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   Winter Camping and Activities
      How cold is too cold?     

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BHark
member (6)member
 
01/08/2018 11:54AM
Planning on cold tenting this weekend and just wondering, in your experiences, how cold of a forecast would be too cold (dangerous)? I know this will depend on clothing, moisture, building fire, food, and sleep systems. This will be my first trip, but I feel fairly confident and have done my homework here and on wintertrekking. Thanks!
 
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SevenofNine
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01/08/2018 01:51PM
Honestly it's not always the cold that is a big factor in hypothermia it's the wet and cold coupled with dehydration that can be very unforgiving.

Think about it, you pull a sled down a few lakes and encounter slush and your gear you thought didn't need to be in a waterproof sack because it's winter gets wet and you soak your boots. It's a warm day and you soak your clothes from sweat as well. You push yourself to get to the campsite and don't have a lot of drinking water.

Life is going to be tough at the campsite with wet gear and wet foot wear unless you can dry things quickly.

To answer your general question on being too cold. I would hesitate when it's going to be -50. That wouldn't stop me from going but it might alter the distance I am willing to travel.

My personal experience is that when it is -20 or colder things get dicey if you can't keep yourself warm, hydrated and fed.
Jaywalker
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01/08/2018 04:54PM
Timely post for me. I was planning to head up in the next couple days, but the forecasts have been dropping steadily for 3 days. I think mentally -20 is a big number in my head. Nights of -10 or so were no trouble for me in the past, but at -20 or so it makes me stop to think. I don't go just to survive, I want to be comfortable. I did-40 once on an overnight and have no interest in doing again. I don't think my double bag system will handle -20 or worse, so as of today I'm either going to delay or have to put out for a real winter bag.
WhiteWolf
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01/08/2018 04:58PM
All excellent points above. You said cold tenting. To elaborate on 7 of 9 thoughts , my .02 is how many nights are you planning on?? If you stay dry from not going in the lake and just get the normal sweats and condensation winter campers get in doing chores / breath in the tent etc--- 1 night is doable. After the 2nd your going to notice your bag and tent getting crispy and really not wanting to do a 3rd night. After the 3rd night you will wish you went home after the 2nd night and dried things out and got a warm shower.... Been there done that too many times.
BHark
member (6)member
 
01/08/2018 05:21PM
WhiteWolf: "All excellent points above. You said cold tenting. To elaborate on 7 of 9 thoughts , my .02 is how many nights are you planning on?? If you stay dry from not going in the lake and just get the normal sweats and condensation winter campers get in doing chores / breath in the tent etc--- 1 night is doable. After the 2nd your going to notice your bag and tent getting crispy and really not wanting to do a 3rd night. After the 3rd night you will wish you went home after the 2nd night and dried things out and got a warm shower.... Been there done that too many times."

Thanks all! We were only planning on one night, so I'm not too concerned (and only about a mile in). As much as I'd love to do more, I have homework to do and its only our first trip. Just wanna get out there!
Pinetree
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01/08/2018 07:20PM
BHark: "WhiteWolf: "All excellent points above. You said cold tenting. To elaborate on 7 of 9 thoughts , my .02 is how many nights are you planning on?? If you stay dry from not going in the lake and just get the normal sweats and condensation winter campers get in doing chores / breath in the tent etc--- 1 night is doable. After the 2nd your going to notice your bag and tent getting crispy and really not wanting to do a 3rd night. After the 3rd night you will wish you went home after the 2nd night and dried things out and got a warm shower.... Been there done that too many times."


Thanks all! We were only planning on one night, so I'm not too concerned (and only about a mile in). As much as I'd love to do more, I have homework to do and its only our first trip. Just wanna get out there!"


That is smart. A mile in and gives a option to walk out if getting cold and equipment failure.
The first time is a big learning experience of do's and don't and equipment you need. You also when you winter camp it is about enjoying yourself.
I have done it down to -35 degrees F. a few times and a lot of -20 F. degrees. I still enjoyed my trip very much. Lucky my first trips were in 20 degree weather for a low. So much to learn.

The colder it gets also means the more time within the day you do spend surviving and staying warm be it wood gathering etc.. The real killer to me you get cold weather below zero and strong winds it can be very miserable.

Even cold tenting with two people the tent is probably 10 degrees or so warmer than outside.
CrookedPaddler1
distinguished member(1393)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/11/2018 01:07PM
I have had the chance to spend many winters in the BWCA both dog sledding and leading overnight camping trips. The mental game Is the hardest challenge. To me, I can head out with temperatures up to -25, without any thought or planning. But the mental side when it is colder than that, I make sure that I spend a few minutes planning and making sure that I have plenty of spare gear and the ability to add additional layers.

I think one of the biggest challenges that most of us face, I putting on too many layers in the cold, and thus have issues with getting wet from sweat. Staying dry and "comfortably cool" is the key. I always tell folks, it is better to be a little chilly than to be a bit to warm.

Bottom line, is make your plans, have fun, challenge yourself a bit, but always have a backup plan in case things get to cold for you.
CrookedPaddler1
distinguished member(1393)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
 
01/11/2018 01:07PM
I have had the chance to spend many winters in the BWCA both dog sledding and leading overnight camping trips. The mental game Is the hardest challenge. To me, I can head out with temperatures up to -25, without any thought or planning. But the mental side when it is colder than that, I make sure that I spend a few minutes planning and making sure that I have plenty of spare gear and the ability to add additional layers.

I think one of the biggest challenges that most of us face, I putting on too many layers in the cold, and thus have issues with getting wet from sweat. Staying dry and "comfortably cool" is the key. I always tell folks, it is better to be a little chilly than to be a bit to warm.

Bottom line, is make your plans, have fun, challenge yourself a bit, but always have a backup plan in case things get to cold for you.
BHark
member (6)member
 
01/15/2018 10:49AM
Well thanks again, we had a great time. Apparently it got down to -33F overnight, but we were both almost too warm at times! The stove melted snow like a champ, dry wood was easy to find, and we were surprisingly comfortable for the 24 hour trip. Looking forward to next time.
SevenofNine
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01/15/2018 04:55PM
Great to hear. Thanks for posting about your trip everyone learns from this great group of people.
 
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