1. REMEMBER: The
sleeping bag doesn't heat you, you heat it. So use this rule, "Thickness is
warmth", to keep this heat. If you're cold, add some more insulations (blankets,
clothes, more newspaper).
2. DO NOT SLEEP
IN BOTTOM OF BAG: Your breath contains water. If you close your bag with your
head inside, then this water sticks to the bag. Wear a hat to keep your head
CLOTHES: NEVER sleep in wet clothes. Even perspiration will chill you at
4. EAT A CANDY
BAR: This increases your metabolism (moves your blood faster) and it helps keep
5. GO TO THE
BATHROOM BEFORE BED: This saves you a middle of the night trip in the cold.
6. DO NOT DRY
"WET" CLOTHES IN BAG: Moisture will travel from wet clothes to sleeping bag.
7. PUT TOMORROW'S
CLOTHES UNDER BAG: This heats up clothes for tomorrow's cold morning and also
provides more insulation.
8. FLUFF UP YOUR
BAG: Always fluff up bag before using to create the thickness important in
IMPORTANT, KEEP IT DRY: Keep all your sleeping gear dry and follow these rules,
and winter camp should prove to be a rewarding experience.
IMPORTANT STUFF TO KEEP IN MIND
1. Clothing does
not make you warm; it is your body processes that keep you warm. Clothing merely
provides the insulation to preserve your warmth.
thickness is warmth.
3. Keep your
torso warm so that it can send heat to the extremities.
4. Avoid sweating
5. Keep rain and
wind out of your insulation.
6. Use your head.
Keep it covered when you're cold; remove cap as you warm up to avoid sweating.
7. Strain one
muscle against another to maintain metabolism.
8. Wool clothing
is best but needs wind protection, synthetics are next best. Down is OK as long
as it stays dry, cotton is a poor choice.
9. If your feet
are cold, put a hat on.
10. Remember the
word "COLD" -
clothing - Clean.
Avoid -------------- Overheating
Wear clothing ------ Loose
Keep it ------------ Dry
It is always best
to stay dry when camping in the snow, but you can expect to get wet and should
be prepared. Boots or other shoes which are not waterproof will normally start
getting the feet wet and cold after less than 15 minutes in the snow (depending
on temperature, the colder it is, the longer the feet stay dry). Low top shoes
will not keep the snow out of the shoes. Gaiters can be made from plastic bags
and a strong tape like duck tape. Do not cover the bottom of you shoes with
plastic, doing so will cause you to lose almost all of your traction (and you
will fall down!).
parents are planning to buy some of the items on this list anyway, do not
run out and start spending lots of money on cloths and equipment. If all
your pants are jeans, for example, bring three or four pairs and change
frequently. If you are in doubt or have questions, call one of the troop leaders
MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT WINTER CAMPING
Myth #1: Leather
hiking boots will keep your feet warm. -- FALSE
The snug fit of most leather hiking boots can limit the circulation of
blood in the foot. Especially with thick socks on. Overboots cut generously
enough to hold your foot and shoe are much more effective. The cloth stitching
in leather boots can also wick moisture into the shoe. Nothing is worse that wet
feet in cold winter.
Waterproof clothing is ideal for cold weather camping. -- FALSE
To keep warm, in the cold, your clothing must allow body moisture to
escape. Moisture that is trapped too close to the body can wick heat away
through evaporation. It is better to layer your clothing on in cold weather.
Wool, Gor Tex, and polypropylene garments work nice in the cold. Always wear
Myth #3: Winter
camping does not require much preparation. -- FALSE
Arctic conditions exist when the wind is blowing and the temperature
drops below 20 degrees F. There are only seven states in the U.S. that do not
experience arctic weather. Indiana is not one of them.. It is very important to
prepare and even over prepare. I've never heard anyone complain about being too
warm or having too many dry clothes on a winter campout.
Myth #4: Mental
attitude has little to do with winter camping. -- FALSE
- A positive
mental attitude is the most important ingredient in the success of cold weather
camping trips. The demands of winter will drain your energy and you'll have to
rely on yourself to keep your spirits high.
Myth #5: In cold
weather, tasks can be done just as quickly as in warm weather. -- FALSE
Every effort in cold weather takes longer to complete. Be sure to bring
some winter patience with you when you camp in the cold.
