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Post by Harvey_Birdman on Sat Jan 17, 2015 2:35 am

I have been longing for a winter camping trip, but just can't find the time to go. With work, getting ready for the new baby, trying to get a workshop put together in my garage, and Church I haven't got time for much of anything extra. So the next best thing is talking about winter camping. A couple of years ago if you would have told me you went camping in winter I would have laughed at you. Now it is my favorite time of year to camp.

I camp a lot year round. I love camping, and just being outdoors. About 6 years ago I started getting more and more into it, and found a forum call BushcraftUSA.com ( I am Harvey_Birdman over there too) That is where I first learned about winter camping. True it takes more gear, and you can get uncomfortable if you are not careful, but if you take the time to learn, and try out your gear beforehand you can have a great time. The biggest pluses are no bugs, no snakes, no bears, and no people!

The first time I went winter camping was with my BIL, we stayed on my land only about 1/4 mile from the house. We had a nice fire and used reflective blankets to make a nice toasty area around our tent. We had a great time. This was also the trip that I made my first wooden spoon. We put our light summer sleeping bags inside our mid weight spring/fall bags, and slept on closed cell foam pads. We stayed warm all night, and the temp got down to 31*. The tent we used was my old boy scout style 2 man pup-tent. It has flaps at the front, and a small wind in the back that tie shut and no zippers. We tied the flaps and wind open to cause a draft to pull warm air from the fire that was about 5' in front of the tent.

Th following morning we sat around the fire and made some coffee, and as I was sitting back taking the first sips of coffee it started to snow. It was so peaceful and quiet in the winter woods that you could hear ever snowflake as it hit the ground, it sounded like a faint white noise that filled the moment. From that moment I was hooked on winter camping.

Here are some pics from that trip. They are from the afternoon that we broke camp. The guy in the pics is my BIL, Eddie. One of them has a date for some reason; it says March 2011, but it was really Feb of 2012.

Winter Camping <a href=Winter Camping 100_1567" />

Winter Camping <a href=Winter Camping 100_1568" />

Winter Camping <a href=Winter Camping 100_1569" />
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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sat Jan 17, 2015 8:34 am

Sounds like a nice way to spend a night outdoors. Can't camp here during the winter.you'll freeze to death from the wind chills. We get too cold and too much snow for tent camping during the winter here.
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Post by Harvey_Birdman on Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:43 pm

I know of guys that live up in Canada that winter camp there. They have to have very specialized equipment, but is can be done. I don't think I would want to do it, but they seem to like it.
The coldest that I have ever tent camped was 26*. it was about a week after the trip I talked about above. Me and my nephew camped near the river with the same tent/sleeping bag setup as before, but this time with the fire alongside the tent.

That trip almost ended badly. Like I said before the tent doors do not zip, they tie shut. Well sometime in the night I rolled over and stuck my arm out of the tent. I was in a deep sleep, and my arm had fallen asleep so I didn't realize that it was outside. I woke up some time later (not sure how long) and my are was turning blue and had frost on it. I had to get up and build up the fire then rub my arm real hard to try and get some warm blood back in it. I thought I was going to loose it. After about half an hour near the fire I was sore, but fine. The arm hurt for a few days, but I fully recovered.

The next day I went out and bought a proper winter sleeping bag, called a mummy bag, that zips up your whole body except your face. I am constantly changing and upgrading equipment.
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Post by dizzy on Sat Jan 17, 2015 6:58 pm

I'm not sure the coldest I've ever gone camping, but it was w/the horses. And I was in my tent. This wasn't at a campground, but was in someone's field up near Gettysburg, and it was cold! We had a good fire going, but you can't take that in the tent w/you.

I was the only one in a tent. Everyone else was in an RV. I had a heater in my tent, which I turned on B4 I got in there so the tent was fairly warm when I went in, then turned it off when I got in my sleeping bag. I can't sleep in a mummy bag, but have one rated for cold weather. (Don't recall now how far down it goes), so I stayed nice and warm.

