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Thread: Let's talk cold

  1. #41
    in it for the naps oldgringo's Avatar
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    Don't know how it relates here, but in another thread about rain gear, several folks opined that being wet was just part of the game. I was surprised at what appeared to be a cavalier approach to moisture control...I'm obsessive about staying dry. Not a backpacker, so I'm sure my puzzle is missing a few pieces.

    And, y'all stay out of my grass!
    Dave

    http://www.uark.edu/misc/xtimber/rna/pattonsbluff.html

    It has always been my private conviction that any man who pits his intelligence against a fish and loses has it coming.
    John Steinbeck

  2. #42
    It is over fifty years ago since I worked on a BLM station in interior Alaska. A major concern was depression due to the cold and long dark nights so we had a rule that everyone was to spend at least an active hour outside every day no matter how cold it got. We would either ski or snowshoe over noon hour if we were not chopping wood. Everyone carried a small mirror in order to check for frostbite. You would press your skin and check to see if your color returned so that heavy beards were not favored. Wood heat was the most reliable for diesel would not flow at minus 65. Wool and a down parka were the standard for synthetics were not that well developed at that time.

  3. #43
    Senior Member Fish<><'s Avatar
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    Thank you all for your posts.

    My father was an avid backpacker when i was younger. He always taught me the basics for staying warm. Granted it was tent camping, but we always carried these ridiculously heavy -20 syn bags and our ccf mat (this was my in a tent). He would tell us stories while we were out there of how he and his dad did multiday hikes in the smokies with their tarps and sleeping bags. I remember having so much fun with those trips and remember almost all of what he taught me.

    Though i havent been hypothermic, i have been close even with all my experiences. i was car camping with my brother in big bear ca with a pluq and a "30 degree" rated bag.(hint, it doesnt even get close to 30). It got down to around 35 that night with a very slight breeze. Even with my tarp as close to the ground as i could get it, i still was shivery when i woke up. I jumped in my brothers jeep for about an hour while he cooked breakfast over the fire. i learned after that trip to never expect your gear to be reliable.

    Oh and one more thing.... I never was taught this by my father and no one has mentioned it yet, but hydration is just as important as food. If you are dehydrated, your blood cannot pump the blood out of your core as well and up to your brain. This can cause some of the common symptoms of cold weather illnesses in the woods. This was told to me by one of my officers i worked for in the past, for what it's worth.
    "We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it."- G. W. Sears

    My forum name is Fish<><; I'm in the navy; and I hate sleeping on the ground. If I didn't need ground to walk on or measure resistance to, I think I could happily give it up.

  4. #44
    newlease's Avatar
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    I'll admit to being hypothermic in the upper 20's. I made every mistake listed here, it seems, both pre- and post-hypothermia. Not the least of which was riding my motorcycle (I don't have a car) to go test my winter gear for the first time. Thank you for this thread and all the contributions. I'm studying them all.

  5. #45
    Senior Member lazy river road's Avatar
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    This is a great thread just wish it would of been around 3yrs when I first started. I've made many of the mistakes talked about in this thread and since making those mistakes have taken certain measures to never make them again. I've learned not to try and conquer the elements but to be humbled by them. The first night I ever slept in a hammock over night it also got down to single digits. It was totally stupid on my part. I had all the proper gear but I was not as familiar with my gear as I should of been. Thankfully my car was 2 steps away and it was at a HF hang where many members taught me a lot helping me to keep warm the second night. You can never test your gear to much and their is no such thing as to much experience. So I ask please don't make the same mistake I did you may not be as lucky. My three tips of advice are...

    1. Test your gear
    2. Know your limits
    3. And to to learn as much as you can from others mistakes instead of making your own.
    Sometimes I like to hike and think, And sometimes I just like to hike.

    Hiking is'ent about waiting for the storm to pass its about learning to hike in the rain.

  6. #46
    MDSH's Avatar
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    It's obvious to me that if I ever do snow camping a pulk would be involved to haul extra gear: insulation, clothes, food, and fuel.

    What are some good ones?

    Mike

  7. #47
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MDSH View Post
    What are some good ones?
    Don't know, but they are a simple and fun DIY project. Right time of the year too, since all the snow sleds will be in the stores. Do a quick Google search and you'll find dozens of how-to articles on making your own pulk.
    Trust nobody!

  8. #48
    MAD777's Avatar
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    It's true that I post in threads about ultralight techniques often. However, my ultralight tendencies disappear in geometric proportion to temperature drops. I still hate carrying weight, but I want to be able to carry on, period! I just hike shorter distances in winter, so by carrying heavier gear over shorter distance, I do the same amount of work. Plus, I find that the woods aren't crowded in winter, so I don't have to go far to "get away" and I want to have a reasonable bail out plan.

