It can go without saying that winter camping comes with its challenges depending on the experience you are trying to achieve. Some may decide to “mule-pack” (of course this may mean a snowmobile, or decide to stay in a warm cabin. Whatever your choice or definition of winter camping, these ten quick tips are sure to help.
1. Consider the type of stove used
Consider stove fuel type due to the performance in cold weather. Butane fuel stoves are going to lack performance, so white-gas stoves are going to be a better option. White-gas stoves operate in freezing temperature because you can create your pressure within the tank; freezing temperatures can lower the pressure in fuel tank bottles (high temperatures raise the pressure!). Make sure to bring plenty of gas for each person about eight to 10 ounces of fuel per person. Be cautious of fuel spills and ensure everything is locked down tight.
2. Get the right tent
Just went camping in Hawaii and now you want to try camping in Alaska? Hold on; you might want to think about the gear you have. The tent you should have is something known as a four-season tent, really just a tent designed for cold and wet conditions. Water will wick away heat from the body as will the snow ground; having an insulated flooring, and waterproof, wind resistant tent will help you survive another night. Vents are in these tents for a reason as well; they allow moist air to escape so use them when needed.
3. Separate yourself from the ice-cold ground!
You’re going to be sleeping on the ground, in the winter, you will probably want to separate yourself from the field a little bit, right? The ground naturally is usually a bit cooler than the ambient temperature, and definitely colder when you have a tent deployed upon snow.
4. I’m still cold in all my layers! Help!
Okay don’t panic just yet, you know that awesome stove you have? Boil some water and put in a water bottle. Place this hot water near your femoral artery (this is the large artery that runs down your legs and by your groin. This will warm the blood up as it continues to circulate to your extremities. The body shunts heat to your core as it loses temperature and this will help to redistribute the heat again.
5. Pee bottle, yes a pee bottle.
Night-time urination may be a struggle not to mention the amount of body heat you will lose when you walk outside to relieve yourself. Benefit from a standing urinal for women, and a pee bottle for men. Don’t confuse your pee bottle for your drinking water, but if you do, in a healthy person pee should be sterile but we will assume you will try to avoid that thought.
6. Pick the correct sleeping bag
Picking the appropriate sleeping bag is essential when winter camping. Different sleeping bags come with different ratings for the temperature they are designed for. These sleeping bags typically have things such as draft-collars, are water-resistant, mummy hoods, as well as designed to keep your core warm as possible during the adverse temperatures. Also, remember to layer the bottom of the sleeping bag, the ground can and will suck the temperature out of you.
7. Boil some snow!
Do not eat this stuff raw though. Yes, bacteria and viruses can multiply in the snow, although typically slower than other temperatures, some micro-organisms are acclimated to different temperatures, and this includes the freezing-cold. Chemical water purification tablets can take longer due to the cold temperatures.
8. Take your water bottle and flip it!
This takes a little common sense but is not typically thought of. If you flip your water bottle, this prevents the water freezing from where you drink it. Instead, it freezes at the bottom and then when you flip it when you’re ready to drink, the water will be well, liquid. Swallowing ice is difficult we think.
9. Vaseline 🙂
Put this on your exposed skin, and this will help to protect from wind shear and frostbite. Some athletes use it, and Inuits have been doing something similar for years. This also helps to moisturize the cold cracked skin.