Any winter camping experience?

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  • trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    Jul 22, 2008
    11,747
    Glen Burnie
    Last year I was invited for the first time to an annual winter camping/shooting trip that they take in late February. The way they hook it up isn't too bad, and the coldest it got last year was 17 degrees on the second night. It was something like 20 or 21 degrees on the first night. The cool thing was the fire we had going from sun-up until right before we went to bed for the night. There was deadfall all over the place, and one of the guys cut a bunch of firewood from the deadfall as soon as we got there, so if you ever started to feel cold at all, you'd just go stand next to the fire for a while. Daytime temps were mid 40s, but with the sun out the way it was, it felt a lot nicer than that - I was running around in a fleece top during the days.

    I enjoyed it. I don't know if I'll get to do it this year because it looks like I'm getting activated as part of the National Guard's response to Hogan's State of Emergency for Covid, so there's a good chance I'll still be on the hook for that when this trip rolls around.
     

    daggo66

    Active Member
    Mar 31, 2013
    1,892
    Glen Burnie
    Spent 3 winters weekend camping at our WV property. We had a Cabelas 12 x 12 Alaknak tent with with the optional vestibule. We used a Colorado Cylinders Stove for heat. The coldest was 4 degrees F. This year we upgraded to a 12 x 32 shed that we converted into a cabin.
     

    54rndball

    take to the hills
    Mar 16, 2013
    1,415
    Catonsville
    I camped at Greenbriar with a group of us bowhunting in November some years ago. I got a 0 degree Fahrenheit mummy bag just for that trip. That bag was great, toasty warm. But not so much fun camping out in near freezing or freezing weather.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    Jul 22, 2008
    11,747
    Glen Burnie
    Spent 3 winters weekend camping at our WV property. We had a Cabelas 12 x 12 Alaknak tent with with the optional vestibule. We used a Colorado Cylinders Stove for heat. The coldest was 4 degrees F. This year we upgraded to a 12 x 32 shed that we converted into a cabin.

    I camped at Greenbriar with a group of us bowhunting in November some years ago. I got a 0 degree Fahrenheit mummy bag just for that trip. That bag was great, toasty warm. But not so much fun camping out in near freezing or freezing weather.
    Having a heat source is I think the key to making the experience enjoyable. I mentioned the fire we had going the whole time - it was easily 5-6 feet in diameter, going all three days except for in the middle of the night.

    It had been dry, so we didn't want to take the chance on having something spark up, and wind up with a much more serious problem, so we'd let it die down and bury the coals at night. First thing the next morning we'd dig them out, add some kindling, add a couple of logs, and before we knew it, it was built up again.

    I think the fire really was the key though because any time I'd get cold, I'd just stop what I was doing and go sit by the fire to warm up. Evenings were spent around the fire sipping beers, BS'ing, toasting marshmallows, etc. We even did some cooking over that fire - I grilled up a very very tasty New York strip steak, some Johnsonville sausage....YUM!
     

    outrider58

    Who asked ya?
    MDS Supporter
    Jul 29, 2014
    36,970
    We camped for years on Mason Island on the Potomac. We went just about every month throughout the year. We had both a winter camp and a summer camp. It was a blast. Most of our core group are deceased now. Of six of us, only two remain. Good times though.
     

    Foohaus

    Junior Member
    Nov 22, 2020
    67
    Some others have mentioned it, but properly rated bags/tents and insulated ground pads are a must. I guarantee you that zero folks in your kids troop have bags rated to handle below freezing temps. Those “20 degree rated” bags from REI or wherever are really three-season bags and the kids will be miserable trying to sleep in them if it’s below freezing.

    On the “free” end of the spectrum, filling up a Nalgene with hot water and tossing it into the foot box of your bag is a game changer.
     

    trickg

    Guns 'n Drums
    Jul 22, 2008
    11,747
    Glen Burnie
    Some others have mentioned it, but properly rated bags/tents and insulated ground pads are a must. I guarantee you that zero folks in your kids troop have bags rated to handle below freezing temps. Those “20 degree rated” bags from REI or wherever are really three-season bags and the kids will be miserable trying to sleep in them if it’s below freezing.

    On the “free” end of the spectrum, filling up a Nalgene with hot water and tossing it into the foot box of your bag is a game changer.
    I was in a budget level (less than $100) zero degree bag last winter, and had a self-inflating ground pad with a R-value of 6. The first night I was on a cot in the tent, the temp got into the low 20s, and I never got cold. The second night the temp was 17, but I decided to try putting the pad on the ground instead of sleeping on the cot - I felt I might feel less restricted. I didn't sleep great that night, and was a bit on the cool side until I put on a pair of sweats. I don't know if being closer to the ground is what did it or what the deal was.

    One thing though - I'm not sure if that "zero degree bag" would have gotten the job done much colder than that.

    FWIW, the bag was a Teton Celsius zero degree bag - they run around $80.
     

    MJD438

    Active Member
    MDS Supporter
    Feb 28, 2012
    5,606
    Somewhere in MD
    We tell kids in our scouting program that bag ratings are survival ratings - a 0 degree bag will keep you alive, but cold, at 0 degrees. We tell parents they should purchase bags rated 20 degrees colder than our expected lowest temperatures - at our camp in Boonsboro for our spring weekend the overnight average is 20 degrees F, so we recommend 0 degree bags with at least one available cover blanket.

    We also teach the kids to change undergarments and socks right before bedding down.
     

    Clay

    Junior Member
    Jul 22, 2021
    30
    Dress warm

    It is beautiful and fun if you have good gear. Polypropylene or wool clothes. Cotton = hypothermia. Sleep with things as necessary so they work. Eggs freeze. Water bottles too full freeze and break. Leather boots freeze and can hurt your feet. Be aware of frostbite- nose, ears. Know how to thaw out your skin. Keep your head warm- balaclava wool. 80% of heat can leave through your head. Have enough food and water as your body burns calories to keep warm. May sound scary, but with the right gear, you get a feeling of what arctic explorers experienced on a good day
     

    Benny

    Junior Member
    Feb 20, 2019
    71
    With good gear, winter camping is great and doable. A lifetime ago, I backpacked on snow shoes for several days in the Adirondack’s in February. I was stationed at Fort Drum and had decent winter gear including a three piece modular sleeping bag and a sleeping pad. Dehydration was the biggest challenge as water froze quickly.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     

    Matlack

    Scribe
    Dec 15, 2008
    7,846
    I am glad you guys had fun and learned something new.
     
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