Guide to winter camping
by: Scott Jackson
As the weather begins to turn and many peoples thoughts turn to Christmas and the warmth of an open hearth, for some people with a sense of adventure the worsening weather isn’t an excuse to forgo the outdoors. As the Scandinavians say “Ikke dårlige vær, bare dårlige klær”, which translates as “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”. So don’t make the weather an excuse. With the correct preparations, skills, and gear you can have just as much fun camping during the winter.
Planning to go camping in winter takes more skills and gear than your typical summer frolic in the woods. As such, your prep should be above and beyond to help ensure you have a safe and fun trip. It is a great idea to invite some companions, especially ones who have experience or specific cold weather skill sets, e.g., avalanche training, building snow shelters, etc.
Many preparation elements are similar to those you would do for a summer hike, such as route planning, leaving a trip plan with someone or checking the weather conditions. However, as the margins for error are so much smaller in more miserable weather, you should pay extra attention and go over your plans with your whole group two, three (or more) times to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Also, being able to recognize and avoid avalanche areas is a crucial skill, and we would highly recommend that your whole group receives training if you will be at or near any slopes greater than 20 degrees inclination. Indeed, taking a cold weather hiking or camping course may be beneficial in any event.
The first rule of winter hiking and camping is to stay dry and warm, so choose appropriate clothing that’ll insulate you, wicks moisture, dries quickly, is waterproof and breathable.
It is commonly acknowledged that you should be wearing three layers; base layer(s)* next to your skin that will keep you warm and wick sweat away from your body, middle layer which will act as insulation such a fleece shirt or jacket, and finally your outer layer which should be waterproof/windproof and breathable, so you should be thinking about a good jacket.
* in especially cold weather, consider wearing two base layers.
When considering your “big 4” items (Bag, Shelter, Sleeping Bag & Pad), you should look at whether your bag, pad, and tent are appropriate for the weather conditions and upgrade if necessary. You may also need to bring a larger bag than you usually would when you consider the extra gear you will need to bring.
A cold weather sleeping bag is more heavy duty than your summer one, and is often filled with down, has additional features like a hood and draught collars. You should select a bag that is rated for temperatures about 10 degrees F colder than what you expect on the trip. As most heat is lost to the ground when you sleep, be sure to bring two sleeping pads with high R-ratings (R-Ratings are how insulated the pad is). A common hack is to place a closed-cell foam pad on the ground and layer a self-inflating pad on top for maximum insulation
Look around for a sturdy 4-season tent – these are designed with sturdier poles that can support more weight (should you get a substantial dump of snow overnight), and are often double layered to provide extra insulation and reduce condensation.
At the camp
Choosing a site & Setting Up
As you reach your appointed campsite area, make sure you have set out early enough to get there with plenty of daylight left to set up. When choosing an exact campsite location remember the following:
- do not set up on any ridges or other places exposed to high winds
- do not set up directly under trees as branches can break
- do not set up camp if there is a risk of avalanches
Once you have picked a spot, spend some time packing down the snow around your pitch areas. If you can, give it 30 mins or so to settle before beginning to pitch your tents. When pitching your tent make sure to set up the entrance, so it is at 90 degrees to any prevailing winds. Rather than using tent stakes, bring plastic shopping bags, loop the guys through the handles, fill with snow and bury them so only the tops of the handles are visible.
If it is going to be especially cold night, then build either a snow wall to protect your tent from the wind or pack up snow on your shelter from the base up – make sure you have someone on the inside pushing back against the snow, so it holds up. Once it has set this will provide extra insulation than just your tent alone.
Finally, dig out a pit under your porch (about 3 feet), so that you can sit down to comfortably take off your boots before entering the tent, plus it generates more space to hold the rest of your equipment.
If you are planning on camping in the same spot for several days or more, consider packing down and digging out trenches to create a table and benches set up to enjoy your meals. If you are just overnighting this probably isn’t worth it, but in either case, it is worthwhile bringing a smaller tent or tarp to give yourself some shelter to cook if the weather turns foul.
At cold temperatures, Liquid-Fuel stoves will perform better than canister stoves, and it is worth bringing a second stove as a contingency just in case the first one fails. Also, remember to bring extra fuel – cold weather reduces the efficiency of all stoves so you will go through more, faster.
One benefit of cold weather camping is the ability to bring boil in the bag meals which tend to be a bit more flavorful than your typical dehydrated meals. Thanks to cold weather these will be kept refrigerated (or frozen) during your trip.
