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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

Pick Your Conditions

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


Change and sip first. When you hit camp, swap wet layers for dry to limit heat loss. Then brew a hot, sweet drink to refuel, rehydrate, and reheat.

Limit breezes. Dig or stomp a tent platform six inches deep, so the edge of your rainfly is below the snow's surface. Then cinch the fly as low as it will go.

Wear your bag to dinner. You're suddenly sedentary, and temps are falling: Bring your sleeping pad and bag to the kitchen area, or retreat to the tent while your rice is cooking.

Cook before you camp. In extreme cold, break up your sedentary evening hours by stopping for dinner an hour from camp. Cook and eat, then warm up again as you finish the miles to camp.

Bring an extra pad. Double up on ground insulation: Put a closed-cell foam mat under a full-length, inflatable pad.

Go to bed warm. Do sit-ups inside your bag to generate body heat. Wear a hat and make sure your bag is sealed.

Add insulation. 1. Spread extra layers over you in the bag instead of wearing them, says Fierer. That way, you won't crush their insulating power. 2. Drape a puffy jacket or vest around your shoulders, like a giant neck gaiter. 3. Wrap a shell around the foot of your bag for extra warmth and condensation protection. 4. Really cold? Cover the bag's hood opening with a puffy jacket.

Have a midnight snack. Wake up cold? Eat a candy bar (store it in your bag).

Prevent condensation. Open fly vents or crack the door to allow a cross breeze. Pack a camp towel to wipe any frost and water droplets and frost that do form on the tent ceiling.

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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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