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PostPosted: November 19th, 2016, 1:40 pm 
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Hey. This winter I'm planning on doing an overnighter with a guy from work.
I've never been winter camping before so I need a bit of advice.

The place we're going is local, and well within cell phone service (in case of emergency) its also within a few hundred metres of a major highway. Its partly a gear shakedown and partly just for a bit of fun. I know its supposed to be a cold winter and I'm not looking to go when there is going to be a snow storm or if its going to be 40 below.

Typically when I camp I like to fish, but there is no water near by, and even if there was I don't ice fish anyway. I want to see if I even like camping in the winter before I go out and buy some dedicated gear for it. My main concern is sleeping.

I plan on buying a hammock anyway for summer camping and using it for this.I know that the hennessey hammocks come with zip on insulation for underneath the bag and they also have reflective pads to help with heat. I don't want to buy that if I don't need to, or at least until I decide how much I like this winter camping thing. My summer sleeping bag obviously won't cut it. I can rent a winter bag locally to use for the night, but I'm wondering about other stuff. Like what I should be wearing when I sleep.
Here is what I'd thought out, please tell me if I'm on the right track of way off the mark.
I'd be wearing the usual synthetic under layer with fleece on top. Fleece gloves for my hands and a warm hat to cover my head and ears. Legs would be some thin, synthetic pants. I've worked outside for over a decade and my usual dress for winter work is carhartt pants and no snow pants overtop. This is working in fields and on the shores of many lakes with -20 and colder windchills so I don't think further insulating my legs will be a necessity since I'll be in a sleeping bag. For my feet, some warm socks, and the removable liners from my winter work boots.

This would be inside a winter weight sleeping bag, and I was thinking of buying one of those small SOL bivvy bags to put the sleeping bag inside of.

So...... Am I going to freeze to death?


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2016, 4:58 pm 
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Yes, you are going to freeze to death. :).
What's your sleeping bag rated to? I did a video recently on the SOL emergency bivy- you may want to check that out. It will sweat, so it really depends on how long you are camping to determine whether or not it's worth using or not. I generally cold camp, and I'm comfortable under a tarp in a bivy, but it's 100% dependent on the sleeping bag. HOOP (Wintertrekker) is the definitive source for winter camping.

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PostPosted: November 19th, 2016, 8:04 pm 
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Check out wintertrekking.com. Tons of useful info and many experienced winter campers to answer your questions. Great site !!

Les


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PostPosted: November 20th, 2016, 4:24 pm 
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my_self_reliance wrote:
Yes, you are going to freeze to death. :).
What's your sleeping bag rated to? I did a video recently on the SOL emergency bivy- you may want to check that out. It will sweat, so it really depends on how long you are camping to determine whether or not it's worth using or not. I generally cold camp, and I'm comfortable under a tarp in a bivy, but it's 100% dependent on the sleeping bag. HOOP (Wintertrekker) is the definitive source for winter camping.

I don't know what the bag will be rated to, I'm going to rent it from Hiker's Haven in Oakville. I'll tell them I want "a good one", but that doesn't mean much I suppose. If its a bag good to say -20 and its going to be - 25 the night I go then....... I know, or rather have heard that if a bag is good to X temperature, its really not *that good* at that rated temperature. More like only to several degrees above what the rating is.

Where can I find this video?

EDIT: never mind, found the video.

Les wrote:
Check out wintertrekking.com. Tons of useful info and many experienced winter campers to answer your questions. Great site !!

Les

Thanks, I'll check that out right now.:)


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PostPosted: November 21st, 2016, 6:25 pm 
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I would get the gear you are planning to use and test it out in your backyard in incrementally colder conditions before heading to the backcountry on the dead of winter. Find out what mods/additions/substitutions you actually need instead of putting yourself at risk with your best guess.

The SuperShelter could take you down to just above freezing with a proper bag and no augmentation, but I wouldn't trust it past that on its own. You'd be better off with an underquilt where the loft/insulating power is preserved by not compressing it with body weight.

I'd also be thinking of a tarp wide enough to reach the ground on either side and long enough to make "doors" on the ends ... though you'll need to break the ice off the inside in the morning.