CONSERVING BODY HEAT - THE PRIME OBJECTIVE
There are three
ways to lose body heat. Keeping them in mind will help you be much more aware of
what you are or could be doing to keep your body warm.
RADIATION - The
emission of body, especially from the skin areas exposed to the elements. A good
set of gloves, hat, and scarf can help best in keeping bare skin to a minimum.
CONDUCTION - The
absorption of cold by the body when sitting or laying on cold ground, or
handling cold objects such as metal cooking utensils and metal canteens. This is
why a decent sleeping pad is required for cold weather camping. The same goes
for wearing gloves. A camp stool is a must on a winter camping trip. Try not to
sit on the ground.
CONVECTION - The
loss of body heat due to wind blowing across unprotected body parts. This
situation can also be reduced by keeping bare skin covered with hats, scarves,
and gloves. It is important to keep exposure to a minimum, ESPECIALLY in a windy
situation. Convection heat loss can reduce body heat the fastest. Wet clothing
will accelerate this process, making staying dry even more important.
possible, place your tent in a location that will catch the sunrise in the
morning. This will aid in melting off any ice and evaporating any frost or dew
that may have formed during the night. This will also warm your tent as you
awaken in the morning.Cold air sinks. Try to place your campsite on slightly
higher ground than the rest of your surroundings. Try to choose a protected site
if it is snowing or the wind is blowing.
Water Consumption In Cold Weather.
seriously impair the body's ability to produce heat. Drink fluids as often as
possible during the day and keep a water bottle or canteen with you at night.
Cooking In Cold Weather.
Cooking in cold
weather will take about twice as long as normal. Always use a lid on any pots
that you are cooking in. This will help to hold in the heat and decrease the
overall heating time. Make sure you start hot cleaning water before you start
cooking. The pots and utensils must still be cleaned. Try to keep your menu to
good one-pot meals. Things like stews, chili, and hot beans stick to your ribs,
lessen the cleaning time, and provide good sources of energy and fuel for your
internal furnace. A good high-calorie snack before bedtime will also keep you
warm all night. Stay away from an overabundance of sugar, cheese is a good
high-calorie bedtime snack.
Sleeping Tip #1.
sleep with your mouth and nose in your sleeping bag. The moisture of your breath
will condense in the bag, and cause it to become wet and ineffective as an
Buddies can help
each other pack for a trek, look after one another in the woods, and watch for
symptoms of frostbite, hypothermia, and exhaustion.
Make a checklist
of everything you need before you start to pack. Then check each item off as you
pack it. This way you will not forget anything.
Keeping warm is
the most important part of cold weather camping. Use the C-O-L-D method to
assure staying warm.
- C - Clean
is only effective when heat is trapped by dead air spaces, keep your insulating
layers clean and fluffy. Dirt, grime, and perspiration can mat down those air
spaces and reduce the warmth of a garment.
- O - Overheating
by adjusting the layers of your clothing to meet the outside temperature and the
exertions of your activities. Excessive sweating can dampen your garments and
cause chilling later on.
- L - Loose
A steady flow of
warm blood is essential to keep all parts of your body heated. Wear several
loosely fitting layers of clothing and footgear that will allow maximum
insulation without impeding your circulation.
- D - Dry
Damp clothing and
skin can cause your body to cool quickly, possibly leading to frostbite and
hypothermia. Keep dry by avoiding cotton clothes that absorb moisture. Always
brush away snow that is on your clothes before you enter a heated area. Keep the
clothing around your neck loosened so that body heat and moisture can escape
instead of soaking several layers of clothing.
As with other
clothing, the layer system is also the answer for foot- wear. Start with a pair
of silk, nylon, or thin wool socks next to your skin. Then layer on several
pairs of heavier wool socks. When and if your feet become damp, change into
another pair of dry socks at the first opportunity. Rubber overboots will
protect the feet from water and will allow more comfortable shoes to be worn
- Mittens and Gloves.
your fingers to be in direct contact with each other. They will keep your hands
warmer than regular gloves that cover each finger. Select mittens that are
filled with foam insulation, or pull on wool gloves and cover them with a nylon
overmitt. Long cuffs will keep wind and snow from getting in.
