What you’ll need for winter camping, part 3

Then we have the feet. They are important for a number of reasons, especially walking. And if they get cold, your whole body will feel uncomfortable and after a while you will freeze all over. So, how to dress your feet. First use a thin wool sock, then a thicker wool sock. I only use wool on my feet. Since the feet are crammed in a quite tight place, where moisture have little chance of escaping wool is the number 1 choice since it got the ability to keep warm even if its somewhat wet. So my advice is to leave your cotton and polyester socks at home. Your boots may need some adjustment too. The inner sole of your boot may be great for forming after your foot, but they might not insulate good enough from the cold ground. I buy boots a half or one size bigger than my feet, so i can insert a wool sole inside, approximately 7,5 millimeter thick. They might be possible to buy, but i make my own from an old wool carpet I have had for decades. This is what I use in my hiking and cross-country shoes. This works great for me, i rarely get cold feet, even when it`s down to -25 C. But, there is a but, if you get really wet on your feet, you will get cold. So always have extra socks in your backpack. This is paramount. Here comes a survival tip. Change to dry socks as soon as possible and if your boots are wet, which they probably are if your socks are, have a couple of plastic bags in your backpack, pull them on outside your socks and put on the wet boots. This way your new socks won’t get wet and cold. Wear it till you get the chance to dry your boots.

Here is one of the boys getting ready for some winter fun

We are still not finished with clothing, now we go to extremities. They are very important to look after. They get cold the fastest, and when they do, things quickly get harder to do. Its not only the freezing it self that’s bad, its also that you lose feeling in what you do. For example, when your fingers get really cold, simple things like packing your backpack can seem almost impossible. It hurts and you lose your strength. So we start with the mittens. I use a double layer mitten, they usually come with a fleece inner layer and a polyester outer layer. They work fine, but I replace the inner layer with a thicker wool mitten. Call me old fashioned, but I think wool works better if they get a little wet. The outer layer is also good to use with gloves inside. The reason for the double layer is that you can remove the outer layer and have better movement and feeling in the hand for setting up a tent or cooking. I also recommend an outer mitten with an elastic band lanyard, so when you take them off they won’t get lost.

Out in the cold, eating a on an icicle. Good times!
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Plan long trips, do “near trips”

Our family do quite a lot of “near trips”. This is when we just walk out of the door and go to the forest. Since this is something we do often, we don’t plan to much. We have our backpacks packed with the basics, it’s just some extra clothes according to the weather and the kind of food we want that need to be packed. On these near trips, we are at the most 3 km from our front door. Between us and those 3 km it’s literally thousands of campsites. We never need to stay at the same place if we don’t want to. But for some reason we usually end up at the same location at least for a couple of times. I actually like that, you get a feeling of safety and comfort when you know the place you stay. And when you have found a good spot it is for a reason. There might be an abundance of firewood or easy access to water and a nice view, most of the times it’s all of those. But on these shorter trips, it’s just do it. No need to hesitate, walk out the door and find a nice spot. This is also applicable if we drive somewhere and park car. If we walk up to 3 km from the car it’s also a “near trip” .

For the longer trips, we need to do some planning. We have to go over the map to find a route and a area where we can set up camp. We get to assess the are we are going into. On the map we can spot dangers we can encounter, like steep cliffs or areas prone to avalanches in the winter. Other things to think about on longer trips is all the other small stuff you need to bring. Like a spare or repair kit for the tent poles. Or an extra tip for your skies. These are things you seldom need, but they are invaluable when you do need them. I will get more specific on this topic in later posts.

The boys are ready for a new and exciting day in the forest

On our way home, the boys have put on their skis by themselves and headed home, luckily in the right direction.

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What you’ll need for winter camping, part 2

Now that we have gone trough how to get a decent sleep outside in the winter, its about how to have a nice time during the day. First and foremost when camping during winter is to try to stay dry, if you get wet, you’ll freeze much faster. And the most important place to keep dry is  your feet. If your feet get wet and then cold, the rest of the body will most likely turn cold to. I will go through what I recommend to wear in winter. I will start closest to the body with a thin wool underwear, I personally do not care what kind of wool it is made of, but Merino wool is non-itchy, so many people prefer that. As a second layer its good to use a medium thick fleece that helps to transport moist away from the body. This layer is most important to have on your upper body as an adult, but on the kids i use on both lower and upper body. What we have gone trough now, is good when you are on the move or do tasks in the camp when its not to cold. If there is low activity like making food or ice fishing, I would add another layer. This would be a thick wool sweater a thick fleece sweater, but i recommend wool.  And last the outer layer. Here you need something wind and waterproof. The lighter and thinner it is is best, but those jackets and pants are really expensive, so I have never had one, my outer layer might be a bit heavy and bulky, but it have served me well for years. For the kids i prefer putting them in a snowsuit, these are usually well insulated and somewhat waterproof and as far as I know windproof. If its colder then -5 C the kids won’t get wet, since they are so well insulated that the snowsuit will be as cold or colder than the snow, so it won’t melt on the suit. This was the body, the next part will be more detailed about what to wear on the feet, hands and head

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