Thank you all for the tips so far. I've added my comments to various quotes of your's below.
I had planned on getting "Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book" as Eric suggested in his PM. I think it would be good to teach Scouts with also.
I've also been following the "Will my feet stay warm?" thread with interest to learn more about proper VBL use, though a lot of the time I won't be moving much as a leader in this Scout camping situation. The boots I have are not lightweight hiking boots, but Ecco Track II Goretex. Quite comfortable and they did a decent job last year, but I wasn't there overnight. Temps were maybe 10* F when I got there and then warmed to 20* F later in the day. I just had on a normal pair of cotton (!!!) socks with thicker synthetics over them. Would not have been good if I got wet for sure, but that would rarely happen here unless we actually did have deep snow (or I fell in a stream LOL).
> I usually also have a thermos full of hot water
Really? Is it a special lightweight one? I didn't think anyone at BPL carried such a thing. :)
> I never go to bed with cold water in my sleeping bag (something that I see recommended a lot on the internet!)
Yeah, that doesn't seem too bright to me. I assume you're using 32 oz Powerade/Gatorade bottles?
> I've also learned to dump out my water when i go to bed if I'm sure that they're just going to freeze solid.
While I understand why you do that, it doesn't seem very economical having to melt a bunch of snow in the morning when you already had water to start. Do you simply not have room in your bag for more than one bottle?
> NeoAir mat - that is NOT a good mat for the snow! Even with 1/2" of CCF under it.
Is that because it relies on the reflective layer to reach R2.5 and the CCF will negate that effect (unless it's on the bottom)? I understand I should have R5 ideally. I'm a side sleeper and I know I need an inflatable to get any sleep at all. I know the POE X-lite Thermo has at least some insulation in it, but doubt it is above R2.5 either. It's also a full length, but it weighs a full pound more.
> I personally ensure all visible moisture, snow, dirt, etc is removed [from my boots] and put them in my sleeping bag. Put them in their own stuff sack if you really must.
That is how I was leaning for this time as I know I won't be all that active during the day. If I was going to break camp and hike, I could likely deal with putting on freezing boots. I've seen some suggest plastic grocery bags, veggie sacks or small trash bags to keep them from getting the bag wet/dirty.
This time I won't have the option of staying in my bag to cook since it's with Scouts so I'll need to sit around in the cold. It seems many people drape their bag around them in some fashion when just sitting around camp. Do they fashion some way to fasten it like a cape? Seems like it would be a challenge to hold onto it while doing cooking duty.
> where are you getting your water?
If it was just an overnight with no snow as you're doing, I'd pack it all. If it was a few days, I'd cache ice cubes to melt. See my previous thread .
> you can't really filter water even if you could find it, as your filter will freeze up. So you'd have to chemically treat or boil
I use a few drops of bleach in 3-season (and also filter if I need it soon), but in the winter I would only boil (unless it was snow). Drinking cold water doesn't seem like a bright idea.
> I'd be wearing all my base insulation layers to bed at the very least, and since I plan on using my insulated jacket and pants to extend the rating of my quilt, I'll be wearing all that to bed as well. Has the bonus as well of not having to put on cold clothes in the morning.
That was my thinking exactly. I suppose I could try it inside first to see if I'll still fit in the bag. :) I'll have Injini wool blend toesocks with some Bridgedale wool socks over them. I can use heavy synthetics instead if needed. For legs will be Cap 2, BPL Thorofare (seem so light I may just skip those), nylon pants and then BPL Cocoon. Torso will be lightweight Champion l/s, then Cap 3 l/s, then maybe a Cap 4 l/s (or just it instead of Cap 3), then a generic fleece/nylon jacket. Head I have a Power Stretch beanie and then a Power Stretch balaclava. If needed I have a synthetic stocking cap I can use. Black Diamond heavyweight Power Stretch gloves.