...THOUGHTS ON STAYING WARM WHILE CAMPING IN THE WINTER.....
For scouts and adults who will be camping with us in the winter, here are some thoughts on ways to keep warm:
Snow pants – You are going to play in the snow. Bring your snow pants and keep yourself warm.
Clothes - NO JEANS. Anyone in jeans and sneakers will get very cold! It is best to avoid cotton, especially jeans, since once cotton is wet, it stays wet and cold. You are better off with synthetics, which will wick moisture away from their skin - nylon "sweats" work well. A layered effect works well in regulating temperature. If you don't have long underwear, often sports clothing (baseball pants) and pajamas (as long as they are synthetic) can be used as an inner layer.Fleece or wool sweaters are good middle layers, with rain gear, or a windbreaker in dry weather, as the top layer. Kohl's in Burlington often has good prices on polypropylene shirts and fleeces. You should also have gloves or mittens and a hat.
Complete change of clothes. When you get wet, you will need to change completely, including socks and gloves. At bedtime, we remind the scouts to get into dry clothes. If it is raining a lot, you may need an additional change of clothes.
Socks. Socks should be made of synthetic material or wool. Cotton socks get wet with sweat, if not rain, and stay cold against your feet, so avoid cotton. At least 3-4 pairs of socks are needed. Athletic socks from sports teams might be okay, but only if they are thick and made of synthetic material. It is definitely worth buying a few pairs of smartwool socks (or similar) – available at most sports store and Michelson’s.
Boots/NOT sneakers. Sneakers generally get wet in the first hour and stay wet all day. Campers should wear warm hiking boots or snow boots. Dry feet are happy and warm.
Sleeping bag. 20-25 degree sleeping bag. If you have been storing your sleeping bags compacted, they may have lost their insulating qualities. So a 25 degree sleeping bag from 5 years ago, may be a 35-40 degree sleeping bag now because it is no longer fluffy. Sleeping bag liners add about 10 degrees of warmth to any sleeping bag, if you want to supplement the sleeping bag. Or you can supplement one old sleeping bag with a second. Temperatures at night in November dip below freezing,
Sleeping pad. Using a sleeping pad will insulate you from the cold ground, and keep them warmer at night. We recommend a foam pad or a Thermarest pad.
It is surprising, but these tips definitely help - especially the NO COTTON tip. We hear from many sources "cotton kills". This is because once cotton gets wet, it stays wet and no longer provides insulation from the cold. Getting out of cotton clothing and into synthetics in cold weather gives us less to worry about when we are camping.
One last tip for Parents: This information is presented to you to help you supply your son with the gear that he needs to camp comfortably in cold weather. Your son will be the one looking through his backpack or bag for the gear, so he has to know where it is. Every Scout should pack his own bag! That way he knows exactly which pocket his flashlight is in, or where to find his gloves, or if he even has a certain piece of gear. The flashlight issue comes up a lot because newer scouts don't realize they need their flashlights out until it's already dark..
For further information, please see our handout on Winter Camping. Our concern with younger scouts is that they have less body fat to insulate themselves and are more likely to get cold. And often kids will not complain until they are very cold.