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Any suggestions for warm weather Scouts trying cold weather camping?
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Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Any suggestions for warm weather Scouts trying cold weather camping? on 12/04/2005 10:01:54 MST Print View

We're planning an overnight trip in cold (for us) weather, likely mid teens. Any suggestions or modifications to the information from experienced cold weather campers would be appreciated. (Going out and buying a lot of new equipment really isn't an option)


1) Stay dry. This starts with keeping your sleeping bag and clothes dry
2) Lay out your sleeping bag before you need it, allowing it to regain its’ loft
3) Before getting in the bag, put on clean dry socks
4) Add insulated underwear if really cold
5) Wear a balaclava / knit hat (over ½ of your body heat is lost above your neck!)
6) Borrow a warmer bag or a 2nd bag to double up: Use two 40°F bags for 15-20 °F.
7) Take a 12 hr hand / foot warmer. If the cold comes in, open and put in your bag.
8) Take a second 12 hr hand warmer as a backup.
9) Make sure you have good tent ventilation, to avoid condensation (remember #1)
10) Sleep 2 or more to a well ventilated tent.
11) Wiggle your toes and feet while you’re awake!

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Any suggestions for warm weather Scouts trying cold weather camping? on 12/04/2005 10:51:17 MST Print View

MB dident you already post something like this

but anyway, tell your scouts that layering is the key to warmth in the winter. layering a long sleeve shirt, fleece vest and jacket and a shell, is as warm or warmer than a hevy down jacket, and is much easier to regulate heat.
I dont recomend this for your scouts but you can tell them that if you have a good layering system it is extremely posible to stay warm in a 45 degree bag at 15 degrees.
recently I went up to west virginia and did this. I was under a tarp in a bivy sack with a 45 degree synthetic bag. wearing under aurmor cold gear, longsleeve shirt, fleece vest and jacket, golite wisp jacket, polyester/ cotten pants, some thin synthetic ski pants, fleece hat and gloves, and wool socks. I did this all during a snow storm dropping a foot of snow.

also, eating alot of calories helps significantly in keeping you warm. eating agood meal can be the differance between being cold and warm.

a warm pad system is also crucial.

a warm hat is needed because 90% of heat is lost through the head

also in the winter I often take a candle lantern I got at REI to hang from the top of the tent to warm up the tent.

also building a fire before going to bed is good to heat you up, because it is good not to go to bed cold.

also you can pick up cheap fleece sleeping bag liners a target that really help to boost your bags rating

Ryan Faulkner
(ryanf) - F

Locale: Mid atlantic, No. Cal
Re: Re: Any suggestions for warm weather Scouts trying cold weather camping? on 12/04/2005 10:57:26 MST Print View

also check out this article on winter backpacking comfort

thisarticle will also be of use to you.

good luck, as a scout I have foun that sometimes my leaders dont recomend wearing alot of clothes to bed, but I find that it is not a problem unless you are wearing so much that you are sweating, thats why the layers are so crucial, they allow you to keep a good body temp. so my advice to you is to wear all the clothes you can, but if you start to perspirate loose a few layer.

Edited by ryanf on 12/04/2005 11:02:08 MST.

Mike Storesund
(mikes) - F
Cold Camping with Scouts on 12/04/2005 11:01:54 MST Print View

Having been with Scouts on many Klondike Derby’s and winter camps, hypothermia really is an issue with the kids. Keep up on signs of hypothermia

Remember C.O.L.D.

Keep you and your clothes CLEAN
Avoid OVERHEATING (don’t sweat… remove and add layers as needed)
Wear LOOSE and LAYERED clothing
Keep DRY

Under no circumstances allow Cotton clothing, especially socks and underwear. Jeans can be a killer the way they wick moisture up the legs.

We also try to keep water in the pots over a flame. Even overnight, fill the pots first in case your water jugs freeze, you can at least get the water in the pots melted. Hot chocolate and Cherry Jell-o mix makes a great tasting “Black Forest” carb drink for them.

Make sure they stay well hydrated. Have them keep their water bottles full by adding some clean snow (if it’s available) as they drink. Not a lot, but enough to keep water level up. Fill water bottles before going to bed and keep them in the sleeping bag to prevent freezing. Keep water bottles inside of jacket to prevent freezing.

The 12-hour hand/foot warmers work well. If needed place in armpits and between legs to keep core temperature up. Do not leave boots outside of tent; put them in plastic bag in or under sleeping bag. Boots with liners are better. I’ve seen too many kids trying to put on frozen boots the next morning.

Two boys to a tent, they can have an extra rectangle bag opened up as a blanket over both of them. A reflective ‘Space Blanket’ as their ground cloth (reflective side up) and closed cell sleeping pad is important.

On a side note, I have seen occasions where a boy is too cold and does not want to get out of the warm bag/tent to pee and went in their bag. This can be deadly or at least a situation for extreme hypothermia. Have the boy’s air out bags in the morning even in the cold. This is a way for you to inspect.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Any suggestions for warm weather Scouts trying cold weather camping? on 12/04/2005 11:17:12 MST Print View

Things I would add to your list:

Make sure you eat and drink enough. This makes a huge difference.

Bring the warmest hat you have... maybe bring two that can layer over each other. Make sure you are protecting your neck... either full length balaclava, scarf, neck gaitor, or a jacket with insulated hood.

Make sure you clothing isn't too constricting. For example, sometimes people wear extra thick sock in boots that don't have enough room which makes feet colder than lighter sock which don't constrict the feet.

Don't overheat and start sweating. If you are getting too warm, ventilate.

If it is getting into the teens, read about vapor barriers. Bread bags make decent and cheap vapor barrier socks.

Fill a nalgene (or equiv) bottle with hot water and put it into your sleeping bag to keep your toes warm.

Activity is a great way to warm up. If you are getting cold, chop wood for the fire, build an igloo, or something else which will be productive.

More than any other conditions, having a windproof shell is critical. Wind chill is much more brutal in colder weather.

Mindset is very important. Don't spend you time thinking about how cold it is, focus instead on what's fun, interesting, challenging, etc.

An article I would take a look at are:

Edited by verber on 12/04/2005 11:46:15 MST.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Thanks, we had a great (and warm) time on 12/10/2005 16:44:23 MST Print View

Thanks for all the cold weather suggestions. We reviewed them with the kids. It was an incredibly clear 11 degree F night @ 7700 feet. Those who followed the directions stayed warm. (The one who didn't paid the price of being cold and uncomfortable for the entire night.)