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Tip: Staying Warm

Aaron Zagrodnick

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Aaron Zagrodnick

Whether you’ve decided to take your first winter trip, or you’re just trying to extend your summer camping in the shoulder months, staying warm will keep you safe and happy in the backcountry. Winter and shoulder season adventures are great because areas that are normally very busy in the summer will be empty, and you can experience a new season of adventure. The following is the way I keep warm on my winter adventures in the mountain west.

Ted Ehrlich shares tips on staying warm in the colder months in Issue 11:

Secrets to Staying Warm in Winter

Issue 11 Page 1

Staying Warm While Hiking in the Winter - Layering

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  • 8 years later...
Michael aka Mac

I absolutely love winter camping, and the beauty of the forest and mountains covered with snow is simply breathtaking.

It does not come without dangers though.  Safety comes 1st.  What you do not want to happen is to have your winter camping trip  turn into a survival situation.  I always instruct those attempting winter camping  to inform 3 people (that are reliable) of where you are going, when you are leaving, what route, path , or trail you are taking, how long you are going to be gone for, where you are parking your vehicle, and whom to call if something happens to you.

I will reiterate what was previously mentioned,  Over Heating in winter time and not removing layers to prevent that will be the death of you. Once you start to over heat you sweat, the more you sweat the more moisture that will be in your layering system. The goal is to remove your layers prior to getting to the point that you are sweating. 

Another common mistake is not putting on a layer soon enough where you are already chilled. Other common mistakes: Never eat snow, as not only will this cool your core body temperature faster, but it requires more work and water to heat up the snow in your body then what you are consuming for hydration.

I always bring with me a couple of hand warmers that use charcoal sticks for fuel,  a couple of Mylar solar blankets, and a military MRE heater that is activated by water.  And always remember to have a mattress pad with at least a R value of 5. (note: the R value is additive so using a R value pad of 2 on top of a R value pad of 3 is equivalent of a R value 5 pad)  

For sleeping, adding a fleece sleeping bag liner & a bivy sack will make a 35 degree sleeping bag the equivalent to 25-30 degree, and wearing midweight to heavyweight base layers, wool socks, mittens and a hat will further add to your warmth and comfort on those really cold winter nights.  You can even boil water and let cool a bit and fill your water bottles to act like a hot water bottle for added warmth.

Google " what to do for someone that is hypothermic in the outdoors"  it may save your life or someone else. or one of my posts

If the person was in a hospital being treated for hypothermia, the Doctors would be using heated blankets, The Buddy Lite™ or the Hotline  ( device used to warm blood and fluids),  heated and humidified oxygen, warm IV fluids, and in more severe cases,  peritoneal lavage ( you don't want to know ).

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