Gearing up for the Winter Camp out

It is that time again to start getting prepared for winter Camping.
We have discussed it, but now is the time to get out your pack and look at it.
Take a solid inventory and shake yourself down.
Take out some of your summer gear and replace it with your cold weather gear.

Some things to look at:

1. Zippers. Are all your zippers working properly? On your sleeping bag? On your jackets?
How about adding some simple zipper pulls… you may need it on both your clothing and your backpack when you have gloves on. Sure makes getting gear easier.

2. How about your tent? Did it leak last campout? You might want to get some seam sealer and tighten up those seams. Adding zipper pulls to your tent can be real helpful also.
Check your rain fly and add guy lines. Also think about your footprint. Does it match the size and shape of your tent. An odd fitting footprint could lead to water pools.
An extra tarp folded under your tent will provide an additional layer of insulation too.

3. Clothing. There is so much to be said about clothing, so I will give you a general shake down.
First… NO COTTON.. Cotton kills! It acts like a sponge and does not dry fast. Keeping that cold wet on your body will throw into Hypothermia.
Second… Wear your clothing in layers.. Remember, LOOSE IN LAYERS!
A good base layer of long underwear; Polypropylene and other Hydrophobic fabrics – polypropylene is a synthetic, plastic fiber which offers dead air space and a fiber which cannot absorb water. The fiber is hydrophobic so it moves the water vapor away from the source (the body). Polypropylene layers are extremely effective worn directly against the skin as a way of keeping the skin from being wet and reducing evaporative heat loss. As the water moves away from the body it will evaporate, but each additional millimeter of distance between your skin and the point of evaporation decreases the amount of body heat lost in the evaporative process. DO NOT WEAR a T-Shirt under your Base layer.. it defeats the purpose.

After your base layer, add a shirt and pants. Jeans are not good in the winter. Wool pants or dry wicking pants are what you want to stay dry and warm. A good pair of snow pants over the base layer will do also.

Add a Fleece or Pile layer next. Polar Fleece keeps water off of you and retains warmth.
Then add your outer layer. A good wind resistant and water proof or resistant jacket.

Do not forget to cover your head. Most the body heat escapes from your head. – because the head has a very high surface to volume ratio and the head is heavily vascularized, you can lose a great deal of heat (up to 70%) from the head. Therefore, hats are essential in winter camping. The adage – if your toes are cold, put on a hat – is true. A balaclava is particularly effective and versatile. A face mask may be required if there are high wind conditions due to the susceptibility of the face to frostbite.

Keep your hands covered too- mittens are warmer that gloves because the fingers tend to keep each other warm, rather than being isolated as in gloves. It is useful to have an inner mitten with an outer shell to give you layering capabilities. Also “idiot strings” are important to keep you from losing mittens in the snow. However, gloves are always essential as well in winter because of the need for dexterity in various operations.

Keep your Feet warm- finding the right foot gear depends a great deal on the activity you are involved in as well as temperature and environment. In areas with only a few inches of snow you can hike in just boots.
Socks – one of the best systems for keeping feet warm is using multiple layers. Start with a thin polypropylene liner sock next to the skin to wick moisture away followed by 1 – 2 pairs of wool or wool/nylon blend socks. Make sure the outer socks are big enough that they can fit comfortably over the inner layers. If they are too tight, they will constrict circulation and increase the chances of frostbite. Keeping your feet dry is essential to keeping your feet warm you may need to change your socks during the day. Foot powder with aluminum hydroxide can help.
High Gaiters – are essential for winter activity. They keep snow from getting into your boots and keep your socks and pants legs free from snow.

We have discussed this before, but perhaps the most important item is your sleeping bag.
You need to stay warm at night or your entire trip will be miserable.
Take a look at your rating and then see what you can do to increase it, or rather decrease it.
If you have a 15 degree bag.. you want to go down to at least 5 degrees. You can do this by adding a liner or a bivy cover. This adds about 10 degrees of warmth to your bag.
Double bagging also works, by taking a thin summer weight bag and inserting into your mummy bag, you can add warmth, be careful when doing this though. Make sure the bag is not to tight on you and that you can zip up both bags.
Sleep with a hat on. This retains the escaping heat. Make sure you stay on your sleeping pad also.
Finally, if all else fails, a fleece blanket inserted into your sleeping bag will add warmth.

Stay tuned, we will post more on winter gear!

Get your head ready for snow camping! Its an adventure you do not want to miss.

Happy Scouting!

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