Cold-Weather Camping in Comfort
December 25th, 2018 by Curtis Condon

A campfire is somewhat of an extravagance in summer, but it’s a downright necessity in winter. That’s all the more reason to use extra care when siting and building it. If there’s not an existing fire pit, find a flat area convenient to your tent or RV, out of the wind and away from snow-laden trees. If there’s snow—and it’s not too deep—dig down to ground level. Line the spot with non-river rocks or large chunks of wood as a base to keep the fire off the wet ground.
© iStock/Maxim Rozhkov

Winter is one of the four best camping seasons. There are no crowds, no campfire restrictions, and you see and do things you won’t experience in any other season.

Something else that sets winter apart is, of course, temperature, which can be exacerbated by rain, wind and snow. But if you can overcome those elements, you are well on your way to enjoying the season to its fullest.

Wear the proper clothing. That means layers. They should be made of wool or man-made fabrics, especially your underwear. No cotton.

Locate a campsite out of the wind and away from snow-laden trees. It should have an existing fire pit or a dry, flat or slightly elevated spot to build one.

When tent camping, use a four-season tent that can withstand high wind and heavy snow. It should have a rain fly that completely covers the tent and extends to within a few inches of the ground. Do not pitch it on low ground, where cold and water can pool. Open the vents at night to limit condensation and icing on the inside walls.

Sleep with a closed-cell pad underneath you to provide insulation from the cold ground. That goes for sleeping on a cot, too.

Don’t overdress for bed, which can cause perspiration. Sleep in dry, fresh underwear, ideally the ones you will wear the next day.

If you camp in an RV, skirt its bottom. Precut and fitted foam boards are ideal, but even a tarp hung around the RV will minimize the cold and heat-sucking wind.

No matter how you camp in winter, always check the weather before leaving. Make sure your camping destination is open and accessible. Tell friends and family where you are going and when you expect to return. Also, pack extras of everything: water, food, fuel, clothing, blankets and emergency supplies.

Four Outdoor Classics You May Have Never Heard Of
Most Americans are familiar with Hemingway’s “The Old Man and the Sea” and London’s “The Call of the Wild.” A few have even read them. But they are just two of the outdoor classics written in the past 100 years.

Here are four more to curl up with in the off-season. Most people have never heard of them, but they are well worth the read.

  • “Trout Bum,” by John Gierach.
  • “Meditations on Hunting,” by Jose Ortega y Gassett.
  • “The River Why,” by David James Duncan.
  • “The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing,” by Thomas McGuane.

A DIY Zipper Solution
Zippers are one of winter’s biggest challenges. It’s nearly impossible to zip a jacket, backpack or tent when you’re wearing gloves. Fear not. Here’s a zip-it hack that will work on everything but a big mouth. Add an easy-to-grasp lanyard or loop of parachute cord to your zipper. Maybe dress it up with beads or baubles. Better yet, attach a whistle, small compass or micro flashlight for added practicality.

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