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#83971 - 12/01/07 11:09 PM Snow camping
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
Howdy,

I need some pointers on what gear to get for snow camping. I have a zero degree bag, but I haven't really been happy with its warmth. The thing was $40 bucks and it packs down to nothing so that's why I've been using it.

The only things I think I really need other than better clothes are snow shoes and umm... like pants that won't get wet. After coming back from the mountains today, that's really all that was my trouble.

Both sleeping bags and snow shoes are dang expensive. Maybe I can make my own snow shoes cheaply some how, but a small warm bag will probably just cost a bunch.


I think that's about it, but could you guys tell me a little of what you bring specially for snow camping (gear/clothes etc). Up to your thighs snow camping I mean. :-)

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#83972 - 12/02/07 12:17 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
The winter forum is full of threads on winter camping. Start reading them and go back a couple of years. Also look at the winter gear list (link from the Home Page). There are several threads with gear lists posted by members, me included, so I am not going to repeat it. Search for my name and they should all pop up since I have posted in most of those threads.

I suggest doing a lot of online research about winter camping and read a few books. Allen & Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book is a good one to start.

Gearing up for safe winter camping is not a cheap proposition. There are ways to economize, but some things can't be avoided without increasing your risk.

You can find gear on eBay, but you need to know what you are looking at before bidding. Don't take product descriptions on eBay seriously unless you know the brand and the product already.
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#83973 - 12/02/07 07:08 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
Rick Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 708
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Any type of rain pant will work. They need to big enough to layer over some fleece or poly L.J.'s. You do not need to make a fashion statement, you need to stay dry.

Waterproof gaiters.

Snowshoes, well, read the recent thread on shoes. Buy used if you can. Buy quality if you can afford it. Nothing is worse than post holeing your way back to the trail head because a cheap harness broke.

I always bring a piece of closed cell foam to kneel and sit on.

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#83974 - 12/03/07 10:35 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
strider2u Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/03
Posts: 92
Loc: Bay Area, CA
There is very little likelyhood that a $40 sleeping bag will keep you warm when you are snow camping. On snow you will need a good insulating pad underneath you, a good quality sleeping bag, down if you can afford it and keep it dry, a good quality (wool is good) hat and good socks to stay warm. You should also keep something high in carbs to eat during the night to refuel your furnace when you get really cold.

You can't compensate for inadequate insulation between the snow and your bag, but if you have a marginal bag you can at least sleep in your clothes to make up somewhat for the bag.

Snow camping should not be taken lightly. Things can become very difficult and dangerous for you in a hurry if you are not properly prepared.

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#83975 - 12/03/07 10:59 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: strider2u]
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
Exactly.

Although for some people it is best to learn by making the mistake. Making a mistake in snow camping sure wakes you up to really preparing. As long as you prepare or know enough to survive you'll be fine. What needs to be learned is how to stay comfortable and efficient.

At least that's what it is too me. You have to go in a situation knowing you might have to leave all your gear and even run all the way back in the middle of the night to make it to the next day.

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#83976 - 12/03/07 11:21 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
The key is to learn from others' mistakes. Read my old trip reports and you will learn a lot. Not because I am some winter camping genius, but because I made mistakes that anyone can learn from.

I would rather learn what not to do in the comfort of my living room than freezing my you know what off somewhere in the snow. I read virtually every post here, especially about winter camping. It is well worth the time.

Again, here are my favorite quotes from people who would know-

"Adventure is just bad planning." Roald Amundsen (18721928).

"Having an adventure shows that someone is incompetent, that something has gone wrong. An adventure is interesting enough in retrospect. Especially to the person who didn't have it." Vilhjalmur Stefansson, my life with the esquimo.


Edited by TomD (10/04/09 11:31 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#83977 - 12/03/07 11:45 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: TomD]
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
I wish I could test winter camping in my living room

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#83978 - 12/04/07 05:08 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
Rick Offline
member

Registered: 05/10/04
Posts: 708
Loc: Ontario, Canada
The best place to try winter camping is in your backyard, that is of course, if you live in area that has some snow and / or cold temperatures.

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#83979 - 12/04/07 08:19 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: Rick]
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
of course and I don't <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" />


Edited by aceatc (12/04/07 08:19 AM)

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#83980 - 12/04/07 06:35 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
strider2u Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/03
Posts: 92
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Quote:
Although for some people it is best to learn by making the mistake. Making a mistake in snow camping sure wakes you up to really preparing. As long as you prepare or know enough to survive you'll be fine. What needs to be learned is how to stay comfortable and efficient.

At least that's what it is too me. You have to go in a situation knowing you might have to leave all your gear and even run all the way back in the middle of the night to make it to the next day.


