Cold Camping

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Cold Camping

New postby shotguna on Fri 25 Aug 2006 02:10

Me and my buddy want to do a few weeks to a month of camping in cold climates. It would take place in Pennsylvania from the very end of fall to winter. We will need some very tough gear and money is very little an issue. What my question is to you guys is, what gear would you recommend? With links and/or pics would be great! Thanks
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New postby James on Fri 25 Aug 2006 09:00

1: Clothes. as usual, think layers, the last being the waterproof layer. Take good shoes.

2: A well insulating floor mat. Thermarest zrest, or inflatable thermarest are good.

3: A good sleeping bag with some margin

4: Tent or bivy ?

5: possibly cooking devices (check our recent post on Stoves)...

A lot of parameters depent on if you just go camping with car near, or hiking and camping, as in the second option, the weight is important factor to consider.
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New postby kolekojot on Fri 25 Aug 2006 09:39

Sleeping bag systems are best solutions for cold weater camping. They usualy consist of two bags one inside other, providing comfortable sleep in different temperatures.
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New postby belisarius on Fri 25 Aug 2006 12:03

Look in internet about the construction of snow caves.

I red a book about them, but I can't remember the writer.

Snow caves are good if you are not going to carry a tent. Are very comfortable and warm, much more than a tent.

In the book the writer also insist the need of getting all the time a good starting fire kit.

Winter camping is an incredible experience.
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New postby bigbore442001 on Fri 25 Aug 2006 12:41

The Keystone State offers a wonderous variety of climates. If you go to the eastern end of the state winter can be much more humid and you may run into rain, sleet, snow or all three at once. Last winter, here in New England, was very poor. We had little snow and abnormally warm temperatures.

If you go further west, the winter season can be snowier. Heading towards Pike and Erie County you can get the Lake Effect snows so one could make a snowcave.

But I would get a good tent. I have a 4 manb Kifaru which has a small woodstove in it. The thing works very well but I wished I had the 6 man for more room. It can be a tad crowded with even two people and all your stuff.

As others have stated, a good sleeping bag, preferably sythetic in that Pennsylvania can get humid and down isn't that great in that situation.

In addition, good wool clothing will help in day to day living.
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New postby Bear on Fri 25 Aug 2006 15:43

"and money is very little an issue."

Does this mean you have little money and need to be frugal or does it mean that you and your buddy are loaded and can afford the finest gear?
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New postby shotguna on Sat 26 Aug 2006 01:35

bigbore442001 wrote:Heading towards Pike and Erie County you can get the Lake Effect snows so one could make a snowcave.


haha, I LIVE in Erie county! The winters are extreme and can get into the low 20's and the summers can get into the 90's. Because of this I own an old Army Special Forces Mountaineering sleeping bag that I use for any type of camping. I would take one skillet, one pot, and one tea/coffee pot. I will probably take my rifle also because of threats. I have all the clothes I would need, but I was hoping someone here could help me devise a way of getting water? Taking that much water would be impossible, and I refuse to buy a purifier since i can boil snow, but does anyone have a better way? In case the snow isn't there when we need water?
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New postby faultroy on Sat 26 Aug 2006 04:48

Shotguna, I find your comments funny! The new trend is to go ultralight with your backpacking gear.
Thousands of people have hiked literally thousands of miles (no I am not kidding)with gear that is very very light. You really don't need tough gear what you really need it good quality very light gear.
For example, I good winter sleeping bag should be 700 to 800 loft down weighing in at maybe 3 lbs at max as opposed to the bag that you are describing weighing in at 8-9 lbs or more!
In addition, you can take some mid weight poly insulated underwear, with pile pants and a nylon pair of outer pants. That will keep you more than warm in the worst type of weather--down to -10 degrees F comfortably.
As far as water is concerned, if you are on Lake Erie or near any river, just dip your cup in and treat it with Aqua Mira.
I have a 24 ounce Heineken Can(weighs 2 ounces) that I use for water purification: make a fire, dip the can into a river (doesn't matter how dirty) put the can into the fire and let it boil for a few minutes--no, it does not matter if you boil it for 10 minutes as long as it goes into a roiling boil) and you have drinking water--you don't carry any with you unless you want to drink on the way.
I suggest you get on the website: http://www.backpacking.net and read the extensive info on winter camping--you've a lot to learn--enjoy.
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New postby bigbore442001 on Sat 26 Aug 2006 11:55

One of the things you can do when winter camping is to use a sled. It is far easier to tote a lot of equipment on a sled that to be burdened with a huge pack on your back. I have an orange heavy duty plastic sled that I use for ice fishing, winter camping and hauling deer out of the woods.