    The coldest I have ever felt when camping was right at freezing temperature. I've been camping at much lower temps, but never felt as cold because I was more prepared. So, I guess my point is that you will be as warm as you prepare for.

    I'll reiterate what others have said about food. No amount of insulation can warm you. Only food burning in your body can warm you. Insulation just keeps that from escaping. I eat hearty in general during winter but also eat cheese just before bed. It's like tinder for your internal fire.

    Hike comfortably cool so that you don't sweat! If you don't feel just a little cool, you're over dressed. Put on a jacket at all rest stops before you get cold. Bring extra clothes, especially socks & mittens. Use roll top dry bags; there is no room for error!

    Fantastic thread Cannibal!
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  9. #49
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Loving the responses so far

    Great stuff being posted to this thread; thank you!

    There are some posts here that do kind of illustrate my concern though. Many folks jumped right into the 'when you're hiking in the cold' line of thought. Fair enough, since that is the ultimate goal. But that's exactly what I'm getting at here. Folks want to bite off that big chunk and prove themselves on the winter trails. Well, there is a lot to be learned to simply sleep in the cold, much much much more to learn about traveling and sleeping in the cold. As has been obvious, the risks increase that much more when you add physical activity to the agenda.

    What I'm preaching about here is to baby-step your way into the cold. Start by sleeping in the cold somewhere that allows you to build in some fail-safes. Hiking in to test your cold weather setup, IMO, should only been done after you've discovered you can make it through one of those nights in near optimal conditions. If you can't do that when the deck is stacked in your favor, then there is much work and learning to be done before even considering going into the wild.

    I value the buddy-system; both as a diver and as a hiker. Alas, I don't often practice what I preach in that regard. I'm a solo kind of guy that long ago accepted the risks inherent with the approach. Part of my logic on that is due to a lack of trust on my part. Not at all an excuse, but it does come into play here. Just because you're with someone, does not mean that person has either the skills or the mental ability to function under dire circumstances. Sure, it ups the odds (which is great!), but it doesn't insure anything. You simply must be able to fend for yourself in this world; help is always welcome, but never stake your life on it. Not to mention the fact that, by learning to be self-reliant, you are making yourself that much better of a buddy when you are out in a buddy-system adventure. It may well be your buddy that needs the assist. Will you be of benefit to your buddy? Again, I AM NOT dismissing the value of a buddy. Not at all! Your first actual trip into the cold should absolutely be with an experienced buddy. Just make sure that you are prepared to be alone if something happens to your buddy; that's all I'm saying.

    Yes, I know that it is difficult to practice some of the winter skills, but it is far from impossible. Gear and yourself warm from being indoors? Easy as pie to fix! Setup your stuff in the morning before you go to work (if the backyard is your initial testing field), then when you get home from work, spend the evening outside practicing something; fire starting, tarp deployment, etc. When the time comes for sleep, your gear and body will have already adjusted to the weather conditions. While you may not discover every leak in your system in moderate weather, you should still be able to find the lion's share of them by just paying attention. When I say practice your setup, I mean that literally. Just go through the steps of setup to make dang sure they are locked in as a 'habit'. My 'habits' for deep cold are vastly different from 3-season habits and my gear selections is different too. I've been sub-zero dozens of times over the past few years, but I still go through the motions during practice sessions before venturing out every year. Your motions and actions should be near automatic, so that you don't really need to engage the processor between your ears. Good habits go a long way and they are very easy to acquire with a little time and effort.

    The advice and tips in this thread have been fantastic, please keep them coming. What many of us take as "common sense", may be something completely new/foreign to someone else. Everybody knows about using a hot water bottle nestled up against the femoral artery, right? Probably not everybody. It's the little tricks like that that many of us rely on without even thinking about it. To a person new to the outdoors and excited to be involved, it may just be the neatest idea ever!
    Trust nobody!

  10. #50
    Senior Member Cannibal's Avatar
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    Almost Forgot

    The suggestions for new hangers, or hangers wanting to venture into the white wilderness, to attend a Winter Hang is a fantastic idea! The regular hangers that attend those hangs have been there and done that numerous times. You won't find a better system of buddies that will not only help you learn about cold hanging, but they will genuinely enjoy the act of helping you.

    I said it in another thread, but the first Colorado Annual Winter Hang had several first-time hangers in attendance. I don't remember the temps, but fairly certain they got into the low teens, at least! Everybody woke-up the next morning. There were a couple of problems, but they were addressed and resolved by the folks present with the experience to help. Mt. Rogers, Colorado, and many other Hangs take place in less than ideal conditions. So if you want a crash course on cold weather hanging by the folks that are essentially 'writing the book' on it for future hangers, there be no better place than a Winter Hang.
    Trust nobody!

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