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Backpacker Magazine – October 2009

Stay Comfortable in Any Weather: Cold

Staying warm is easier than getting warm: Plan ahead.

by: Molly Loomis

PAGE 1 2 3 4

Pick Your Conditions

On the Trail | In Camp | Key Gear | Where to Camp

Sites to seek out–and avoid–for maximum comfort in any weather

Set up camp on ridgelines, passes, or hilltops to catch a breeze when it's muggy. But avoid these exposed sites in stormy weather.

In thunderstorms, uniform stands of mature trees provide the best cover. Avoid clearings, washes, and tight canyons that are prone to flash floods.

Camp behind natural windbreaks, such as on the lee side of boulders, or build your own out of rocks or snow.

Avoid low-lying areas in meadows and along rivers when it's wet and cold. Lower ground tends to get soggy, and the coldest air settles there. But in hot weather, a riverside camp is often breezy and cool.

Branches growing on only one side of the trees indicate frequent, strong winds. Check for widowmakers (dead trees or branches that could blow down) before pitching your tent. Also, wind typically moves down-valley in the evening and up-vally in the morning. Choose a site that's sheltered from both directions.

Sheltered sites under alcoves and in dense stands of living trees protect from rain, cold, and heat. In winter, the cover reflects radiant heat back at you; in summer, overhangs and trees provide shade. Look for spots with good eastern exposure to catch the morning sun. In a canyon, sleep on a ledge to escape the cool ground breezes (just six feet can make a difference).

PAGE 1 2 3 4

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Reader Rating: -


Feb 19, 2010

To keep your energy bars from freezing. You can put them in the pockets closest to your center body mass because that area produces the most heat. And if one does end up frozen, just stick it in your shirt against your skin. Or in the waistband of your pants to thaw it out.

Scotty 2 hottie
Feb 13, 2010

Use a lightweight fleece bag to boost your sleeping bag about 10 also put a bed of pine needles under your tent as a insulator.

Dan S.
Feb 10, 2010

To warm up energy bars, you can simply put them in your pocket or if you have one, the cargo pocket of your pants.

Instead of using chemical warmers to thaw out boots, simply put the boots in a garbage bag (you should have several...they're very handy!) and put them in your sleeping bag while you're sleeping. The same concept is good for stove fuel and water bladders as well. It's also a good idea for drying out used socks.

Dave Lorenzen
Feb 05, 2010

I just like to snuggle up to my man Marko

Dave Lorenzen
Feb 05, 2010

Butt sex with your "partner" helps also.

Ken Jones
Nov 15, 2009

Put a chemical hand warmer in your camera case when it gets cold. Keeps your batteries working and much better than stowing the camera close to the body and having it condensate.

Ken Jones
Nov 15, 2009

Put a chemical hand warmer in your camera case when it gets cold. Keeps your batteries working and much better than stowing the camera close to the body and having it condensate.

Oct 27, 2009

Put your boots in a stuff sack in the bottom of your sleeping bag. They will be toasty when wake up.

Oct 24, 2009

Carb up and stay warm all night..Before bed have some fatty food--mine is pepperonie and cheese on a Triscuit--just don't tell your heart doc about it.

Oct 23, 2009

For siting tents: in rain I avoid sleeping under trees as the drips can get very big and wet you if you get up during the night.

In snow: pitching your tent lee to a cornice but still close is a good idea as the cornice indicates an area of still air. This only works as long as the cornice formed in the same air direction as is currently or forecast to blow in.

We camped at a site like this on a long ridgeline and found the next day it was the most sheltered site on the whole ridgeline.

Oct 22, 2009

Bears should not be a problem in winter since they hibernate.

Oct 22, 2009

Bears are usually hibernating in the winter and dont usually venture into cold alpine altitudes. stick the candy in your bag, youll be safe and warm

Linda Morrison
Oct 22, 2009

Please be careful when you advise people to take candy bars into their tents to snack on during the night. In bear country you must hang all food items. The same advice goes for cooking and eating inside your tent. Bears have an amazing sense of smell.

Oct 22, 2009

Wear vapor barrier clothing to bed or use a vapor barrier sleeping bag liner.


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