OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

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OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#1

Post by DaveK » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:28 pm

COLD WEATHER CAMPING

Well, we knew it would happen. One net was just not enough time to do this topic justice. So this week (October 25, 2018) we will finish up, we hope!!!

At least here in the west (California), we have just started to see the coming of the season for cold weather camping. In one of our favorite Mojave Desert areas, the night time temps are in the low 40s, on their way to the teens. In our favorite High Sierra camps, the temps are already in the low 30s. In both places, snow is definitely on the way.

For anyone who has camped in the winter months, or just when the weather is cold, you know that it is especially enjoyable, but only when you are prepared. As we have mentioned on many occasions, the quickest and most certain way to turn some one off to camping (usually forever) is for them to be unprepared for the cold. Few things are more miserable than shivering all night long, due to either poor preparation or a lack of friendly advice from fellow veteran cold weather campers. We will cover many of the challenges and highlights of cold weather camping, and will offer some suggestions and some interesting products.

If you have any comments or suggestions, please add them to the discussion. Pictures and further posts to follow.

Our most important advice: Be prepared!!!

Here we go!!!

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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#2

Post by DaveK » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:47 pm

Its been about a year since we last did a net on cold weather camping. Since then new products have hit the market, but a lot of old time tested favorites still remain. This topic is one where we can all learn from each other and we want to promote that during the net and on the website. So, here is where we encourage everyone to participate with suggestions and pictures.

In the past, there was much more material to discuss than one net would cover. So, there is the prospect of 2 parts for this topic - we''ll see!

We have broken down the major topics into 9 categories. We know there is more, and we are counting on listeners to add to the list!!!

1. Vehicle Prep and Emergency Items to carry in Vehicle
2. Sleeping
3. Cooking
4. Shelter
5. Comfort Items
6. Clothing - Day and Night
7. Camp Fire
8. Pre-Trip Preparation
9. Footwear

With these things in mind, we offer some pictures of the opportunities for camping, that should motivate even the most reluctant camper to give this a try. You will get a completely different view of your favorite mountain or desert location when the weather turns cold. It's not better, JUST different, and if you have not experienced the winter months in these locations, you owe it to yourself to do so.
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#3

Post by DaveK » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:51 pm

SHELTER

Shelter, as we use this term here, means a tent of some sort. These days tents come in a variety of forms, from ground tents to those mounted to the top of trailers or vehicles, and when it comes time to pick your style, there should be several factors which will determine where your money is spent. As a group, we reach almost all of our camping spots by motor vehicle, as opposed to backpacking. Unlike backpackers, ultralight equipment is therefore not necessary, as we have greater weight carrying capacity as well as more room. This, of course, greatly opens up the choice of tents, tent materials, tent styles, and features, For the reasons I mention below, many of us have settled on tents made by The Kirkham Outdoor Company under the name of Springbar. On our recent desert camping trip it was plain to see how the popularity of Springbars has spread. In this photo, you can see 4 Springbars (and there were more.)

Springbar Mania.jpg
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The tent you select should be at least as rugged and capable as the conditions you expect to encounter. For many camping situations, including mild cold weather camping, a 3 season tent will suffice. If the area you plan on visiting sees rough or extreme weather, you will need a 4 season tent. There are a number of high quality tents on the market today, and ultimately you will need to do your research to match your needs to the available tents.

For many of us, Springbar tents have a number of significant advantages:

1. made entirely in the USA
2. tall enough to stand up in
3. requires no rain fly
4. lifetime warranty
5. support poles are double-walled aluminum and steel tubing
6. tent body is made from breathable heavy duty cotton canvas
7. all windows and doors are reinforced with Army Duck canvas
8. capable of withstanding the wettest and windiest conditions
9. a true 4 season tent
10. relatively quick set up and take down time.

Springbar tents have seen service in the most extreme environments. Here is what they say:

The Everest Millennium Expedition was successful in positioning GPS equipment at the summits of Mt. Everest, East Lhotse, and Nuptse South. Veteran climbers Pete Athans and Bill Crouse used these receivers to ultimately make the most accurate measurement of Mt. Everest - 7 feet taller than previously thought - now known to be 29,035 ft.

Bill and Pete chose a Springbar® Tent as their "nerve center" tent at Camp 2. The Springbar® tent selected by Pete Athans and Bill Crouse for the Everest Millennium Expedition was the Model 7001. A 10' X 14' version of the Family Camper. Minor modifications were made, but the tent was essentially the same as our regular stock model.

