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55

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 ...


38

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 ...


30

This was tested and “busted” on MythBusters: Turns out, just one alcoholic drink could make you feel warmer, but it actually lowers your core body temperature. How does alcohol employ this rule of opposites? Alcohol may make your skin feel warm, but this apparent heat wave is deceptive. A nip or two actually causes your blood vessels to ...


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-...


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 ...


22

Three things pee right before you go to sleep. I know it seems obvious, but people forget keep warm and sleep well. You can wake up just bursting to pee in the morning, or you can wake up kinda needing to pee at 3am and you can't get back to sleep. The sounder you sleep the more likely you can sleep through kinda needing to pee don't drink a LOT of liquid ...


20

It is much better to avoid frostbite than to treat it. You can easily lose fingers and toes to frostbite. When you are camping in the winter, you cannot go into the lodge and warm up like you do snow skiing. You should really pay attention to frostbite. If it is much below freezing and you have numb fingers or toes, you should take some kind of action. If ...


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

Please don't drink alcohol to stay warm. It may make you feel slightly warmer temporarily, but it isn't actually helping you. According to my favourite volume on Wilderness Medicine (page 156), a small nip won't hurt you if you already have a cold-induced injury. However, it is strongly correlated with cold-induced injury, due to the cognitive impairment ...


16

From my comment - Some people keep a jar in the tent to pee in. I prefer not to. :) When the kids were young and we all went camping, my wife did this so she and the kids wouldn't have to leave the tent, warm weather or cold.


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 ...


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 ...


14

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/...


14

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.


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

I have found sleeping with my boots inside the bag is the ONLY way to go when it is really cold out. Moderately cold, sure you can tough out the re-thaw in the morning - but real cold... forget it. It is tough to get over the psychological barrier of putting boots in your bag - but it will make a difference. A few points to consider: During the day, sweat ...


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 ...


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.


11

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.


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 ...


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