Survivalism & Self Sufficiency Topics > Outdoors Activities

winter backpacking

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In january I'm going backpacking for a weekend. It has been along time since I've done this in temperatures under 32F. I have all the clothing I need, with the exception of a face mask- gloves- and insulated socks.

Is there any gear that you guys could recommend?  Are there any kinds of foods I should bring to help me stay warm?


Random thoughts based on some cold weekends as a scout leader a few years back:
Take something for your skin- I use Bag Balm - being outside for 48 hrs in those temps chaps my fingers and face pretty badly.
Only synthetics and/or silk should touch your skin. no cotton. 
Layer up - for me two light layers underneath (including feet) always worked better than one heavy layer.
Ventable outer layers on upper and lower body makes life easier with changing terrain temps and levels of exertion.
Take unscented baby wipes in a Ziploc baggie to tidy up hands feet etc- my feet stayed warmer in a clean pair socks if they were wiped down first. At bedtime I would clean my feet and put on the next day's liner socks on and wear them in the sleeping bag.
I always got my stove ready to boil water just outside my tent door the night before; having a cup of hot coffee before I get all the way out of my sleeping bag helped my attitude significantly.  If my boots were clean enough I put them in my sleeping bag with my legs when sitting up & drinking the coffee; warming them up some before i put them on made a huge difference in the transition during the cold mornings.
If the temps are much below freezing at night (only a couple of times for me) I put a nalgene bottle with the top very tightly screwed on in the sleeping bag so I would have water and not ice with breakfast.
It's been a while and this is all that comes to mind -

Don't trust the weather forcast; assume it will be 10 degrees cooler, 15 mph windier and wetter.
Personal pref: High calorie food, IE higher fat food, is what I crave when out in the cold for extended periods.

Get a pair of expedition weight Smartwool socks. They're $15 and worth it.

To stay warm at night, empty your bladder before you go to bed. Seriously. It helps.

I used to love winter camping. Doing the Dad thing now so it's on hiatus a bit.  =)   I used to cross country ski with my backpack (either on a sled behind me or on my back) and camp at night. Man, what a workout!


make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the weather.  I know that sounds pretty simple but my scouts have tried showing up to winter camp outs with summer sleeping bags despite warnings that this will get them an instant trip home (and it does).  My bag is rated to -15 and i have survived -15 camping trips wishing i had a -25 or better bag. 

keeping hydrated also keeps you warmer, I just got done doing some muzzleloader hunting in Northern Minnesota in -10 deg F temps, thats damn cold... I didn't bring a face mask but ended up borrowing one from my father in law. I'm sure you know enough to "not ever sweat" so layering is a must. I can 2nd the smartwools I love em and $12 to $20 for socks seems stupid until you have tried them, but I also recommend doubling up on your socks. If your goign to be on the move allot wear silk or very light thermals otherwise you will sweat.

If your going to be camping where you will have campfires one of my tricks is putting hot rocks from the fire in your boots at night to help dry them out and them putting the boots in the tent with you, or add the rocks in the morning nice to slip on warm boots...


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