm up.

Anyway, curious to hear from the experienced cold weather campers. Any tips?
I used to winter mountaineer and still do some winter camping in snowy weather in my 50s. I don't like to sleep in an uninsulated vehicle--I've found a small (backpacking) tent is easier warm up from body heat. The exception is when it is wet, in which case an SUV with the seats folded flat or a camper shell on the back of a truck is better.

My tricks:
(1) layering, even in the sleeping bag.
(2) a breathable goretex like bivy sack over the sleeping bag.
(3) a backlit paperwhite kindle for reading in the tent--batteries last a long time and it is easy to find a solar or car charger. A flip case with a elastic band makes it easy to hold.
(4) I cut a small hole in an old nalgene water bottle top and point a maglite down in there for a lantern; I carry an extra top so that it doubles as a water bottle when not in the tent.
(5) Gorp or either high calorie food for snacking when in the sleeping bag for 12 hours.
(6) For meals I prefer eating a good quality soup spice packet plus couscous and olive oil to freeze-dried food.

Let it snow! I'm ready to go backcountry skiing!

heyyou
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by heyyou » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:25 pm

Power-stretch fleece has the highest insulation to weight ratio, and is the BH priced alternative to merino wool. I carry a full coverage layer (hooded top and watch cap, long johns, fleece socks and mittens) separately for dry clothing to sleep in, plus down booties and a thin breathable nylon runner's wind top and bottom to wear over that layer while sleeping. The watch cap is sized to cover my nose, eyes, and ears, while also insulating the back of my head where the down in my hooded sleeping bag is most compressed. The down booties are removed for bio-breaks during the night, so I can just slip my fleece sock covered feet into my untied boots. In the morning, I wear most of my outer layers over my sleep layer until after breakfast, then I change into my day wear, although struggling to dress inside of a sleeping bag or car will warm you up some.

Also consider a very thin (affordable) merino wool layer inside of your currently owned fleece if sleeping in your car. Wear a breathable, thin nylon jacket over any fuzzy insulation layer, if the second layer seems to cling to the first in camp.

Butane stops vaporizing at +32 degrees F. while propane works to -40 F., but the propane requires much stronger containers. Read the cans for the temp. rating, since there are mixtures of the two gasses for winter use on butane stoves. Do not connect any pure propane to a butane stove. Many thick down jackets have interior pockets suitable for storing a fuel container while the jacket is worn to bed. From an old foam pad and duct tape, cut a cover for your fuel canister for when it is not inside your down jacket. Overlap the tape to help it stick later at very cold temperatures.

A good quality thermos bottle (thick and short, instead of tall and thin) first rinsed with, then filled with boiling water in the evening, will have liquid water in the morning. I see those at thrift stores and think they are safe after carefully cleaning them. Make a foam cover for it too.

A summer sleeping bag inside or outside of your current mid-season bag will boost the low temperature rating. When my spouse vehemently demurs from winter camping, I use both of our bags, one inside the other.

If your car will not start on a very cold morning, wait until the warmer, mid-afternoon temperature to try again, since it is the battery that is very cold. Also recharge the battery before turning off the car in the evening, if you have been driving all afternoon while running the headlights, heater, and defroster (which uses AC to dehumidify). You can guess how I learned that one.

edvest
Posts: 32
Joined: Sat Oct 06, 2018 3:27 pm

Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by edvest » Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:46 pm

ThankYouJack wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 1:51 pm
edvest wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 6:16 am
Have you considered cartop camping?
I haven't. What are the benefits instead of just putting a tent on the ground?
Easy setup, nice flat sleeping surface every night and no worries of flooding and mud.
They are more expensive. The html I posted was for just the entrance, expect to pay around $1800+.

MJS
Posts: 191
Joined: Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:55 pm

Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by MJS » Sun Oct 14, 2018 10:36 pm

For car camping:

Get a family tent with room for a table and cots. On windy days, being able to get out of the breeze is very welcome. Sitting in the car gets tedious. Being able to roll up the sides/remove the tent's rain layer for nice days is pleasant. Having a front rain vestibule keeps clutter and dirty boots out of the tent -- Put a sittable storage box & doormats in the vestibule. Bring a small broom to sweep out the tent before you leave. Bring an extra towel or two to dry the tent before packing it. Bring a claw hammer to pound down the tent stakes, then pull them up later. Always stake your tent. Chasing a tent at night in a storm ... doesn't work. However, we did find the remnants later.

Having a tent back-vestibule is useful if you're using a portapotty in a campsite with no facilities. You can also use Ikea's popup Vuku wardrobe to house the sanitary arrangements.

Bring camp chairs. Being able to lounge in the campsite makes conversation much easier, and you can move the chairs to follow the sun or avoid cold drafts. Fleece blankets are wonderful on cold evenings and can be layered over sleeping bags.

Put pads on your cots for warmth & softness. Test the cots for seating stability before buying.

Get a cell phone signal booster. Hiking to the top of a hill doesn't always work, and you might need it because packrats ate your car's wires or the battery died or someone had a stroke.

If you're in a larger campground, bring small solar candles to mark the entrance to your campsite and tent. This simplifies hunting for your home after visiting the washrooms.

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JaneyLH
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Re: Making Winter Camping more comfortable

Post by JaneyLH » Sun Oct 14, 2018 11:48 pm

Have gone through many camping transitions, from tent to van to folding trailer and now have arrived at a comfortable four season trailer. Most of the time, we seek out campgrounds with electrical hookups, like Furnace Creek Death Valley and Watchman Campground in Zion National Park. That gives us quiet electric heater, electric blanket, and heated water tanks. If no electric hookups, we use propane heat and a down comforter to keep comfortable.

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