Boy Scout Tips

Winter Camping Tips

Some tips to keep in mind when your troop takes on winter camping.

 Mar 04, 2012 - Bob Harold George
i found this extremely helpful in teaching my scouts what and what not to do at snow camp.
Dec 28, 2012 - robert richardson
It would be useful to point out that the proper size sleeping bag is important as well. A 12 year old, 80 lb. boy would be ill served using an extra large bag. I found this out the hard way, having bought a bag with "growing room" and almost ending up with a "scoutcicle". I found the information here extremely useful for instructing new scouts AND parents in cold camping in Texas where really cold weather is not that common. Thanks.
Jan 01, 2013 - Jamie Perry
Having just returned from Winter Camp, I learned a few things the hard way.  Even though we thought we were "prepared" as all good boyscouts are, we endured four of the coldest days our area has seen in a few years at winter camp.  

I will definately do more than just send an email to parents asking them to preview the boys' packing before the trip.  Next year I'll require the boys to bring their packs to a troop meeting and do a shake down before the trip.

While we all came back in one piece, we were definately chilly the entire time.  

The suggestions made above like using a zipped coat or a trash bag over the feet would've been a huge help had I thought of it.  The heated water bottles would have helped out as well.  

The low night temps were in the 20 degree range but my boys were acclimatized to an unseasonably warm winter with temps the week before being in the 60s.  

Thanks for the good info on staying warm.
Jan 07, 2013 - Drake Barr
thanks i found this very helpful for putting a presentation to gather for my fellow scout
Jan 08, 2013 - John Wesolowski
-Fill the tent or cabin with as many scouts as possible. More body heat given off means a warmer tent or cabin.
-Don't sleep in anything you wore during the day; clothes you wore contain perspiration even if you don't feel any.
-Keep your bare feet outside the tent for a minute with your toes spread to remove all perspiration, then bring them inside and rub them with baby powder.
-Check the temperature rating of your sleeping bag. Supplement with a sleeping bag liner if necessary.
Mar 03, 2013 - Gary Coryer
Just did a winter weekend campout with night temps in the mid 20's sleeping in a tent pitched on snow.  Two of the ridged closed cell foam pads were my only significant isolation from the snow. I might have been laying on my heated living room floor for all I could tell.  Definitely worth the minimal weight of a second pad.
Mar 25, 2013 - Grant W Wood
Putting a trash bag or space blanket over your sleeping bag is not a good idea because it will cause your perspiration to be trapped inside the sleeping bag which will make you extremely cold during the night.

Having camped out in winter in Canada I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to go to bed dry.  If possible warm your clothing that you are going to wear to bed close to your fire.  Warming will help to drive off moisture.
Mar 26, 2013 - Scouter Paul
Grant - Wrapping in plastic would be a vapor barrier as you say.  But, covering the foot end of the bag allows moisture to escape while keeping the foot end drier and a bit warmer.
When dealing with extreme low temperatures, there is some point in the insulating layer between your body and the air where your perspiration condenses and freezes.  Wherever that point is, it will become a frozen, saturated layer.  Safely dealing with extreme temperatures for extended time requires specialized gear, such as internal vapor barriers or insulated shelters.
Dec 31, 2013 - Gary Vadnais
For many years our troop would have atleast 3 winter campouts every year.We always had a troop ( BEL ) Basic equipment list. This list was a basic and simple list.. more importantly, a proven list. All our winter camps were here in Northern Michigan with lots of deep snow and we made our shelters.
Feb 09, 2014 - Scoutmaster Barry
Great tips and ideas.  A must read for scouts and leaders.  Don't forget sunscreen and sunglasses too because of the reflective properties of snow!
Feb 10, 2014 - Raj
@Gary Vadnais - Would it be possible to share the Basic Equipment List. Overall ,very useful information in this page.
Mar 13, 2014 - H.B.
This was really helpful, because I am going snow camping soon. So thanks!
Nov 13, 2014 - Tom Comer
Sorel-type boots are the best for snowcamping.They should be one size larger than your normal shoe size to accomodate the synth.liner and wool outer socks you will need to wear.It is also nice to have a spare set of the wool inserts for the boots to keep in the foot of your sleeping bag for the next day.That's why vet winter campers use long sleeping bags to accomodate the extra gear.You must remember to open up the laces as wide as possible so you can get your warm boot inserts into your frozen boots in the morning!
Great article!!
Dec 15, 2014 - The doctor
Thanks for this post, I'm the SPL of my troop, and I've been needing help with getting stuff to talk about at meetings, this really clears it up.
Jan 24, 2015 - John Kirkland
The best thing I ever did for winter camping was slipping my winter coat over the end of my bag(s).  We just got back from a winter camping trip where it was 5 degrees over night.  I had a 20 year old 20 degree bag inside a 40 degree bag and slipped the winter coat over the end.  I was super warm.  We go camping every month during the year.Ever since using the winter coat over teh feet thing, my feet have NEVER been cold since.  
Feb 10, 2015 - Dawn
This tip list is awesome and I love everyone else's tips too.  Here are two of my favorite tips:

1)  Down booties:  My feet are frequently cold in my sleeping bag, no matter the season.  Wearing down booties in my bag helps keep my toes toasty warm during cold weather camping.

2)  Over-sized flannel shirt:  Most of my camping buddies and I wear very nice (and expensive) down coats when we're hanging out around our camp kitchen area and the fire.  To help protect the coat from food splatters, flying fire embers, etc, we wear over-sized flannel button-up shirts over our coats.  I bought mine at a second-hand store - the size is mens tall XXX-L, this way it's sure to fit over my big down coat.
Mar 01, 2015 - Optimum RV
This is a fantastic list. If you are going to be hiking in the winter keep in mind layers are your best friend. We stay in an RV and then take day hikes from our "base camp".

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