The stocking hat
is the warmest thing you can cover your head with in cold weather. Get one that
is large enough to pull down over your ears. Also ski masks are great in the
winter and can help in keeping your neck and face warm as well. Noses and ears
can be very easily frostbitten, so a scarf can be an invaluable item to have.
- Parka and/or Overcoat.
Your coat or
parka is the most important piece of your winter clothing. It needs to be large
enough to fit over extra clothing without cutting off blood flow, and allowing
ventilation to keep moisture away from your body. A large permanently attached
hood will prevent heat loss around your head and neck.
should you sleep in the same clothes that you have worn all day. They are damp
and will cause you to chill. This could cause frostbite and hypothermia. It is
advised that you bring a thick pair of sweats and thermal underwear to sleep in.
Keep the thermals and sweats for sleeping in only. Do not wear them during the
day, this will keep them the driest. Also be sure to have a couple of layers of
wool or heavy thick cotton socks on as well. Always sleep with a stocking hat on
your head. Your sleeping bag needs to be a winter rated bag. Typically rated
down to 15 degrees and stuffed with 5 pounds of Holofil, Fiberfil, or other
polyester ticking. It is also a very good idea to have some kind of sleeping mat
to use in the winter. The mat can be a $90 Thermal Rest from Galyans (Scouts get
a %10 discount by showing Scout ID card) or a piece of high density rubber foam
at least one inch thick. In cold weather camping you never want to sleep on an
air mattress or off the ground in a cot. The air under you will cool you off in
no time and this would create a threatening situation. If you don't have a
sleeping mat, bring a spare wool or natural fiber blanket to use as a ground pad
under your sleeping bag. The sleeping mat is worth it's weight in gold.
Every year, tens
of thousands of boys will go winter camping. Although the threat of danger is
always present in a winter camp, planning and knowledge can overcome this. It is
very important that the Scouts come prepared. If a Scout feels that at this time
winter camping is not for him, then he should not go. There is always next year
and the year after and so on. If a Scout comes to camp and I do not feel that he
is prepared, I will have to ask him to stay behind. Make sure you are ready, and
most of all, SAFE.
Camping Survival Guide
Cold weather camping represents one of the greatest challenges a Scout will
face. With the proper planning and knowledge, this challenge can be easily
attacked. Without proper planning, the challenge could prove to be a dangerous
defeat. This guide is intended to provide the Scouts with a quick start course
of the skills of cold weather camping. This guide is broken down into several
key areas that include clothing, the layering system, special equipment, bedding
down, nutrition, and cold weather first-aid. We hope everyone will accept this
challenge and most importantly, enjoy it!
The clothing that your son brings on a winter camping trip will be one of the
most important determinants of his warmth. While the clothing will not directly
provide warmth, it rather provides insulation to preserve body heat from
Clothing material can primarily be broken down into wool, synthetics, cottons,
and blends. Each type of material holds its own advantages and disadvantages.
Wool, although itchy, provides warmth when wet. Synthetics provide waterproof
and windproof advantages yet lack breathability. Cottons are primarily used in
warm weather camping by providing lightweight, cool clothing. Finally, blends
represent a mix between cotton or wool and synthetics. The Scout uniform
represents an ideal example of blends.
Before running through a recommended list of clothing for the weekend, it is
important to address several important issues. First, perspiration can prove to
be a serious side effect of intense winter activity. To avoid this, it is
important that the first layer of clothing be able to wick moisture away.
Polypropylene long underwear is the solution. Commonly referred to as
"Wicker’s", poly’s wick moisture away from the body allowing your body heat to
evaporate your sweat and ultimately reduce any chilling. The second important
issue concerns breathability. Waterproof materials do a superb job in keeping us
dry, however, they hold one important drawback. They lack breathability. What
this means is that they counteract the effects of Poly’s by trapping the
moisture that the thermal underwear attempts to wick away. Ultimately, when this
occurs, it is important to change layers throughout the day to avoid excessive
moisture build-up that brings down the body temperature. Finally, the proper
clothing on your feet is important to enjoying a cold weather weekend. Poly
liners should be worn under wool or wool synthetic socks in order to wick away
moisture. Wool socks help combat cold feet in the event that your socks get wet.
