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PostPosted: January 2nd, 2012, 7:37 pm 
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Location: Guelph - Ontario
Hey guys,

I have never been winter camping. I want to go for a two nighter showshoe trip January 27-29. I have spent easily 100 nights back country camping the last three years but never in snow or with prolonged negative temperatures. I am going with a friend who knows a bit, but has never been without a guide.

I want to get a solid understanding of what is going on. You guys always give the best advice, so here it goes...
----------------------------
- First of all, any suggestions on where to go? Less than a 3 hour drive from Guelph ON would be ideal.

- How do I transition between daytime/snowshoeing and sleeping/in a tent? This is a huge mystery to me.

- Properly dressing? I can layer to stay nice and toasty during the day, but don't have to worry about getting sweaty and cold because there is always a warm car or cabin waiting for me after a hike.

- Sleeping. I have a 3 season tent, would that work fine? What are the major differences?

Any other advice or input would be greatly appreciated!


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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 8:30 am 
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First I'd recommend you visit www.wintertrekking.com

To best transition from daytime snowshoeing to sleeping in a tent, first take the snowshoes off, then enter the tent..................sorry, couldn't resist that one.

For a first time I'd suggest the Sunday Lake Dogsled trail in Algonquin Park, just west of Opeongo access road.

Cheers,
Sleddawg.


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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 9:54 am 
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Location: Bancroft, Ontario Canada
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I have never been winter camping. I want to go for a two nighter showshoe trip January 27-29.


Ack... Jan 29 is the coldest time of the year, average temps at that time dip to their lowest on the annual charts. A large tent and an electric heater of some sort at the Mew lake electical campsites in Algonquin can help get things started.

A block heater to start the car during those low temps can also help since there are always vehicles that won't run. Calling a tow truck in can be expensive.

The right weekend in March can be nice... milder, longer days, and soft snow to sleep in.

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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 10:03 am 
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Location: Scarbados, Ontario Canada
Sure, do all the reading that will put you at ease. But nothing beats going into the bush and facing reality.

See how I did it years back:

I decided on a single night out and picked a place where I would camp close enough to the car so I could retreat if things didn't work out. I picked Silent Lake Park
http://mapper.acme.com/?ll=44.91425,-78.05778&z=14&t=H
because I had used their ski trail before and I love that area. It's shield country at its best.

I planned the weekend ahead in February - hoping it wouldn't get too cold for my set-up: a Eureka Timberline 3-season tent and a down-filled winter sleeping bag. I had not expected that I would actually ski in a drizzle of rain, and that night time temps were close to zero. So, there was not test of my set-up that I hadn't been through before in the shoulder seasons.

The second surprise was that the park had an area set up for winter campers - but I wanted to be back in the woods. So when the man at the gate told me he would check up on me so I would be alright at night, I realized that he wouldn't find me and maybe start a search. So I sheepishly had to reveal I was going to pitch tent somewhere else further down the ski trail, and he didn't object. :thumbup:

So I started out skiing as the light was fading, and less than an hour in, I stopped and pitched the tent. It was easy, just put it on top of the firm snow, and I had a stove to melt snow for the little water I needed for cooking and tea. The real challenge was that when I was done with it, it was not even 8pm yet and thus a bit early for sleeping.

Waking up in the morning was the thing I remember best: zipping open the entrance, feeling the fresh air in the face and stretching the arm out to touch the bark of a tree that was close by. It makes you feel you are part of nature, and that feels good.

Skiing out was simple, no complications starting the car or having to negotiate fresh snow on the road. And lunch on the way back home in a restaurant was nice and welcome.

So, no real challenge there - but it might have been different. The important thing was to get out for a first time and remove all the mental blockage that our brain builds up as we ponder such an adventure...

I learned a lot more later, going with others or solo. You will be going with someone who's done winter camping before, so you'll have a good time. By the way, consider joining the deep freeze event: folks have all kinds of different equipment and camping styles - you could learn stuff from these seasoned winter campers. And you get to travel an old Canadian institution: a train that drops you off in the middle of the woods...

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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 10:27 am 
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Location: Guelph - Ontario
rhumline wrote:
To best transition from daytime snowshoeing to sleeping in a tent, first take the snowshoes off, then enter the tent..................sorry, couldn't resist that one.


Wont your boots freeze during the night? :-?


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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 7:52 pm 
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I have camped in 0C , -10C, -20C, and -30C...and being like goldilocks there is a better range. 0C is the worst, at that temp there is too much moisture in the air and no matter how well you are dressed that vapour will chill you . - 10C is good but I prefer -10C to - 20 C and at - 30C you become a bit too much of a Michelin man and you are into double gloves and the expensive Sorels. Also yes you'll need a block heater at that range and good luck in finding an outlet, especially anything south of Sudbury.

