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Winter Camping

What is your advice regarding proper winter bag sizing?


I’m interested in purchasing cold weather sleeping bags for my wife and myself. We’ll be using them for backcountry snowshoe and cross-country ski camping excursions. What is your advice regarding proper winter bag sizing?

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For winter camping, keep this in mind: when you wake up in the morning, everything that was wet at bedtime will be frozen solid when the sun comes up. So, I recommend going with a winter bag that has an extra 8-10 inches of room at the bottom. You’ll want to stow water bottles, boot liners, socks, and any other clothing that is damp down there. As for the girth, look for a bag that has a bit of wiggle room for any extra clothes that you might want to wear to bed. If the fit is too tight, you’ll be constricted and cold. A key feature in a winter bag is a good draft collar-an insulated tube or yoke around the neck that will prevent cold air from sneaking in and warm air from escaping. Also look for a draft tube that runs the length of the zipper-to keep cold air from sneaking in that way. When I’m winter camping, I always snuggle up with a hot water bottle. It quickly jump starts your internal heater at the end of a frigid day, plus you’ll have tepid water to guzzle first thing in the morning.

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