Wool, unlike other fabrics, will still keep you relatively warm if wet. Be sure
that your socks are not too tight, as this can reduce blood circulation and lead
to cold feet. In the event your feet to get wet, be sure to change into a dry,
clean pair of socks as soon as possible!
The following list represents the recommended clothing for a two day winter
2 shirts (wool or flannel)
2 pairs of wool or casual pants (similar to Dockers)
Polypropylene long underwear
2 pairs of heavy socks (wool recommended)
2 pairs of lighter socks (preferably polypropylene liners)
Wool stocking cap, ear warmers, & neck gators
Parka or heavy jacket
Wool mittens (preferable to gloves)
If it is at all possible to single out one important feature of clothing, it
would be that no Scout should have sweatsuit material in his pack. The only
exception to this rule is a hooded sweatshirt for sleeping at night. We cannot
over emphasize how important this is, sweatpants absorb moisture like a sponge
and hold no wind breaking capabilities.
The Layering System
While clothing will provide the insulation to maintaining a constant body
temperature and steady warmth, it is useless if not worn properly. Layering
represents an individual’s personal thermostat. As you begin to feel cool, you
can put on another layer. As your body begins to sweat, you simply remove a
layer. More often than not, this body temperature regulation can be performed
through the wool cap. The body loses 80% of its heat through its head. A wool
cap helps maintain this heat within your body, warming you rather than your
The layers begin with the polypropylene long underwear and work their way up to
the parka. In short, the primary importance of the layer system lies in body
temperature regulation. For this reason, it is important to have various layers
packed in order to properly regulate your body temperature.
Special Winter Camping
This section is intended primarily to introduce equipment concerns that need to
be addressed when camping in extreme cold weather. The first, single most
important piece of special equipment is fortunately the cheapest. Zip Lock
Bags! All underwear, socks, and long underwear should be packed in zip-lock
bags. All other clothing should be stored in something waterproof. This can
range from a garbage bag to stuff sacks. All the wool and polypropylene in the
world won’t do any good if is wet from the beginning. Dryness is the key to
Foam pads are the second most important piece of special equipment. The ground
is cold! When you are sleeping, it is important to have that added insulation
under you to avoid losing body heat to warming the Earth. Remember the rule of
thumb, it is a good idea to have two to three times as much insulation under you
as you do above you. The next most important piece of equipment will more than
likely not cost anything because you probably have it lying around the house.
All Scouts should carry a wool blanket with them on the weekend.
Finally, the next important piece of equipment is not one that we want everyone
to run out and purchase for the weekend, however, in the long run, it may want
to be considered if your son enjoys Scouting. Mummy sleeping bags provide a
great degree of warmth due to the contour and snug fit of the bag to the body.
Unfortunately, the degree of warmth represents a direct function of price. These
bags can range anywhere in price from $50 for a 35 degree bag to $300+ for a
zero degree or sub-zero degree bag. For recreational use, a good quality zero
degree to fifteen degree mummy bag can be purchased for approximately $60 to
$80. If you have questions on a specific bag, please let one of the adult
Talk with your pack about
all equipment needs. Do not run out and purchase items.
Sleeping in the winter is really no different than camping out in the summer.
However, there are a few important tips that require mentioning. The first most
important tip is to never wear wet clothes to sleep. Not only will it decrease
your body temperature, it will also cause moisture in your sleeping bag that
will decrease the insulating properties of the bag. Secondly, if you do get cold
during the night, do not place your head inside the sleeping bag as this will
cause moisture from your breath to have the same effect as mentioned above.
Wearing a hat while your sleeping will produce the same results as sticking your
head inside the bag. Finally, the insulated capabilities of the bag come from
warmth being trapped in the dead air space of the synthetic fibers (or bag
fill), be sure that the bag is as fluffed out as possible to increase the
insulating characteristics. In addition, it is recommended to keep the bag in a
stuff sack until you are ready to bed down, this will keep moisture in the air
from finding a place on or in your bag before you bed down. When storing your
sleeping bag at home, hang it in a closet rather than in the stuffsack in order
to avoid crushing the fill in the bag. Preparing your bed roll for winter
camping requires a little more effort than a summer night under the stars.
