For those of you who never thought about it, think again: beautiful snowy landscapes not crowded at all! OK, it's true that days are shorter and most important, it is cold. But once you’ve done it, it is an amazing experience that we should all carry out at least once in a lifetime –or twice or three times… you might get addicted to it!
You could choose among different kind of experiences, from a couple of days to extreme trips for those who have been hooked by this kind of venture previously.
No matter what you decide on, is important to outline that winter camping must be taking seriously and a few safety measures are needed, among them we have to highlight the following:
- Do not go alone. The wildness is staggering, but it is also unforgiving. You should always have at least a camping mate to carry the adventure along with. Remember that 2 heads are better than 1, and sharing expertise knowledge on winter adventures is always the best choice.
- Let your family/friends know about your adventure. It is advisable to share your plans and schedule with your family or friends. In the unlucky situation of an emergency, it will be easier to contact you or find out your location.
- Make some previous research. It is a good idea (kind of a mandatory one) to study a few maps to get to know the area. During the rest of the year you might decide to go blind to your trip, but during winter it is not the smartest choice.
- Is it an avalanche zone? It is vital to recognize symptoms and highly risky avalanche areas. Most of the avalanches are triggered by the human himself. You should be aware of what's around you and, in the case of danger, change your route or postpone your adventure if needed.
Now, find below our 4 essential rules for a great camping experience:
RULE #1: STAY DRY AND WARM
There is not worst feeling in the world that noticing the cold under your skin for a long period of time, and being unable to do anything against it (apart from trembling). This is why you should know what to wear before you regret it later.
Regarding your BODY. It is recommended to wear 3 layers of clothes:
- First layer: UNDERWEAR. It is not like you will forget about it, but it is important to mention that you should avoid cotton fabric. Why? Even though it is a good insulator, the moment it gets wet, it loses this property because the fabric fills with water and will absorb like a sponge. It is better to wear synthetics or merino wool. Both fabrics are very good insulators and get dry very fast
- Second layer: INSULATING. Think about wearing clothes that will retain the body heat.
- Third layer: OUTER LAYER. You should wear waterproof, windproof and breathable clothing.
Do not forget to carry a HAT (since we lost body heat through our head), and a couple of pairs of GLOVES. As the saying goes “If your feet are cold, put on a hat”.
We cannot foresee the future and we cannot control all possible scenarios, but if we add these objects to our backpack, we will at least be prepared for possible obstacles that we might face:
Camping in winter affects not only to what you are wearing on, but to what you carry around: Backpack, Sleeping bag and Tent.
Since you have to carry more things to be prepared for the weather conditions, we recommend you to wear a bigger backpack than the one you could wear in summer. If you are planning a weekend adventure, you might think about 60L. Moreover, if you are carrying your skis or any other object, make sure that you can secure them to your backpack.
Your sleeping bag must be able to resist at least around 10-15°C (10°F) lower than the minimum temperature. Remember what we mention about your clothes not been made of cotton? The same applies here. You need insulation to keep your body warm at night. Add a sleeping pad to help you to keep your body heat.
The tent, your shelter for the cold nights. Make sure that it is waterproof to fight against the rain. It must have a rigid structure (you can always get extra poles to add sturdier resistance) against the wind, and if possible, it should be easy to set up, since you might have to do it with gloves on, which makes the setting up harder.
RULE #4: SET UP THE CAMP & TRICKS
A few tips and pieces of advice to perfectly set your camp up.
Princeton “Avalanche Basics”