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Topic: Winter camping questions, Trying to stay warm of course< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2013, 3:25 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm going camping in south central Wisconsin next week and I need a few pointers, tips, comments on my tent and sleeping bag setup ideas.

Weather: Hi Temps - Less than 10/Low Temps - Subzero

Trip Length: 3 days, 2 nights

Tent: Marmot Titan 3P/3S with footprint. I've seen people put tarps and or mylar blankets between the tent and the fly prevent heat loss.


Sleeping Bag: Coleman Traverse 0 degree mummy bag on the outside and a 30 degree Suisse Sport bag inside of the Coleman.

Floor padding:
Tarp double folded on floor
Blue foam pad
Thermo a Rest ProLite Sleeping Pad

Misc Information: I'm bringing my dog, she's a 60lbs Catahoula with pretty thick fur. I'm bringing a piece of blue foam pad and two fleece blankets for her.

So far, this fits in or on my Kelty Coyote 80 pack.

I've camped during the spring summer and late fall any where from 3-7 days but never in the middle of winter.

Any tips or ideas would be much appreciated.

Thanks.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2013, 3:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

You should be fine with those temps. Dont use a tarp or anything between the fly and tent. It will trap vapor and cause condensation. Tents provide minimal warmth, they are for shelter from wind and and precipitation. Make sure to chose a site with a natural wind break if it is windy.

Very important in winter to keep clothing dry. Make sure you have a dry base layer to sleep in.

If you do get cold at night a good tip is to heat up some water, put it in a sealed water bottle and put it down by your feet in the sleeping bag.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2013, 3:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I don't know about he water thing. If the water container leaks, things might go south pretty quick in those temps. Probably a better idea to find out what kind of clothing he's bringing along. I hope he has a good pair of down pants, a expedition-level down jacket/parka. Waterproof down mitts, etc. The right clothing is pretty dang important in those temps.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 13 2013, 4:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

For clothing (nothing is cotton):

Gloves:
Thermal knit rubberized gloves under US Army Woodland mittens and insert.

Top:
Synthetic base layer (Nike Warmgear)
Polyester t-shirt
Heat gear long sleeve with hand covers and thumb holes
Either a Fila performance hoodie(synthetic) or a polyester and fleece mock zip up
Down vest
Snowboarding jacket

Bottom:
Cross country tights (I'll probably swap these for standard "long johns")
Fleece Pants
Nike ACG hiking pants
I'm packing what I call snowboarding pants but they're essentially large insulated "plastic" pants I wore when I use to snowboard. They condense into a half football size pouch that I plan to wear after we set up camp.

Of course multiple pairs of wool socks. One pair of thick wool blend socks for sleeping. I've been told to wear a pair of synthetic socks under my wool insulated socks to avoid blisters.

I've seen the water bottle trick which I planning with my Nalgenes. I think I saw it on a Boy Scout winter camping video on Youtube.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 2:33 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Dry equals warm. Waterproof everything that is an outside layer.

A candle goes a long way to keep the shelter warm (be cautious about placement - If windy, don't hang).

If you don't absolutely trust your gloves or don't have removable liners, bring a second pair.

A balaclava is wonderful for keeping warm.

Experiment with your sleeping bag arrangement. Putting one inside the other may end up just compressing the inner bag. Consider laying one unzipped over the other to get maximum warmth/loft.

Gaiters go a long way to keep snow out of your boots and boots in general, dry.

Having a sit pad, small trash bag to lay stuff on, drybags, are things I bring every time.

Dig a cold pit. If you have a tent with floor, dig it outside the entrance so that cold has a place to go. It makes a significant difference in warmth.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 7:32 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This is a link to the ADK's gear checklist for their Winter Mountaineering School.

This is a ink to the pdf of the student handbook. I thought the section on vapor barriers on the feet was interesting.

There are, of course, some 'mountain-specific' items, but when it comes to cold, they've got it down.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 8:07 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(bigsilk @ Dec. 14 2013, 7:32 am)
QUOTE
This is a link to the ADK's gear checklist for their Winter Mountaineering School.

This is a ink to the pdf of the student handbook. I thought the section on vapor barriers on the feet was interesting.

There are, of course, some 'mountain-specific' items, but when it comes to cold, they've got it down.

Thanks for the link to the  student handbook.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 9:07 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Stay dry.
Don't do anything to trap moisture in your tent--like putting a tarp inside the fly.  
Dress in thin, loose-fitting layers--I use a fishnet shirt under my 'base layer.'
Do not wear insulating layers during periods of mild-heavy activity.
Remove layers before you start sweating.
Bring extra clothes to change into in case you sweat or get wet.
Stay dry.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 10:52 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Is your snowboarding jacket insulated?
I take a down coat to put on in camp and/or along the trail when you stop to take a break.
A thermos to have a hot drink along the trail is nice .
Are you using a sled/pulk?

