GETTING STARTED WITH SNOWCAMPING

Apart from basic backpacking gear there are a few additional basic things you need to get before you head out on your first snow adventure.

1. Means of transportation.
Snowshoes, Cross Country Skis, or a Snowmobile

2. Snowboots
Good ones, make sure they have a removable inner liner. A good place to look may be your local military surplus store


3. Very warm clothes
A sunny winter day is not too bad, a windy winter night is a different story. Use many layers rather than one thick jacket. Do not use cotton for the layer closest to your body anywhere on your body, use wool or synthetic fibers. This is very important, if you don't follow my clothing directions on your first trip I assure you that you will on your second.

4. Lightweight woodstove
As any other experienced snow camper will tell you there's ony one acceptable stove for snow camping, the
Trailstove. It weighs a little less than a pound, costs about $20 and runs on wood, and is 100% reliable under any conditions. Gas stoves are far too unreliable in freezing temperatures. If your stove doesn't work on a cold winter night you may have to kiss your behind goodbye.

5. Ski goggles
Very important to maintain decent visibility during a snowstorm. Use goggles with amber lenses, they improve visibility in poor conditions. Do not use goggles with grey lenses, they are designed for bright sunlight and are useless in bad visibility conditions.

6. Metal sheet
To make fire on. The cut up wall of a big coffee can will do fine. Place the sheet on top of two long sticks laying on the snow and build your fire on top of the sheet, otherwise the fire will melt down into the snow.

7. Tarp
Small tarp to put all your stuff on at the camp site, it's very easy to loose things in the snow.


 

OK, now you should have everything you need  assuming you already have all the regular backpacking stuff (backpack, sleeping bag, tent etc...), you're all ready to go.

Below are some imprtant things to keep in mind when snowcamping:

1. Fire
Your fire has to be suspended on your metal sheet otherwise it will melt through the snow. Put a couple of thick branches under the sheet extending out past the sheet and make your fire on top of the sheet. Make sure the sheet sits steadily on the support branches otherwise it will slide off when the snow under the sheet melts from the heat of the fire.


2. Short days - long nights
Days are shorter in the winter so don't waste daylight if you plan to go far in a day. If you're going alone nights can get pretty boring since they last a lot longer than you can sleep, bring something to do.

3. Tell someone where you're going
Always make sure someone back in civilization knows where you're going and when you plan to be back. This is much more important than in the summer since there are even fewer people in the woods in the winter than in the summer that can help you in an emergency.

4. Start with a one-night trip
If you're new to snowcamping, start with a one night trip. Some things need to be learned by experience. You will learn a lot of things automatically on your first trip that you will apply to preparations for your next longer trip.









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