This nerve center at 21,300 ft. was a community center for the entire crew. All the cooking was done in the tent as well as eating all meals, drinking tea, or just getting together.
SPRINGBAR ON MT. EVEREST

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SPRINGBAR TENTS IN THE WINTER

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While guying a Springbar tent is not usually necessary, it is an option, if the conditions are extreme. Check-out this video of a Springbar tent, without any guy tie downs whatsoever, in some extreme winds (65-95 MPH): https://youtu.be/h-0bZoGm9Is
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#4

Post by DaveK » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:51 pm

SLEEPING

Here is where preparedness really becomes most important. It is no exaggeration to say that warmth and comfort at night can make or break a trip. Like tents, there are many choices here, and for the smart camper, your choices should be the product of research, talking to others who camp like you want to, and then more research. Of course, there are those whose choices are ultimately the result of miserable nights spent shivering due to poor preparation.

The catagory will cover some of the most important topics that fall under the "sleeping'" category, such as"

1. sleeping bags
2. cots, pads, air mattresses, blankets, ground covers
3. sleeping bag prep, warmers and liners.

SLEEPING BAGS

Everything needs to start with a high quality sleeping bag made for the temperatures you expect to encounter. There are quite a few on the market and ultimately, you will need to do your research to determine which one is best for your needs. Like so many other things we will discuss on the net, sleeping bags are not an item where you should pinch pennies. With VERY few exceptions, if you buy cheap, you will compromise quality and your comfort. Cheap usually does not last as long as quality and will not serve you well in the long run.

There are a number of bags on the market that offer very high quality and they deserve your consideration, but for the budget conscious there are ways that you can still get the warmth you will need. We will discuss these options on the net.

Some important features to look for:

1. Low temperature all season rating (below zero)
2. Roomy enough for comfortable sleeping
3. Rugged construction
4. Good warranty
5. Made in the USA

There are a few bags that meet these criterion, but, as before, if you have listened to our nets for any length of time, you know that I have been using and recommending the Butler All Season Sleeping Bag for several years. It meets all of my criteria, and then some. From the Butler website (https://butlerbags.us/product/all-season-sleeping-bag/)
Rugged Comfort! This model features three sleeping compartments to choose from, depending on outside temperatures. There is also a fourth pocket for easy storage of your ground pad or air mattress. The All Season Bag also features sewn in end ropes, two nylon chinch straps and double heavy duty carrying straps. Sold world wide to outfitters, sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts who love style, comfort and quality.

Like all Butler Bags, this sleeping bag is constructed with a heavy duty, dual control brass zipper with an anti-draft water flap sewn to the outside. The exterior features the use of tough, long lasting marine grade canvas and the inside is lined with polyester/cotton flannel, designed for comfort, warmth, and durability. At the head of the bag is a flannel lined flap to cover you on extra cold nights.

Size: 41″X84″ (approx. sleeping area)
Comfort Zone: -20 to +65 degrees.
Weight: approx. 22 lbs.
Filler: Hollofil 808
Outer: 12.5 ounce marine grade, water repellent canvas
Lining: Polyester/Cotton Flannel
Zipper: Heavy duty brass zipper
Color: Desert Tan / Woodsman Plaid
All seams reinforced
Made in the USA
Butler All Season Bag.jpg
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Additional Sleeping Bags Made in the USA:

While it sometimes seems like we are limited to imported bags, the truth is just the opposite. And, even though the origin of manufacture is very important, so is the quality, warranty and customer service. So, the first step is to identify where the bags are made, and with a little research, its actually amazing how many are actually made right here in the USA. This then becomes an area where your time and effort in researching the market will really pay off. Realizing that personal choice will ultimately determine your selection, I have listed several sources below for American made bags, with some personal comments:
  • 1. American Gear Guide (https://www.americangearguide.com/sleep ... n-usa.html).

    Aside from sleeping bags, this site contains information on a large range of outdoor products, made in the USA. In the sleeping bag category, there are some genuine standouts, including a rectangular bag, made by Wiggy''s, rated at -60F. Wiggy's is not the only manufacturer listed, but the gist of the recommendations here seem to be almost entirely geared toward campers who value weight as a primary feature (as well as location of origin, quality and performance.)
From here, the listing of American made bags, seems to fall of rather sharply. Your research may, however, reveal more. The real purpose in this discussion was to highlight the quantity and quality of bags made right here in the USA.


COTS, PADS, AIR MATTRESSES, BLANKETS, BAG LINERS

Sleeping pads

In cold weather, you not only need to protect yourself the cold air, but when you bed down, you also need to protect yourself from the cold ground. The best sleeping bag in the world will not offer full protection from the cold ground, which will act like a giant heat sink as it draws the heat out of your body.