Before I get in my bag, I go for a brisk walk to get my temp up.

I also have a snickers bar to munch on in the night, the extra burst helps keep me warm.

A balaclava or knit cap is good to wear in the bag.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 12:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

bigsilk...... nice link, good info.

I vote for the Mickey Mouse boots.  Used them a lot marking timber in snow/cold out here.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 12:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Lots of good advice here.

Cold weather camping rewards maintaining body heat, anticipating conditions that would chill you (wind, etc.) or overheat you (too many layers while "working").

One trick I favor for "quick warmups" is multiple layers of pile hats, balaclavas. I have several homemade ones. Adding two thick layers of pile onto your head may not look good in the pics but adds insulation where it is most needed and is quick.

Also, consider bringing a snow brush. Either cut off the scraper from the wooden handle on a car snow brush or Coughlan's has this mini-brush and dustpan kit for tents -- either way you end up with a 2oz. brush. Bottom line: use the snow brush, not your  gloves, mitts, to brush snow off your clothing, tent, pack etc.

Triage what "could hurt you worst" and "reverse engineer" that, put that mindful thinking into your preparation as you mentally rehearse the trip, walk in, setting up camp. A minor thing like a wrinkle in a sock can be a hassle once boots and gaiters are on and you are a mile or two from the tent or car.

You may want to consider a first venture that features low temperatures more like 15 or 20 while you dial in the routine, little things that make it work. That's not to discourage you, I'm self-taught (with mentors just like you are doing here). Just a recognition that zero, near zero, is the deep end of the pool.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 14 2013, 1:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm a little more worried about your dog. Would a blue foam mat and two fleece blankets keep you warm?
Catahoula's are a super tough resilient breed, but not really made for cold weather. I would get her a coat. Her paws can definitely get frostbite. So be vigilante about checking them if she isn't wearing booties. Vaseline can help keep the snow from clumping in between her toes. Dogs will not drink cold water in cold weather. She is more likely to eat most of her fluids if you make a warm soupy dinner with her food. And just like you, she will require an increase in calories to maintain body temp.
If she does seem lethargic, have slowed breathing or heart rate definitely get her warmed up and back to safety.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 15 2013, 10:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Bring lots of socks.  Warm feet are a wonderful thing.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 15 2013, 2:27 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(mossy @ Dec. 13 2013, 3:55 pm)
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I don't know about he water thing. If the water container leaks, things might go south pretty quick in those temps.

I've never had a water bottle leak after testing it at home. I think the bottle is more effective when held upright against the chest while sleeping on your side, to maintain core temperature. Holding it upright also makes a leak less likely.

If I had never done winter camping before I would choose less rigorous conditions for both you and your dog.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 15 2013, 3:55 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Check out Wintertrekking.com for more info and advice from others.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 15 2013, 5:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(TrailTramper @ Dec. 15 2013, 11:27 am)
QUOTE

(mossy @ Dec. 13 2013, 3:55 pm)
QUOTE
I don't know about he water thing. If the water container leaks, things might go south pretty quick in those temps.

I've never had a water bottle leak after testing it at home. I think the bottle is more effective when held upright against the chest while sleeping on your side, to maintain core temperature. Holding it upright also makes a leak less likely.

If I had never done winter camping before I would choose less rigorous conditions for both you and your dog.

I've had a water bladder leak all over the bottom of my sleeping bag. It was not a good situation as it basically turned to a block of ice. Not sure about the bottle idea. I'd be curious as to who finds it effective. How long does it stay warm? I would be concerned if I needed to use to maintain warmth.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2013, 1:52 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

FWIW I've used the bottle trick before, but I only do so with nalgene bottles, and make certain they are TIGHT before doing so.  I usually use it as a bag pre warmer, so its in the bag without me.  On a really cold night I might prewarm the bag, then bring one in with me to get me past the undressing/changing/getting into the bag cold spell.

a boiling hot water bottle wrapped in a t shirt will stay really warm for several hours, so you may need to warm it back up during the evening, but its nice to have that outside source of heat.  

I wouldn't depend upon it, but I feel it certainly helps.  I've also used the trick before for helping my daughter out when she got cold on a 28-29 degree night in her 40 degree sleeping bag.  She now swears by it, and asks for a hot water bottle on warmer nights just to get her comfy.

It could also be partially psychosomatic like how a candle lantern makes you "feel" noticeably warmer, even though it probably doesn't change things by more than a few degrees.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2013, 8:13 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Dec. 15 2013, 5:33 pm)
QUOTE

(TrailTramper @ Dec. 15 2013, 11:27 am)
QUOTE

(mossy @ Dec. 13 2013, 3:55 pm)
QUOTE
I don't know about he water thing. If the water container leaks, things might go south pretty quick in those temps.

