Cold weather camping questions. Input much appreciated.

Home Forums Trail Conditions Cold weather camping questions. Input much appreciated.

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    • #2027

      Hey guys, gals, ranger dave:

      i am going on a cold weather camping trip at zion this coming weekend oct 13-16. It is going to be about 35-30 degrees over night and i was hoping to get some tips/advice/words of aution and/or wisdom here. I have a 3 season tent (rei half dome) and a 0 degree bag. In addition to this, we r bringing some heavy. Lankets and the warmest clothes we can. Do you guys have any tips/opinions on what else to bring or tricks of the trade to help stay warm?


      Thanks in advance!!

    • #2028
      Ranger Steve

      I believe the key thing to sleeping warm have is a good sleeping pad. The higher the R value the better. The Therm-a-rest xtherm is a good benchmark to beat. The R value is 5.7, it’s not cheap, but it is good. Additionally, I use a relatively cheap closed foam pad under my sleeping pad to boost the insulating properties. Also a down jacket is invaluable, not only can it keep you warm during the day, but you can wear it in your bag if you have to, or move it around in your bag to compensate for cold spots (feet) etc. They pack up small and are lightweight. If you are hiking in forget blankets, they are much too heavy, look into down blankets, throws and booties.

      Always change clothes when you get into your bag as the ones you will have been wearing are possibly sweaty (wet) and dirty. You will stay warmer and your bag will last longer.

      You should be OK in a three season tent with the temperatures you posted. One think to always think about when doing anything in winter is that condensation, whether from sweat, etc. is a killer. The key is to hike in the least layers of clothing so that you are comfortable, and don’t break a sweat. Keep your puffy jacket at the top of your pack and put it on as soon as you stop. For most all winter hikes (without falling snow) I pretty much hike in a poly base layer and a poly fleece (never cotton). The sweat evaporates and I’m not clammy. As soon as I stop, I insulate with a down jacket (and sometimes a rain shell). I stay dry and warm.

      Have fun and I hope I have been of help, let us know how it goes.


    • #2029

      Thanks a lot, Ranger Steve!

      I appreciate the advice.

    • #2044

      I hope your trip was a successful one.  Good advice from Ranger Steve.  Here are a couple of cold weather tips for your next trip.

      1. Keep your water in your tent with you if you want it to be liquid in the morning.  I made the mistake of leaving it out once and woke up to find all my water frozen.

      2. Native Americans used to use this trick – they would put large stones in their campfire a couple of hours before bedding down.  During the day they would have dug a few holes inside the place they were to be sleeping.  Just before going to bed they would put the hot stones in the holes and cover them with dirt.  The stones radiate heat throughout the night and keep the area warmer. This really works and makes me feel very clever when I do it! When camping, since I can’t dig a hole through the bottom of my tent, I simply move the tent over the warm area and stake it back down there.


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