There are several products that will provide good insulation from the cold ground and finding one that works for you is a must in the winter. Some sleeping bags (like Butler) have pockets sewn into them, that will allow the insertion of insulating sleeping pads. Therm-a-Rest offers an all season sleeping pad that can meet the needs of cold weather campers, under the name of "NeoAir All Season Mattress." Available on Amazon for about $110.00. There is an excellent review of 4 season sleeping pads by Outdoor Gear Lab here: http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Sleeping- ... All-Season .

From the Outdoor Gear Lab website:

Therma-a-Rest All Season Sleeping Pad.jpg
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Bag liners

If you use your bag even moderately, it will eventually require some sort of cleaning. One way to protect the inside of your bag and gain a little more in terms of warmth, is a bag liner. There are several models available and the choice is not as critical as the bag. I like the fleece liners as they are fairly rugged and inexpensive. If your bag is on the large size, there probably is not a liner that will fit your bag. In that case, I simply took two liners and had them cut and sewn together (complete with zipper) to match the interior size of my bag. Here is just an example, from Coleman, sold through Amazon ( https://www.amazon.com/Coleman-Stratus- ... +BAG+LINER )

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There are also a number of other liners (also sometimes described as emergency sleeping bags) that I offer for consideration. The only one I will mention is a product sold by Survival Frog under the name of "Tact Bivvy",(https://www.survivalfrog.com/products/t ... eeping-bag ) but there are many others. Most are constructed of Mylar (a tough metalized plastic), are lightweight and very compact. More discussion on the net.

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Blankets


Traditionally, one of the best insulation materials has been wool. It is still true today. Placing a thick wool blanket under your bag is another way to help protect your from the cold. The 5+ pound all wool blanket is just such a product and it will double as a great piece of gear that should be in every vehicle for unexpected needs.

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Cots

Cots are another means for getting your bag off of the cold ground. With the proper insulation underneath, they can also add an element of comfort. Cabela's sells a cot that will accommodate larger sleeping bags, under the "Outfitter XL" name. The sleeping surface measures 84 x 40 and set up is much easier due to their pivot arm assembly.

The specs:
Built-in pivot arm delivers the leverage needed to make setup a breeze
Huge 85" x 40" x 20-1/2" set-up size
Constructed with a heavy-duty 600-pound weight capacity
Rubber leg bushings absorb shock and add firm support
Folds down to a small 46"L x 7.5"W x 13.25"H for easy transport
From the Cabela's website (http://www.cabelas.com/product/CABELAS- ... 752509.uts)

Cabelas XL Cot.jpg
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In this humble camper's opinion, there is a myth that has been repeated for far too long, that needs to be addressed. That myth is that cots are not meant for cold weather camping. I believe that the opposite is true. The myth goes something like this: cots allow the cold air underneath the cot to defeat the warmth of the sleeping bag. The myth would be true IF no effort was made to insulate the bag. When properly insulated, a cot is no different than sleeping on the ground on top of insulation (pads.) Busting this myth is as simple as consulting one of Americans premier outdoor sleeping specialists - Wiggy's. They say this (https://www.wiggys.com/specials/luxurious-ground-pad/):
More and more hunters sleep on cots. From my experience, I see them bring blowup pads that cause their backs to get cold and they ultimately wake up and spend the rest of the night trying to get warm. A supplier showed me a very dense padding material that is between 2" – 3" thick. I asked for a sample roll and when I received it I put it in the casing of our traditional pad and it is spectacular. I expect that it will successfully perform at 40° below zero assuming the bag you are in is rated for that temperature; certainly that will be a Wiggy’s bag, regardless if you are on a cot or on the ground.
For many reasons, cots are popular and have been so for many decades. These reasons include keeping your sleeping gear off the dirty or wet ground, comfort in getting in and out of bed, elimination of rocky or rough ground under your bag, and should water make an entrance into your tent, your bag will remain dry when it is off the ground in a cot. If room permits and if the little amount of time consumed in set-up and take-down are of no importance, cots make a comfortable addition to your camping gear.

A couple of pictures of Wiggy's Luxurious Sleeping Pads, from the their website:

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Air Mattresses


Air mattresses, like cots, have received a bad rap by cold weather campers. As with cots, in this humble camper's opinion, this myth is not warranted. We will reserve a discussion of this for the net, but for now, suffice it to say that one of the most comfortable night's sleep one can get is with a quality air mattress.
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#5

Post by DaveK » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:51 pm

CLOTHING

Ahhhh yes, what to wear.

The choices are many, but regardless of what the weather man says, you should be prepared for the worst, especially in the winter. Conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly and this is no time to be caught in the cold without the necessary clothing.

