Subscribe to a magazine

The Great Outdoors - Family Camping Guide

Tent
Wendy Frazier | Writer
Posted November 1, 2001
Photographers: 4-Wheel & Off-Road and Hot Rod Archives

Fall 2001 Edition

*Winter Wilderness Basics
*Vehicle Winterizing
*Giant Get-Gear Directory

Pack It Up
Camping Clues For Winter Fun
This isn't your average arctic, warm-your-toes-by-the-cabin-fire, hot-cocoa, off-road trip. This is your frozen nubs, winter wilderness camping trip guide. If there weren't a need for nonfreezing shoelaces, they wouldn't be available. Camping in the winter is COLD. But it does have its advantages. Like no gnats, mosquitoes, or other pests. And if you're lucky enough to live in a snow state, that means there'll be no brushing up against poisonous green stuff. But with the good comes the bad, and that is surviving the bitter cold by evading frostbite and hypothermia.

So why do people defy Mother Nature's torture and go camping when it's cold? Is it the yearning for a primitive sense of natural surroundings, the crisp clean air, or the responsibility of roaming unmapped freedom?

There are many reasons people like to camp in the wilderness. However, you can never outdo the reason of listening and telling great camping stories. They are the best-especially the "how I survived winching, Pull-Paling, and digging our way out of the snow" stories, or the "how I had to defrost my digits" stories. Plus, how often do you get an opportunity to dream under the stars?

Snow or sleet, rain or shine, tent or truck camping, hunting or bird watching, cold weather camping can be possible. Here are the basics.

Snow Sanctuary
When looking for a new tent, look for setup ease, strength and durability of materials, and cost. Newer tents include shock-corded poles so that you can easily pop together a shelter in 5 minutes. If you're planning on camping in the winter make sure that your tent has a rain fly and that the seams have a plastic tape construction. Mountain Hardware makes a practical Room for Three tent that has a killer rain fly and is designed for extreme conditions.

Practice setting up your new tent before you actually get out into the wild. That way you won't get frustrated and ruin a perfectly good camping trip. Use a little common sense when picking a spot for your tent. Be certain to set down a waterproof ground cloth or tarp like Mountain Hardware's Footprint, and remember to check the surrounding area for hibernating bear caves and the like. Carefully check the ground where you want to place your tent, as you don't want anything poking into your ground cover or the floor of the tent. Check for stones, branches, and the like, and then get to work setting up the tent.

Sleeping Pads
There are three types of sleeping pads-open cell, closed cell, and air mattress styles. Pads that use self-inflating technology are mostly open-cell pads like the Therma-Rest LE, which uses an AirChannel foam (picture tiny plastic air bubbles squished together). All you have to do is open the air valve, which allows air to fill the pad, and then close the valve before you lie down. These pads are simple to use and convenient to store and carry and offer waterproof protection from the ground. They are also beneficial in insulating your body's heat during a cold night. Plus, you can roll them up and stuff them into a pack.

Closed-cell pads are made of Polyolefin closed-cell foam (picture tiny popped air bubbles squished together) and offer insulation and protection from snow and sand, and they won't absorb water.

While regular air mattresses are the least expensive sleeping cushion, they are not very effective in cold weather, as your body heat has to convect in the large air chamber below you to keep you warm. The process is not very energy efficient, as you should conserve your energy for keeping yourself warm instead of the mattress. Single pads are OK for spring/summer nights, but during the winter you'll want to double-up to keep your body heat as close to your body as possible.

You'll want a closed cell close to the ground and an open-cell pad close to you for comfort.

