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OnAFly

Winter Camping

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I was thinking of trying winter camping this year. I've never done this before, but I think I've got enough equipment to make it through a night or two in December or January.

I've got:

2 person tent(3 season, not necessarily a 4 season tent)

2 Thermarest TrailLite pads

0 degree sleeping bag

plenty of warm clothes wink

What else do I need for a night in the cold? Will a three season tent be ok, or will it breathe too much? Anyone with some experience on this? Advice would be greatly appreciated!

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Sorry to have to remove the address.

If you do a search you'll find a wealth of information on winter camping.

I've used a three season tent in the past for winter camping. One difference between three and four season tents is the thicknes of the tent poles and the diameter of them. A good four season/mountaineering tent is designed to handle a heavier snow load and higher winds. If I use a tent in the winter, I generally leave the door open so I don't get such a huge build up of frost on the inside.

I think you'll find a lot of different opinions on how people camp in the winter. A lot of it depends on where they are going to camp and if they are fishing.Method of travel comes into play, too. Skis, snowshoes, dogsled, snowmobile or car.

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I totally agree with red. Everyone has their own way of winter camping because it tends to get real personal about how you accomplish it. Everyone has their own comfort levels and why they venture out in the winter.

I use 3-season tents. I've thought about getting a 4-season, but the added features don't outweight the added cost and weight. A QUALITY 3-season should more than handle a winter trip.

Have a white gas stove if possible. Compressed gas is less effective at lower temps and can freeze up if its really cold.

I use 2 pads and my 20* bag or I have a 0* bag too. I use a candle lantern in the tent to keep frost out and it raises the temp ever so slightly.

Make sure its not just warm clothes, but layers of clothes that you can add or shed as needed. Winter camping is a lot of working and a lot of sitting so you need to stay warm and dry through both of those.

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I've had that problem with the canister stoves before in the cold weather(trying to make coffee while ice fishing). I didn't think about that one.

I'm pretty confident in my tent being able to handle a little snow. I'll probably have to watch the weather forecast and not take any long trips to avoid any major snowfall.

Thanks guys!

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I went with someone who insisted on bringing a large propane stove. "It was great for cooking, boiling, coffee etc blah blah blah"....needless to say it took more than 10 mins to boil water with the large open flame and the tank valve froze while cooking dinner and using a lantern.

If you've used bulk tanks in the winterice fishing with high use you know what that's like. I brought out my MSR whisperlite backpacking stove and we had hot water in 3 minutes. That's all that stove is good for, but it worked great. I now use an MSR dragonfly. I can simmer, boil or whatever. We used it for 2 dozen pancakes last weekend in the BWCA. Its a great liquid gas stove.

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Ahh...winter camping. You figure out quick what works and what doesn't. From a safety standpoint you want to stay dry. After that staying warm should be easy. Using the proper layers of clothing is extremely important. Polypro, merino wool, synthetic fleece, are my go to fabrics for base layers. Leave all cotton at home. I use wool and gore-tex for outer layers.

I always bring two sleeping bags. It may be overkill, but I've yet to wake up cold. I use a +20 inner and a 0 outer. Under my thermarest, I use a roll of reflectix for insulation. Under the tent I always throw down a small tarp under the footprint.

The cool thing about winter camping is you can be as creative as you want. I generally camp/fish with a small group of friends who each bring something unique to the outing. I always pull a tobagon, and have plenty of room for gear. We generally make wind breaks/mini igloos out of snow around our sleeping areas and the fire pit. Always bring a small snow shovel. I also use a MSR dragonfly stove. Its a great compact stove that lets you control the heat levels. Eating well on a cold night involves simmer.

We try to make the experience as enjoyable as possible. Our wives think we are effing crazy, but there is nothing better than sitting around a fire when its ten degrees, the stars are shining and the wolves are howling. Good luck in your endeavors! Skol.

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I've found that the most important thing about winter camping is to select your company carefully. Make sure you don't invite a complainer or a whiner. There are bound to be plenty of things for them to complain or whine about when winter camping. It takes the right personality to look at the adventure as a challenge to overcome versus looking at the difficulties and whining about them.

Oh and if you may also want to consider building a snow shelter instead of bringing a tent. It works great for 2 guys. Just bring a shovel and pile up a large mound of snow and let it sit for a hour or two while you get other stuff taken care of. Then go back and hollow it out making sure to make the entrance lower then the floor. Basically you want to crawl up into it not down into it. Having the door below you prevent the warmer air from escaping. Inside you'll want to put a covering over the floor to keep you dry. A shower curtain liner works great. Also make a small vent hole in the ceiling. You can get a shelter like this fairly warm with a couple of good candles or a small heat source.

Its a fun way to camp but it does have disadvantages. If you want to fish it will take time away from that since it takes more time then just putting up a tent. And its not easy to move from spot to spot since you'll need to build a new shelter each time.

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Fly Guy, I'd suggest taking a test run in the backyard. It'll give you an idea of what you're getting into and leave you the option of bailing out if you find you don't have the right equipment for the temperature.

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You have some good advice there... stay dry & no whiners. Read-up on the subject or hit Midwest Mountaineering when they have a seminar, good info. It can go bad fast if things go wrong in winter. #1 on my list is liners for your sleeping bags. When your body is adjusted to the cold, then you zip-up in your bag you sweat enough to get wet & cold by morning. Winter camping, if done right, can be a lot of fun.

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Redlantern is right on. Try it out in the backyard first, then graduate to car camping, then make it to the BWCA or elsewhere.

Also, start off with more gear than you need and then trim it back as desired. When you talk about winter camping, you are talking about life safety issues. Be over prepared until you learn the ropes.

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