I just went on my first snow camping trip and it wasn't as hard as I thought. In fact, this was the first time I wasn't cold at night! (On summer backpacking trips in the mountains, it's always colder at night than I expect, but this time I was prepared for cold.) Read on for some beginner's tips for snow camping. I highly recommend everyone to try it!
Gear and preparation
- Walking in the snow is not a big deal. Just rent snowshoes from any sports store such as Sport Chalet for about $25 for 3 days.
- Bring two foam pads for extra insulation.
- The rating of your sleeping bag is the temperature at which you can survive. It's not the temperature at which you'll be comfortable. Bring a sleeping bag that's rated for about 20°F colder than the lows for the night, and if your sleeping bag isn't warm enough, bring two of them.
- Cotton kills. Make sure you have synthetic fibre clothing as your base layer, as well as your insulation layer.
- Buy a balaclava. It's amazing how much warmth they provide. Wear them to sleep, and—if you don't mind looking silly—in the morning before you have a chance to warm up. I bought my Wickers balaclava (midweight) for only $6.
- Store your water bottle upside down. Since ice forms at the top first, the mouth of the bottle will never freeze over.
|This was fun to build, but I would not |
recommend sleeping in it.
Setting up camp
- Pick a spot that's sheltered from the wind, but not in a valley, because cold air sits in the valleys.
- If the snow is deep, dig a trench around the place where you plan to set up your tent. Pile the snow into the middle, then trample it all down. The key is to have a trench around your tent, so cold air doesn't sit in the hole where your tent is. Extend the trench sloping down away from your tent, like an entry pathway. This will be the escape path for the cold air.
- Before you go to bed at night, fill your bottle with hot water. When in the sleeping bag, place it between your thighs for extra warmth.
- Keep chocolate within arm's reach in your tent. The boost in calories will warm you up if you wake up cold in the middle of the night.
- Put all of the clothes you plan on wearing the next day by your feet, inside the sleeping bag. Not only will it provide extra insulation, but you'll avoid having to get into freezing cold clothes in the morning.
- Don't forget to wear your balaclava to bed.