Best info if you are set on a hammock is @ https://hammockforums.net


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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2016, 9:46 am 
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If your winter camping gear is insufficiently warm for the weather, your nights will be miserable. You shiver, you do isometrics inside your bag, you toss and turn, and it's hard to fall asleep. The night seems to last forever, and you aren't rested when the sun finally comes up.

What you want is a combination of gear which is sufficiently warm so if you bundled it all on, you would be overheated, and you need to leave off some clothing and leave your sleeping bag's hood loose and zipper partly unzipped. If it gets colder at night, you can wake up partly and zip up tighter.

I think that keeping warm at night while winter camping involves four things: (1) a four season tent, (2) a thick winter sleeping bag, (3) an insulating sleeping pad, and (4) clothing which you wear while sleeping.

You want a four season tent which can be sealed up completely, except for ventilation holes. This kind of tent can add a lot of warmth. I like tents which can be vented near their peak. A tent with panels of mosquito netting which can't be sealed will not be very warm.

You need a thick sleeping bag with a hood which seals comfortably around your face, and a collar which keeps cold air from zipping down into the bag. If you want to sleep well, don't skimp on the bag! If your bag is inadequate for the weather, you can add insulation by laying blankets or a quilt over your bag, but this is not as satisfactory as having a really warm bag.

Your sleeping bag won't provide as much insulation underneath you as it does on top of you, because its insulation will compress. You need a sleeping pad or pads which will insulate you from the snow underneath you. A thick pad will help you keep warm at night.

If your sleeping bag by itself doesn't provide enough insulation to keep you warm at night, add clothing. A thick balaclava and a couple pairs of socks will be very helpful. Put on a couple layers of warm clothing on your upper body and lower body. There may be a limit to the number of layers you can wear on your upper body, as eventually the layers will bunch up in your armpits and impede the circulation to your arms. If this happens, lay a winter jacket over your body inside your sleeping bag, which will add a lot of insulation. If you lay the jacket on top of your sleeping bag, it'll probably slide off as you turn over at night. If it's inside your bag, it'll stay put, and you can easily shift it around as you turn over.

That's how I keep warm while winter camping. I think it would be hard to develop a satisfactory winter camping setup based on a hammock. Open_side_up's suggestion that you try out your winter camping gear in your back yard is a good one. I remember a weekend when I had planned a trip, but a blizzard blew in and the authorities closed the highways. I decided to camp out in back of my house. It was -30 degrees F, and the wind was howling. It was a struggle to put up my tent, partly because of the wind, but mostly because the tent's nylon shrunk from the cold, and I had a hard time installing the poles. But once I got the tent set up, I spent a comfortable night outside.

Here are some pictures from a four-day 116-mile kayak trip on the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho, launching on Marsh Creek, where we kayaked through snow for the first day and a half. Due to the limited space in my kayak, I brought a three season sleeping bag, and augmented it with the clothing I wore under my dry suit during the day. I was warm and comfortable at night.

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Last edited by pmmpete on November 30th, 2016, 7:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: November 22nd, 2016, 10:18 am 
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Cannot stress the importance of a good insulated mattress pad to keep you warm.Always check the "R" rating , the higher the better.


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PostPosted: November 24th, 2016, 12:58 am 
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If you don't want to buy a full winter bag yet, or can't rent a suitable one, you can layer a larger bag on top of your summer one. Definitely make sure you're insulated from below! You might also want to bring a pair of heavier pants for sleeping in. Fleece or wool pyjamas would be a good idea. You can always leave them off if it isn't too cold.
Bring a balaclava for sleeping in to keep your face warm. If you tuck your face into your sleeping bag you'll end up with a whole bunch of moisture and frost inside your bag which will chill you more.

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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2016, 1:09 pm 
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Joined: December 24th, 2008, 10:31 am
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Location: Jokeville
WOW! Lots of good information here and I thank you all for it.

For my feet, I was thinking of using the liners from my winter work boots. They're the (almost) knee high "space boots" as we call them at work, suitable, according to the box for -100*C. The liners themselves are what does all the work as far as retaining heat is concerned. The "boots" themselves are just a rubberized waterproof nylon type material. I figure with my warm work socks and those, my feet should be ok. Plus I'm a diabetic, so having multiple layers of socks may not be the best for circulation in my feet. The liners however are a bit looser and so warm even in the coldest conditions I've ever worked in.

