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Winter Survival Guide: Camp

Humans weren't built to sleep on snow. Defy nature and sleep soundly with these winter camping tips.
Tent setup (B. Fullerton)

Sleep Soundly
“A good night’s sleep gives you the best chance for success the next day,” Shillington says. Follow these secrets for peaceful slumber.
>> Manage moisture. Double-check the tightness of your tent’s guylines and batten them down. “A taut pitch prevents the fly from touching the tent’s inner canopy, keeping the interior well-ventilated and dry,” he says. Also, shake snow off your clothes and shoes before climbing in, sweep out any piles of powder, and crack the door (near the tent’s base) and a vent in the tent’s canopy to prevent condensation.
>> Insulate against the cold ground. Put your inflatable pad down first, then place a closed-cell foam pad on top of it. “The latter seals you off from both the frozen ground and the cold air inside the air-filled one,” Shillington says.
>> Loft your bag. At least one hour before going to bed, unpack your sack, lay it down, and shake it out (for example, by flicking it back and forth in a wave motion) to loosen the down.
>> Strip down. Opt for lightweight baselayers and a hat. Your body heat will warm the bag, and you won’t sweat.
>> Stoke your internal furnace. Consume a high-fat snack before going to bed. “I like a mug of hot cocoa with a blob of butter stirred into it,” Shillington says.

Clear Fresh Snow
“Snow buildup can collapse a tent and block vents. Thwacking the canopy from the inside can clear a light dusting, but in heavier snow you’ll have to go outside. Use your arm to sweep snow off the fly; don’t use your shovel, which may tear the fabric.”
Nat Patridge, president of Exum Mountain Guides

Cuddle Up
“My most valuable piece of cold-weather gear is my wife. I never sleep better or warmer than when we zip our sleeping bags together for the night.”
Jonathan Dorn, BACKPACKER Editor-in-Chief

Dry the Dog
“If you bring the dog inside your tent, let him roll in snow first—the dry flakes absorb water. Also, wiggle him into a coat to help him stay warm.”
Jen Raffaeli, Denali National Park kennel manager

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