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Winter Camping / Backpacking


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I've finally picked up a decent winter bag this fall and plan to do some winter backpacking this year. Does anyone have any good tips or locations they would be willing to share.

I am dreaming about a trip through the BWCA on snowshoes fishing for lake trout. Yeah!!! laugh.gif

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What do you want to know? I'm no expert but I do make several trips to the BWCA each winter. As far as staying warm, I suggest to wear layers, use a good set of polypropylene long underwear to start with. Stay away from cotton. Synthetics and wool are my choice for warmth in the winter. Travelling in the winter on snowshoes takes a lot more time than you would expect. Try ski poles with your snowshoeing. Pulling a sled with your gear is easier than carrying the weight on your back.

Eat a lot of food to keep you warm and drink a lot of water. It's easy to get dehydrated in the winter since the air so dry.

Hope this helps a bit.

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Hey Walleye,

I just went to a winter camping clinic at REI and it was FANTASTIC!! Only problem is they don't have one scheduled for the roseville store for Dec. THey do have another one for 12-8 but its in Bloomington and that might be too much of a haul for you.

Big points are to wear lots of layers. Polyester is the best thing you could use. Polyprop is outdated now for good reasons. Polyester is better in so many ways.

FLeece and wool are your best bets for fabrics, especially if you can get fleece that is waterproof/windproof. Wool is both of these things and will last forever. Make sure you bring lots of extra clothes including a hats and mittens. The greatest thing you can have is closed cell foam. The pads for sleeping and for insulating everything else.

Water will need to be boiled or filtered, but filters will freeze and become damamged ao just keep a good fire going. Melting snow takes more time and energy than ice cold water, this includes firewood and stove fuel. SO if your fishing you're better off taking water from your fishing hole.

COtton does not kill and is fine....cold wet cotton is what you want to avoid.

If your hands are cold, put on a hat, if your feet get cold, put on a hat. If your core is cold the rest of you will be.

backpacking is not so good in the winter cause it increases the amount of weight on your feet and reduces the amount of equip. you can bring because of a lack of space. Search "PULK". It is a sled with a "hitch" to attach to your body. You can build one at home for less than $20. Just need a plastic sled, some PVC and some rope. This way you can bring everything you're gonna need for camping and fishing.

There are over 200,000 hits on google for winter camping.

Let me know if you want someone to camp/fish with.

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Dundee, what bag did you get? In the metro area I like Lake Maria State Park just off 94 in Monticello. They have groomed CC ski trails and if there is enough snow you can trek anywhere in the park off trail on snow shoes. It’s nothing too crazy though, it’s a place to experiment with different ideas and there's plenty of wildlife there. I have never fished the lake but this winter I'm going to load all my gear into my fish trap and play around for a couple days.

I just got a new winter bag and thermarest this winter and now I'm getting kind of impatient for the cold weather and snow.

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I highly recommend building yourself a pulk (basically just a decent sized plastic sled to pull your gear in) The way I have done it, is to take use a moderately heavy duty 5-6 foot long plastic sled. Drill holes about a foot apart along both sides (for tying down your gear) and two holes in the front to attach the pull rods. The pull rods are 6 foot long rods that connect the sled to your belt. You can use small diameter pvc pipe or thin wall conduit, I have used both and either one will work. I suggest feeding a piece of rope through each tube and tie off one end to your sled and the other end to your belt. Make sure to connect the rod that connects to the right side of your sled to the left side of your belt and vice-versa. This will result in the pull rods forming an x. This will give you better stability and maneuverability. The pull rods are a real necessity unless you only plan to pull your sled over completely flat ground. With even the slightest incline, if you dont use the pull rods, the sled will be banging into the back of your feet. On steep hils, you might as well ride your sled down if you dont have pull rods, because it will be a real pain trying to control that sled as you make your way down the hill.

With this setup, I normally load most of my gear into a jumbo sized duffle bage, then use nylon rope to tie everything down to the sled. Bungie cord tie downs are Ok if it isnt too cold, but in lower temps they can be a real pain. Also, regarding sleds, the narrower the better, so that they stay within the width of your track and dont procuse extra drag by plowing a wider path. The small otter sleds do work too, altho they are just a tad too wide in my opinion. If you really want to cover ground, I suggest cross country skiing instead of snowshoes. (that doesnt mean leave the snowshoes home, just do most of your travlling via skis and switch to snowshoes around the campsite etc.) You can definetely cover a lot more ground on skis. There is a lot of info on the net about this subject, and if you want more info about the setup I use, feel free to email me. Good luck, and enjoy the winter camping!

By the way, this is MUCH easier travelling than carrying a backpack... I have done both, and even with 75 lbs of gear in your sled, you hardly notice that you are pulling any weight at all.

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I'd also recommend using a double sleeping bag setup (a light weight summer mummy bag inside a fall or winter rectangle/larger mummy bag) You want to be able to adjust so you don't sweat and get wet. I just picked up a canvas U.S. Navy sleeping bag bivy sack type thing for $5 at a surplus shop. I will use that as an outside cover.

Pick out your clothes before you go to bed and slip them underneath you, in between your sleeping bags (or in with you) and put any frozen or damp clothes underneath you, in between the bivy and outside sleeping bag. This will feel good in the morning.

If you are planning on making a quinsy to sleep in, pack a small tent in case you run into problems building one or your travel takes longer than planned.

Sleeping on a foam matt is better than a air matt because the earths ground temp is a constant 15 degrees (correct me if i'm wrong on this one?) Don't use a cot that is off the ground.

Keep busy, if you sit by a fire you will get cold.

Don't use a propane or fuel lantern or stove in a tent or shelter. (Mr. Heater buddy would be dangerous for sleeping as it burns up oxygen and does have some emissions)

Have an light weight outside shell (pants and jacket) to wear over your warm gear. Wear this to do anything that involves contact with snow. i.e.: digging out a quinsy and kneeling on the ice or snow while fishing. This will keep your important layers dry.

If you are on a budget hit the thrift and surplus stores for clothing and gear. Like everyone has stated use layers and shed layers to keep from sweating and getting wet.

I love winter camping in colder weather (- degrees). You stay dryer.

All along the Echo Trail in Ely there are great hikes in for overnight and weekend winter camping trips.

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I picked up the REI Killamajaro 0 degree on sale several weeks back. I tried using it for hunting, but I cooked myself.

Nice move on the thermarest. I have one too and they rock. Kinda spendy, but worth it. I've had mine since college and still works great. I've found that using my closed cell ridge rest under the thermarest works really well on those really cold nights.

You mentioned you can snowshoe off the CC trails on Lake Maria State Park. Are there hike-in camp sites available too? I'll have to check this out. Sounds like fun.

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on winter camping, you want to use a a closed cell foam pad. Thermaest are open cell pads. I usually carry one of each in the winter, layering on on top of each other. The closed cell foam should be next to the ground, since closed cell foam will block the dampness and cold from the ground.

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