A chat on safety during winter camping
We hike because we love it. But frankly speaking, we also can’t live without it. We crave a trip after unbearable working days and the bustle of a city. With shorter daylight and freezing weather, we wait for weekends more than ever to find rest and comfort in nature. However, the same factors complicate the process of getting out in the cold seasons. When fleeing the city, we also leave behind the safety of heated and dry homes stuffed with food and medical supplies. That’s why winter camping requires tripled preparation and appropriate gear to keep you alive and reveal the exciting sides of traveling all year round.
In the article, we discuss the principal safety measures to keep in mind while planning the trip. We also list the equipment you’ll need to accomplish the task. To find the proper gear for your plans, visit hot-tent.com for a wide choice.
Basic principles to stay alive
Amazingly, the key is sanity. No super advanced gear or hi-tech clothes will protect you from the carelessness of your own mind. So, analyze the situation with all the sobriety and don’t go camping in the snowstorm. Or in the area full of angry grizzlies. Or being sick, which is pure madness, because instead of rising, your body temperature may fall, and you will quickly freeze to death. Thus, keep your mind intact and plan the journey appropriately.
Said that we’d also like to name the core principles for hiking in winter, which any sain person must consider.
- Let everybody know about your plans. Literally. Your relatives, friends, local authorities, and rangers must know the route and the time it will take you to return. Without it, in case of a disaster, no one will turn up to help you. So, boast about the trip, but do it moderately to keep the face if something goes wrong.
- Take everything breathable. When moisture accumulates inside of clothes, a sleeping bag, tent, or anything, it lowers the temperature and, consequently, drains warmth out of you. So unobstructed airflow is crucial, even if it sounds counterintuitive.
- Apply layers. The best way to keep warm is to wear a pack of warm clothes. Instead of one super warm sweat jacket, wear three to really stay warm. However, three jackets are also not the best idea. The proper way of using layers we discuss in the next section below.
- Don’t underestimate sleep. Rest is crucial after the tiring hike, and without it, you won’t be able to continue the journey, meaning to return to the safety of heated facilities. Your gear should be appropriate for the outside temperature, so chose it wisely.
- Stuck your backpack with food. Double the amount of provision you take for the same length hike in a warm season. You’ll need to eat something constantly to help the body warm itself and save energy. Choose products high in fat, snacks like Probar, and nuts.
An example of a gear set
Here we give a specific example of a kit for winter camping, listing items that will work in mild and cold temperatures. Evidently, we don’t discuss gear for polar expeditions or squatting in cold woods for several weeks. However, it’s an actual set used by travelers from the Outside Magazine and will work for an ordinary hike in the midst of the winter.
The main idea is layers. You need to cover the body with different pieces of clothing, keeping the warm inside and still letting the body breathe. However, clothes for the hike, when you are actively producing heat, differ from garments you wear in a resting period and during sleep.
Let’s start with the hike. For the base layer, which covers the body first, take a top and leggings made from merino wool that is perfect for retaining heat. For the middle layer, you’ll need a jacket like Alpha Direct Insulator that is breathable and doesn’t take in any water. The last layer is a softshell jacket and pans. Moreover, you’ll need insulated boots to protect your feet from snow and water.
After the hike, you’ll want to cover the body more to keep warm when setting a tent. A hi-loft puffy jacket like one from Patagonia will work. Furthermore, use fleece gloves during the day and more sturdy winter gloves at night to preserve fingers from falling off.
Chose the place to stop wisely. The temperature is lower in higher altitudes and drops during the night, so you’d like to reduce the height as much as possible. However, don’t choose the lower point like a valley because the coldest air accumulates in the balks, and you’ll appear in the coldest spot of the whole region. The best way is to find a flat space on a slope and make a camp there.
The stuff you use for sleeping outside in winter serves two purposes. First, it insulates heat from your body to keep you warm. Second, it is designed not to let any moisture ruin your temperature balance. All you need is to help the gear do its job by staying dry. For that, you’ll need:
- A tent with an insulated base to prevent it from soaking and a breathable covering to allow unrestricted airflow. Ventilation will prevent drops of water appear on the surface and the snowfall inside the tent in the morning.
- Foam sleeping pad that goes underneath an expensive inflatable mattress. Its job is to be a helping layer for the next gear, so you can choose a cheap one.
- A sleeping pad. For mild and cold weather, try a NeoAir® XTherm™ Sleeping Pad, and for a freezing environment, don’t go out from your home or try a Polar Ranger™ -20F/-30C Sleeping Bag.
- A sleeping bag for below zero temperatures, which allows keeping your nose and mouth outside. It’ll prevent moisture from accumulating inside the bag and keep the inward warm and dry.
- Also, prepare dry wool socks and a fleece base layer for sleeping. Hang your wet clothes in the tent, and try to dry them before putting them on again. One of the ways to dry the outfit we discuss further.
Kitchen in the field
If you have heard about hot tenting, you are familiar with the dangers it hides. However, with the proper installation and running, it is an excellent choice for cold weather. But first to the term. Hot tenting means using a wood-burning stove inside a tent. There is a wide range of stoves to chose from. Some of them include all the necessary parts like a stove jack to adjust the tent for the appliance. The hazard is the carbon dioxide from the pipe, which may cause intoxication and result in death. With the wrong fitting and poor ventilation, firing a stove will produce carbon dioxide and harm your health.
Moreover, you can’t leave the stove operating without constant surveillance. Firstly, it requires a steady supply of logs to keep going, and you’ll need to keep an eye on the possible inflammation. Of course, it’s safe to use the stove, but you can’t just leave it be, like getting to sleep and letting the fire burn out by itself.
With everything said, the stove is perfect for cooking, keeping the tent warm, and drying your clothes and boots. It creates a homely atmosphere in the wilderness and keeps you company during the coldest times.
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