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Thread: Cold weather camping gear questions. Lookin' for advice!

  1. #1
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    Question Cold weather camping gear questions. Lookin' for advice!

    I live in WY, but am posting here because I keep being redirected back to this forum every search that I make online…so I have a ton of questions for those willing to share….I’ve read through many of the posts but wondering if anyone can shed insight or direct me to other resources. There are very few places around here to check out various tents and gear, and even fewer truly experienced people for roughing it (they are probably still out camping when I’m in the store ).

    It’s always hard to give the “full picture” online instead of in a face-to-face conversation, but I will try to first give a little background to my questions. I am not new to camping, but was raised rather spoiled with an enclosed camper. Years later, I am on a budget that does not allot for more than SUV camping…So TENT camping is new to me. My husband and I want to year round camp, a week at a time, in the mountains of WY near our place. The campsite will be used in the fall for deer and elk hunting in the mountains. Most of the camping will be between May and Dec. Elevation is 5-9,000ft and there are trees available for wind protection and wood, there are more rattlesnakes and mountain lions than bears in the area, and we will have the ability to drive (off road or at least with a 4-wheeler) to our camping spot. I have seen quite a few large canvas tents setup in the area I want to go, though I’ve never been in one. The temperatures vary (we camped at 0 degrees one year with elk hunting friends), but there is snow well into July where I want to camp. Winters are long, and summers are short and relatively cool and wind chill is probably a big factor. Weight of gear isn’t a problem if I’m able to drive in, but ease of setup and usability is important. Since It would be used for a week at a time and for 4 adults, I would like something with a fairly large interior. I should also mention that this is off grid camping. I would like to hear suggestions/opinions, but I am leaning toward a tent with an attached floor, because if we do summer camping I don’t want to wake up with a rattle snake for a bed partner…and this is more likely than a bear ever wandering into camp. Plus if we ever camp on the other side of the state I think I will take up someone’s suggestion for an electric fence.

    Here’s my priority list:
    1. Staying warm in winter camping. It’s possible that little ones would be with us.
    2. Space to cook, sleep, store gear, and cleanup/toiletry.
    3. Not starting anything on fire.

    Questions:
    1. What tent would you suggest?
    2. Since I am a female…any suggestions about a privy when camping? How many of you put up another tent? I know it’s a weird topic…but I would like some real world feedback on the various products that I’ve seen. I was considering the 5gal bucket with the toilet seat and some kitty litter to control odor? Think it will work? What works for you or your female campers? I don’t mind squatting in the woods on the go, but at base camp I would like a plan. What about winter camping shower suggestions?
    3. Heating: This is a foreign concept to me. What is the safest type/model of wood stove? How long should I expect it to last? The same question applies to propane heat. If we brought in a small propane tank, what can we expect from it? How do you stay safe with the CO?
    4. Got a good list of “to bring”s that you would share?
    5. Books, videos etc. My husband and I loved the video “Alaska Hunting Adventure: 700 Miles Alone by Backpack and Raft.” Know of any more like this? Also any good guides on roughing it comfortably.

    Thanks in advance!
    E

  2. #2

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    I hope you don't take this the wrong way but the car camping you describe is not "roughing it" by the standards of most folks on these forums. Everything is relative. You wrote "So TENT camping is new to me" and that's fine, there's no shame in being a beginner, we all start out somewhere, but please recognize whether you're a beginner and if so then start out SAFELY by learning basic skills before you worry about tackling winter conditions. If you spend a little time to learn the basics, it won't take long before you're ready to safely move on to bigger adventures.

    Your best bet is to do a whole lot more learning first: read old forum threads, read books and try out the techniques under mild conditions near home, talk to local outdoors folk in your area, join a local outdoors group, then come back here with much more specific questions. Also check out the BOW program at http://gf.state.wy.us/services/education/boww/index.asp for a great way to learn.

