Author Topic: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?  (Read 21575 times)

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?
« Reply #30 on: March 12, 2013, 11:57:57 AM »
Well — unbeknownst to me that I was going to be doing so, I ended up losing my winter camping virginity last weekend up in the Allegheny Mountains near Ohiopyle in Western PA last weekend.

It was pretty warm (compared to the previous weeks) in Pittsburgh, with no snow on the ground (the "snowquester" storm left a pile that melted in 2 days).

Without REALLY giving it much thought, but KNOWING the mountains east of here tend to have a LOT more snow and colder temperatures than we have in the city — we drove off Friday, knowing it was supposed to be a fairly warm weekend.

When we drove up into the mountains and saw deep piles of snow everywhere the eye can see, I was happy to have brought both of my backpacking sleeping bags. When we hiked in about 1.5 miles to our campsite through a snow covered trail, to find a campsite covered in snow, with a nice fire ring with "rock tables" all covered in snow, I declared my winter camping virginity to have been taken.

It got down to about 20 degrees that night and it was the first time I ever pitched a tent on snow. I am so happy I had a Therma-Rest pad (which was the most handy item I had all weekend) because it kept me dry. Although I did have a tarp I could have placed under the tent, when it is 20 degrees and past midnight I found it kinda hard to THINK — and a tent that normally takes me less than 5 minutes to set up, took me about 45 minutes to get set up!

My normal trick of cold weather camping with a zippo hand warmer in my sleeping bag only kept me from dying, as I had a "warm rectangle" to move around to various frozen parts of my body — but I brought enough alcohol with me to make it FEEL warmer than it was.

All in all — a wonderful trip, great learning experience and further proof that I do not like camping when it is ice cold outside! The rest of the weekend was acceptable though. I would certainly do it again sometime, or at least not flinch at the thought of taking a bunch of camping gear down to go "ski-camping" some weekend or for no reason other than to sit in the woods and enjoy (cold and dead) nature.

Offline inconel710

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Re: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?
« Reply #31 on: March 12, 2013, 01:47:59 PM »
Congratulations on surviving - that is rule #1!

Your experience with the hand warmer sounds like mine with the toe warmers back in November.  Sleep an hour, try to warm the feet, sleep an hour...

One nice thing about hammock camping in the snow - setup is about the same!

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?
« Reply #32 on: March 12, 2013, 03:05:38 PM »
I am actually glad I left the hammock at home. Even with the very slightest of breezes I noticed a BIG jump in temperature (or perceived temperature) that first night just getting into my tent without unpacking my sleeping bags or anything else. And I have a 3 season simple backpacking tent — nothing like a waterproof or 4-season expensive REI mountaineering tent.

I am still going to look for a nice canvas car camping size tent that accommodates a small wood burning stove because I know that winter camping would not be so bad if I had a warm shelter to jump inside of.

Since my socks were wet I went barefoot that first night and just tossed the zippo hand warmer down towards my feet until the upper reaches of my body needed some heat. It was only bad between the coldest hour or two before sunrise though. The rest of the weekend was tolerable but certainly not the "relaxing" camp trip I need — however it was awesome to get a nice boost and start on this camping season by doing it.

Offline ttubravesrock

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Re: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?
« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2013, 11:06:13 AM »
One thing that could have improved your experience is nesting your sleeping bags and having a sleeping bag liner.  I don't know if you did that, but I thought I would throw that out there.

Offline Adam B.

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Re: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?
« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2013, 02:31:52 PM »
That's what I did. It was just COLD — I have 2 backpacking bags, one is a +45 rated compact bag, and then I have a +25 rated synthetic down backpacking bag. One goes inside of the other to get who knows how much warmth...

I know now that if it is going to be colder than 20 degrees, I need something better. I was right on the edge that night in terms of comfort, not so much worried about hypothermia.

Offline GrizzlyAdams

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Re: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?
« Reply #35 on: March 30, 2013, 06:24:15 PM »
For a  good winter tent I am thinking about going with the Hilleberg Tarra.  At first I was thinking of going with the Northface one (the one you see usually at Everest base camps), but after doing some research I believe this could be a better tent.

Does anyone have any experience with them?

http://www.hilleberg.com/home/products/tarra/tarra.php

GA

Offline Knecht

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Re: Ideas for a good winter camping tent?
« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2013, 02:55:38 AM »
Just got back from two overnights at a skijump competition. The first night was below zero with a -20/-25 wind chill. We used my buddies "wedge" tent, with a "bell" back. This was a common Rev War design (canvas of course). Just two upright poles and a ridge pole. Not bad to set up or tear down. We put down a layer of straw (one bale) with two canvas tarps and a Persian rug, to insulate from the frozen ground. Set up cots with two military arctic extreme sleeping bags (good to -50 I believe), disguised with Hudson Bay wool blankets. Then we fired up my friends little cast iron stove (by little I mean you can carry it around with one hand, maybe 25lbs.).  The tent has a fireproof stovepipe hole. A couple of candle lanterns and a large coffee pot on the stove and we were set for the weekend. We dressed in our 1840's Fur Trade Era clothes (lots of wool). There were three lodges and six of us set up this way. We got a lot of attention from the foreign spectators (Finland, Canada and Norway) They were very interested in our camps and why we were in buckskins and capotes. I had just finished a pair of elkhide mukluks and they worked better than I could have hoped for. Of course, I had started with 1/2 inch thick felt pakboot liners ontop of 1/2 thick wool felt insoles and built the leather mukluk to fit. Snowseal brand beeswax leather dressing is the way to go; it won't make leather "cheezy" like mink oil or greases. But, I digress. If you have the means of transport and need a base camp you can't beat the type of canvas tents that buckskinners use. Besides, playing "mountain man" is a hell of a good time.


Hey,
similar experience here, from my living-history events. We had completely historical stuff, either 9th or 17th century, depends on event (materials much alike, just different clothing styles) and we were able to withstand some nasty winter times. Ground insulation is the main key to safe and comfortable tent living. Doesn't really matter that much what you're wearing or how well are you covered, as long as you're not getting the ground freeze on you.
Another point is, don't overdress yourself when sleeping outdoors in the winter. Rather sleep almost naked and use the extra clothes for over or undfer insulation. I treid sleeping with so mayn wool on I could hardly move and I still felt hell of cold. Just a shirt and pants with all the tunics and cloaks layed over worked much better. Ground insulation - I use a felt rect?angle as my all-season sleeping pad, adding sheep furs for colder seasons and a thick wool blanket for really cold times. Spruce branches work well, too. Cover myself with other blankets and clothes. For the 17th century, I love my "kyrea" - a cossack greatcoat made of heavy wool (white army blanket in my case), much like the kapote. Also has a large hood, which you can use as a head-tent of sorts, to keep your head warm yet able to breath. Actualy, in case of some bug-out survival situation in winter, I'd grab this coat along with all the modern stuff.
We also tried to build insulated tents, covering the basic (canvas) wedge-type tents with dry leaves layer, extra blankets and over-laying with tarps. Not bad, yet not sure if it was worth the work. What actualy worked well with zero work was letting the tent cover with snow. We also used snow barricades around the tent lower edge, so that wind won't blow through (these old tents had no floorpiece of course).
Alcohol in reasonable amounts also helps to keep you "mentally" warm, but too much of ot works the exact opposite way. Actualy I always carry a pocket flask of high-volume vodka or (preferably) our Czech "slivovice" (plum spirit, often homemade) on me, as a part of EDC/Survival equipment. Even if you don't drink, you can always use it as firestarter or disinfection in emergency.