View topic - tent on snow or on ground?

Canadian Canoe Routes

tent on snow or on ground?
Page 1 of 1

Author:  eddieout [ January 26th, 2003, 7:45 pm ]
Post subject: 

Is it best to set your tent up ontop of the snow pack or dig down to the earth? Also should I still use a ground sheet? And will a thermo-rest pad keep the snow from turning into ice under me?

Author:  madkanuist [ January 26th, 2003, 8:19 pm ]
Post subject: 

There's no need to dig down to the ground. Frozen ground feels a lot colder than the snow. It is also much harder & uncomfortable. You are unlikely to be able to drive pegs into it. Flooding could be a problem if there's a thaw & you have your tent in a snow hole. Drifting could bury your tent.

Low snow walls can be useful as windbreaks.
I use a groundsheet if I'm not too lazy, because I'd rather have it frozen down than the tent floor frozen in place.

I use 2 thermarests or a t-rest on a blue pad. The snow doesn't melt under me.

Author:  HOOP_ [ January 27th, 2003, 12:43 am ]
Post subject: 

Get a bivy bag, and go tentless. You will need a tarp overhead to keep any snow off, and possibly to keep the wind off too. Depends on the site, slope, amount of snow, etc.

I hate sleeping in a cold nylon tent winter camping. It is a high humidity, frosty, clammy experience. With my -40 goose down bag and bivy bag, I like it "outside". The key thing is to totally get out of the wind. Absolute must. The tent is an advantage that way, but with some imagination, one can get a wind-free site, If the wind changes on you, you are scuppered, so that effects how well you chose your site. Best to be back in the bush. If going with the tent, definitely use the snow base. When I used to use a cold tent, I put a small poly tarp underneath it, between it and the snow, because your body heat will melt the snow under your thermarest. When sleeping under the tarp in my bivy and thermarest, I also use the small blue polytarp under the thermarest.

Even better is a hot tent and woodstove. But that’s for another thread.

Good luck.

Author:  Al Rolle [ January 27th, 2003, 8:15 am ]
Post subject: 

We've only camped in the snow a half-dozen times, but managed to do it in reasonable comfort. We trample the snow and put a ground-cloth over it. Thermarest pads do very well at least down to 10-deg F which is the limit of my experience. You do have to be careful of venting the tent to prevent condensation. However, in my experience, the condensation freezes at low temperatures so at least it's dry.

I messed-up on the condensation think two Octobers ago when I used my New Hillberg solo tent for the first time. We weren't expecting 18-deg F, sleet and 30 mph winds. I was not used to the small volume of a true solo, 4-season tent and didn't have the vents open enough. Around midnight I noticed it was too warm. I checked the temp in the tent and it was 40-deg. I put the thermometer outside and it was 18. Frost/ice covered the inside of the lower tent sides.

I figured to ignore the inside ice as it appeared dry enough and went back to sleep. Learned a valuable lesson and still managed to stay dry.


Author:  ghommes [ January 27th, 2003, 10:12 am ]
Post subject: 

I'll second hoop's advice about using a tarp instead of a tent. Tarps can be set up anywhere, and can be banked with snow to keep out wind and blowing snow, but ventilate enough to eliminate frost build-up. Stay on top of the snow. It's more comfortable. Just pack down an area with your skis or snowshoes and let it "set up" for a while before putting up your tarp and laying out
ground sheet, foam pad/thermarest, and sleeping bag.

Author:  dboles [ January 27th, 2003, 8:29 pm ]
Post subject: 

When I winter camp.Usually dig a deep hole with a sleeping bench after the snow has set up,down goes a canvas ground sheet then t-rest and sleeping bag.All is covered with a blue tarp with snow around the edge of the pit to secure.When I was showed this the deep hole allows cold air to settle on the bottom of the pit below the sleeping shelf.The fire is lit a little distance away for cooking and heat.the fire has a reflector -a stack of logs to reflect heat forward.quite a toasty set-up and comfortable.Once when a snowmachine broke down on me spent 2 days snowshoeing to the nearest road,spent 2 nights out with not much..butthat story is for another thread

Author:  Guest [ January 28th, 2003, 10:22 am ]
Post subject: 


Sounds like you folks out in the B.C. mountains get an ass-kicking amount of snow, if you are able to build a shelter by just digging a hole into the snowpack and covering it with a tarp!!

Author:  ghommes [ January 28th, 2003, 10:24 am ]
Post subject: 

Sorry, the above post was by me. Don't like to be anonymous.

Author:  SGrant [ January 30th, 2003, 12:56 am ]
Post subject: 

Doesn't everyone get snow 20 feet deep? Makes it academic whether you dig down to the ground. Camping on a glacier or lake is even more challenging for that!

Looks like we won't be getting 20 feet of snow this year, however.

I second the advice to pitch camp on top of the snow, and to pack it down first. Otherwise you'll sink into it. It makes a more comfortable surface if you use your shovel or whatever to smooth it out after you pack it, using sweeping motions. Step only around the perimeter while assembling the tent, to avoid footholes. Thump out a depression for your hips, and dig out a shallow pit in front of the door to make it easier to get in and out of the tent.

Another reason for not digging down to the ground is to avoid damaging the the plants, and your camp will stay much cleaner looking.

Use sticks instead of tent pegs, or attach 1-2 foot long pieces of parachute cord to your peg loops, put loops in the ends of the cords, and bury your pegs or sticks down in the snow. Otherwise they pull out too easily.

Author:  frozentripper [ January 30th, 2003, 1:42 pm ]
Post subject: 

Sleeping on snow's always been more comfortable than sleeping on the ground. Skiing one time north of Vancouver in Garibaldi, I lost the trail in thick fog (clouds), and had to resort to digging out a snow cave in the 10-15 foot deep snow. I wsn't too happy about being lost and not finding the cabin, but I slept great. The next morning was blue skies and sunny, and I found the trail again. Since then, with snow underneath the thermarest and tent - a good night's sleep's almost guaranteed.

Page 1 of 1 All times are UTC - 5 hours
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group