Loc: Bucyrus, OH. USA
Hey everyone, I have three daughters ages 7-13 and to my delight they do not want to retire their gear for the winter. They ask why can't we go in the winter to which I said well I ....... Ok well we went to a local outfitter The Outdoor Source in Columbus Ohio. They are great!! They had a seminar on winter backpacking. Very informative and the staff was helpful as always with answering questions and all. We are thinking over an overnight just outside at home to get a feel for it first. Then we will see. So have any of you tried this? Any tips or suggestions? Thanks, Steven
I'd say it depends on where you are going and what winter means there. I personally would not go very far with kids in winter, because here it means very deep snow, subfreezing and sometimes subzero night temps, and the margin for error is slim. I would sooner take them to where 3 season camping is possible in Nov - March, fortunately Californians have lower elevation regions along the coast where snow is minimal or nonexistant. Snow gear and having multiple adults to play sherpa would be important for safety and accomodating the increase in gear/clothing for harsher conditions.
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki
I started winter backpacking with my dad when I was around 13-14 and that was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. We were in snowshoes, it definitely got pretty cold at night, and my dad wasn't up-to-date on ultralight techniques but it was fine. We always used a blue tarp as a shelter (no bugs in the winter!) and brought plenty of warm clothes.
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Check the winter forum for tips on winter camping. By winter, I mean cold weather with snow on the ground. I used to live in Northern Ohio. Winter there just meant miserable cold, wet weather, sometimes really cold as I recall, but not enough snow to be enjoyable most of the time.
For snow camping, get a copy of Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book. It is about half skiing and half camping. Well worth the price-about $10 or so online, even if you are not skiing.
For Ohio weather, your 3 season gear will probably work fine-meaning tent and stove. Warm clothes are essential, learn how to layer up and get warm, dry footwear. Sorel boots can be found at bargain prices on eBay. They are a good choice for an inexpensive winter boot. Not sure if they come in kid's sizes.
Wet and cold are your enemy. You probably learned that in the class you took. You don't need to spend a fortune on clothes or gear-the really top flight and light gear, yes, but things like wool sweaters can be found at secondhand shops for next to nothing and they work really well.
You can be ultralight in winter if you know what you are doing, are willing to compromise comfort and your margin of error for safety and spend a fortune on gear. Otherwise, going UL in winter, regardless of what you may read here, is foolish. I drag (literally, because I tow a sled) way more stuff than most people carry because I go alone and like to be comfortable. If I was a perfect weather predictor, I could leave my tent at home. I'm not and neither is the NWS. Good, but not perfect. My winter tent should withstand most major storms in the places I go, so in spite of it being heavy and bulky, along it comes.
btw, I'm not wearing that parka in my picture just because I like the color.
Edited by TomD (01/04/1203:45 AM)
Don't get me started, you know how I get.
I question if the 7-year old is really old enough for serious winter camping. I agree with OM- camp out in the backyard. Graduate to car camping in the winter. Choose some weekends with forecast terrible weather so you can see what it is like. You can just get in the car and turn on the heater if things get epic. Be sure to really simulate a backpack trip- OK to have emergency clothing in the car, but really spend the day and night AS IF the car were not there. When all that is done, do some day hiking over snow or with snowshoes (or x-country ski) in order to get these skills honed. THEN, go on a winter backpack. I also agree that there should be one adult for each child until the child gets into the teens.
Go to the winter camping forum and read up - theres lots of general winter camping info there - do not do this unprepared. I recently started a thread about camping on your back porch. You will need easy access to a bathroom, boots and coats (and flashlights)where they can be easily found at night. lots of insulated pads and stuff, but the point is that its lots of fun to camp in the snow in your own yard where you can go into the house. Jim
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.
I question if the 7-year old is really old enough for serious winter camping. I agree with OM- camp out in the backyard. Graduate to car camping in the winter. ....
For the record, I certainly did this when I was about 7 or 8. At that time it was usually just a night out at a time, and not depth of winter at first (October/November in Alberta) but that's how you can start out just fine.
Loc: Santa Cruz CA, Sierra Hiker
I took my kids winter camping when they were that age. It was the most fun trips we ever had and they still will tell you to this day (they are in their 30's) that those were their favorite trips! But...I started them late winter when the weather was warm in the days. We used ensolite pads which doubled as sleds, and to this day even if I bring a thermarest in the winter, I bring a non air pad for under it in case I get a leak. I had good bags and tons of warm clothes thus the trips were very short distances. Good luck!
Loc: SF Bay Area, CA
+1 Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book +1 the kids will get wet and cold
besides hot chocoate and handwarmers, bring nalgene bottles that you could pour boiling water in, put a sock over, and have a hot water bottle to warm them up.
My daughter and her friends *LOVED* winter backpacking, or in our case snowshoeing. The kids loved building snow structures for camp like... othouse, kitchen, platform for shelter and/or snow cave. We haven't made an igloo, would love to try sometime.