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winter camping--how not to freeze?

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  • winter camping--how not to freeze?

    saturday night we camped and the temps went down to 30 degrees. all three of us slept in the horse trailer, the guy in the gooseneck stayed pretty toasty with his blanketss on his air mattress, however we two women in the horse area were very cold. i slept on my air matress with three sheets which i laid under a spread out lined jacket, which was under a full size sheepskin.
    as long as i was able to stay directly on the sheepskin the cold coming from under the trailer was ok.
    still, i had a sheet and a fleece blanket and a horse blanket over me and i was still cold.
    my friend slept on her cot with similar bedding and we both wore many layers as well, and she was still cold too.
    the horse are we slept in is sixteen feet of totally open space, no dividers or anything, and all windows were closed. i did forget to close the air vents on top, though.
    obviously we need to be better equipped, i'm thinking of starting with a couple of those nasa blanket liner things. plus, i cannot stand being confined in a sleeping bag, and dislike sleeping with clothes at all, so need to find what, maybe a double bag? over a nasa blanket? i'd love to someday afford a sheepskin cover fro the entire bed, they are fairly pricey, though.
    what else do you suggest for tight budgets?
    thanks, i hope we can do some more camping before the weather gets too awful in new england.

  • #2
    You probably just need to look into cold weather backpacking gear. I say backpacking vs camping simply because it seems to me that once you cross into camping gear, the size/weight of the equipment can get unruly. Backpacking HAS to mean lightweight, functional and tote-able. Go-Lite can be expensive but has some fantastic equipment and some nice sales (or they used to when I was involved in Adventure Racing). Even though you're on a budget, I would avoid places like Walmart -- you just won't be happy in the end.
    "Of course it's hard. It's supposed to be hard. It's the Hard that makes it great."

    "Get up... Get out... Get Drunk. Repeat as needed." -- Spike


    • #3
      put an eggcrate bed liner between you and the air mattress, secure it with your sheet.

      Put a turtlefur on your head and wool socks on your feet I don't think you can get away with nekkid in a freezing tube of steel, but I could be wrong

      My LL Bean down filled sleeping bag rocks, and can completely be unzipped into a flat blanket. That, on top of an egg crate over an air mattress, and a turtlefur on my head, I'm good.


      • #4
        Try putting blankets or padding like carpet between the air mattress and the floor of the trailer. That keeps some of the cold from permeating thru the air mattress.
        There is no snooze button on a cat that wants breakfast.


        • #5
          Don't use an air-only mattress. Use a self-inflating camp pad and/or a foam-only camp pad or combination of the two.

          It's the cold air in the air mattress that your body is trying to heat that is keeping you cold. You could also lay down some of those foam squares that one gets at Home Depot or Pep Boys, on the floor of your trailer before putting your camp pads down on top. If you're feeling industrious, you can also have some of those foam squares to line the walls of the trailer down where you're sleeping. If sleeping on a cot, use a self-inflating pad or foam-only pad, also; again no air-only mattress.

          In my steel bp trailer, I was always less comfortable than I was when sleeping in my truck tent; all that cold steel, I guess.

          And, oh, I dream of a sheepskin comforter!
          Cheryl in WNY
          Horse Kids Kit & Bobby


          • #6
            Camp in Florida!! sorry just had to do it. Our camping season runs from Oct - April while the rest of you are freezing your butts off. We're currently having record heat 92 ugh with about 80% humidity...

            I was busy loading the trailer this weekend as we're heading out Thurs for our first campout of the season and I had to stop frequently to rest and drink water... its finally supposed to break this Fri and only get up to 84....


            • #7
              I do a lot of cold weather camping. And yes I prefer to not to be stuffed in a mummy bag, But Sometimes a good sleeping bag will make the difference.

              1st. As stated above, you have to insulate yourself from the cold under neath. If you are staying at your trailer. weight is not an issue. If you are packing in someplace, then compact and light is an issue. I don't know what your budget is, so here are a couple of suggestions. At the trailer, put an old piece of carpet down below your pad/mattress. Cost Cheap. Look into buying some of that memory foam. The type that you put on top of a regular mattress. Overstock.com sells different sizes $50-$100. A 4" piece of foam will stop a lot of cold and give you some comfort to lay on. This is what I have put up in my gooseneck for my bed. The camp pads from companies like Thermal Rest come in various thickness. The thicker the pad, the more it weighs and the bulkier it is and the more it cost. Camp pads have a layer of nylon or other fabric to protect the inner foam. They roll up reasonable compact and usually have the velcro ties to secure the roll. None of which a standard piece of memory foam have.

              2nd. After the pad is in place you need some sort of sleeping bag or blankets. Sheets are purely for comfort and add no warmth. So a good bag or heavy blankets, down comfortor are needed to hold in your body heat. I use a sleeping bag with a 0 temp rating. Sleeping bags come in different sizes. Get a big bag if you don't like being confined. Remember that sleeping bags only RETAIN your own body heat. The bigger the bag, the more area you have to heat with your own body heat.