I think you will find that using such a system will make life much easier for you.
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New postby James on Sat 26 Aug 2006 19:17

Well, simple, you get snow, you need some sort of heating to obtain water, easy part.
Then, if you have no snow, and may need a purifier and desinfection to get the best out of any crap water you may cross, OR, to plan correctely your trip on a map in order to meet clear water at the right intervals, and use any kind of desinfection.
At last ressort, you can collect water from rain, make gypsy wells, follow bottom of valleys, check for signs of sources, etc...
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New postby shotguna on Sat 26 Aug 2006 21:14

I have never had the money to blow on expensive lightweight gear, I know how much I can carry, so that's what I carry.
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New postby British Red on Sat 26 Aug 2006 23:04

faultroy wrote: I have a 24 ounce Heineken Can(weighs 2 ounces) that I use for water purification: make a fire, dip the can into a river (doesn't matter how dirty) put the can into the fire and let it boil for a few minutes--no, it does not matter if you boil it for 10 minutes as long as it goes into a roiling boil) and you have drinking water--you don't carry any with you unless you want to drink on the way.


Faultroy,

A couple of points here. First up I would always suggest that a person carries water. If injured, slowed down or just plain tired, water is an essential. Next to hypothermia and trauma, lack of water will get you quicker than anything so, I must repctfully disagree with you there.

Secondly, boiling unfiltered water for a brief time doesn't guarantee safety. If there are lumps of dirt, animal fecal matter etc. contained in the water, the heat will not have time to penetrate and infection may still occur. Clearly boiling is more effective than not boiling, however filtration and boiling and or chemical treatment is the only safe recourse in certain areas.

I do understand the desire from some for ultralight - its one approach but far from the only one. Some deem the pursuit of distance the goal, others enjoy the journey more than the destination. There is a lot of pleasure to be had from solid well made kit and weight is not alway a huge issue (for pople canoeing or base camping for example). I for one prefer solid gear but not much of it. Ventile for example vastly improves on Goretex (and I have both). Many swear canvas Duluth packs are superior to nylon. I salute those who wish to follow the ultralight "trend" and wish them well - I'm too old for trends now though

Red
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New postby shotguna on Sat 26 Aug 2006 23:27

I agree with Red one hundred percent. I would rather carry a one pound plate around that i know is sturdy than a lightweight folding one that is bound to break/get lost/leak. I have a pot that I will probably carry, and I would never resort to something i think might break. It doesn;t matter if it would break or not, what matters is if I think it could break, cause if I don't feel comfortable with it, it is worthless.
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New postby British Red on Sun 27 Aug 2006 01:31

Shotguna,

Trying to answer your question on the water, there are several ways. First filter out any large matter - I have used a bandana in an emergency but any fine mesh works well. This is just to remove any large organic materials. Next boil or chemically treat. Preferably both. You can use stuff like puritabs (cheap and one tiny tab treats a litre). Leave for at least 30 mins before drinking. Iodine works too but should be avoided if you have thyroid trouble or are pregnant. Cheapest of all is plain, unscented household bleach. You can look up the right concentrations on many US sites - it is around 16 drops (from an eye dropper) per gallon. Chlorine bleach is nasty stuff though so I use puritabs Always wait 30 minutes after chemical treatment.
Chemical treatment does not remove Giardia or Cysts.

Really filtering (preferably through a proper water filter) followed by boiling or chemical treatment is best

HTH

Red
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New postby kolekojot on Sun 27 Aug 2006 11:13

Only problem with treating water is that boiling or any other light treatment doesn't remove heavy metals, and lets say pesticides can be removed only by active carbon.. In farming country, one can assume that any water contains pesticides.. And any water which passes by heavy industry factory is contaminated by heavy metals..

In Eastern Europe problem even in mountain waters is acid rains, which brings a lott of polution from the cities..

Water treatment is something which can't be taken lightly, just getting water in can, and boiling it. Thats best way to become sick on long terms.
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New postby British Red on Sun 27 Aug 2006 13:00

Spot on Bhogdan, ONLY (carbon and preferably active carbon and silver) filtering removes some things. ONLY chemical treatment removes others. The only safe way to treat all water is to use both (the "safe" one stage units generally have built in iodine as the chemical treatment). Of course you don't have to do it - its your call. But if you aren't doing both, you need to understand safe water location (for example the problems occasioned by coniferous run off, nitrates and other agricultural polutants. atmospheric contaminants etc.), or play roulette with your organs.

