What's this "snow" of which you speak?
During winter camps although in a tent...I know a tent... I have always built up snow around the tent and fly as well as the vestibule..snow is an excellent insulator but as stated trenching would be a cold spot. I plan on testing my hammock this winter as this is all new to me after close to 40 years on the ground..
When asked why I sleep with my shoes on? I don't need to out run a bear, just need to out run my camp mates.
Can anyone post a link to some photos of winter hammocking setups that illustrate any of this?
Another variable is how much snow are we talking about? 6-10 in on the ground is one issue, 6-10 ft is another.
One also has to consider the chances of freezing one's tarp into the shelter snow. Balance that against anything that breaks the wind is good. All the options are what makes setting up camp interesting. ;-)
In General, in more than a foot of snow, a steep pitched tarp that has a place to shed snow that falls on it sort of dictates some snow walls under the edge to block the wind. OTOH one needs clearance and a packed space to stand next to the hammock. If that can be done where one can trench out a bit to let cool air flow over and out leaving the hammock in a "warmer" snow cave one has an ideal.
In less than a foot of snow making walls to block the wind helps. There is not enough material to play a lot more.
In those setups a stove or lantern under the edge can also push some heat into the shelter area. 5-10 deg can be a nice differential when trying to dry clothes, make a meal, or just veg. Depending on the snow one can also get creative at making a more comfortable cooking and eating set up. Just remember to protect the snow from being melted where you want to keep it. Some sticks can safely do the job as even if you get them burning they will not start a fire in the woods after burning down through a couple of feet of packed snow. CCF pad works well where just looking for insulation like keeping one's cup on the table. ;-)
A thought on the trench - Here is a cross section of an Igloo:
The way the Igloo works is to trap heat by making the sleeping platform and usually the main floor above the entrance trench/tunnel. By making the entrance the lowest point cold air is trapped down there as warm air rises into the closed space of the Igloo. It is also why one pokes some breathing holes in the Igloo as it is more or less air tight so one needs some circulation. Warm air exiting out the top pulls up oxygen rich cool air from the trench.
When looking at one's winter setup look for how well warm air is trapped. That is the real key for the sleep spot. For the camp site one adds the path of thermal air flow around the sleep site. Then there is the wind... ;-) The point is that there is no "perfect" system to follow but there are guidelines that will make any situation better or worse. Most of them come down to learning what happens when heat rises and wind blows.
They taught us to make a "cold sink" so that the cooler air would settle down and be expelled.
Ideally you'd have a short wall around your groundspace at the tarp edges and then have a cold sink maybe like the size of a single stair step under the wall, half in and half out.
And if your tarp were completely impermeable you may want a high vent hole on the opposite side of your groundspace. The warm air stays in pretty good and begins to even push the cooler air in the sink up and outside.
If all that is too successful you'll see some interior icing or condensation, so you'd have to adjust the size of your intake and exhaust as conditions dictate.
So the whole staking down the tarp raises another whole set of issues. For instance snow typically hardens once it has been compressed. What is the feasibility of getting the stakes out of the snow once placed. This assumes that you are using snow stakes.
Don't bother buying or bringing along snow stakes. Those are only needed for securing tents and tarps above the tree line and other areas where simple sticks and branches are not to be found. Just take any solid stick or branch, wrap your line around it a few times, close off with a quick-release half hitch at most, then put it horizontally or diagonally in the snow, cover with snow, pack it down with your foot. The snow will sinter around it, securing it. Your stake doesn't need to be visible above the snow. Take your time. You can't speed up the sintering process. You can use water to freeze things up, but that makes the lines harder to free later because ice is harder than sintered snow and uses up water which then has to be replaced by boiling snow, wasting fuel, unless you're near a source of open water.
Don't make any elaborate knots for your stakes because when your lines are frozen hard they become impossible to untie. A few wraps and the quick-release half hitch will do the trick. If you do have a frozen knot that you want undone, just put the line in your mouth for a minute until it thaws. Of course, never put any cold metal object, such as a metal stake, to your mouth in freezing temperatures.
Don't be in a hurry to get all your stakes in at once as you would be in summer. Give the first couple of stakes time to sinter up by turning to another chore that needs doing before putting the rest of them in, otherwise, when you pull on a new tarp line, you may loosen the stake you just put in before the snow has sintered around that stake, and then you'll have loose stakes and tarp lines which require restaking. It can be amusing watching someone put in all his or her stakes in a hurry, then move in a circle over and over again fiddling and re-anchoring because they were in a hurry and tightened up their tarp lines before the snow stakes were sintered in place.
Sintered snow, while quite hard by the following morning, is not so hard that you can't pull up your stakes or dig 'em out easily with a portable camping shovel or a digging stick. And if you find you have a big block of hard snow that's cemented itself to the stake and hanging from your freshly unburied line, just step on it to break it up or bash it on a tree. Breaking the stick usually frees the line fast.
Hope this helps,
Last edited by PineMartyn; 10-26-2012 at 09:13. Reason: grammar, punctuation correction
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