Troop 30 Billerica Boy Scouts of America  
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Cold Weather Camping Tips from latest Scouting Wire

Dressing for the cold
Camping in the winter doesn’t mean you need a whole new set of equipment. Go with what your Scouts have, using these tricks:

When dressing for cold weather, focus on a layering system including the three Ws: wicking, warmth and wind. Your base layer should be wicking (like an athletic shirt), an insulating layer should be warming (like fleece or wool) and an exterior layer should block the wind. Use clothing you have, focusing on the right combination of fabrics.

Mittens are warmer than gloves. If insulated mittens get wet, they stay that way. Wool mitts worn inside leather or nylon shells are removable for faster drying. Wool gloves are needed for dexterity when cooking.

For overnight warmth, wear wool, polypropylene or polyester (never cotton!) long johns, socks and a balaclava to bed. Place a scarf across your neck to seal drafts. Be sure to change into dry clothes for sleeping — moisture retained in field clothes will cause chilling.

Sleeping warm
Two sleeping bags — one placed inside the other — should provide enough warmth down to about zero degrees. If you don’t have a closed-cell foam pad to use as a sleeping mat, try half-inch-thick foam carpet padding.

In warmer months, a plastic ground cloth should be used inside your tent to stay dry. However, in winter, use the ground cloth beneath your tent to keep it from freezing to the ground.

Avoiding cold-weather dangers
Be very careful around open flames, since you won’t feel the heat of a burning stove or campfire through thickly insulated winter clothing.

Wearing waterproof clothes in subfreezing temperatures while hiking or sleeping is a recipe for hypothermia. Opt for a breathable, windproof shell that won’t trap perspiration. However, you’re in big trouble if snow suddenly turns to rain and you don’t have a waterproof raincoat. Tuck the waterproof shell away in your pack or sled.

Double up on clothing that might get wet: two sets of wool underwear, mittens, warm hats (a balaclava and stocking cap) and wool socks.

Small stuff disappears in snow, so take pre-emptive measures to prevent this. Tie colored plastic surveying tape (available at hardware stores) to small items that might get lost. Each patrol should use a different color. Your pocketknife and compass can be kept on a lanyard attached to your belt. A security strap for eyeglasses is important.

Days are short in winter, so plan accordingly. Every Scout should have an LED headlamp with lithium batteries. (Store it in a jacket pocket close to your body to keep the batteries from draining in the cold.) A candle lantern provides light and some heat in a quinzee or snow cave.

With some planning, a cold-weather camping trip might just be the ideal challenge for your Scouts.


Original email January 23, 2019
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