Insulation under you is the key to enjoying a warm winter night. The first layer
down should be a plastic ground cloth to keep moisture from the cold ground from
coming in contact with and ultimately penetrating your sleeping bag. On ½ of the
ground cloth layout the sleeping pad. On top of the pad layout a folded wool
blanket (army blankets work great) to add extra insulation form the cold ground.
Place your sleeping bag on top of the wool blanket and fold the remaining ½ of
the ground cloth on top of the bag. The ground cloth on top of the bag helps to
prevent dew and frost from forming on the bag and ultimately reducing the
insulating capabilities. In extreme cold weather, newspaper, hay or more natural
materials such as leaves and pine needles can be placed under the sleeping pad
to provide more insulation. Finally, get warm before going to bed. Increasing
activity by cutting wood for the morning fire or doing jumping jacks increases
your metabolism and body heat before hitting the sack!
Menu planning and a properly balanced diet become crucial in cold weather
camping. Unfortunately, it is sometimes difficult to do. Who wants to cook and
clean a full course dinner or grand slam breakfast in zero degree weather? Most
important to realize is that you will require a greater calorie intake in cold
weather. In addition to increased activity, increasing your metabolism is a good
way to increase your warmth. A proper diet should be high in carbohydrates and
protein. Many of the menus have already been planned and approved by the adults.
However, we would recommend sending some extra snacks along for the trip. Rather
than sending cookies and chips, replace them with cheese and crackers, granola
bars, and trail mixes (My favorite is Cheerios, chocolate chips, peanuts,
raisins, and M&M’s). Foods high in protein result in a slow release of body heat
as your metabolism digests the foods.
Candy and other high sugar foods result in a quick release of body heat that
causes your body temperature to drop below what it was originally. Ultimately,
it is important to have a high calorie diet that is high in protein and
Weather First Aid
This subject always become an important topic that I hope no Scout will ever
have to use. However, up to date knowledge is of extreme importance. In addition
to basic first-aid skills that many of the Scouts are educated on, cold weather
first aid concerns and safety issues often take precedence on cold weather
outings. As a refresher to cold weather first aid, it is important to review
common problems and remedies found in cold weather camping:
Dehydration- Excessive loss of body water that impairs the ability to reason, so
the victim may not react properly. Prevention: 1) Drink at least 2 quarts of
water a day 2) Avoid dehydrating foods (High Protein) and fluids (coffee,
caffeine). Treatment includes increasing liquid intake and keeping warm. Severe
cases require immediate medical attention.
Hypothermia - Lowering of the inner core body temperature. Can and usually does
happen in temperatures above freezing. The victim may not recognize the symptoms
and may not be able to think clearly enough to react. Injury or death may
result. Prevention includes good nutrition, consumption of high-energy foods,
proper clothing, and increased activity. Treatment includes providing shelter
and warmth for the victim from the elements, hot drinks followed by candy or
other high sugar foods to jump start the metabolism, and increasing body heat
through huddling. If hypothermia is suspected medical attention should be
contacted as quickly as possible.
Frostbite - Tissue injury involving the actual freezing of the skin and
underlying tissues. Recovery is slow. Once exposed, the victim will be
predisposed toward frostbite in the future.
Prevention includes proper clothing, good nutrition, drinking fluids, immediate
treatment of minor symptoms, and use of the buddy system to check face, nose,
and ears of fellow Scouts.
Treatment includes warming area through exercise, heat, or water (Do not rub
Snow Blindness - Inflammation of the eye caused by exposure to reflected
ultraviolet rays when the sun is shining brightly on an expanse of snow.
Prevention includes wearing sunglasses when any danger is present. Treatment
includes blindfolding the victim, rest, and avoided future exposure. Snow
Blindness heals in a few days without permanent damage.
It is our hope that this cold weather survival guide has been helpful in
preparing you for your cold weather trek. Please do not throw it away. It will
provide a valuable resource for years to come. The information on cold weather
camping is abundant. If you have any specific questions or are interested in
learning more about anything discussed in this packet, please do not hesitate to
contact us. The Troop is filled with extremely knowledgeable and experienced
Scouters that would love to pass this information off. Enjoy the weekend!
If you only have a rectangular sleeping bag, bring an extra blanket to pack
around your shoulders to keep air from getting in.
Use a ground cloth (or poncho) to keep ground moisture from forming your bag.
Put a hand warmer (in a sock) in the bottom of your sleeping bag to warm it up
before bedding down.
