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Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:09 am
by bigmattdaddywack
I am goin to Wintergeddon in Mo in January. I have plenty of knowledge for camping in the other 3 seasons but would like to know what to take in winter. Any advice would be welcome. This hiking by the way.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 6:09 am
by Baba Brad
Never been to Wintergeddon in Mo, but based on my own experiences winter hiking - Layers are your friends. Base layer, intermidiate layer and outer layer. Silk or merlino wool base layer. Wool is generally a good bet, fantastic insulator and sheds water like crazy. Of course, these new fangled synthetics are supposed to be pretty good, but I'll let someone with practical experience vouch for those.


Layer your clothing.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 9:23 am
by E
agreed. layering your clothing is essential. High calorie food also helps to keep you warm. Foam pad instead of a blow up mat for sleeping on

Try this - if you get cold feet in your sleeping bag at night, before you sleep boil some water and throw it in a nalgene, and throw that in the bottom of your bag. That should help keep your feet warm until you fall asleep. And sleeping in sweats or underarmour or long underwear or whatever is also a good idea. As my girlfriend would point out, make sure its the screw close lid nalgene, not the new flip top nalgene.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 5:05 pm
by TangoDown
Baba Brad wrote:Layer your clothing.
+2

Thick wool socks (Smartwool, Wigwam, REI, etc.) with a sock liner.

Gaiters if there will be snow. Snowshoes if it will be deep.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 7:39 pm
by arrowolf
Wear your watchcap to bed. Drink a cup of hot chocolate with a big spoon of butter turning in. The fat will help keep you warm throughout the night.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 10:38 pm
by sarky
DO NOT tie your boots too tight! and make sure the boots you are going to wear were purchased with the extra thick socks in mind. If you don't heed this, you will be cutting the circulation to your feet which is a bad thing.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Fri Nov 20, 2009 11:00 pm
by Woods Walker
sarky wrote:DO NOT tie your boots too tight! and make sure the boots you are going to wear were purchased with the extra thick socks in mind. If you don't heed this, you will be cutting the circulation to your feet which is a bad thing.
+1

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:34 am
by offcamber
Like everyone has already mentioned, layer your clothing. I also like to wear hat that can be pulled over, or at least covers the ears. Most of your body heat is lost through your head, so a hat is key.

If you are going to camping in snow, some kind of waterproof pants/jacket would be helpful. same goes for boots.. most of my stuff is Gore-tex.

I also carry two pairs of gloves, one is a larger thinsulate, the second set is a thin pair of OR fleece glove, good for hiking, shoving in pockets, hanging around a fire.

Bring some hand/foot warmers, they work great in a pinch when you feel like you just can't get your fingers/toes warm.

Also, on real cold nights, I like to boil some water and put it in a Nalgene and put it in my sleeping bag.. makes it toasty while nodding off to sleep.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:37 am
by ogreboy
You can and will sweat in the snow/cold. I find that most of the time while hiking/snowshoeing I only wear my base layer/long johns and wool pants, I do wear a gore tex snow pant but they zip all the way up the side and I keep them half unzipped and the fly down. Then when you stop just put everything on. When you start up again you will be tempted to stay bundled up but if you take off layers and start out cold, you will prevent starting to sweat and having to stop and take off layers. Have a hat and gloves that will fit into your pocket so you can take them on and off without stopping, these will help you regulate your temperature fairly well.

Another thing is bring a closed cell foam pad to sit on when you stop, sitting in the snow sucks no mater how many layers and how water proof you are.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:53 pm
by olbaid_dratsab
^ kind of what he said. I take it a little further, becasue, yeah, sweating sucks. You'll be surprised at how little you can get away with weraring if you keep moving with weight on your back. You can't really skimp on gloves though. A hat of some sort is good too.

I swear by Hershy dark chocolate as the ultimate hiking food. Nuttella is good too.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:58 pm
by E
olbaid_dratsab wrote:
I swear by Hershy dark chocolate as the ultimate hiking food. Nuttella is good too.
quoted for the epic win. Munch a bar of chocolate, or a PB sammich or something of that nature before you sleep and it will help keep you warm, just from the added calories