Good thread shotguna

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New postby faultroy on Tue 03 Oct 2006 01:10

I wanted to get back to this subject, Shotguna asked about gear for a long winter hike.
Now I believe that everyone should camp hike and backpack in the manner that they feel comfortable.
But that is not the same thing as saying it is optimum. Comments about filtration are not really valid in someplace like Pennsylvania. I lived in New Jersey (which is right next to Pennsylvania for 15 years. I know
the Eastern, Northeastern and Central Pennyslvannia area. Many well seasoned backpackers take no filtration system with them whatsoever. They have never been sick.
I find it bizarre that on a survival site that we have so many people afraid of what can happen by not optimally filtering water. The fact is that in many parts of the world, people drink water that some of us do not even consider fit to flush our toilets with. And on a number of sites, studies have been done on the cleanliness of the sponges used to wash our dishes--they are more germ infested than toilet bowl water!!
And yes, I may consider metal contamination of my water--if I was camping next to Chernobyl--common, let's get real here! In Pennsylvania, you can barely hike four miles without running into a grocery store!
I do not agree that any kind of clothing is optimum. Some is better than others. It has taken me so long to reply because on weekends I am out in the field.
For me, if the optimum gear would be wearing a Tutu, that is what I would wear. I don't have preconceptions. I only want what will make it easier and more comfortable to travel--and the lighter and more efficient my gear, the more stuff I can carry without the added weight penalty.
The newer fabrics are extremely tough and light.
I have a Gossamer Gear Mariposa Plus backpack that weighs 20 ounces and carries 4200 cubic inches of gear with a maximum weight of 35 lbs.
I also have an internal backpack that carries the same amount of cubic inches but weighs 5.6 lbs. Now which do you think I prefer?
My Mountain Hardwear Monkey Phur Polartec Jacket weighs 15 ounces. I can buy a Filson Wool/Sheepskin combination that weighs 4 lbs and gives about the same warmth. Which would you prefer to wear?
As far as Pants are concerned, I can wear a set of Blue Jeans weighing three to four times as much as my Cabelas Supplex Nylon Guide Pants, and will take six times longer to dry. Which do you think most people will choose?
Ventile Cotton does have some advantages--it won't melt under flame. But that is as far as the advantages go. So if you plan on hanging around a camp fire all the time, then use the Ventile. But if you plan on spending most of your time backpacking--which is what most people do when they are backpacking--then it is a very poor choice.
Wool is also a pretty poor choice. I usually carry a wool shirt with me, but that is because I like some of the properties of wool in certain applications. It certainly is not because I think wool is better than some of the synthetics that are out.
Mountain Hardware's Chugach Pant is an excellent winter choice for winter wear. These pants retail for $ 129.00 USD now, during winter.
If you purchase them off season, they usually sell for $75.00 USD. They weigh 1 lb 5 oz. Now compare this to a set of Carhart Insulated Pants--they weigh over 5 lbs with a canvas outside--and it takes a long time for them to dry and they cost about $65.00 USD. Now which is the average backpacker that has to carry all this stuff going to want to wear?
I'm surprised that I read posts by some of you that argue the advantages and disadvantages of down vs. synthetics. Some of you have no problem choosing synthetics in a sleeping bag, because of the advantages of preventing hypothermia utilizing synthetics under wet conditions. However when it comes to clothing everyone has to make a case for natural fibers. It is okay to be prejudiced, however you need to say that your prejudiced in favor of certain items even though you cannot justify it.
If purchased off season, you can get extremely effective light and modern gear at some very good prices. Will it be the newest and most modern? No, it will not, it may be a style that is on closeout, but the fact of the matter is that it is available.
I got a really nice Primaloft hooded coat on sale for $49.00 USD--in orange--no one wanted it. I am very happy with it.
I also got a Primaloft vest for $39.00 at the end of season closeouts.
I purchased a Cabelas 550 Down vest for $14.50 USD! So to say that high end gear is expensive is not really true if you know what you want to purchase and you wait until the end of year closeouts.
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New postby kolekojot on Wed 04 Oct 2006 11:41

Well anyone its own, ultralight gear simply doesn't work on terrenian I am usualy go for wintercamping. TRhere are to many blackebie torns, broken pine needles for ultralight gear to survive. Yes I use modern technical materials for some middle layers, but outer layers are usualy tornproof cotton, or Gabardene, or thicker nylon. Pants are Poly/cotton BDU, heavy boots, and pack is copy of Snugpack Rocketpack.. I do not carry down jackets, but I carry woolen sweaters and shirts. I also got some wery light windproof shirts, and will see how they wioll work when I am not close to fire.
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New postby ssj on Wed 04 Oct 2006 19:31

This is a good discussion. It seems to me that we are talking about two different philosophies in regards to the outdoors. Both work. Each philosophy requires a certain set of assumptions and group of gear to be successful. As long as we can agree to common goals like "leave no trace" and others (we can discuss that later) I see no reason why both camps can't coexist.

