Snow Camping Tips

Clothing

  • Gloves get wet pitching a tent in the snow, so carry a second pair for this purpose.
  • COTTON KILLS. Cotton loses its insulating qualities when it gets wet, whether from rain or sweat. Cotton also takes a long time to dry out. Wool or synthetic materials are much better suited to winter camping in cold weather conditions.
  • Take tight layers off at night eg underwear, bras. They restrict blood flow and will make you colder

Equipment

  • Batteries don’t work when its cold. Keep your camera battery and headtorch inside your sleeping bag at night. Warming up apparently dead batteries often revives them
  • If you are using a shellite / petrol stove, prime it with a modest amount of fuel. Carrying a small bottle of metho to prime the stove is another option.
  • Carry 2 sleeping mats. Supplementing your normal mat with an additional closed-cell foam mat, will provide a lot of extra insulation when you are sleeping 2 cm above the snow.
  • Wet boots left in a tent vestibule will freeze solid on a cold night. This can often be prevented by putting then in a waterproof bag by your feet inside the tent. Plastic boots- remove the inners and bring these inside.
  • Gaiters will keep snow, rain, etc out of your boots and therefore help keep your feet drier and warmer.

General

  • Instead of stopping for a long lunch, snack on food all during the day at short breaks.
  • Exercise (wriggle around) for a few minutes when you get in your sleeping bag to warm it up
  • Know where each item of your gear is stored in your pack so you don’t waste time and get cold when trying to find it. Practise packing your pack a few times before you go
  • Leave no trace- Use loos provided or carry it out in a pooh tube

Camping

  • Eat lots- high energy, carbohydrates, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate
  • Don’t eat snow! It takes way too much energy to turn it into water
  • Water will freeze overnight (sometimes even if its inside the tent). Be careful you don’t burst your camelback with the expanding ice
  • Water mixed with something such as Gatorade, lemonade, etc will freeze at a lower temperature than plain water.
  • Water treatment tablets are ineffective when it is cold
  • When melting snow for water, add a small amount of water so you don’t burn it
  • On a fairly flat area below the treeline, away from ridgetops, on the downwind side of a ridge. You can cut blocks of firm snow using a snow shovel or skis and build a low wall to partially protect your tent from the wind.
  • Camp amongst trees but not directly under them. Snow can fall off the branches and break your tent poles.
  • Grass is warmer and more comfy than snow if there is some about.
  • If you don't take a few minutes to stamp down your tent site and scrape it smooth, you will have an uncomfortable lumpy floor and slowly sink into it over the night as your body weight compresses a human shaped dent in the snow.
  • Snow and water will get into your tent. Carry a small sponge to soak it up.
  • Enter and exit huts as quickly as possible
  • Don't leave things out overnight or they may be lost under snow that falls overnight. Stand skis, poles and ice axes upright (but not so they will hit the tent if they fall over).
  • Dig 25 cm deep pits in the vestibule. This gives a lot more storage space for things like snow encrusted packs, which you don't want inside the tent. In bad weather, it also gives you a fairly safe place to light a stove without much danger of the tent catching fire.
  • Build things with snow! Kitchens, shelter walls around tents are great. Remember to fill them in before you leave so someone doesn’t ski into them .
  • At night place your overpants and raincoat underneath your foam mat (waterproof side down). This will be extra insulation
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