Clothing choices boil down mostly to a matter of fabric choice. Unless you are striving to make a fashion statement, all that matters is performance. Since temperatures can vary somewhat during the day, layering is always a good practice. Like so much of what we discuss, this is an area where you will be well served by buying quality stuff.


Wool Clothing

When the mercury drops, your clothing requirements need to change. When it comes to the best natural fibers for cold weather clothing, you can not beat wool. Regular wool, for all of its terrific qualities though, can rough and itchy. The solution is a soft and comfortable wool from Merino sheep. Merino wool, in addition to its soft quality also is able to be machine washed and (in some cases) dried in your clothes dryer.

Cabela's say this about Merino wool (https://www.cabelas.com/category/XPG-Fo ... 794480.uts):
Why Use Merino Wool?

Merino wool is common in high-end, performance athletic wear, and for good reasons. Several properties contribute to merino's popularity for exercise clothing, compared to wool in general and to other types of fabric:

● Merino is excellent at regulating body temperature, especially when worn against the skin.

● It draws moisture (sweat) away from the skin, a phenomenon known as wicking.

● The fabric is moisture repellent.

● Like cotton, wool absorbs water (up to 1/3 its weight), but, unlike cotton, wool retains warmth when wet, thus helping wearers avoid hypothermia after strenuous workouts or weather events.

● Like most wools, merino contains lanolin, which has antibacterial properties.

● Merino is one of the softest types of wool available, due to its fine fibers.

● Merino has an excellent warmth-to-weight ratio compared to other wools, in part because the smaller fibers have microscopic cortices of dead air that trap body heat.
Sadly, Cabela's used to be a premier source for Merino wool clothing. They still have some, but not as varied as before their purchase by Bass Pro Shops. Perhaps it will recover in time. In the meantime, however, there are two companies whose Merino wool products are among the very best - Minus 33 (http://www.minus33.com) and Icebreakers, (http://www.icebreaker.com) Both companies sell a full line of Merino wool clothing, including caps, neck coverings, layering tops and bottoms, socks and gloves.

Other sources of quality wool clothing:

1, Smart Wool (https://www.smartwool.com/homepage.html)
2. Darn Tough Clothing (https://darntough.com/)

From the Minus 33 and Icebreaker Websites

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Synthetic Clothing

Synthetic fiber clothing is another great choice for cold weather camping. When it comes to synthetics, polyester is at the top of the heap. One company worth mentioning here is PolarMax (http://polarmax.com/). Polar Max makes their entire line of clothing in the USA and comes with a great warranty. Among the many qualities of the Polar Max line of clothing are:

Stretches for Comfort
Wicks Moisture Away from Skin
Quick Drying
Breathes
Scent Prevent™ Anti-microbial
Comfortable Flat Seams
Won't shrink
Easy Care – Wash & Wear

One of the best qualities of their clothing (IMO), in addition to it's warmth, is it's ability to stretch. As I normally turn during the night, its nice to have thermals that do not restrict your movement !!!

From the Polar Max website ( Comp 4 Tech Fleece Crew and Heavy Weight Quattro Fleece)
Attachments
Polar Max Comp 4 Tech Fleece Crew.jpg
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#6

Post by DaveK » Tue Oct 16, 2018 7:58 pm

FOOTWEAR

Discussion for the net.
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#7

Post by toms » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:43 pm

Camp Fire / Tent heater
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Brrrrr
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The one factor above all else in being comfortable for cold weather camping is being warm. There are a number of items that can contribute to this wellbeing. High on the list is a tent heater.

For a long-term camp with the right tent, a wood burning stove is great. A hand full of kindling size wood will heat up the tent to the extent you might need to step outside to cool down until you figure out how to control and feed your burner.

More practical for most of us, setting up for the weekend without wall tents, stove pipes, fabric insulation, etc., is a small propane heater. The newer ones on the market have made great strides in improving safety. For example, an automatic shut off if the stove falls over and an Oxygen Depletion Sensor. I have one so sensitive, it will shut off if I just try to move it a few feet. I have not experienced the Oxygen Depletion Sensor impact and don’t care to test it.

Never-the-less, there is still the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning in the confined spaces of a tent. Oxygen Depletion Sensor or not, I highly recommend turning off any heater while you sleep. Use it only to warm up the tent before going to bed and to get up in the morning.

Mr. Heater ( www.mrheater.com ) had an extensive line of heaters. I have the Little Buddy Heater $85. It puts out 3800 BTUs which works well in a small tent. The down side is the angle of the head throws the heat upward. That’s great if you sleep on a cot. Sleeping on a pad put you below the heat output. A better choice might be the Portable Buddy Heater $104. A few dollars more but a range of 4000 to 9000 BTUs and it works more like a space heater. Of course if packing space is a consideration, it is a larger unit.