One philosophy, which I'll call ultralight, seems to be mainly focused on the idea that technological advances allow for the creation of lighter gear and that lighter gear is almost always better. This group has the advantage of being able to cover ground with the least amount of discomfort (usually). No need to argue about this point, I'm aware of plenty of exceptions.

The other philosophy, which I'll call traditional, seems to derive pleasure from using traditional, durable materials. The traditional group has the advantage of being able to live in the wild with minimal restocking and dependence on technology (usually). Again, no need to argue about this point, I'm aware of plenty of exceptions.

The main focus of both philosophies is to get out and enjoy the wilds. Either way that's done is good. My own preferences are sort of a combination of both philosophies, even though I don't get out overnight that much any more (health issues). I'm sort of stuck in the mindset of the '70's and '80's when the traditional was starting to give way to the ultralight and it's predecessors. On my first long hike (8 days) I took along a pair of wool pants that probably weighed 4 pounds! :yikes: :lmao: In the desert! :yikes: :lmao: Live and learn.

Another point to consider is to tailor your trip to the location. For instance, my last backpacking trip was into the Grand Canyon. Would you take an axe into the Grand Canyon? I wouldn't. There's nothing to cut and unless you like banging on soil and rocks there will be no use for the axe. Besides, that axe would feel like it weighed 20 pounds by the time you reached the top of the canyon.

Steve
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New postby James on Thu 05 Oct 2006 08:16

So very well said, Steve :thumb!:

I'll add in the parameters "legality", here open fires are forbidden most of the year, etc...
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Cold Camping

New postby dilligaf2u2 on Mon 30 Oct 2006 05:11

The rule with winter camping is to plan ahead, adjust and adapt! Did you plan on the 14 foot of snow that can fall? What about the water that formed one night and froze your tent to the ground? Did you plan on the bright sunny day that turned the ground to mush and the - 40F with winds howling at 60 MPH?

The last winter trip I took was in the Rockie Mountains last January. January 5th to February 6th to be exact.

The 3 of us old farts used maps to determine our wrought well before we went out. Planing is the key to survival out where we were at! The neariest coffee shop was several days walk away.

The 3 weekends before we went, we arranged restock points.

The idea of caring food and supplies for a 30 day hike was not an enjoyable thought. 30 days and 8 restock points. Better safe then dead, I always say!

If you have not done long term winter camping? Try (one) 3 or 4 day trip or perhaps six before you try it for longer then this. This will let you know how your equipment will function on longer treks, in changing conditions.

I will not get into the water issue! I filter, chem treat and boil. Yes even snow at 9,000 ft. This is time consuming and take away from the time you have for covering ground!

Us 3 old farts covered 80 miles in 30 days, with most of it in snow, at or near 9,000 ft alt. Give ot take 2,000 Ft in places.

I wish you luck! And I hope you try shorter trips first.

Dill
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New postby raiderrescuer on Mon 30 Oct 2006 15:27

How about reading Calvin Rutstrum's "Paradise Below Zero" ?
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Re: Cold Camping

New postby rg598 on Tue 19 Aug 2008 21:46

There are two things I would consider very important when winter camping. The first is the one mentioned by everyone, and that is a good sleeping bag. I carry only synthetic, and at the risk of upsetting some ultralighters, I would not risk down especially in winter-it just requires too much maintenance to be used properly.

The second item is a white gas stove. I use a Whisperlite International. In a lot of areas you will not be able to start a fire just anywhere, and you will need a stove. A white gas stove is the only one that will work properly and consistently in cold weather.

I am the type of guy who prefers reliability over light weight, but if I can have both, even better. That is why I carry a titanium pot (in the winter a 2L MSR pot). If I did not have titanium, I would be forced to go with hardened aluminum or a heavier metal. You will not catch me dead in the woods with a modified beer can for a pot. :yikes:

Another thing you might want to consider is a good lamp/flashlight, with a lot of batteries. The day is short, and the cold kills batteries very quickly.

As far as water, one thing that I have always noticed is that chemically treated swamp water still seems to resemble swamp water. Some people might be lucky enough to have access to clear mountain streams, but in NY, water is rare and usually resembles mud. While it is true that North American waters are fairly clean with respect to disease, I would not risk it for the sake of cutting weight. It only has to happen once, and if you are out in the woods, it will happen at some point. That is why I always carry an MSR MiniWorks filter. It is not a purifier, just a filter, so it will not kill viruses. For that you need some kind of chemical treatment.

Keep in mind that during winter most chemical treatments don’t work. Iodine and chlorine will not kill Giardia and Crypto at such low temperatures, and Aqua Mira will take up to four hours. Your best bet is a filter, but make sure that you keep it insulated in you pack, as when wet it might freeze and be damaged.
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