Lastly, a few words when it comes to water on your trip. The first being, DO NOT eat snow! It takes a considerable amount of calories for your body to convert ice to water that it can use, and additionally snow and ice can be full of bacteria and microbes. Always, boil the snow first to kill off any bugs and to prevent yourself from expending energy.
When storing water, it is best to use wide-mouthed plastic containers so you can simply pour your hot (boiled) water into them, then flip them upside down and store them in insulated pockets. Flipping them upside down prevents the lid/drinking tube from freezing.
My Open Country is a 2 person campaign to try and get more people excited about the outdoors and wilderness. We believe life wasn’t meant to be lived behind a computer screen so we provide as much information as we can into one site, so you can spend less time planning and more time doing.
By: Anne McCarty
This October, 13 women and I decided we were going to heighten the bar of our limitations while doing something we love. Our adventure was in the ever beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest (http://www.in.gov/dnr/forestry/4816.htm) just outside of Martinsville, Indiana and began in the Low Gap Trail Parking Lot and ended at the Fox Den Shelter at the end of the Tecumseh Trail. We set out on a trip that pushed us physically but relieved us mentally of our day-to-day stress.
Teamwork makes the Dream Work
Some of the group were veterans to backpacking while others, including myself, had not been on a trip this rigorous in a while or ever. Even so, everyone motivated and helped each other out when someone was struggling or couldn’t figure something out. At the beginning, most of us were strangers to each other coming from very different backgrounds and even different states, but by the end we were a dynamic and supportive (and also an exhausted) group of individuals ready to take on the world. This adventure was the epitome of having fun while learning especially since we were all wanting to learn for ourselves. For two days we learned about water filtration, leaving no trace behind, the basics of camping, trail reading, how to rehydrate/cook dehydrated food and most importantly about our mutual passion for the outdoors.
Disconnect to Reconnect
Going to the backcountry and not having cell service can be a bit daunting but we took every precaution by bringing first aid kits, having emergency contacts, letting the folks at DNR (MorganSF@dnr.IN.gov) know where we would be going and how many of us there were, and staying on the trail. Ultimately the benefits of not being able to check social media or email showed, in joking around, sharing advice to a fellow outdoorswoman, talking about goals and plans in life, the list goes on. Beyond that, you really tune into your mind and body which made conquering this 18-mile hike with 35 pounds on your back more than manageable.
Changed for the Better
A lot can happen in two days, and I think I can say for most of the ladies, their goals for going on this adventure with DNK Presents were met. I personally exceeded my own expectations having past injuries, and I couldn’t be prouder. I learned that you don’t need half of what you think you do; to bring a long flowy skirt and baggy shirt for the drive home; to be prepared for allergies you didn’t think you had to show up; always have some sort of measuring tool, to bring at least two large water bottles; that the word “bladder” is used frequently in the backpacking world and you can go further than you think you can.
We came. We learned. We conquered this adventure.
Check out the video summary of our wild wilderness adventure below, hope you can join us on adventures in 2018!
Just a few ways to maximize space!
By Anne McCarty
Packing before a trip is probably the most crucial thing to do before setting out. It is a chance to check and recheck that you have everything you need and take out the things you don’t need. The phrase many stand by is “Bring what you think you’ll need, then take out half of it.” So to help you out a little bit, this time on camping hacks we’ll give you a few ways to make sure your pack doesn’t weigh you down!
The Great Towel Debate
One thing people debate about bringing is a towel and the primary con is that it takes up too much space. The solution? Pack a shammy towel! It’s a thin towel used primarily by swimmers and divers. It is lightweight and super absorbent!
Don’t Tear Up About Tears
What happens if you have an unexpected tear or leak mid way through your trip? Say hello to Duct Tape, your new best friend. We get it, a new package is pretty big and clunky and bringing it all seems daunting. Well, you don’t have to! Wrap some around your water bottle or cup so it’s on hand and ready for anything!
Backpackers and campers alike usually pack dehydrated food because it’s lightweight and can turn into a full meal with just water. One of the not as famous choices are the dehydrated eggs. If you are one of the people looking for an alternative we have something for you! Try putting cracked eggs into a water bottle. One bottle can hold eight eggs!
Don’t let the Metal Weigh you Down
If you’re worried about space and weight of metal cups or cutlery? Look into using compatible/unbreakable one because they work well and as it turns out are easier to clean!