You may want to take a bottle of propane into your tent with you at night. This
will keep it warmer and make it easier to light the stove for breakfast.
Placing ground pepper in your socks prior to a day in cold weather increases the
circulation to your feet and reduces that chance of cold, wet feet.
Avoid eating snow. The coldness requires to much energy to convert to water and
could result in a decrease in boy temperature.
Using deodorant on your feet before a day in cold weather reduces the chance of
sweating which can cause a chill in your feet.
Use the buddy system to check each other for signs of cold weather health
problems. Notify the adult leadership if any symptoms occur.
Place the next day’s clothes inside your sleeping bag as added insulation and to
warm them up.
Stay warm and dry. Have Fun!
Stay warm by being C-O-L-D
Scouting expert suggests
method of comfy survival
Special to The
The most common errors
people make during outdoor activities in cold weather include not eating the
right foods, not drinking enough water, not having adequate clothing, and being
unaware of the signs of frostbite and hypothermia, according to a survival
expert with the Boy Scouts of America.
"One of the best ways to
remember what is appropriate to eat when you are spending extended periods of
time outside in cold weather is to use good nutrition to build the fire within,"
said Dave Bates, experienced outdoorsman and head of the Boy Scouts' Camping
"Make sure your food
consumption includes sugars, which act like a fire starter; carbohydrates and
proteins, which act as kindling; and fats that produce the energy needed to keep
the fire burning and your body running at peak performance," he said.
"Stay away from
caffeinated drinks, such as soda, coffee and tea. Drink plenty of plain water or
sports drinks to keep yourself properly hydrated."
To help outdoors
enthusiasts avoid safety hazards, the BSA is sharing its tried-and-true winter
"Being prepared isn't just
for scouts. Proper planning is the critical first step for any outdoor outing or
excursion," Bates said.
"Before embarking on your
next cold-weather outing, don't forget to pack a positive attitude, pace
yourself and warm up to these easy-to-re-member, but often overlooked, safety
Keeping warm is the most
important part of cold-weather camping and outdoor activities.
Use the C-O-L-D method to
Since insulation is
only effective when heat is trapped by dead air spaces, keep your insulating
layers clean and fluffy. Dirt, grime and perspiration can mat down those spaces
and reduce a garment's warmth.
Avoid over heating by adjusting the layers of your clothing to meet the outside
temperature and the exertions of your activities. Stay hydrated by drinking
plenty of water, and avoid caffeinated drinks that act as diuretics.
A steady flow of warm blood is essential to keep all parts of your body heated.
Wear several loosely fitting layers of clothing and footgear that will allow
maximum insulation without impeding your circulation.
Having clothing that is
bright colored (orange or red) is also a good idea, so hunters and sportsmen can
see you in snowy conditions. Wear a hat.
Dry: Sweaty, damp clothing and
skin can cause your body to cool quickly, possibly leading to frostbite and
hypothermia. Keep dry by avoiding
clothes that absorb moisture.
Always brush away snow on
your clothes before you enter a heated area. Keep clothing around your neck
loosened so that body heat and moisture can escape.
Prepare for icy weather.
Select bright, thermal clothing that can be layered as the temperature changes.
When hands and feet begin to chill, it's time to put on a hat. Hats help trap
body heat by preventing it from escaping through your head.
Wear suitable shoes for
walking on frozen ground or ice, and don't forget other essentials such as
mittens, gloves and scarves or neck warmers.
Find supplies for
campfires. Prior to sundown, find tinder and wood for starting and maintaining a
campfire. , ;
Know the area. Thoroughly
research the place where you are planning to go, or go with someone familiar
with it. Be-mindful of potential avalanche areas or unstable ice.
Travel with a buddy.
Groups of four to 10 are an even better idea. Should a problem arise, such as
injury or hypothermia, someone can stay with the injured person while others
Watch for frostbite and
hypothermia. Keep an eye on friends and fellow campers.
If the areas around the
eyes and lips, or the lips themselves, begin to turn grayish! white, the person
may be experiencing frostbite. Confusion, inaction and shivering are all
progressive signs of hypothermia.
If you get cold, huddle up
or sit by the fire. Action and movement will also stimulate blood flow and
distribute warmth throughout the body.