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Winter Travel Hints:

bulletIf you are going out for anything longer than a weekend, consider pulling a sled rather than carrying an obscenely heavy pack. Remember, though, that towing a sled in deep, new snow is almost impossible.
bulletDuring normal winter travel, carry sunscreen, pocketknife, moleskin, map, compass, and snack, in an easily accessible pocket.
bulletForget about bringing any tent that is not freestanding.
bulletIf you choose to bring a tent other than freestanding, remember that ordinary tent stakes rarely work in snow.  In their stead carry four to six plastic bags, fill with snow, and tie to stake loops, and bury.  After several hours, the bags will be iced in and your tent will be as solid as a cabin.  The problem comes when you break camp, because the frozen bags can be difficult to remove.
bulletIf possible, position your tent where it can catch the early morning sun, warming you and evaporating the dew or frost on your tent.
bulletSome lowland meadows can be colder than sites higher up because wind blows down the mountains at night and cold air settles in valley. Try to choose a protected area if there is a cold wind or snow falling.
bulletWhen you arrive at camp immediately remove any suspected damp layers of clothing and allow to dry.
bulletTry to make camp before everyone is exhausted.  Being tired makes you susceptible to hypothermia.
bulletWhen snow is unconsolidated, breaking trail can be wearisome.  Take shifts and spread the work. The front person breaks for five minutes, then steps aside and lets those behind pass.  He then has easygoing at the end. The new person breaks for five minutes before moving to the end of the line, and so on.
bulletWear the least amount of clothing that will keep you warm for the current conditions.  This means constantly putting on clothing when stopping for a break, and taking it off to resume travel.  Tiresome as this may seem; it saves an enormous amount of energy on the trail, because wearing heavy clothing on your legs and arms is just like wearing weights in the same places.  This drill also keeps you warmer at the end of the day by getting only one or two garments soaked with sweat.  When you stop you then have dry clothing to wear. 
bulletCamping in the winter means carrying extra food, clothing and fuel.  Packs can become staggeringly heavy, and paring down on necessities can reduce both comfort and safety.  Put that gear in a sled, however, and snow shoeing or skiing becomes almost effortless.  Attached to the traveler via a padded waist harness, and having rigid poles so that it doesn't crash into its puller down hills, a sled can make even a two-week sojourn pleasurable.
bulletDon't ever be afraid to admit that your are in over your heads and pack it up and go home. 

Methods of Group Travel in Winter

Using Snowshoes


Dan Beard's Introduction to Snow Shoes


Elon Jessur's Snowshoe Use


Build Your Own Snow Shoes (at Gear & Clothing)

Cross Country Skis

Winter Driving Tips

Navigation Techniques

Sled Plans: Gear and Clothing


See Also:

How to Plan a Winter Trek

Setting Up a Winter Campsite

Activities & Recreation
Food & Water
Gear & Clothing
Health & Safety
Sleep & Shelter

Winter Camping






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Last modified: October 15, 2016.