I've never had a water bottle leak after testing it at home. I think the bottle is more effective when held upright against the chest while sleeping on your side, to maintain core temperature. Holding it upright also makes a leak less likely.

If I had never done winter camping before I would choose less rigorous conditions for both you and your dog.

I've had a water bladder leak all over the bottom of my sleeping bag. It was not a good situation as it basically turned to a block of ice. Not sure about the bottle idea. I'd be curious as to who finds it effective. How long does it stay warm? I would be concerned if I needed to use to maintain warmth.

I've used a hot water bottle in the footbox.  It warms up the bag before I get in and keeps my feet toasty--doesn't stay hot all night and is generally about room temperature in the morning.  This also insures that I will have useable (not frozen) water; although, burying water in the snow keeps it from freezing too.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2013, 8:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

This is a good thread.

I will second what tigger said about staying dry, waterproof everything, and the candle idea.

On winter trips I wear my snowboarding pants as an exterior shell. They do two things - break the wind and keep moisture out (most of it). The hard part is keeping snow from getting up the bottoms = gaitors. I don't have gaitors, so I make do but that is the one place the snow gets to be a pain.

For layers - while I am hiking I like to be "cold". The first trek I made I was all bundled up with a down parka etc and only made it 1/2 mile before I stripped down. Starting off I'd say have a baselayer on, maybe one more layer, and a shell on top. Gloves I'd say are almost a must to keep fingers from freezing - you have less circulation out there so keeping them warm is harder. Don't wear any external layers that let wind cut through - fleece, etc. You need a wind break - just not the insulation.

As for candles - I have a classic candle lantern that I have used hung from the inside of my tent. I have a small candle lantern made by Weber too - it was originally one that you mount to a rod in the ground next to a patio. I think it is supposed to use the little tea light candles, but I have used bigger 2-3" diameter candles. However, being in a hammock these days doesn't lend itself to the candle idea.

When I was snowshoeing at Dolly Sods several years ago I packed the weber candle lantern because it put out more heat and the metal top of it was a nice radiator. At night it kept the temp comfortable in the tent and in the morning we kept it lit as we broke camp so we could warm our hands. Temps were 0-5deg above.

Something I have done in recent times is use the hand warmer packets. You can get them a lot of places, I think the last box I bought was from Walmart in the camping/hunting department. They last a LONG time. I've used them on tower jobs this past Fall/in to winter. The best part is is when I have to take my gloves off to work on bolts and nuts I have hot (and I mean HOT, not burn hot but almost) gloves to stick back on to get my fingers working again. Nice heaters to have hanging 100ft in the air. They work wonders in camp too. Wear two pairs of socks and stick packets by your toes between the sock layers. That works real well for me. I'd say they last putting out good heat a good 8-10 hours. The more exposed to oxygen they are the hotter and shorter they run = in your boots they won't be as warm because they aren't in as much good air. Uncompressed in your socks and you will have hot toes all night long and no worry of leaking water or crumbs from rocks.

When you are sleeping at night I'd say a couple of baselayers would be good, as would a beanie type hat, and my favorite -  an article of clothing draped over my face. I know a lot of the mummy style sleeping bags have the drawstrings over the hoods to close them down, but I find draping a shirt over my face to be more effective. This keeps my nose and lips a comfortable temp.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 16 2013, 8:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Bring a snow shovel and build a wind break.

Down booties rules.

Wear gloves or mittens to bed

Sleep with your face directly under a vent to ensure moisture goes out.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 3:34 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Most of my tips echo what everyone else already said.

- Hot water bottle in the toe-box of your bag works well on cold evenings.  Yes of course, make sure it's well-sealed.  Nalgenes are good for this.  As someone else mentioned, it's nice to have some lukewarm liquid water in the morning for breakfast.

- If you're base-camping, don't pack your sleeping bag in the morning.  Let it air out during the day if at all possible.

- Pay attention to your layers so you don't overheat during the day.  You'll appreciate it later.  You should be a bit chilly in your layers just before you start working hard (you'll warm up quickly).  Even then you'll probably need to shed a layer after 20 minutes.

- Keep a dry set of base layers and socks to wear to bed.  No matter how well you manage the previous point about layering, there will be moisture in your base layers by day's end.

- A snack at night helps (Snickers bar, etc).

- Bring a *well-marked* empty gatorade bottle to use as a pee-bottle during the night (note: easier for guys than the ladies).  Avoids having to completely suit-up to use the restroom at 2 am.  Make it completely distinguishable from your water bottle, even in the dark, for obvious reasons.

- Take the insoles out of your boots to air-dry during the night.  Mitigates moisture from freezing up inside your boots over time.  This applies more to extended trips, I suppose.  (A month in Greenland, you'd be surprised just how many ounces of ice can form inside a pac-boot.  Felt liners were swapped out daily.)