3 Season tents are OK but , check your tent frame , if they are fibreglass they can snap at -20C, so invest in aluminum which wont snap in that range. Also , you will have to keep the tent door or window open so your water vapour that you breathe out can escape , otherwise it will literally rain or ice will drop on you in the AM.

Go with snowshoes and sleds and not skiis and packs. Consider getting some PVC poles and rigging a harness for the eventual downhill.

Dont be ambitious on distance...you really dont cover much ground in those conditions and going 1 KM in is all you need to get privacy and quiet , you wont be competing for sites.

Consider an auger for water from a lake , it sure beats trying to melt snow which will eat up your fuel supply really quick, especially since it takes 10 inches of snow to get 1" of water.

Sleep with a pee bottle nearby , you really dont want to get out of your bag when you feel the need in the middle of the night . Sleep with a hot thermos in your bag so you have something warm when you get up . You burn about 7-8,000 calories in that environment , so adding a tablespoon of fat to your beverage is ideal.

You can precook your meals at home , freeze 'em and then they stay frozen and you just have to reheat and eat. And everything takes three times longer than in summer..

and if want to really have luxury consider one of these:
http://www.tent-sauna.com/tent-sauna

Enjoy, once you have done it , you'll be back. Nothing better than a sunny winter day with fresh glistening snow , and at night the stars in winter are even better! ( Clearer atmosphere)


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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 9:57 pm 
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Location: Calgary, AB or wherever life takes me
I have spent a few hundred nights out in the winter. It really is not a tough thing to do. Proper gear AND a proper mindset are very important.

I agree with most of gunnelbob's post. -10ºC to -20ºC is just about ideal. I would rather it colder than warmer. I hate sweating and getting damp.

I have been out on two trips that hit -40ºC, both many, many years ago. I would not consider it again, but in those days we really did not plan too much around the weather, we just up and went. Both these trips we built quinzee's, which are cozy and warm, especially during dinner time. One of the hardest substances at these temps is cheddar cheese, even a machette would hardly chip it. Our rum was hard slush. Upon returning to your vehicle, you might just have to tarp in around it, and light your stove under the oil pan to get it going. We have had to do this numerous times.

I have never used a 4 season tent, mostly because I never owned one. I have used 3 season tents a bunch, as well as bivy bags either under the stars, or more commonly in some form of snow shelter.

Lately I have been taking along a single walled sil-nylon tipi. Not only can it make a good shelter for sleeping combined with a bivy sac, it is very fast to set up for breaks during the day should the wind be blowing hard, or lots of snow is falling. warmth of the bed.

A lighter and much smaller option to an ice auger is an ice chisel, as you can make a pole for it while out there. HERE is a link to one similar to what a friend made for our use. If you were going to want a bunch of fishing holes, an auger would be more efficient, but just to get drinking water the chisel is fine.

Personally, I prefer skis to shoes if conditions permit. Much faster travel. I also prefer to use my pulk to a pack, as I find with both I expend about the same amount of energy over all, I just hurt way less when pulling the pulk.

Remember to stay hydrated, it is way to easy in the winter to end up forgoing enough water intake. Helps keep the energy level up.

Definitely prepare meals ahead. You might guess, but I always slice my cheese ahead. :) Cutting up and preparing foods when they are frozen is not so much fun. Dehydrated foods work great, as they are light, prepare quickly with warm water, and provide good energy.

Snack lots during the day, the calories you can burn in the cold are many more than warm weather trekking.

Eat some high fat foods like cheese or nuts before bed, as they produce some good energy to help you stay warm. If you need to pee, do it....no sense wasting energy keeping that liquid warm all night. I too use a pee bottle when cold.

Dressing is layers is the way to go. I start with a thin skin-tight pair of polyprop longjohns. Then add warmth layers as needed, like a fleece or even wool. A good windbreak layer is a must too. If it is going to be very cold, a light down coat is great for breaks during the day, or hanging out before bed.

A good insulating mat for under your nice warm sleeping bag is nice too. I just love my Exped Down Mat with its 9cm of loft.

I have done the sauna thing with thin plastic and hot stones from a fire, but that sauna tent sure does look like a nice luxury item. :)

Winter camping is a blast, fun in the snow is pretty much as good as fun on the water in a canoe. :)

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"Paddle faster, I hear banjos!"


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PostPosted: January 3rd, 2012, 10:10 pm 
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Location: Fort McMurray Alberta
I highly recommend the graduated approach. You don't have to get to far off the beaten path to test gear and techniques. Then get more ambitious. A long way in to the back of beyond is the wrong time to find out your boots suck or the stove is best suited as a net anchor.

