If you’ve never gone winter camping before and if the temperature is below 0 Fahrenheit, you’ll likely be in for a shock. If you’ve never felt that kind of cold for an extended period of time before, you’re definitely going to be in for a shock. I’m not sure there’s anything that can prepare you for it besides actually getting used to the cold. And even when you do, it’s still painful to deal with and to contend with.
A few weeks ago, I went camping in Maine and the temps were near zero. I knew it was going to be cold, so I prepared very well. As I sit here and write though, I keep going back to the experience in my mind and I wonder if there was anything I could have done differently to make things easier. Not that anything was terribly difficult, but things could have been more comfortable. Live and learn, I suppose. For the first time, I did well, but it will be much better the second time and the third after that.
In today’s post, I’d like to discuss a few things. First, I’ll talk about the cold weather sleeping bag I purchased for this trip and then I’ll discuss what anyone in the same position would likely need to wear to sleep in frigid cold temperatures. It’s not as easy as you’d think. Finally, I’ll give you a rundown of the list I made for this camping adventure. Call is a brief camping check list if you wish.
Okay, to start off with, I’ll tell you that before the trip, I went on to Amazon.com and looked for the warmest sleeping bag I could find. Since I was going backpacking at all and since our camp site was only about five acres away from my house, I didn’t care in the least about the weight or the size of the bag. I wanted bulk and warmth and that’s all I wanted. If I was going to lie on my back for six hours in temperatures that were hovering near zero, I didn’t need to be shivering.
The bag I found is called the TETON Sports 1027L Deer Hunter Sleeping Bag and it’s the -35 degree version. There are two versions of this bag; the -35 degree one and the 0 degree one. When purchasing these sleeping bags, you need to be careful because the temperature ratings are somewhat misleading. The rating they give on the web page is the survival temperature rating. Add 30 degrees to that and you’ll have the comfort temperature rating. Don’t confuse the two and don’t think you’re going to get away with a higher temp rated bag in very cold weather. You won’t.
Here are some photos of the TETON cold weather sleeping bag. To start off with, I think I’ll show you the big sack it comes in. This is so helpful to carry.
It’s a huge sleeping bag and it weighs 17.5 pounds. That’s seventeen point five pounds, not one hundred and seventy five.
Next, I’ll show you the top portion of the bag and the temperature rating that’s sown into it. The inside of this thing is extremely soft and the sleeping bag kept me extraordinarily warm the entire night. I was very impressed.
The material the outer is made of is tough and durable too. It’s canvas, just like Carhartt pants. That’s part of the reason I chose this product.
Next, I’ll talk about what to where to sleep while winter camping. There’s one rule when it comes to this; if you’re still cold in your bag, get out and put more clothes on. Before this little adventure of mine, I was under the impression that I was going to wear only thermals to sleep. Boy was I wrong. I ended up wearing, on the bottom, big thick socks, thermals and my Carhartt pants and then on the top, I wore a t-shirt, a thermal and a wool sweater with a winter hat on my head. The hat was key. Without that hat, I don’t think I would have made it. I took it off for just a second and it felt like all the heat was being sucked out of my body. Next time, I’ll wear a balaclava. And a hat on top of that.
At first, I didn’t have any socks on because the boots I wore don’t require them. They’re rated for -145 degrees or something crazy like that. The boots end up pulling the socks off my feet anyway. After I got in my bag though, I found that my toes were somewhat chilly, so I decided to put the socks on and that helped out a lot. The moral of this story is, if you try wearing one thing and find that you’re still cold inside of your sleeping bag, put more clothes on. Put your jacket and your gloves on if you have to. That’s just the way it is.
For this final section, I think I’ll quickly run through my winter camping check list. I don’t know whose benefit I’m doing this for more, yours or mine. I’d like to look back on this list in the future when I need it. Okay, here it is.
– 1 10’x10′ heavy duty tarp to place under the tent
– Rope for a clothesline
– Shovel to dig the snow from tent area
– Air mattress to sleep on
– Sleeping bags
– Gun for protection
– Tent to sleep in
– Lighter to start fire
– LED lamps for lighting
– Balaclavas to wear
– Saws to cut firewood
– Propane heater for inside tent (I didn’t bring this)
– Knife for multiple uses
– Paracord for multiple uses
– Duffle bag to carry gear in
– Toilet paper
– Warm socks
– Water (didn’t do much good because it froze overnight)
– Warm clothes and extra socks and hats
I didn’t write down everything because I know I stuck more stuff in my bag, but this is the bulk of it. I’ll write more as it comes to mind. For the next time, I’ll probably bring another tarp out there to hang over the tent. I’d also like to pick up some additional paracord because you can never have too much of that stuff. And finally, I’m going to swap out the queen sized air mattress for two twin mattresses. The queen is too small for two people in these sleeping bags.
Oh yeah, here’s a photo of my Mr. Heater Big Buddy propane heater that I didn’t bring. I think I will next time.
Do you have any stories about winter camping? What did you bring on your trip? I’d love to know, so be sure to share in the comment section down below. Thanks for reading!