- 9-hour candle lanterns are great.  Use common sense, of course.

- Make sure you have a sleeping bag and layers rated for the coldest temps you expect.  All the others "goodies" (candle lantern, extra layers, hot water bottle, etc) are extras to keep you comfy in a cold snap, but shouldn't be relied upon as integral necessary parts of your base system.  (There are some exceptions, but in general it's a good idea to keep well within the margins of error in extreme cold temps.)

- As noted above, down booties are pretty great.  I wear mine to bed regularly is sub-zero temps, and can't really think of the last time I had noticeably cold feet at night.

- Bring extra socks.  At least 1-2 more pairs than you think you'll need.  Swap them out often.

- Layers that have gotten wet will dry/sublimate quite quickly in cold dry air, especially on a crisp sunny day.  Take advantage of such conditions.  (Again, more a tip for extended trips... 2-3 days it matters little as long as you have spares).

Drying gloves, parkas, boot-liners on a calm sunny day in Greenland:


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 4:30 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Sleep with your face directly under a vent to ensure moisture goes out.

Never thought of that.....even after 20-25+ years.

You've got a lot of great info here!!

The hand warmers have replaced the water bottle for me over the past few years...I usually throw 2-3 in, depending on temps..and pull one out if needed


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 4:39 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

If there's anything that needs to stay warm/thawed during the day (I, for instance, am a diabetic and have to keep insulin from freezing), you can stick it in your sleeping bag with a single hand-warmer and it'll stay comfy in there all day.

I would also second the notions in here to not try to use extra vapor-barriers to "tight-seal" your tent during the night to ostensibly keep things warmer.  Keep ventilation open to reduce interior frost.  Let your insulation layers do the work to keep you warm.


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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 8:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow. Simply wow. Tons of more information for me to read.

I did a trial run of some of my gear and layers over the weekend. Hike about 3 miles with my dog in 10 degree weather and I think I've got the layers adjusted. I'll be doing more trial runs each night until we head out.

The US Army ECW mittens are amazing. My hands never got cold or even cool. A few times I need to take them off so my hands could breathe.

The weather continues to warm as we get closer to the trip.

I think that a few days before we head out, I'll sleep outside to make sure my bag setup is correct. Right now I'll be using a 0 degree bag, a 30 degree bag, a Thermarest Lite pad, a blue foam bad and maybe a tarp under everything.

I'm going to print all this information off the day before to read and look over on the drive.

Thanks everyone.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 17 2013, 9:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Tigger @ Dec. 16 2013, 8:54 pm)
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Bring a snow shovel and build a wind break.

Down booties rules.

Wear gloves or mittens to bed

Sleep with your face directly under a vent to ensure moisture goes out.

Waiting for these to arrive soon  :D :



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(no_granola @ Dec. 17 2013, 9:03 pm)
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(Tigger @ Dec. 16 2013, 8:54 pm)
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Bring a snow shovel and build a wind break.

Down booties rules.

Wear gloves or mittens to bed

Sleep with your face directly under a vent to ensure moisture goes out.

Waiting for these to arrive soon  :D :



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Where did you get those?
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 18 2013, 6:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Jbkelly @ Dec. 18 2013, 5:01 pm)
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Where did you get those?

http://www.nunatakusa.com/site07/booties/kangri.htm

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 9:59 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Have fun JB

I've done a fair bid of late fall backpacking but not any in winter as yet. Lots of great info in this thread (a wealth of experience, as always) and I especially agree with the points about having separate sleeping clothing and toque. Also, a Nalgene bottle for sure if you are going to use the hot water idea.

Regarding your dog, I definitely suggest some sort of sweater of coat in addition to the fleece and if not booties then at least some Vaseline or paw wax.  With mine, I'm always watchful on warm weather trips because they don't always let us know when they are overheating too much or overtaxed in some way.

One question for those with the experience:  What do you do with your boots at night? Not relishing the idea of frozen boots in the morning, I always figured I would put them in a stuff sack or a plastic bag of some sort and keep then in my bag.
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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 10:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE


(Crockett @ Dec. 20 2013, 9:59 am)
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One question for those with the experience:  What do you do with your boots at night? Not relishing the idea of frozen boots in the morning, I always figured I would put them in a stuff sack or a plastic bag of some sort and keep then in my bag.

Turn a stuff sack inside out over them and put them in the foot of the sleeping bag, along with any water or electronics and fuel canisters (if using canister stove) you want to be operational in the morning. Not to mention your damp daytime clothes. Water filters if you have 'em need to go in there too.

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PostIcon Posted on: Dec. 20 2013, 10:55 am Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Even a southern guy(me) loves down boots.

My favorite winter comfort item is a fleece neck gator I made.  Based it on the Buff products so it's long enough to be a hood, also.


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