Sources

Mountainsmith
Golden, CO 80401
800-551-5889
www.mountainsmith.com
Primus
Lander, WY 82520
307-332-0901
www.primuscamping.com
Garmin
Olathe, KS 66062
913-397-8200
www.garmin.com
Adventure Medical Kits
Oakland, CA 94621
800-324-3517
www.adventuremedicalkits.com
Cabela's
Sidney, NE 69160
800-237-4444
www.cabelas.com
Leatherman
Portland, OR 97220
503-253-7826
www.leatherman.com
Lowa Boots
Stamford, CT 06907
203-353-0116
www.lowaboots.com
Sierra Designs
Boulder, CO 80301
800-736-8592
www.sierradesigns.com
Swarovski
Cobra
773-889-8870
www.cobra.com
Coleman
ITT Night Vision
Roanoke, VA 24019
800-448-8678
Mechanix Wear
Valencia, CA 91355
800-222-4296
www.mechanix.com
Columbia River Knife & Tool
Knives
Lowrance Electronics
800/324-1356
www.lowrance.com
Buck Knives
Knives
Magellan Corp.
GPS
Golight Inc.
Flashlights
Seattle Sports
GPS
Essential Gear Inc.
Greenfield, MA 01301
www.essentialgear.com
Princeton Tec
princetontec.com
Nikon
631/547-4200
www.nikonusa.com
AKU USA
Boots
Alico Sports
Boots
Alpina Sports Corp.
Boots
Alps Mountaineering
Packs, sleeping bags
Apelco/Raytheon Electronics
Communication, radar, compasses
American Camper
Sleeping bags
Arc'Teryx
Packs
Armadillo
Tents
Artiach/Appalachian Mountain Supply
Sleeping pads
Artisan Gear
Bags, packs
Avid Outdoor
Tents, cookware
Brenthaven
Packs
Bridgedale
Socks
The Brunton Co.
Binoculars, GPS, compasses
Burris Savvy Optics
Binoculars
Byer Manufacturing
Camp furniture
Camping Gaz
Stoves
Camp Trails
Packs
Canon USA
Binoculars
Caribou Mountaineering
Packs
Columbia
Boots, clothing
Craftsman/Sears
Flashlights, tools
Crazy Creek Products Inc.
Sleeping pads
Dachstein/K.D. Sports
Boots
Dalgren Footwear
Socks
Danner Shoe
Boots
Deep E Co.
Boots
Design Salt
Sleeping bags
Diamond Brand
Packs, tents
Downright Ltd./ Wolverine Sleeping Bags
Sleeping bags
Down-to-Earth (Metolius)
Sleeping pads
Eagle Creek
Travel Gear
EDKO Alpine Designs
Packs
Eureka
Packs, tents
Fila USA
Packs, boots
Five Ten Co.
Boots, shoes
Fujinon Inc.
Binoculars
Garmont
Boots
General Ecology
Water treatment
Gerber/Fiskars
Camping axes, knives
Glacier Gloves
Gloves
Glowmaster
Cookware
Granite Gear
Packs
Gregory Mountain Products
Packs
Gronell
Boots
Helly Hansen
Jackets
High Country
Outdoor Products
Hi-Tec Sports
Boots
Integral Designs
Sleeping bags
J. Edwards Co.
Gloves
JANDD Mountaineering
Packs
JanSport Inc.
Packs
Ka-bar Knives
Knives
Kenwood Communications
Mobile radios, communication
Kershaw Knives Kai Cutlery, USA Ltd.
Knives
Kluane Mountaineering Ltd.
Sleeping bags
Lafuma America Inc.
Packs, clothing, sleeping bags
Leica Camera
Binoculars
Lifeline Medical Inc.
First aid kits
Limmer Boot Inc.
Boots
Loon Outdoors
Sanitation
Lowe Alpine Systems
Packs, backpacking equipment, ja
Madden Mountaineering
Packs
Maptech
GPS
Marmot Mountain Ltd.
Packs, tents, sleeping bags
Maxon America Inc.
Communication
MEI (Outdoor Legacy)
Packs
Merrill Footwear
Boots
Midland
Communication
Millet
Packs
Minolta
Binoculars
Montrail
Boots
Moss Tents
Tents
Mountain Equipment Co-Op
Tents, sleeping bags
Mountain Quest/ Kutmaster
Knives, tools
Myerchin Inc.
Flashlights
Nalgene Products
Water bottles, canteens
Natalex
Packs
Natural Balance
Packs
Nikwax USA
Footwear
Nite Lite Co.
Flashlights
Noall Tents
Tents
No Rinse Laboratories
Sanitation, no-rinse products
Optimus
Stoves
Osprey Packs
Bags, packs
Outdoor Innovations Ltd.
Tents
Outdoor Products
Packs
Peregrine Outfitters
Cookware
Phillips Environmental Products Inc.
Sanitation
Planetoutdoors.com
Outdoor gear
Polar Barriers
Sleeping pads
Polar Equipment
Water treatment
Raichle Molitor USA
Boots
Ritchie Navigation
Compass
Safetystore
First aid, safety
Safewater Anywhere
Water treatment
Salomon North America
Boots
San Martin
Boots
Savage Gear
Packs, climbing gear
Sebertech
Tools
Serratus
Packs
Shakespeare Electronics
Communications
Silva/JWA
GPS
Si-Tex
Communication
SmartWool
Wool socks
Sog Specialty Knives
Knives
Sorel
Boots
Speedtech Instruments
Compass
Standard Communications
Communication
Steiner/Pioneer Research
Binoculars
Streamlight Inc.
Flashlights
Superfeet Worldwide
Footwear
Supply Pro
Gloves
SweetWater
Water treatment
Swiss Army Brands Inc.
Knives, tools
Swiss-Tech/LKL Innovations Ltd.
Tools
Tasco
Binoculars
Technica
Boots, footwear
Thompson/Center
Firearms
Timberline Filters
Water treatment
Tough Traveler Ltd.
Packs, bags
Trukke Winter Sports Inc.
Boots
Ultimate Survival
Tools
Vasque
Boots
Vibram
Footwear
Vortex Backpacks
Packs
Western Mountaineering
Sleeping bags
Wiggy's Inc.
Sleeping bags
Wild Things Inc.
Sleeping bags
Wisconsin Pharmacal
Water treatment
Woods Canada Ltd.
Sleeping bags
Woolrich
Clothing
Yeoman/Weems & Plath
GPS
Yukon
Boots
Zamberlan
Boots, footwear
Zodiak Outback Gear
Sanitation
ZZ Manufacturing
Stoves
Load More Read Full Article

Comments

Advertisement