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Winter Sleeping-System Hints:

bullet Supper calories burn quickly on a cold evening. To avoid going to bed with an empty stomach and a chill, snack on high-calorie foods such as cheese, hard salami or gorp before turning in.


bullet Don't sleep in the clothes you've worn all day. They'll be damp and provide little insulation. Pack an extra pair of long underwear and socks for the night. Sleeping nude is better than wearing damp clothes.


bullet To help keep boots from freezing at night, put them in your stove or cook-kit bag and place under the foot of your sleeping bag.


bullet Contact lenses and solutions can go in your sleeping bag to keep them from freezing.


bullet Always wear a hat to bed.  A balaclava is best because it covers your neck and ears.


bullet Take along an extra foam pad for insulation under your sleeping bag.


bullet To help keep cold air out of your sleeping bag when you roll over, take your down vest, sweater, or pile coat and lay it across your neck and chest, tuck it in so it acts like a collar.


bullet To reduce frost buildup while you're sleeping, leave the tent door partially unzipped for airflow. Some condensation will inevitably build up inside, so after you crawl out in the morning, open the doors, let the wet tent freeze, then shake off the frost before packing.


bullet Sleep with boot liner, insoles, and socks inside your bag. Some people even sleep with their boots in their bag or place their boots under their feet between the bag and sleeping bag.


bullet Keep your nose and mouth out of your sleeping bag because your breathing will dampen the inside of your sleeping bag.


bullet Turn your water bottles upside down before going to bed. If water freezes, the ice will be on the bottom of the bottle when it's turned upright. If it's extremely cold, cuddle up with the bottles (filled with hot water) in your sleeping bag, but make sure they don't leak.


bullet When going to bed everything should be put back in packs, NOTHING IS LEFT OUT.  Nothing is more unpleasant than feeling around in four inches of new snow for cups, spoons, stoves, etc.


bullet Sleep on extra clothes.  Pad your contact points with extra padding.  Shoulders and hips deserve all the help they can get preserving heat.


bullet Put water bottle in your bag with you at night. It keeps it from freezing and provides needed relief from "Sahara Throat" in the morning.  Also it provides starter water for melting snow for breakfast.


bullet Turn your sleeping bag stuff sack inside out and put your boots in it. Then place them under your sleeping bag, behind your knees, on top of your pad. In this way, they won't freeze by morning.


bullet Go to the bathroom whenever you have to or else you are just keeping waste warm for no reason.   Just before going to bed go to the bathroom and get up during the night too, if the matter comes to.


bullet When going to bed visualize or think out exactly what you are going to do and where everything is that you'll need for the next morning.  This will add tremendously to efficiency.


bullet Keep a dry wool hat in your sleeping bag to wear at night.  You lose 40% of your heat through your head.


bullet Deep snow Snow can make the finest of beds if it's prepared properly.  When arriving at a campsite, remove your pack or sled and, keeping on snowshoes or skis, stomp down a platform larger than your tent.  Crisscross the tent site in a grid pattern.  Then let the site harden, which usually takes 30 to 45 minutes.  When you finally move in, you'll have a firm surface on which to sleep.


bullet You've eaten a warm and calorie-laden meal, drunk a big mug of tea, and are feeling toasty.  Then you crawl into a sleeping bag that may be 101 F or 20' F below zero.  A lot of your body beat will now be lost heating your bag.  Instead of losing calories in this way, boil a pot of water while dinner is being eaten and pour the boiling water into Nalgene water bottles.  Screw the lids on tightly, check for leaks then put them in your sleeping bag.


bullet Reliving yourself at night means, at the least, rising from your bag to aim out the tent door.  Women have it even harder.  A more civil way of handling the business is to carry a one liter, wide mouth Nalgene bottle marked with a circle of duct tape so you can feel it in the dark and thus distinguish it from your water bottle.  Urinate into the bottle, which with a little bit of practice can be done without getting out of the comfort of your sleeping bag.


bullet Keep your tent well ventilated, with the doors and windows open at least 3" to prevent a buildup of frost on the walls and ceiling from exhaled moisture.


bullet Don't sleep with your head completely inside your sleeping bag.  Your breath is moist and will collect inside the bag to make you damp and cold.  Wear a hooded sweatshirt or stocking cap and leave your face out of the bag.  If it is very cold, wear a knit face mask.


bullet Pack down the snow in the area where you will pitch your tent to avoid an uneven surface under your sleeping pad.  Never clear away the snow, as the ground underneath will begin to thaw and become muddy.


bullet To stay warm at night, put on dry clothes from the skin out.  You may feel warm and dry in the clothes you have worn all day, but they are full of moisture which will cool down as you sleep and you will wake up cold and damp.


bullet Air mattresses provide no insulation from the cold ground.  Use closed cell foam pad or Thermarest pad instead. 


How to Plan a Winter Trek


Winter Camp Setup


ski_tent.gif (12237 bytes)Ski Tour Tents




snowhouse.gif (15933 bytes)Snow Houses




"Ice Box" Igloo Maker 

Takes less snow, less wet clothes, and 1/4 of the time to build than the classic Polar Dome, below. 



Copy of home.jpg (30636 bytes)Polar Domes

Used at BSA National Okpik Leader Training at Ely, MN 




leanto-.jpg (77072 bytes)Permanent Winter Camps



See Also:

Activities & Recreation
Food & Water
Gear & Clothing
Health & Safety
Travel & Navigation

Winter Camping






Additional Information:

Igloo-Making Kit ] Igloos ] Dome How-To ] Polar Domes ] Ski Tour Tent ] Snow Houses ] Old Timer Hints ]

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Last modified: October 15, 2016.