It seems as if you still are missing the point. Winter camping on snow is NOT the place to "learn by making the mistake". Snow camping can be VERY unforgiving and mistakes can compound on one another and become life threatening in a hurry.

Unless you are camping in the snow near the edge of a parking lot containing your car you might find yourself in severe enough hypothermia that you can't run anywhere.

The advice given to learn from other peoples mistakes by researching in the comfort of your living room and testing out
your gear ahead of time in a controlled environment is right on target.

The SAR teams aren't looking for any additional adventures. They have quite enough every winter.

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#83981 - 12/04/07 06:42 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: strider2u]
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
I was just using snow camping as an example. Definitely not the place to pay for a mistake. I was just saying that if you ever put yourself in a bad situation (by mistake) then you will never make that mistake again. Some things can only be learned by making the mistake yourself and snow camping is not one of the things.

Cliff jumping on the other hand... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif" alt="" />

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#83982 - 12/04/07 07:49 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
hikerduane Offline
member

Registered: 02/23/03
Posts: 2123
Loc: Meadow Valley, CA
What you and others might consider if you want to try out snow camping, is to go out late in the season when overnight temps are only getting into the upper twenties at night at the coldest. The only issue then would be if you sleep warm enough with what you brought to sleep in/on. Assuming you don't fall into a creek or lake. Go into an area where other folks frequent for like activities, then as you build confidence and experience expand from there. I go out on solo trips when temps are below zero now and years ago, I would never have entertained the idea. I thought people would have to be crazy, but I have the gear now, after building up my stuff slowly over the years. Still not where I want to be, a few small touches here and there would make the experience warmer.

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#83983 - 12/04/07 07:55 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: hikerduane]
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
I've always tried to be like that. Always trying to prepare for everything before a trip, but it always ends up I need one or two things to be completely... complete. Slowly getting more experience... so dang slow.

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#83984 - 12/06/07 03:26 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
aceatic

If as you say, you will never put yourself in the same position after screwing up once, <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />why not go snow camping with nothing at all? <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />Think of the learning experience, AND you will never do it again - one way or another... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#83985 - 12/06/07 04:41 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: Jimshaw]
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
Ever been snow caving?

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#83986 - 12/07/07 06:27 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
aceatic
"Ever been snow caving?"
_______________________________________

Yes. Its much more work than you can imagine unless the geometry of your location helps you clear the rubble out of the way so you don't move each shovel full twice. There are many kinds of snow shelters. Snow caves require certain conditions not found everywhere. Tents are easier to deal with and require less energy, often also they mean the difference between going to bed dry vs wet after digging. You will never really dry out in a cave of snow. They're not such great places for down bags. You need a good shovel, preferabley with a metal blade - preferabley steel, but theres the weight trade off. An avolanche shovel should be carried anyway even if not snow caving. If you have an injured or "exposed" member of your party, they may not get to lay down in the shelter for an hour and a half while more able bodied team members dig.

On the good side, snow caves are quiet, out of the wind, don't shake, and its easy to light a stove - better have good ventilation and have the stove on the down side so carbon monoxide can flow down and out. And of course its kind of a romantic idea to sleep in a snow cave.

Similarly you can build up a sort of topless igloo and tie a tarp over the top. This has a lot of the feel of a snow cave and maybe less work. OR find someone elses topless old igloo - dig it out and tarp it.

I have friends who "snow hole". You sort of dig a hole just large enough to squeeze into with your bag. This is more of a mountaineering move. I have built a snow coffin from hard wind blown snow. Its an above snow structure. I didn't get to sleep in it because one of the scouts noticed this nice raised pile of snow and sat on it to tie his boots. He landed inside my snow coffin - he was pretty shocked... <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif" alt="" /> Anyway on scout snow cave/quinzie trips, you ALWAYS take a tent just in case.

BUT I prefer a domed tent with 3-4 poles stretching the dome tight. This kind of 4 season tent is pretty stable and quiet also, but weigh in the 6-12 pound range.

Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />

P.S. You can pitch your tent as a "backup" and after all your buddies see you crawl into your snow cave - you can sneak into your tent and spend the night. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#83987 - 12/08/07 01:29 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: Jimshaw]
aceatc Offline
member

Registered: 07/24/07
Posts: 109
Loc: WA, auburn
That was just a question, but thanks for sharing though :-)

-You use shovels?

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#83988 - 12/08/07 11:48 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: aceatc]
300winmag Offline
member

Registered: 02/28/06
Posts: 1342
Loc: Nevada, USA
ACE,

Remember my private mesage advice. Buy "Allen and Mike's Really Cool Backcountry Ski Book". Good equipment list in the back of the book and just about all the advice you'll need for short learning trips a mile or so from your car to long trips in the Rocky Mountains.