I'd absolutely try out my set up in the back yard if I had one, but all I've really got is a small patio, I live in a condo. There isn't really anywhere for me to hang a hammock. On the other hand there is a small woodlot beside my parent's house that would make for a good place..........

The reason I'm rather set on using a hammock is because I'm planning on getting one anyway, and I don't know where I can rent a four season tent. Open_side_Up when you suggest a tarp, which I happen to have, are you suggesting that in addition to the rain fly/cover that the hennessy hammocks already come with? What is the reasoning behind that? Is it to act as an extra wind break?

The balaclava is a good suggestion, I have a couple of those that I use for work, and could (maybe?) double in place of the hat? Or should I use the hat and bala?

I know about the insulation from below, and that sleeping directly on it will lose me some or all insulation value. I've thought about renting a second winter bag and seeing if I could macgyver something up to hang it underneath the hammock without damaging either the hammock or the bag. We'll see what I can come up with.

One thing that didn't occur to me until recently, I was figuring "its only one night and we're going to be close to civilization", but thanks to those who replied, for indirectly reminding me that it only takes one night to get in to trouble.


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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2016, 1:35 pm 
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Scapulataf, I think that you're making your winter camping project a lot more difficult and less likely to be successful by basing it around a hammock. I think you'd be better off sleeping on the ground in any tent. But if you insist on sleeping in a hammock, I suggest that you experiment with putting an insulating layer into the hammock under your sleeping bag. You could fold a couple of blankets into a narrow rectangle, but I suspect that they would get bunched up and twist out of place as you turn over at night (assuming that turning over is even possible in your hammock). You could put a thermarest-style pad into the hammock. Such a sleeping pad would stay in place when you move, but those pads tend to be pretty slippery, which might be a problem in a hammock.


Last edited by pmmpete on December 3rd, 2016, 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: December 3rd, 2016, 2:54 pm 
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To winter camp in comfort, get a tent with a stove! The white tent in the pictures shown below is a Kifaru single pole tipi with a folding wood stove, and a stove pipe which rolls up into a cylinder about a foot long and three inches in diameter. These are light enough to backpack, and I have friends who use them for hunting in the fall. We have also taken a Kifaru tent and stove on early spring kayak trips. The disadvantage of heating a tent with a wood stove is that you have to get wood and reduce it to small enough pieces to fit in the stove, and you have to monitor and feed the stove a lot. And the disadvantage of a tent without a floor is that you need to lay down tarps or ground cloths to keep your clothing and gear dry.

The green dome tent is my four-season Cabelas tent, which is tall enough to stand up in, and has a floor. I use a propane heater, stove, and lantern in the tent, fed by a small propane tank. It's warm and dry, kind of like a portable yurt. This setup is a lot less hassle than a wood-heated tent, but is too big to backpack. I transport it in a trailer behind my snowmobile.

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Here is a Kifaru tipi in action in the winter.

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Here is a Kifaru tipi in action on a cold spring kayak trip on the Jarbidge and Bruneau Rivers in Idaho. We paddled through snow and sleet on the first day. The stove felt pretty nice!

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The propane heater and lantern for my propane setup are off to the right of this picture, and the propane tank is outside the tent. The lantern is mounted on a mast so the light shines down on the floor of the tent.

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My propane-assisted winter camping setup is a bit big to backpack.

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PostPosted: December 4th, 2016, 12:14 am 
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I used to paddle with a Newfoundland. He was a solid CIII dog. With him snuggled up next to me, I didn't even need to zip my bag unless it got down close to zero. You can't get a 160# dog into a hammock. I haven't tried a Hennessy, but I quit sleeping in hammocks after I was about 25. My back didn't appreciate it anymore.

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PostPosted: December 5th, 2016, 5:51 pm 
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Lots of good information so far. I have some experience camping in the cold; several canoe trips in November- December, as well as sleeping in the back field in the dead of winter. All have been with a 3 season tent and a -18 (celsius) rated sleeping bag. Keep in mind bag ratings are usually about 10 degrees celsius higher than what they state. They state the maximum rating, not the 'comfort' rating.

The canoe trips have all been between about -5 and +3 celsius. We're kind of out just as the water is freezing. If you've never had to paddle through ice, or a snowfall before I couldn't recommend anything more, as long as you are prepared for it! The biggest problem on multi- day trips is keeping warm over the whole thing... it can really take a toll, especially when you stop moving at night. You will probably sleep with twice as much as you wear during the day if you don't have any source of external heat. Our last canoe trip we had a sealine packed with nothing but wool blankets, which made for a much more comfortable sleeping experience. The key here is heat preservation- by means of insulation, and it can take more than you think when you are out for days at a time.