              3rd add heat. If what ever bedding you have chosen is not keeping you warm, you need to add heat from an external source. An electric blanket running off your generator work wells for this. You will have to see if the camp area you are staying at allows the generator to run all night. I personally don't like to have heater that runs on a combustable fuel running at night while I sleep. ie Propane tent heats. I worry too much about carbon Monoxide poisening. On pack trips, I have heated large rocks in the fire and slid them into the bottom of my sleeping bag to add heat. Others have put boiling water in a hot water bottle and put it in their sleeping bag.

              My wall tent that we use for winter camping has a wood burning stove. It works well. The chimney goes out the top of the tent venting all smoke and fumes out the top and the canvas fabric allows enough air to infiltrate so that the fire doesn't starve all the oxygen in the tent. I have slept comfortable at 10* on cots in the tent. We have to throw a log on the fire every 3-4 hours.


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bank of Dad View Post
                Try putting blankets or padding like carpet between the air mattress and the floor of the trailer. That keeps some of the cold from permeating thru the air mattress.

                Newspaper works too.


                • #9
                  I am in the SW and do endurance rides in the winter in which the daytime temps are usually beautiful but it gets down into the 30s or even 20s at night. Definitely get some good insulation under you. You really need a good sleeping bag too, just blankets arent going to cut it, although I do cover my sleeping bag with some blankets as well. I use a sleeping bag that is rated down to 0 degrees. Even then, I sleep in several layers of clothing including usually a coat. I also use one of those head cover things that cover your entire head and neck so that only some of your face is exposed, and good socks and mittens.


                  • #10
                    1. Get good double sleeping bag.

                    2. Get former North Dakota farm boy in grad school.

                    3. You will stay warm. (worked years ago for me when I lived in St Louis and we went canoeing and camping in the ozarks, Little Current and 11 Forks rivers.)


                    • #11
                      Thermacare heat wraps can help or you can get the Reusable Instant Heat Packs.

                      Make sure you wear wool socks.


                      • #12
                        One thing to remember is that with no ventilation, the moisture that you breathe out is going to humidify the air inside the trailer making it damp in the trailer, and dampness will steal warmth away veeerrrrry quickly. One of my hubby's favorite army stories is from the days he spent with the Joint Reserve Training Center. He was one of the permanent people at the JRTC and was somehow stuck with a group of guys that were in for training. These guys opted to sleep inside an armored personel carrier on a 20 degree night. Hubby opted to sleep outside, ON TOP of the thing (also on top of the rucksacks which made for nice insulation). The in-training guys emerged in the morning, miserable, cold and wet. Hubby reports having slept quite well. The insides of the personel carrier were dripping...

                        You may stay warmer with the windows on the trailer open rather than closed.


                        • #13
                          I also camped last weekend with temps in the 20s, with snow accumulation. It was COLD! I'm a broke-@$$ college student, so I can tell you it IS possible to stay warm on a tight budget. You can get creative with stuff you already have, and supplement with thrift store stuff and space blankets.

                          The very best thing you can do for free is gather a couple of big rocks. Make sure they're dry. Heat them up in the camp fire, then take them off and cool them until they're just cool enough not to boil a drop of water. Wrap them carefully in a thick towel and put them at the foot of your sleeping bag. They'll still be warm in the morning when you wake up, and it is WONDERFUL to feel the heat radiating up onto your feet. (Cost = $0)

                          Oh, how I'd love to have a nice quality 0 degree sleeping bag. Alas, I have a $20 Target special, rated to 40 degrees (but really, you're freezing at 50 ).

                          I put a space blanket down first (cost = $.99). Then two cheap foam pads (cost = $10). Next is an oversize comforter from my bed. Both comforter and space blanket are lined up to wrap around my crappy sleeping bag, which goes down next. I fold the blankets around the sleeping bag so I can still get to the zipper, then I tuck the oversize comforter under at the bottom so there's a double layer under my feet. The space blanket wraps around everything.

                          The last thing I put on is a snuggly velour blanket over the top. This keeps the space blanket from sliding off during the night. You can also pull it up over your head to keep your face warm, but it's light enough to allow you to breathe.

                          Yep, sleeping in clothes does suck, but it beats lying awake shivering. I sleep in a sweatshirt, long johns, and a pair of loose-fitting old breeches. I wear a stocking cap and wool socks.

                          The rocks go in the sleeping bag about ten minutes before bed, so it's nice and warm by the time I get there. I spend most of the night thanking my lucky stars for the rocks, because they are really that amazing. The space blanket makes a big difference, too. They're loud and crinkly, but they really work. It sure is hard to get out of that warm sleeping bag in the morning!