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:18 pm
by aa1pr
Keep hydrated as the cold sucks it out of ya. If you get dehydrated you will feel colder all the time.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Wed Dec 09, 2009 3:42 pm
by Hawk_45
Make sure you insulate yourself from the ground. There was a pretty good thread a few days ago about pads and insulation. Also, crossing your legs when you sleep will keep you warmer as well. A lot of heat is lost through the groin. Change into clean, fluffy, wool-type socks when you bed down. Sleeping in nasty sweaty/damp socks is bad juju. Make sure your boots are out of the elements at night, and avoid putting them near a fire.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:10 pm
by ninja-elbow
Baba Brad wrote:Never been to Wintergeddon in Mo, but based on my own experiences winter hiking - Layers are your friends. Base layer, intermidiate layer and outer layer. Silk or merlino wool base layer. Wool is generally a good bet, fantastic insulator and sheds water like crazy. Of course, these new fangled synthetics are supposed to be pretty good, but I'll let someone with practical experience vouch for those.
I have some synthetics, wool and a combination thereof. I still prefer 100% wool. The main reason why is because of resistance to fire. When camping in the cold one tends to build a fire and sit close to it at some point. I've seen (mine and others) many synthetic-y materials get holes in them that way. I got pretty lucky at last year's Winter Oregeddon with mostly synthetics but the key word is lucky.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:27 pm
by NapTime
My parents took me snow camping every winter when I was growing up, so I don't know a lot, but I can vouch for what people have said before me.

It seemed silly at the time, but hats are great to sleep in. They make you warm and toasty.

Sleep in clothes that you haven't been sweating in all day, including dry socks.

Keeping your boots and even socks loose enough, as has been said before, is necessary. If you cut off the circulation they get really cold really fast.

Keep a square off of an old foam pad for sitting on when you stop or eat meals or what have you. A cold butt takes forever to warm up and can take the fun out of your day. You will probably want waterproof & windproof pants even if you have this.

A great breakfast is to make fortified oatmeal. Quick oats, cream of wheat, and dry milk powder can be premixed and scooped out each day. Add to that a handfull of raisins (while the water's heating so they plump up!) and a healthy lump of butter while it cooks, and brown sugar to taste. I can't help you with proportions since it was always my father's arena, but I can't imagine anything you make will turn out badly with that ingredient list.

Have a deck of cards or a book or something with you because it gets dark fast in the winter, and you may end up holed up in your tent relatively early, and you'll want something to do.

Lastly, just be aware of what your body is telling you. If you're hungry, snack on some high calorie trail mix, because you burn a lot of energy staying warm and hiking. If you find yourself eating snow, you're probably dehydrated and you should drink some water. If your extremities are getting cold, it could be that those areas aren't insulated enough, or it could mean that you are losing too much heat in general and need to put on a hat and another coat.

It's not too difficult really. In my experience snow camping is a lot easier than rain camping (Pacific Northwest!) as long as you have the gear for it. Enjoy the trip!

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:36 pm
by Hawk_45
A great breakfast is to make fortified oatmeal. Quick oats, cream of wheat, and dry milk powder can be premixed and scooped out each day. Add to that a handfull of raisins (while the water's heating so they plump up!) and a healthy lump of butter while it cooks, and brown sugar to taste. I can't help you with proportions since it was always my father's arena, but I can't imagine anything you make will turn out badly with that ingredient list.
That's good advice. I'd toss in a scoop of Smucker's Natural peanut butter, the chunky stuff. I like the taste and the Calories/protein is awesome. You could even mix a couple of stiff shots of molasses or honey into the peanut butter before hand.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:34 pm
by congochris
Having just gotten back from COZS wintergeddon I can tell you all of the above is true and add a warning: pay attention to not only your bag rating, but the quality of the bag and the liklihood the cheap swissgear rat bastards are lying about your spiffy 0 degree rated bag. :evil:

waterproof gloves are a must. While it's neat to watch the steam pouring off your hands as you dry your gloves over the fire, cold wet gloves suck up until that point.

Beware the boot-malt. madwolf added a bubble to the bottom of his nearly new boots when the flames shifted without telling him and somehow bubbled up the sole of his boots as he warmed his toes over the fire this morning.

Bring your baby wipes (if you are so inclined as opposed to TP) into your bag with you. I left mine in front of our heater to keep them from being frozen, however most folks don't bring heaters with them and I'm morally certain one would not wish to wipe their bumhole with a block of frozen wipes. Nor their female nether region if they are so equipped.

also: air mats kinda suck on their own in cold weather. I used an air mat with a foam pad on top to keep from freezing while still having the comfort of the air mat.