As far as for REAL winter temperatures, it was once -21 Celsius in December, so I decided to set up camp in the back field to see if I could survive the night without having to come inside. I ended up wearing everything I brought out with me to bed (base layer, 2x midlayers and coat and snowpants, as well as hat, gloves and boot liners) and I would be surprised if I got any more than 3 hours sleep that night I was so cold. I came inside in the morning and immediately fell asleep in the Laz E Boy. In temperatures this cold I can't imagine getting away without a source of external heat, or a really good tent (4 season/ mountaineering) and a really nice sleeping bag (think -30 rated or less).

I'll second the comment about a hot tent- for base camp style camping it reigns supreme in my mind. I have never used one but my brother has melted a Nalgene that was hanging from the top of the tent in one before. You could also build a quinzee if you felt so inclined.

There was another time during the ice storm a couple years ago in Southern Ontario, you could hear the trees cracking and breaking all night. Very cool. Made sure to set up in the middle of the field though.

Is winter camping worth it? Yes. Do you need to be prepared? Definitely, yes.


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2016, 6:07 pm 
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scapulataf wrote:
The reason I'm rather set on using a hammock is because I'm planning on getting one anyway, and I don't know where I can rent a four season tent. Open_side_Up when you suggest a tarp, which I happen to have, are you suggesting that in addition to the rain fly/cover that the hennessy hammocks already come with? What is the reasoning behind that? Is it to act as an extra wind break?

Actually, I was suggesting that you replace the stock HH rainfly with a bigger/longer tarp (11x14ish) that you can fold left over right on the ends to make "doors" to reduce airflow around you.

http://www.zpacks.com/large_image.shtml?shelter/hammock_tarps/hammock_doors_closed_l.jpg


I know about the insulation from below, and that sleeping directly on it will lose me some or all insulation value. I've thought about renting a second winter bag and seeing if I could macgyver something up to hang it underneath the hammock without damaging either the hammock or the bag. We'll see what I can come up with.

Find a large enough rectangular second bag with a full two way zipper and you could "pea pod" your entire hammock and first sleeping bag inside.

https://www.google.ca/search?q=hammock+peapod&espv=2&biw=1024&bih=536&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjml5TBk97QAhVgVWMKHVzSDBoQ7AkIQw&dpr=1.25#imgrc=Wyf5iJVYZXVTgM%3A



Finally, if you are wearing you winter boots during the day and planning to wear the liners at night as well, I would be sure to wear a vapour barrier inside during waking hours to keep perspiration/transpiration/moisture out of the felt.


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PostPosted: December 5th, 2016, 6:17 pm 
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Scapulataf, here is why winter camping in a hammock hanging under a tarp will suck: The tarp will provide no warmth at all, and very little wind protection. Wind will be blowing over you and under you, and snow will be settling on your sleeping bag and your face when you're trying to sleep. The wind may make your hammock swing around. You'll need more insulation underneath you in the hammock to keep warm than you would if you slept on the snow. When you climb out of your sleeping bag, you will climb out directly into the snow. You'll need to cover your boots, pack, spare clothing, and other gear with a tarp or put it in a bag of some kind to protect it from the snow.

A typical three season tent with a lot of mosquito netting, but a full fly, would be a huge improvement over a hammock and tarp. Due to the mosquito netting, the tent wouldn't be warmer than outside, but the fly would provide a pocket of relatively still air, and would protect you pretty well from the wind. The tent would stay dry inside, although strong wind would blow fine snow through the mosquito netting which would settle onto you and your gear. You could leave gear around you on the floor of the tent, such as clothing, your headlamp, your pack, your boots, and a travel clock or watch (always a nice thing to have during those long winter nights). The tent would provide a dry and comfortable place for you to hang out in during the evening before you're ready to hit the sack, and for you to get organized in during the morning before you head out into the snow. You could cook in the vestibule while staying in the protection of the tent.

So my advice is forget about the hammock for winter camping. Invest the money in a tent. Even if it isn't a four season tent, it'll be way better than trying to winter camp in a hammock.


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