    There are very few places around here to check out various tents and gear, and even fewer truly experienced people for roughing it
    Sorry but that doesn't make sense. There are plenty of outdoor shops in SE WY; in Casper, Laramie, Cheyenne, and most other places. Sierra Trading Post is in Cheyenne. Cabela's is nearby in Sidney, NE and Rapid City, SD. Lots of options in your area, not to mention online. Also there are LOTS of outdoors folks in Wyoming, you just need to go meet them.

    2. Since I am a female…any suggestions about a privy when camping? How many of you put up another tent? I know it’s a weird topic…but I would like some real world feedback on the various products that I’ve seen. I was considering the 5gal bucket with the toilet seat and some kitty litter to control odor? Think it will work? What works for you or your female campers? I don’t mind squatting in the woods on the go, but at base camp I would like a plan. What about winter camping shower suggestions?
    Some use a tent vestibule, some buy a privy tent, some tie a tarp over a tripod of sticks. Personally, I mostly just squat in the woods. Guess it all depends on your definition of "roughing it" and your personal needs.

    If it's winter, you're outdoors, and it's only for a week, then you can shower when you get home.

    3. Heating: This is a foreign concept to me. What is the safest type/model of wood stove? How long should I expect it to last? The same question applies to propane heat. If we brought in a small propane tank, what can we expect from it? How do you stay safe with the CO?
    For winter camping, you first need skills, knowledge, warm clothing, and warm sleeping gear, rather than relying on a heater for survival. Except under the most extreme conditions, many folks only use the stove while dressing and undressing. Those small collapsible woodstoves are just thin sheet metal, they're not meant to last forever and they don't hold a fire all night. Also tents have uninsulated cloth walls, so they don't hold the heat for long. Whatever heat source you use, the solution to carbon monoxide is always plenty of ventilation!

    All the rest of the many questions in your post are already answered in other threads. Happy reading and good luck!

  3. #3
    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Winter camping...

    I like the priorities you've listed. And it's still early season.
    Priorities:
    1. A way to warm up: having breakfast out of the rain/wind keeps kids and families happy on outdoor trips. Occasionally, it is also a winter necessity.
    2. Shelter for cooking, drying out, storing gear: see #1
    3. Privy: see below, but IMO there are lots of good arguments for doing this.
    4. Which tent: many good AOD discussioons - some links listed below.

    There might be safe ways you could get started. Learn by doing - just set some limits early on. Start small, go often, aim high...

    Suggestions:
    1. Titanium goat or other silnylon tipi with collapsible stove. Our Vertex-8 with stove, pole, stakes, guy lines is under 20#, but provides lots of space inside to use as a heated common area - getting dried out, breakfast, getting out of the weather, etc. It's spendy, but with excellent function.
    2. A cheap privy tent: friends of ours inspired us to give this idea a try - and it's a regular part of our river trips now. They set up camp for a month for spring black bear hunting and fishing, with plywood flooring (that's luxury!) bolted together into a platform, then wall tents for sleeping, and a common area, and a separate privy out back - the "peepee tipi", which began with a deep cylindrical hole plus a tent with a hole cut in the floor. Pretty deluxe. We use and like best the PETT toilet system: http://www.rei.com/product/662980/cl...nmental-toilet. Any cheap tent to sit in will do. Added benefits: shelter from inclement weather, shelter from bugs.
    3. The consensus "best tent" for winter camping in these pages is the Arctic Oven - spendy but great. But it all depends on your needs, your budget and how long you plan to do this.

    You're right, there are many pearls of wisdom in these forums. This site has a good basic article (http://outdoorsdirectory.com/gear/tents-and-shelters). You could do worse than to read Buck Nelson's ( “Alaska Hunting Adventure: 700 Miles Alone by Backpack and Raft”). He spends a lot of time with his gear and just his research on that is worth reviewing his posts (and website).

    Consider these posts for more info and good luck:
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...+river+camping
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...+river+camping
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...CT-Large-Tents
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...t-Stove-Review
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...-Titanium-Goat
    http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/showthread.php/92971-drying-clothing-on-a-hunt-tips?highlight=tents+for+river+camping

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    I guess I should have said that off the grid camping is new to me, not necessarily camping. Thank you for the list of reads! I wasn't aware that the video I mentioned was also a book...I will definitely check it out! Thanks!