I'm sure I'll think of more after I hit submit,but I'm tired and going to bed now.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:40 pm
by Howaido
Hiking poles are nice and provide extra stability on snow and ice.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:44 pm
by Bubba Enfield
Outstanding posts, everyone. Winter is probably my favourite time to camp. You need snacks in your pockets, eat when you're cold. Good old raisins and peanuts, chocolate, hard candies, etc. Keep your gloves with you when you take them off. Put a Sunday edition newspaper inside two plastic shopping bags and duct tape the hell out of it; that's your ass pad. Keep your lighter in your pants pocket. Keep your chapstick in your other pocket. When you pack at home, put clean socks/underwear/Tshirt inside your sleeping bag, so you can change in bed. Take a plastic bottle with lid to bed with you, so you don't have to put on cold boots at oh-dark-thirty to take a leak.
Howaido wrote:Hiking poles are nice and provide extra stability on snow and ice.
I like a pole for backpacking on snowshoes. Serves a possible animal-discouraging function as well.

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:14 pm
by madwolf
Okay, the basics (from someone who's learned the hard way, feel free to tell me to F the F off!):

Clothing: Base layer, polypros, aka polypropylene long underwear.
When it comes to this, many people will say "expedition weight" is the only way to go, and that's fine depending on your layering strategy. For milder weather (that being +10 degrees) then wearing expedition weight polypros and a "covering layer" are fine. If it's going to be real cold, you need more. Entertainingly enough, less is more in the underwear department. Light weight polypros under a thick insulating layer (preferably wool) underneath a shell layer, being gortex snowpants or better, are better than expedition weight, simply because you need to wick moisture away from your body with your base layer. The insulation layer is what will keep you warm and your shell layer is what will keep you dry on the outside. In milder climates you can get away with just expedition weight polypros and an outer layer like BDU's or some such, but, if the cold is going to be serious you need to layer accordingly.

Camp gear: A ground pad is not optional!
You really need a ground pad. It is what keeps the Earth from leeching every single ounce of heat out of your body! Sometimes, if it's really cold, you need two layers of ground insulations. I have a Therma Rest Ridge-rest and I have found ice underneath it after a nights sleep and that means that I was losing heat the whole time through an MSS!!! Ideally, this should not ever happen. Plan for it. Down to about 10-ish degrees a Ridge-rest or similar is enough, below that, you better stack the deck in your favor.

As for a tent, think full fly! I cold care less what your tent is rated at, if it doesn't hold warm air in, you are in for a seriously uncomfortable night, if not life threatening! A full fly, even in a cheap tent, will hold warm air in and insulate you from the outside. Even the cheapest full fly tent will keep you around ten degrees warmer than ambient air temperature. Believe me, I speak from experience.

The rest, really, is optional. The only real teacher when it comes to what works is experience. What I have stated works for me, you may find out differently. Take this a baseline, if you take it at all, and work from there according to your own experience.

Have fun and I hope your trip is a good one!

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:44 pm
by sunspot
madwolf wrote:
Clothing: Base layer, polypros, aka polypropylene long underwear.
When it comes to this, many people will say "expedition weight" is the only way to go, and that's fine depending on your layering strategy. For milder weather (that being +10 degrees) then wearing expedition weight polypros and a "covering layer" are fine. If it's going to be real cold, you need more. Entertainingly enough, less is more in the underwear department. Light weight polypros under a thick insulating layer (preferably wool) underneath a shell layer, being gortex snowpants or better, are better than expedition weight, simply because you need to wick moisture away from your body with your base layer. The insulation layer is what will keep you warm and your shell layer is what will keep you dry on the outside.
I'm new to this cold weather gear having grown up in Miami. Could you please post some links to cold weather pants/underwear/shell.

Next comes question about boots :lol:

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Sun Jan 03, 2010 1:13 pm
by fixinto
sorrel boots cant beat em learned that from a buddy of mine who used to guide in alaska I never used them anywhere colder than colorado but my feet never got cold

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 3:50 pm
by doctor patches
my advice:

during the winter, don't hike anywhere cold!

Re: Winter hiking, any advice

Posted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 4:49 pm
by grand94jeep
madwolf wrote:
As for a tent, think full fly! I cold care less what your tent is rated at, if it doesn't hold warm air in, you are in for a seriously uncomfortable night, if not life threatening! A full fly, even in a cheap tent, will hold warm air in and insulate you from the outside. Even the cheapest full fly tent will keep you around ten degrees warmer than ambient air temperature. Believe me, I speak from experience.

Truth.^^^

I've camped in 15*F before in a cheap ass 9'x7' OZARK TRAIL Wal-mart tent. I put a large tarp over top of mine, with a synthetic down comforter between it and the tent (w/rain fly). I stayed comfortable through the night. ETA: I was in a campground.
I'd never thought of taking a pee bottle to bed at night. 8) Got a dumb question though... When hiking/camping what do you do for a #2, if you're not in a campground? :oops: (ie. best method)