Eric
P.S With ANY type or quality of snowshoes take plastic zip ties (Lowe's or Home Depot) for quick binding or base field repairs.

BUT WAIT!, THERE'S MORE! "The Sportsman's Guide just came out woth a used U.S. military 2-sleeping bag & Gore-Tex bivy combo for $!79.!

See my post in the Lightewight Gear Forum for details. Looks like what you're looking for.

PLUS The Sportsman's Guide also has Norwegian aluminum snowshoes. (# AX8M-130651) 28" long X 12" wide.
Condition, used in very good shape. $69.

These items seem to be what you're looking for...until you hit the lottery, at least.

Eric


Edited by 300winmag (01/15/08 11:47 AM)
_________________________
"There are no comfortable backpacks. Some are just less uncomfortable than others."

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#83989 - 12/08/07 10:48 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: 300winmag]
strider2u Offline
member

Registered: 01/11/03
Posts: 92
Loc: Bay Area, CA
Quote:
P.S With ANY type or quality of snowshoes take plastic zip ties (Lowe's or Home Depot) for quick binding or base field repairs.


Zip ties! What OUTSTANDING advice!

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#83990 - 12/17/07 09:44 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: strider2u]
Earthling Offline
member

Registered: 02/22/03
Posts: 3228
Loc: USA
What, zipties are'nt in your 'repair kit' strider <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> Those along with duct tape are in every pack I take afield....never fails to fix stuff either mine or someone elses' <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
PEPPER SPRAY AIN'T BRAINS IN A CAN!

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#83991 - 01/15/08 01:45 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: Jimshaw]
Inpolar Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/17/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Polar Russia
I'd never think that Americans need to live in snow shelters. Although snow is the same in America and in Russia. I prefer to sleep near warm stove in snow camping. It's happen not every time. Either forest and firewood are far from me or it's hard to wake up at night and to light a stove. I need prepare 2 insulating pad (care mat) and high quality sleeping bag for each members of group, group sleeping bag, 2-layer domed tent with 3 poles, gas burner and stove for group of 4 person. Besides I know one rule: don't look at thermometer in the evening. At once I pitched snow camping near a top. All members of my group were warm in the morning, it was 45 degree below zero. Double sleeping bag (the first weight 4 pound, the second - 2 pound) or stove with firewood - is the decision of your problem. So, I travel at home in polar Russia.

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#83992 - 01/15/08 10:13 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: Inpolar]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Hi Inpolar <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" />
Welcome to the group and I am honored that your first post would be on my thread. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif" alt="" />
It sounds very much colder where you are. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif" alt="" />
Yes Americans also camp in snow shelters and mountain tents. Its not warm sunny Los Angeles everywhere in America. I live 30 km from a major ski area and 3,000m peaks.
Jim <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif" alt="" />
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#83993 - 01/15/08 10:56 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: Jimshaw]
TomD Offline
Moderator

Registered: 10/30/03
Posts: 4963
Loc: Marina del Rey,CA
Inpolar, Welcome. We have some Canadian members who camp in very cold weather. -30C or less. One of them, Rick, has some pictures posted here of his tent and stove.

Here are Rick's pictures.
Rick's post

On of the site sponsors, Titanium Goat makes small stoves for its pyramid style tents. Here is the link to their site. Titanium Goat


Edited by TomD (06/03/08 11:37 PM)
_________________________
Don't get me started, you know how I get.

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#83994 - 01/24/08 10:55 AM Re: Snow camping [Re: strider2u]
Inpolar Offline
newbie

Registered: 12/17/07
Posts: 10
Loc: Polar Russia
I agree that snow camping must be properly prepared, especially if you take long duration trip. There is a problem how to keep clothes, tent, sleeping bag dry after some nights in snow camping? I personally think a stove is a necessary in winter. The increased weight will be definitely worth it in keeping equipment dry.
And have you ever tried to wash in snow camp? I like clean not only teeth and wash a face in 10-days tour. After hiking and returning in forest zone I stay in wooden lodge of native hunters to take care of that problem. If the lodge is situated near open creek (without ice), you can warm and sweat near a stove, and jump out in snow or creek. This is Russian banya. I just love it. Past winter I tried to bathe in spring with 14 degree temp, it was 120 in lodge, air temp was 53 degree below zero. It was very slippery to go out because icicles stuck to my barelegged feet.

P.S.
I am not looking for where to camp colder.

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#83995 - 06/01/08 04:15 PM Re: Snow camping [Re: Rick]
northernbcr Offline
member

Registered: 05/26/08
Posts: 125
Loc: bc/yukon border area
my neighbours and wife have goten used to my -30 experiments on our front lawn it is a good way to try new stoves 'bags and clothes.

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