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MutantAtoms View Post
    IHere’s my priority list:
    1. Staying warm in winter camping. It’s possible that little ones would be with us.
    2. Space to cook, sleep, store gear, and cleanup/toiletry.
    3. Not starting anything on fire.

    Questions:
    1. What tent would you suggest?

    2. Since I am a female…any suggestions about a privy when camping? How many of you put up another tent? I know it’s a weird topic…but I would like some real world feedback on the various products that I’ve seen. I was considering the 5gal bucket with the toilet seat and some kitty litter to control odor? Think it will work? What works for you or your female campers? I don’t mind squatting in the woods on the go, but at base camp I would like a plan. What about winter camping shower suggestions?
    3. Heating: This is a foreign concept to me. What is the safest type/model of wood stove?

    4. Got a good list of “to bring”s that you would share?
    5. Books, videos etc. My husband and I loved the video “Alaska Hunting Adventure: 700 Miles Alone by Backpack and Raft.” Know of any more like this? Also any good guides on roughing it comfortably.
    E
    Re: Item #1 From your description of needs I would suggest a canvas wall tent with a cylinder stove to burn available wood. I've had excellent luck with the customer service from Davis tent in Denver, CO. They usually have an outfitter package available that includes a tent, angles kit for an interior frame setup and the Cylinder stove. These tents are big and heavy but you did mention that you are driving to the camp site. Don't skimp on the size of the tent you select. I often hear of guys who got too small of a tent but rarely do I hear of guys who got too large of a tent.

    Re: Item #2 Again, the canvas wall tent would be a good option. Using a tent 16 by 20 dimension would allow you to use a blanket or dropcloth to partition off a corner of the unit for shower and/or privey purposes, yet still provide plenty of living space for four adults.

    Re: Item #3 I would recommend, from personal experience the Cylinder Stove with the water heating sidecar. Use it to cook on, heat up the camp, dry clothes, warm water etc. No finer way to go. Hint here: I use the largest rock I can lift onto the stove. The stove heats up at night and puts all that heat into the mass of the rock. The rock holds the temperature long into the early morning hours. Also this technique works well for good personal hygein. My technique is once the rock is heated sufficiently I wet a wash cloth into cold water, lay the cloth onto the warm rock and heat the wash cloth. I usually will bring a new package of those red cloth shop rags with me. One or two shop rags per night/ per person with a bar of soap and everyone stays clean and fresh. Then the damp cloth is dried out and tossed into the fire to burn. No messing with bacteria laden cloths.

    As for Propane heating: I have used propane heat in the form of a double burner Infra red heater attached to a 20 # propane bottle with good results. The technique is extremely quick to heat the interior of the tent but personally I find the use of propane to be well, "non-traditional". Propane is a bit noisier than a wood fire and difficult to cook with, at least using the verticle type of infra red heaters that I've used. When using propane the camp just seams to be lacking to some degree.....besides wood warms you twice, once while you cut/split and once when you burn.

    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the shadow is mine and so is the valley. Thy Glock and thy M14 comfort me in days of civil unrest and terror

  6. #6
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    Excellent idea with the rock! I've heard radiant heat lasts longer too and this is an interesting way to get it. I will have to make a trip down to Denver sometime and look at what the tent company has to offer. Thanks for the info!

  7. #7

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    http://davistent.com/

    look toward a 10 oz canvas that is mold mildew and fire resistant. Avoid the heavier sounding canvas, the weave is not as tight as the 10 oz. The greatest asset in Davis Tent's Customer Service. The owner really takes good care of his customers....
    Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for the shadow is mine and so is the valley. Thy Glock and thy M14 comfort me in days of civil unrest and terror

  8. #8
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    Avoid propane heat in the winter due to vapor freezing on tent walls. Wood heat is dry heat.

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