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See you on the Trail!
TomS
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#8

Post by toms » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:44 pm

Cooking
Nothing like a good hot hearty meal in the evening when you have been out in the cold all day. And you need plenty of hot coffee and hot chocolate at breakfast as well as all day long. Instruct your cook to keep a kettle of hot water going over the fire all day!

Plan your menu around such things as stews, soups, chowders, one pot meals. Dutch oven and pressure cookers are great for serving up hot steaming one pot meals that stay hot long enough for that second helping. Use non-metallic plates and cups (especially for coffee) to maintain food temp as long as possible.
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There are 2 main options for your heat source for cooking – a camp fire (includes briquets) or a camp stove.

In selecting a camp stove for cold weather camping, the main issue is what fuel works best for you – propane or white gas.

Propane has potential of “not flowing” well at cold temperatures. (Really what is happening is the liquid in the tank is not vaporizing fast enough at the cold temperature and not generating as much pressure.)
Some mitigation ideas are to use a larger tank, keep the tank topped up, and in the sun.

The other option is to use a white gas (or similar) stove. These stoves rely on you to pump up the pressure so they are not affected by the cold or altitude. Actually, they are affected but you just pump them up more to off-set it. The white gas stoves put out more BTU too.

I don’t recommend cooking inside the tent. However, a shelter of some sort can make cooking much more pleasant. This can range from a few tarps tied to the vehicles or trees to an easy-up with 2 or more side tarps. Since most cold weather camping is in the winter, we are dealing with short days and will likely be cooking after dark. A lantern is a great aid at such times.
See you on the Trail!
TomS
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#9

Post by toms » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:46 pm

Vehicle Prep
As we have said many times, most of our activities are vehicle dependent travel. As such you want to make sure your vehicle will not let you down in cold weather.

Cold weather will find any weakness in the system. High on the list to check, maintain or replace Include: Battery, Antifreeze, tires, working vehicle heater, window washer fluid, deep floor mats, lubed door locks and an ice scraper.
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Your vehicle may also be your only link for information and help. If you have cell service, the car battery may be our best source to recharge it.
But don’t rely on cell service have a mobile ham radio. Use it also to listen to the weather
Forecast on NOOA weather radio. Memorize this one frequency – 162.400. That is the first of 7 NOAA channels. Tune up in 25MH increments until you find a strong station.
Make it a habit to listen to the weather several times a day while you are out!

Of course, you have a lot of gear with you since you have all your camping stuff. However, you need to anticipate the possibility of having to slog thru bad road conditions or being stuck and stranded in your vehicle. So, bring tire chains, snow shovel, and recovery gear. Bring a flag to put on your vehicle if it is stranded in a snow bank. An Anti-Gravity battery is handy if you must jump start yourself. And consider dual batteries. In lieu of the two aforementioned items throw in the jumper cables.

Some other issue to watch out for. If the weather is in transition from wet to cold, don’t set the emergency brake overnight until you know everything has dried out. Have you ever had an e-brake freeze on?
See you on the Trail!
TomS
KI6FHA / WPZW486

Badlands Off-Road
tom@4x4training.com
http://www.4x4training.com

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toms
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Joined: Wed Mar 12, 2008 11:50 am
Call Sign: KI6FHA
Location: Redondo Beach CA (5 miles south of LAX)
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Re: OAUSA Net - October 18, 2018 - Cold Weather Camping

#10

Post by toms » Wed Oct 17, 2018 4:47 pm

Camp Fire
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o A camp fire is particularly welcome on a cold weather campout. For the ill prepared, they may be up all night feeding the fire.
o Build fire first – still daylight, hands warm
o Starting a fire may be a bit more challenging in cold weather due to cold hands, wind, snow and damp wood.
 fire starting materials - fire paste, Vaseline – Fire balls, bring own tinder
 Mag Starter, flint & steel, Swedish light my fire
 Bring some wood,
 Gather dead wood that is off the ground
 Tools – ax, saw
 matches and lots of them
o what not to wear around the campfire
 (synthetic clothing melts by ember.)
 Wool is one of the best, most fire-resistant natural materials and is great for this.
 Down jackets with synthetic shells are awful, and you can lose tons of feathers this way
 Don’t melt your boots; If wet, let dry slowly
o Tips
 coals under the chair
See you on the Trail!
TomS
KI6FHA / WPZW486

Badlands Off-Road
tom@4x4training.com
http://www.4x4training.com

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