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Post by Farmfresh on Sat Jan 17, 2015 10:34 pm

I TOTALLY remember the coldest night that we spent camping.  It was winter camping even though it was June. 

We used to go primitive camping in a not too primitive way.  We had my old Chevy tricked out with a camper shell and a full sized comfy futon mattress in the back for our bed.  We brought all our supplies with us and our own water which allowed us to go some pretty remote places and still sleep pretty darned cozy without all of the set up time required with a tent.   

On the day before the night we were traveling through Colorado and we stopped at a ranch that farm raised exotic meats like elk, venison and buffalo.  We bought a nice buffalo hump roast for our supper and I think that is the only thing that saved me.  Hubby of course still thinks that I am exaggerating, but I thought I was going to freeze to death on the night in question. 

I am pretty phobic of high places and mountains can also set me in a panic, so traveling in Colorado was all about planning our route carefully.  Hubby had planned a nice trip with wide spaces and gentle climbs the whole way UNTIL we crossed the divide.  We went through at a place called Slumgullion Pass (elevation 11,530 feet).  At that point you go down... and I mean down.  A section of terrifying (to me at least) switchbacks and a steep downgrade. 

By the time we reached the bottom of the switchbacks I was a mess.  I was shaking and we had to stop, so we decided to camp at a wild and remote spot called Lake San Cristobal.  It was surrounded by the mountains and had giant boulders sticking up in the water like hidden monsters trying to surface.  Really beautiful and we were totally alone.
Winter Camping Mya%20by%20the%20Colorado%20lake%201 
I started a fire on that circle of rocks and cooked up our buffalo roast in my cast iron spider and then we fished a while before night fell.  Their was a very nice composting toilet on the campsite (which figures into the story later) and a locking trashcan with notices about bears, but that was it as far as the amenities.  

After a cold windy day fishing we gobbled down our dinner and we ate it all.  Then we got camp ready for bed.  The wind was rising.  Hubby turned on the radio and they had high wind advisories out.  Being from west Missouri that didn't worry us too much, so we went to bed.  It kept getting colder and colder and finally dropped into the low 20's and started snowing.  Old Mya truck was a 2 wheel drive and we had a lot of hills to climb and those horrible switchbacks to deal with so I figured if it decided to snow us in I would just die rather than face trying to drive out of that hole. 

The wind HOWLED.  There were hollowed out rock formations on the cliffs across from our camp site and the wind shooting through those sounded just like the engine of a jet airplane.  We found out the next day that winds got between 80 and 90 mph that night.  We put on clothes.  ALL our clothes.  We put on blankets ... and table covers... and tarps.  The truck rocked violently like it was a bucking bronco and the windows of the camper froze over with ice from our breaths.  I kept thinking that if the wind got much worse I was going to make a run for the out house and spend the night in there.

Yup.  It was cold.

By dawn the wind had all but died down.  I made us a quick grab and go breakfast and we snaked out of that place before we did get snowed in.  So that is my winter camping story.  Brrrr.
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Post by PATRICE IN IL on Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:33 am

Thanks for sharing your adventures, I have enjoyed reading about them. Smile I'm just not cut out for winter outdoor camping.
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Post by Rohn on Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:46 am

Very interesting subject. I also enjoyed the stories.
I am not a camper, but have thought about trying it. We have talked about tent camping and perhaps someday we will do it. I have camped in a camp with a cabin on it to sleep in. It was back in the hills of Pennsylvania in the Allegheny Mountains. Our camp was about 2 1/2 miles off the main road. Fond experiences and memories there.
Once I shot a timber rattler back near the camp. And once we heard something screaming near the cabin at night and we never did figure out what it was.

Keep the camping stories and tips coming, it may encourage me to do some of it in the future.



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Post by Rohn on Sun Jan 18, 2015 12:47 am

By the way, Chad, those are nice pictures of your camp.
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