Any winter camping experience?

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  • TOWcritter

    Self Sufficent Sovereign
    Mr. Buddy portable heater and a 20 pound propane tank...will last for 100 hours on low which is enough to heat my tent. just crack the door a little. I have a sturdy Cabelas cot...very comfortable. A nice bag and inflatable mattress.
    hang clothes up high. put tomorrows clothes in bag with you. set boots close to heater.


    Active Member
    MDS Supporter
    May 15, 2007

    My scout troop built and camped in igloos on the side of Mt. Rainier (A long time ago in a state far far away). As I recall, we were very comfortable with only the light and heat from a single candle.

    It is quite amazing how much comfort you can derive from a single candle. In the right space.


    MDS Supporter
    Sep 29, 2012
    Southern Anne Arundel
    I have always preferred winter camping/backpacking. Way better than sweating your balls off and getting eaten by bugs. After college (in the 90's), I'd go solo hiking in Dolly Sods in the dead of winter. The biggest risk in going was whether or not I could get the Jeep in far enough to start hiking.

    Other than a good quality bag (zero degree down)and a thermarest or equivalent, nothing special is required. You can tent it or not. Put your water bottle in the bottom of your bag so it doesn't freeze at night. I always ate something right before I hit the sack to give my stomach something to make energy/warmth on - a chocolate bar is a good option.

    The only thing I ever felt got reasonably dangerous, were creek crossings. There were times, especially when alone, that it just wasn't worth the risk if I didn't actually need to get across it.

    Warm bag, a shell and some layers, and you are good to go.


    Active Member
    MDS Supporter
    Jan 17, 2013
    Before kids, the wife and I took our dogs and camped with some friends at C&O canal in late October. Happened to be a night that it dropped into the low teens. We did pretty well with a few blankets, and a sub zero rated sleeping bag. Put down an air mattress to get off the ground.

    Sent from my SM-G960U using Tapatalk


    Deplorable Welder
    MDS Supporter
    Jun 8, 2013
    Underground Bunker
    When i went 7 days in Oklahoma , i trained on a treadmill with all my gear inside months ahead of time . Training is essential IMHO you want to make sure you have the stamina to do inclines and distance . The cold is another factor i have little knowledge about . We did fall weather .


    Active Member
    Jun 23, 2015
    Sleeping bag properly rated. Get off the ground with a water resistant mat. Actual wool clothing and blankets. Lots of layers. A tent rated for the temps, many people forget this.

    I wouldn't go below 0 until they have done below freezing and then into single digits. Below zero can turn dangerous to deadly quick.

    Personally for those temps I like mummy bags. And I like foam mats over air. Air mats don't provide a resistance to the cold. And everything needs to be rated for those temps. And layers of clothes, wool. I've done long Jon's, wool socks, gloves and knit cap, wrapped in a wool blanket. Change all clothes and dry before bed. You don't want to sweat in those temps in bed. Add layers until they are comfortable, you don't want to sweat. I like wool below my bag and on top. I don't care for the synthetics, wool has for thousands of years been king of cold. A layer of something below the wool, like long Jon's. The winter gear you currently have, probably won't cut it; jackets, gloves, hats, ear, and face.

    All this plus I’d add, chapstick or vasline like for your lips. They’ll get chapped bad at those temps after a day plus out in it.

    One thing to add for the properly rated tent, get a candle lantern you can hang in the tent and some long burning candles. Of course the tent needs to be vented for a variety of reasons, especially condensation. A lit candle can add several degrees of warmth in the tent.


    Active Member
    Jun 23, 2015
    Oh and something to add is a hand warmer opened and thrown in the bottom of the sleeping bag can help keep your feet warm over night. Won’t produce much heat as it won’t get much air, but again, it’ll add a couple watts of heat to keep your toes from getting so cold.

    Mummy bag required. Granted my warmest bag is only a 20F down bag as I almost never camp later than mid December (I have colder a few times before, but not since I was in my early 20s pre-kids and pre-wife), but a woobie or wool blanket over top of you in your mummy bag can help a lot also.

    Some mummy bags have specific toe and neck pockets for hand warmers BTW.

    Bag rating is “survival” at that temperature wearing appropriate clothing for the weather. So -20F bag means going to be in long underwear, winter pants, sweater and jacket/parka. Not PJs...

    IMHO I prefer going one rating under what the minimum temp is if I am relying on what I am wearing and the bag alone. IE for down to -20, I’d want a -40 bag. My 20 degree bag I don’t like using below about 30F unless I am supplementing with a blanket on top also. I prefer being toasty and comfortable, not cold and just making it.


    Active Member
    Jun 23, 2015
    Truer words have never been spoken. I've had one of these little guys for years now and have loved it since day one.

    No matter the weather or the time of year, my UCO always gets packed.

