57

Common mistakes, some of which I've made: Unfamiliarity with equipment - this isn't specific to winter camping of course, but if you've used all the gear before in milder conditions, then there's obviously less that's new to you. So if you're using a different tent to summer, make sure you've spent a night in it before the winter, so that you know where ...


40

Some common mistakes, definitely nothing close to exhaustive, so feel free to edit (I'll make it a community wiki if appropriate). If the point is about what you should do, the mistake is not doing it ;) Underestimating the sleeping pad, You need a well insulated pad. There are various designs, but while R-Value isn't an absolute measure, it still is a good ...


35

To add to the already-good other contributions: Wearing cotton clothing is a common mistake. When cotton gets wet (from sweat or external sources), it doesn't quickly get dry, and that cold moisture close to your body conducts heat away. To underscore another answer's point even more, layering is also important; use non-cotton layers wherever possible. ...


33

As to why you're still cold with those specs: it happens to me as well, and I think the specs are for the 'average' person meaning not only average amount of body fat but also average temperature regulation (as in: certain people feel cold at x°C, while others might already feel cold at x + 2°C or so, you get the point). So it might be possible that you have ...


27

Wool does not melt or drip This answer might surprise you: wool! Wool (...) does not melt or drip(.) Wool ignites at a higher temperature than cotton and some synthetic fibers. It has a lower rate of flame spread, a lower rate of heat release, a lower heat of combustion, and does not melt or drip; it forms a char which is insulating and self-extinguishing, ...


26

The biggest heat loss will be to the concrete floor and there too will be the greatest condensation from body moisture, with potential for mould growth and rotting. I would provide insulation and a vapour barrier, which needs to be on the warm side of the insulation. So for a long-ish term solution I would have a sheet of 25 or 50mm expanded polystyrene on ...


25

If you're consistently cold in your sleeping system, then you need to change your system. An adequate sleep system for cold weather constitutes two sleeping pads: a solid foam sleeping pad underneath of an insulated air mattress. Your sleeping bag should be rated to well below the temperature you're sleeping in. I don't know who comes up with these ...


19

Here are some other things you can try, Fill a water bottle with hot water, wrap it in a t-shirt and put that inside your sleeping bag. Don't drink warm tea before you go to bed, as that will increase the chances of having to get out of bed or being uncomfortable all night long. On the other hand, eating before bed will give your body fuel during the night. ...


18

Winter outdoor recreation can be a place where the margin of error is a lot smaller than in warm-weather/typical camping season. Winter stuff also just takes a lot more overall energy to do anything, meaning that energy management (and learning how to do things when you are cold and tired) is key. With that in mind, two mistakes I have not yet seen mentioned ...


17

Moisture is absolutely the biggest problem here. It will build up under you, so you have to get yourself and your sleeping bag off the concrete. A bare minimum would be a ground sheet and a foam topper-pad, and you need to lift them off the floor in the daytime to dry along with your sleeping bag. An air mattress might seem appealing, but they're awkward ...


16

I think it is easiest to see the difference here: Specification Chart The heavier one is a semi rectangular bag while the lighter one is a mummy bag. Both bags have the same amount of loft, which is usually the key to warmth, but in this case the difference in cut matters.


15

In the context of camping, it's perfectly safe to wear a down jacket. Keep in mind that fleece is typically also made from synthetics, and so can be expected to have similar properties to your down jacket. (Actually somewhat worse, given the texture.) A table of synthetic fiber characteristics at http://www.tensiontech.com/tools_guides/...


15

Of course. You can (almost) always cool down a 4-season tent, but you can't very well protect a 2-season tent from a blizzard. The primary concern is weight, but if you're going to be camping near a glacier with -5°C winds, you'll want a sturdy tent, so that's going to come at a certain cost of weight. To keep a tent cooler, you can pitch it in the ...


15

As the others point out, you need to get off the ground a bit; my suggestion is to get hold of a couple of wooden pallets - where I live (UK), I can find them for free wherever there is building work going on. put them on the concrete floor, then something reasonably flat on top and finally the tent. This will allow air to circulate under the whole thing and ...


14

What has already been said: pee and don't drink before sleeping. Have a bowel movement in the evening if necessary. The full rectum pressing upon the bladder can trigger urination. From the same reason, avoid eating a lot of fruits, beans and other foods that cause gas, which can also trigger urination. Avoid eating large amount of salt. Sodium keeps water ...


13

Yes, the R-value will add of your different layers. If you wear layer A with R=5 and layer B with R=2.5, the overall insulation value will be R=7.5. To explain this a bit, we think of two layers or flat walls which interact only due to thermal conduction. This is just a model and in reality other effects will come in play. The Fourier Law for thermal ...


12

If you want to test a sleeping pad's insulation yourself at home, then the way to do that would be to try sleeping outside your house in and see how they work. That is worth doing because you might sleep differently from the next person. On the other hand, it seems like there is no simple way to retest for the R-value assigned by the manufacturer as that ...


12

The tent will definitely be warmer because it keeps the wind away. As you are sleeping your body produces heat and a tent helps keep that warmer air around instead of it blowing away in the wind. With that said, tents don't provide a huge amount of insulation, and so perhaps a better sleeping bag is needed.


11

Well... a 4 season tent is a 4 season tent... You can use it during the whole year without any problems while a 2 season tent might not be as pleasant during the winter. I receive questions like this all the time. "What sort of boot should I get?", Packs, tents... My answer is kind of consistent for most of them... You buy gear for what you are going to use ...


11

A point others haven't stressed enough is that the sleeping bag specs I have encountered are way off, in my experience. My experience is that the sleeping bag should be as warm as possible, under almost all conditions. As a family when we go by car we actually bring our down blankets for camping, one of the most comfortable and luxurious experiences on the ...


11

Don't underestimate condensation. Other answers have mentioned sleeping mats. The problem is that if you're camped on cold ground, you've got a cold groundsheet, and that's going to get condensation on it. Even if you've got a sleeping mat, that's not much help if your clothes get wet while you're moving around in the tent. Or when your sleeping bag ...


11

Haven't seen this one yet: It may be tempting, but don't pitch your tent under a snow-covered tree, unless you're prepared for that snow to fall on you. Speaking from (youthful) experience here.


10

Putting together a lot of ideas already covered and adding some tips I've gotten over time. I don't have much natural insulation and get cold easily, so these tips have all been important for me. Ensure you have the proper gear. Sounds like you already do, but maybe need a more appropriate sleeping pad to insulate you from the ever-cold ground. I usually go ...


10

Underestimating how hard it is to walk in the snow I have done quite a lot of summer hiking and decided to go in winter on a track I knew well. The track was layered with about a meter of snow. It was not a dangerous one, topographically speaking (no risk to fall off a cliff or something) but we clearly underestimated how tired we would be walking in the ...


9

Cotton is the dominant bedding material choice worldwide for several reasons and as long as you aren't getting into the bag drenched and have adequate water control for your environment, I can't see the lining choice being a make or break factor in warmth. I can see it making the bag much more comfortable for casual use. Furthermore, for winter camping in ...


9

It is not clear whether you are motivated mainly by scientific curiosity or mainly by a desire to ensure comfort in the wild. My answer assumes the latter. This answer adds only one point to Charlie's excellent answer, and refutes one of your reservations to his answer. A stringent test as to whether your pad is good enough for all (or almost all) of the ...


9

I have camped for a month in March/April in Alaska. The biggest problem that we had was managing moisture of clothing, and bedding. Things slowly get more moist, largely from breathing and you eventually have trouble keeping warm. Having a way to dry things out at some point would really help. Otherwise being very careful with ventilation will help.


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