If you have the space and you’re celebrating anything from a birthday to just a great day outdoors, try this dessert treat!: Marshmallows toasted then dipped in Bailey’s* (<3)
Interested in keeping up with DNK Presents?
Here’s a link to our blog page:
By: Anne McCarty
Here at DNK Presents we are all about helping people discover themselves through adventure whether they are dogs trying new tricks or sticking to what they know. This blog series will be dedicated to bringing together campers far and wide to make sure they are safe and knowledgeable about camping!
Let it be light!
No lantern but need more light? No problem. Strap a headlamp to a water bottle or jug. If you don’t have a headlamp a phone’s flashlight set up under the bottle works just as well!
Photo from Pinterest
Green with envy or red from Ivy?
It is recommended that you familiarize yourself with dangerous or irksome plants like Poison Ivy! Here is a helpful link for your convenience: https://www.thespruce.com/pictures-of-poisonous-plants-2132624
Sticks and Stones
Camping and other outdoor activities can be dangerous so being prepared with a mini first aid kit is the way to go!
Photo from Pinterest
Getting cold feet about camping?
A lot of times people worry about camping in cold weather so if this is something that worries you, have no fear! Something that is important is to take your shoes off when you get into your sleeping bag because it restricts the heat from your feet. Two options to keep your toes warm are bringing a heated water pack/bottle and if that’s not an option use what you have: your clothes! Stuffing your clothes by your feet will help keep your feet toasty!
Stay tuned for next week’s edition of Camping Hacks: Packing Hacks. Stay up to date on our trips coming up on our Adventures page. Don’t see something that fits with your schedule? Contact us for a private customized adventure for you and your friends.
Is there something you would like to see on our Camping Hacks series? Reply in the comments or email us at email@example.com, happy trails!
Ever wanted to learn how to rock climb but didn’t want to go as a beginner or alone? Our developmental program meets every Wednesday from 7 to 9 PM from October 11th until November 11th. On November 10th-11th the program will take a weekend trip to Red River Gorge to climb outdoors. The facility we will meet at is EPIC Climbing Gym (1931 Stout Field W Dr. INDPLS, IN 46241). EPIC Climbing Gym is an indoor facility where everyone in the program will be taught safety and technique when it comes to indoor rock climbing. Experts will be teaching a 2 hour instructional class a week, a month of unlimited practice time and a weekend trip to the Red River Gorge for outdoor climbing. Take your skills to the test with the last class being an outdoor trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky! You’ll leave the class confident and with your own gear to take on your next climbing adventure! If you are an EPIC Members the cost is $350 per person* ($25 off if you already have gear) and if you are a non-EPIC Member the price is $375 ($25 off if you already have gear).
Our program at DNK Presents is the ONLY Indoor to Outdoor Rock Climbing Program in Indiana and this is our last program of 2017!
Go to the link to learn more and sign-up!
*Must be a member at EPIC for a least a month prior to the Indoor to Outdoor class to obtain the discount.
>>>DNK Presents are certified Lead Climbers, Wilderness First Aid and CPR, and are in the American Mountain Guide Single Pitch Instructors Apprenticeship program. We will provide climbing instruction and belay for the group for the Red River Gorge Trip.<<<
By: Kati L Taylor
In mid-August, a fun and diverse group went on the DNK Presents Wild Women’s Backpacking Overnight Adventure here in the beautiful Midwest. Several of the women had never been backpacking before. While some had been camping or “glamping”, most had not done an overnight trip for a while and it was a new experience for them to carry everything needed on their backs. Perhaps by the end of the trip some were questioning what they really need versus what provides comfort.
This weekend overnight trip gave women an opportunity to hike in the backcountry of both the beautiful Morgan-Monroe State Forest and Yellowwood Forest. The trip was structured and guided by some experienced women backpackers who want to share their love of nature with others. Meals, water filtration, and gear were provided, plus there was the security of knowing that the guides are trained to keep the group safe.
Being a women-only adventure makes these trips special.
Spending time outside, immersed in nature experiencing new things, brings out a different side to thoughts and how women connect with each other. Moreover, when you get a group of women together in the woods overnight, mentalities change, and conversation can be powerful and get intense!
There were two mother-daughter adventurers who got some quality time together. Two of the ladies were connected through a third friend but did not know each other. All three were young mothers. Another bold woman joined the trip solo, not knowing anyone prior to the trip. Regardless of their initial relationship, everyone worked together and became closer over the 24-hour adventure.