    Yeah mine is a Uco as well. Survives in my pack even when tossed about. Citronella never seems to work much for me, but in a tent it does seem to keep down how many skeeters come in when humans are going in and out of the tent.

    I usually only pack it when cold though. Backpacking I cut weight to the bone and my LED lantern weighs slightly less and will last all week.
    I've been watching the video produced by Okpik on sleep systems. Pretty much what I already do for cold weather camping just taken to a higher level.

    I'm trying to figure out clothing for daytime activity. I'm good with the base layers. Multiple layers so clothing can be adjusted based on physical activity. Okpik provides boots. For the outer layer I'm leaning toward a waterproof/windproof shell over ECWCS level 7 pants and jacket.


    Jun 2, 2011
    DC area
    I have a lot of experience with this. I'm an Eagle Scout and kept on backpacking/camping/fishing/hunting year round after I finished the program. You don't need top of the line gear. For many years I used milsurp stuff and LL Bean stuff that gets the job done and is cheap but isn't always the lightest and best looking.

    To summarize the very good input above:

    *separate long underwear, socks and hat for sleeping only. I like wool.
    *appropriate sleeping bag (i.e. zero rated goose down)
    *thermarest to get off the frozen ground
    *layers for your daytime clothes (wool long underwear, hat, gloves, coat that goes low enough to cover your hips)
    *extra wool socks
    *stay hydrated; eat before bed
    *appropriate boots
    *first aid/emergency kit with fire starting materials. Don't overthink it -- bring some extra Bic lighters and some matches. Lighters sometimes fail when it's super cold but are much easier than matches otherwise.

    But the most important thing is to bring your personal survival skills that can only be gained from training before your outing. Learn to make fire with several methods -- I've several times had to make fire in a semi-emergency when I was shivering. Can you do that? Learn true first aid skills -- do you know the signs of hypothermia and how to treat it? Do you know the signs of shock and what to do? Can you navigate with a map and compass? Can you find your way back if you get separated from your gear?

    The second most important thing is the right mental attitude and mindset. Winter outings are often the best (no bugs, few people) but you will likely be on your own. Are you mentally ready to be your own first responder?

    Good luck!


    Jun 19, 2008
    Go for the weekend. Get a rated sleeping bag for the weather. Make sure you are off the ground.Drink water or hot tea.Wear a knit cap.

    Wear wool clothing items. If every one is not having a great time go Home. You can have a great experience,the third week in May. it is not

    Getting sick with the flu. The troops will enjoy their homes and inside plumbing.


    Junior Member
    Jan 4, 2011

    didn't read all but remember COLD:

    keep clothes CLEAN
    wear clothes in LAYERS
    keep clothes/feet DRY!!

    usmc/NATO/Norway/Camp Ripley MInn.


    May 5, 2010
    Camping in the cold isn't bad. What sucks is when you have to wake up to take a piss! Keep a gatorade bottle in the tent. :lol2:

    I have a pretty hefty sleeping bag. Add +10-20 degrees to whatever your sleeping bag says it's rated for.

    Sleeping pad is a must. A lot really aren't rated for the cold so sometimes I'll put my air pad on top of a cheap foam pad, or a pile of leaves. Anything is better than the cold ground.

    Wool hat to sleep in.

    In a ziplock bag A THICK pair of socks that are for sleeping only. No chance of getting this wet.

    You can line your feet with breadbags to keep your socks from getting sweaty. Yeah it's kind of nasty, but the socks stay dry to retain more warmth.

    If it's really cold I just keep my cold weather clothes on when I sleep.
    After a year long delay due to the China Virus, we just completed our trip. One thing I have to say, temps in the negative teens and twenties is a completely different kind of cold. If you drip water on yourself, it does not wipe away, it freezes instantly. Hot water evaporates to steam as it falls to the ground. There is no way to stay warm if you are standing still. You have to force yourself to stay hydrated, eat, adjust your clothing layers and keep moving. It's interesting how your body immediately pulls blood flow from your hands and feet to keep your core warm. As soon as your feet or hands start to get cold you need to start walking around. We spent our first night out at 2 degrees and everyone thought that was cold. Most of our crew had a very hard time coping with the cold so we decided to head back to the cabins and spend our days outside and sleep inside. My son really wanted his Zero Hero patch so we spent the 3rd night out next to our cabins in windbreaks made from snow. That was our coldest night -32.3 degrees. This was a mental and physical challenge, training on how to camp in the cold, not a vacation like Sea Base was.


    HVAC Expert
    Industry Partner
    MDS Supporter
    Sep 25, 2011
    Outside the Gates
    My son really wanted his Zero Hero patch so we spent the 3rd night out next to our cabins in windbreaks made from snow. That was our coldest night -32.3 degrees. This was a mental and physical challenge, training on how to camp in the cold, not a vacation like Sea Base was.

    I only experienced cold like that in Russia (Moscow and Yekatrinburg) and I didn't have to camp outdoors.

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