Our Boy Scout Winter Trek to the White Mountains of New Hampshire was postponed due to the blizzard that rocked Massachusetts with more than two feet of fresh snow. We like the snow just fine but driving for two hours with minimal visibility... also, there was a state-wide 24 hour driving ban.
We decided to test our knowledge and gear in the woods behind the house, safe and fun. We got down to 3F, my new record and only my fourth hang. So much learning took place overnight. When we came in at 7:30 we made lists of what we observed and what we can do differently. For instance, standing in the fresh snow to 'see the stars' with my one and only pair of socks was, an instant stroke of insight. With no matt, pad, or tarp, camp shoes to stand on I will get cold and wet, hmmm. Having only fingerless gloves with me was also a flat out packing error (failed to double check) and was, in another location, a serious screw up on my part.
Overall, I think it was well worth the doing and we could have gone much lower on our two layers of pads and synthetic bags by using our gear and our brains better. So far, as brand new hammockers we are learning from other people's mistakes and now we get to learn from our own.
We will be that much better prepared for the White Mountains when we go later this month.
So I was all proud of my mid 20's hang in December, checking out gear in the backyard lab, THEN I do the 6th Annual NJ Winter Hang and hit sub 10 degrees with some reporting 0,3,5 or 8 degrees, whatever, it was cold! And now this thread ,,,brrrr buddy, deep sub zeros w/ windchill, good luck w/ all that.
Gotta say, the hammock was the warmest, most comfortable part of a couple days outside, standing around in cold, muscles cramping up, trying to keep feet warm by the fire without setting the boots on fires, that's the challenging stuff. Tucked in w/ a JarbidgeUQ backed by a 2nd sleeping bag underneath and mummy bag unzipped for a TQ, life was good, feet were warm but from every hammock we must rise, sometimes to very cold boots.
My first night out in a hammock was 11 years ago and I remember it vividly.
I had just got one of those new fancy "camping hammocks" and happened to be invited out on a trip by friends.
They marveled at my modern day hammock system and we sat around a fire and talked of it's usefulness and practical applications of where this relatively new system of camping could take us. All the wild places it would see and things it would help us achieve once we got off the ground.
The night was in early March here in northern Wisconsin. Twenty degrees with a 20 mph wind. I was equipped with a 20* down bag. There was talk and rumor of back magic and people messing around with an "underquilt type thingy" but nothing real solid yet as homegrown Edison and Tesla proteges were few and far between as a lot of us were new to this and learning it for the first time.
That night as I snuggled down into my usually toasty down bag, I had to almost laugh at the ground dwellers on their flat hard earth.
That lasted about 10 minutes.
I saw dead relatives that night, calling to me in clear voices telling me to come toward the light. I felt every breeze hit bone like a solid brick of ice pounding away at my core temperature. The steady broadside 20mph wind had me listing portside at a steady 12 degrees. Every gust felt like body shots from a very pissed off Mike Tyson in his prime. Every steady wind was a constant sting as I looked at my watch frozen to my blue wrist.......9:10pm it said as I prayed through chattering teeth for God to take me home at that very minute.
In over thirty years of backcountry travel, it was the most miserable night I had ever spent. Never had I ever felt so ill equipped. Not my coldest night in a hammock, but it sure felt that way. Since then, I have been in the single digits with ease.
That was until Mataharihiker, who at that time had already fought cancer, was super frail and one of the greatest outdoorspeople I had ever met showed me how to tweak the systems. She was at the forefront of everything hammock and testing gear for a few people. At **** near 6ft tall and maybe 110 lbs. We would help her get out and she, with enough time figured out what you needed to stay warm. Some of us had given up on hammocking below 60* but not her. With her contacts, know how and attitude, she overcame all of it as she gave feedback on gear to cottage manufacturers. There is one popular supplier of quality hammocks today that has named a piece of gear after her.
She was the matriarch of the backpacking community in the upper midwest and known nationwide. And I was honored to be on of her "huggable bears" as she used to call me and my buddy because no matter how sick she was fighting the cancer.....she always got out with our guidance and reassurance, not help because she did it all on her own. Sometimes it took a whole lot, but we made it happen right to the very end.
If it wasn't for her persistance, I would have probably shelved that hammock and never thought about using one again other than the middle of summer.
I sure miss that sweet lady.
Last edited by Lorax; 02-10-2013 at 20:11.
My lowest hang was at about -5*F, but my lowest temp in a tent, about -15*F. Doesn't get too cold often here.
I've been informed today that Turnerminator of this parish has claimed the new record at -37*C in Sweden this last week.
He's still out there for a while longer but hope to get a full report when he's back.
Brrrrr, I shudder just thinking about that
Pics or it didn't happen Pete, you know the rules
Last edited by Shewie; 02-11-2013 at 08:37.
Extreme cold is really hard to camp in and is very physically and mentally draining. Lots of practice makes it easier.
I am not sure what my personal lowest temp was. It possible was at the Froze Butt Hang this year, and with a lot of windchill added. 3 nights out was pretty good, and a lot of fun, but we did have a fire during the daytime.
As Stairguy and mbiraman stated, just get out, don't stay inside because it is "winter"
You guys are crazy! Around 30° is as low as I want to go.
Just got back from Sweden.
The thermometer at the campsite said -37, but we were in a cold pool by the lake so it should have been lower. My family were watching the temps and said it was showing -40 that week.
1 or 2 nights after the -37, it felt colder as my nose hairs were freezing inside my my Cold avenger mask. No pics of temps available as all our thermometers froze and the alulminium body of my camera was freezing my fingers in liner gloves but 8 witnesses and multiple threads on BCUK from the trip. The only one that went down to -50 broke when bleedin' the wire snapped! Even the Kestrel froze!
Trip report coming, its all a bit of a blur ATM after 2 weeks hanging above the arctic circle