                          So, in conclusion, it's a lot of extra work, but with a little creativity you can keep yourself toasty warm without spending a ton of money. Of course given the choice, I'd rather spend money on good quality gear, but we make do with what we have.


                          • #14
                            Toastie Toes warming packs are a miracle. I went camping a couple of years ago in November. It got down to 15 the first night. I had on every layer of clothes including a long down jacket and was freezing. (sleeping in dressing room). The next night a friend pulled out a large bag full of the toastie toes( I get mine at Walmart) since several of us complained about freezing the night before. I put several in the bottom of my sleeping bag and actually ditched a few layers of clothes and was very comfortable. The last few times I have camped, I have slept in the horse area on a cot. Definitely ditch the air mattress. My cot has a thin mattress/cushion and then I put my sleeping bag on top of that as an extra cushion and then sheets and blankets so more like a real bed. So comfortable.


                            • #15
                              I camped out this past weekend. It was overcast and drizzling rain. It was 59 degrees at the lowest and 63 at the highest. Certainly not freezing but it was cool. The cool was coming from below me - the air mattress was very cool. I am going back in two weeks and I will be covering the mattress with a heavy blanket first.

                              At home I have found 2 heavy sheets are excellent for warmth without being too heavy but in cold climates that might not cut the mustard! I am going to take a couple of blankets with me and like the idea of the hot rocks! LOL you could also take a brick to heat up if you don't have rocks in the area you are going to.

                              Going to thrift shops is a great idea. I used to work for Goodwill Industries and they often have great items for extremely reasonable prices.
                              Logging Miles with the Biscuit 530.5 Miles for 2011 visit my trail riding blog at www.dashingbigred.blogspot.com


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by AlfalfaGirl View Post
                                Going to thrift shops is a great idea. I used to work for Goodwill Industries and they often have great items for extremely reasonable prices.
                                Thrift stores can be wonderful. I like and use comforters BUT.

                                Consider: some comforters are stiff, i.e. do not DRAPE (=lay against your body) well.
                                If a blanket does not drape well, large air spaces with convection currents develop,
                                or, even worst, your shoulder/neck area will be exposed to cold air.

                                Generally wool drapes better than synthetics. Any knit or woven blanket drapes better
                                than the monolithic, pressed fibers (like felt). Avoid stiff blankets, unless they are for wall hanging.

                                For underneath you, there are competing interests.
                                You need padding (soft compressible) for comfort in any temperatures.
                                And you need padding that does not compress too much for warmth.

                                Women usually have, or can find, a few pair of very stretchy polyester double knit
                                pants and tops. Unisex warm-up suits of the 1970's were made of this material,
                                but no longer. Wear a large knit cap. How you dress for bed makes a big difference.


                                • #17
                                  Hubby and I cold weather Backpack every year in the mountains of NC. Generally I find that keeping us warm isn't the biggest problem, it's keeping our (short coat) dog's warm.

                                  We both have down +15 mummy bags, although I am dying to get a subzero as I sleep quite cold. DH, I refer to as my space heater, since he sleeps hot and is usually fine in the +15. Down is your friend although you have to keep it dry. Primaloft is also a godsend... and it insulates when wet, unlike down.

                                  This is us Easter 2007
                                  and I will admit I froze my butt off that night. FWIW, they were only calling for flurries, not the two feet we got! But I have learned a lot since then. Since you are truck camping... those heat packets are a good idea and they will last all night. Don't keep them next to your skin though, keep them one layer away. Wear a warm beanie cap so you won't lose body heat out of your head and try to keep it covered.

                                  Condensation is NOT good, so ventilation is key. The last thing you want is to wake up cold... and wet. Trust me.
                                  Dreaming in Color


                                  • #18
                                    Get yourself a catalytic tent heater, like a Coleman SportCat:


                                    I used one this past June while camping when the evening temps were in the 40s. I'd turn it on for about 10 minutes before going to bed and I had a nice and toasty tent. (You don't leave it on while sleeping.)

                                    Ditto on making sure there's ventilation to let the moisture escape.

                                    I've got a fantastic sleeping bag as well. It's an extra large rectangle shape (I sleep on my side/stomach so a mummy sack won't work). I got it at Cabela's, the brand name is Trekker. I love it because when zipped up it keeps me warm outside in a tent, and unzipped it works great inside LQ/cabins.

                                    Also agree with those who say not to use a regular air mattress.

                                    I'd get a Thermarest like these:




                                    • #19
                                      We have to throw a log on the fire every 3-4 hours.

                                      The compressed logs you can get for woodstoves work GREAT and with the damper closed just right last 8 hours and put out heat
                                      I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.


                                      • #20
                                        We have a forest of trees all around us at most of our camps. I'd rather wake up every 4 hours and throw another log in the stove than pack compressed logs 7 miles up the mountain.

                                        As stated above. Make sure the rocks are dry. Wet rocks can explode when they get hot.