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PostPosted: January 4th, 2012, 12:10 pm 
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Location: Sudbury, Ontario Canada
Hey CurlyFries
There's lots of info on this site and on the suggested website on all the do's and don'ts... two suggestions... a pair of down booties and an extra pair of dry boot liners... tuck em' in you sleeping bag so when you wake up you'll have warm footwear too start and dry liners for the day... iake the wet liners out before you nod off and hang them ... if it's real cold they mightf be difficult to remove in the morning.... If you have a fire you can dry the wet liners during the day...
Have fun wintercamping,
Cheers,
Al


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PostPosted: January 4th, 2012, 1:40 pm 
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Are your dates set in stone?

Just wondering, because Deep Freeze 12 could be an option:

Saturday February 18 to Sunday February 26, 2012

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 40&t=39016

http://www.myccr.com/phpbbforum/viewtop ... 36&t=38998

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PostPosted: January 4th, 2012, 4:16 pm 
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Location: Wisconsin
Barbara, as others have stated you don't have to go far from the car to enjoy the tranquility of a winter camp. In fact, it's advisable to be near the car the first time just in case something doesn't work as you had planned. Winter camping has it's own challenges and you don't have the margin for error warm weather campers have, so for the first time, watch the weather and avoid super cold or a storm. It's not as difficult as most non-winter campers think. Yes, a three season tent will work provided it has enough volume for your bulky winter outfit and you avoid a big snow load. There are 2 main approaches to winter camping. Cold camping, mountaineer style and hot camping - traditional trapper style using a canvas tent and wood stove. It's pure heaven! I have done both but once you try hot tent camping you won't go back. The best resource for info is wintertrecking.com, as mentioned in an earlier response. Check out Snowtrekker Tents to see a top notch winter canvas tent
http://www.snowtrekkertents.com/ . By the way, the smaller of these tents are great spring and fall canoe trips which often are cold and wet.

Best of luck with your foray into white season camping.


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PostPosted: January 4th, 2012, 9:15 pm 
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Location: Milton
woodsmoke said
Quote:
but once you try hot tent camping you won't go back.

:thumbup:
totally agree
And don't be afraid to ask questions.
or have them double check your gear list.

And as said earlier easier than it looks.
If you plan to cross water make sure you have some ice picks.
(even get them if you don't plan to cross water, you may change your mind once out there).
Jeff

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PostPosted: January 5th, 2012, 11:08 am 
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Location: Halfmoon Bay BC
Ditto on Woodsmoke and Jedi...its been a few years since I did some winter camping and to make the whole thing 100% amazing I wont do it again without a tent and woodstove...I saw these guys at the Cottage Life show and was very impressed with their prices, on average about $150-$200 less than I have seen elsewhere... their web site doesnt display prices , but its worth the phone call...and the delivery expense and time it would take to ship might not satisfy but the prices do...They are in Ft McPherson so the logistics of shipping are slow to say the least. http://www.fortmcphersontent.com/


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PostPosted: January 5th, 2012, 2:03 pm 
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I have only used a tent and woodstove in the past when hunting, and set it up from either vehicles or horseback.

How heavy is the average setup used for backcountry travel? I just can't imagine doing something like a 50-100+km trek with this in my pack or my pulk. Or, is this just something you do as a base camp only, and venture out on day trips from there.

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PostPosted: January 6th, 2012, 8:38 am 
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Location: Wisconsin
dunkin',

For sure the traditional tent and stove outfit is not for backpacking. However, the it is quite portable for a party of 2 or more using narrow trail toboggans or pulks. The home habitat for these trekkers is rather flat terrain, particularly following the canoe trails they paddle in summer.

An outfit (tent and stove) will weigh from about 35 lb to around 50 lb pounds depending on the size of the group you are geared up for. It works out to about 15 lbs /person.

The Snowtrekker tent's I use are made of light canvas and weigh from around 20lb for a 2 person to about 30lb for a 4 person. These weights include the tent poles. The wood stove runs from about 15lbs to 25lbs, depending on size. I have a large titanium stove that is only 12 lbs, and my small one is only 8 lb (which is easily packable on canoe trips).

A beautiful benefit of a heated tent, beyond the obvious, is that you can hang up you damp clothing and boot liners and dry them out at night. Excessive moisture is the real bug-a-boo in winter, not the cold. Damp clothing or sleeping bags just suck the heat out of you. Another benefit is less food has to be packed, fewer calories are needed because you don't have to provide all your body heat from food.

What's not to love about lounging around in your long johns reading a good book with a kettle singing on the stove while outside the wind and snow whips around and the temps drop? I see a trip coming soon.


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