Wilderness trips prove to be great bonding opportunities, not only with each other, but ‘getting back to nature’ makes you more aware of yourself. After an energetic hike, several of the women realized an exceptional peacefulness in meditating by Bear Lake which set a more subdued mood for the hike back to the campsite.
No phone, but not alone.
Being in the backcountry means your phone basically does not work. With no reception a phone becomes only useful for the camera function and obviously there is nowhere to charge it. In fact, as the photo/video documentarian on this adventure, I may have been the only backpacker who intentionally left my phone back in the car.
While it’s comical now, at the time, everyone was concerned when the trip guide lost her phone. She was sure it had fallen out of her pocket at night near our campsite while gathering firewood. So the women teamed up to search through the darkness and find it. A persistent gal on the trip politely asked if she could search through the guide’s tent and backpack. Lo and behold, the phone was in her backpack the whole time. What a relief when it was found?!
This trivial happening, while it turned out well, was a great reminder that we need to disconnect. Having a great group of thoughtful, caring women on your team makes connecting easy even without a signal!
Leave no toothpaste… I mean leave no trace!
While trying to hang food in the tree overnight to avoid and racoons or other critters invading it, one of the ladies decided to use her toothpaste as a weight to get the rope over a tree limb. Long story short, it got stuck in the tree. With the intent of always leaving no trace on the trail, the group of women teamed up to get the toothpaste out of the tree. What an adventure it was! For more on this funny happening and to see what the women had to say about the trip overall, watch the video summary of the weekend’s adventures.
Mind the gap.
At the moment when this backpacking adventure had ended and the women were crossing the bridge to get back to their vehicles, a group from the Indiana Forrest Alliance was hiking in. These passionate folks were handing out brochures to raise support and awareness around an important issue in these exact forests where these women had just experienced so much.
Our state has plans to sell logging rights in this area where nearly 300 acres could be affected and thousands of trees could be logged if the deal goes through. This affects everyone and while the terms of the agreement may be vague, preserving our Indiana natural resources is for a greater good.
It’s important to preserve Indiana’s beautiful forests for the health of our planet, the wildlife that lives there, and for ourselves–let everyone forever enjoy the natural beauty! Please consider contacting Governor Holcomb and urge our state to stop logging the forests.
For those who have never been backpacking, or want to experience it again, consider a trip. Indiana has some beautiful outdoor spaces and amazing trails to experience. Disconnect, decompress, experience something new, and enjoy the natural beauty around you.
We hope your summer has been filled with lots of love, happiness, and of course adventure. We know ours definitely has! Our big season started out with a bang with our documentary film, “Live Adventurously” winning Best Documentary and being nominated for Best Cinematography in the Alhambra Film Festival in Evansville, IN. We then got to guide our new 2017 Live Adventurously Women’s Adventure Contest winners on their big adventure in central Indiana. This year the weekend was filmed by a local Indianapolis woman film maker, Lindsay Mitchell, stay tuned as she develops her feature adventure film.
In July we took some time off to work on our mountain bike skills, had some down time with family, and then got to assistant coach at one of the most exclusive mountain bike clinics in the world, The Trek Dirt Series. We began our adventure by taking one of the most famous of the Trek Dirt Series clinics, in Whistler Canada, where founder, Candace Shadley was born and raised. I not only got to celebrate my birthday in Canada, on Canada Day, on top of a mountain with my Trek Session downhill rental, but got to learn from some of the most bad ass, and professional women coaches in the industry. We highly recommend these west coast clinics, but are SO excited to offer you amazing coaching and mountain bike camps on this side of the country! Stay tuned and look for more events coming up from Campside Sessions, a joint venture formed from DNK Presents and other fellow Trek Bicycle Women’s Advocate, Erin Wells’ mountain bike business in Baltimore, MD, Muddy Pedals. Our first mountain bike event together is taking place in Brown County State Park, September 22-24, learn more by clicking here.
The summer may be coming to an end, but the adventures for fall are just beginning. We have a lot going on Brown County, who doesn’t love those beautiful autumn leaves? Join us for some bike clinics, backpacking, yoga, hiking, etc. Oh and did we tell you DNK Presents is guiding our first adventure trip out of the country? Yes indeed, Feb. 17-24 we will be guiding a yoga retreat in beautiful Lake Atitlan in Guatemala, filled with yoga, hiking, paddle boarding, meditation, relaxation, and so much more. Check out all the details here!
Danielle & Kate