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  #1  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Cold weather camping

Visa depending, I'll be in Russia next month, St Petersburg up to Murmansk, then across to Norway and down. It could get chilly. Anyone experience camping in these conditions - and if so, any tips?

I'll have two sleeping bags. A +5C/-8C mummy shape that could go inside a cheap rectangular bag without a lot of squashing. I also have an army bivi bag that would easily take both - this should add several degrees if I need them. Underneath I'll have a self-inflating mat that will go on top of a normal closed-cell sleeping mat. I might actually get another closed-cell mat as my local surplus store is banging them out at £3. I also have a German army blanket, brand new for £12. It was an impulse buy, but it made me feel all toasty just looking at it. I'm driving a car, so it's not a problem bringing it along.

Was thinking of waterproofs, preferably breathable, for tramping around camp in. Already have a thermal base layer (longjohns) a thinsulate wooly hat and thick socks for sleeping in. I'm driving, so not too worried about keeping warm on the road.

Haven't got a tent yet. Well, I do, but it's ya normal dome tent that everyone buys for about £35. It's as new and very stable. I did think about buying something more 'mountainy', but they cost a bloody fortune.

Thanks for reading. All suggestions welcome.
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  #2  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Jeez, how cold are you expecting it to get!

I've done a fair bit of cold camping, here in Scotland and in Norway in winter, down to about -20 celsius. A lot of people shy away from camping in cold weather, but actually its fine. It's difficult to advise you how much insulation you'll need without knowing what temperatures you'll face, or how personally resistant to cold you are (it varies considerably). However, it's better to have too much than too little, especially as you are travelling by car. I'd offer the following advice:

You are right about multiple mats. You can lose a lot of heat through contact with the ground. One thermarest and one foam mat should be enough though. I put clothes and stuff under my mat if I'm expecting it to be really cold. I personally think it's better to do this to stay warm than wear many layers inside your bag, that is just uncomfy.

Rather than do the hood of your bag up around your head, close it round your neck (not too tight!) and wear a woolly hat. This stops the condensation from your breath making your bag damp. Important if you are either sleeping in a down bag or away for multiple days.

I just wear thermal undies and thick socks inside the bag. I find this to be both comfy and warm.

Keep a waterbottle INSIDE your sleeping bag for your morning brew. This will stop it freezing overnight. A freind of mine recently ignored me when I said this, then whinged in the morning that he had no water!

If, like me, you sometimes have to pee during the night, keep a pee bottle in there too. It should be a different type to your water bottle (in case you get thirsty in the night!). I use a nalgene bottle with duct tape wrapped round it so I can identify it by touch. This will stop the long, cold walk to the toilet block at 3 am!

Your tent choice relies more on the wind and rain you expect, than the temperatures. However, a lot of modern tents, especially from US manufacturers, use a lot of mesh in their inners. This offers little insulative benefit and you'd be better off with a tent with a nylon inner.

Cylinders of camping gas become very innefficient in very cold temperatures and, once half full, barely work. You'd be much better off with a petrol stove. (Cheaper to run, and easier to get fuel for, too). The Coleman Sportster 535 is a good cheap stove used by a lot of overlanders.

Regarding waterproofs. If it is well below freezing you don't need waterproofs. Indeed, you'd be better off with nice breathable windproofs. My winter ski jacket is a poly cotton blend that is much 'drier' than a gore-tex in similar circumstances.

Matt
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  #3  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Bloody h*** Matt - If I didn't know better I'd say you were Norwegian! ;-)

Anyway - this is next month. That's September. Say October for good measure. You seem to have all the gear you need. Up north you may encounter some snow, but the temp isn't going to be too bad in the coastal area. Inland it may creep further down to well below zero especially at night, but you'll probably not experience anything like -20 C. That's reserved for the coldest depths of January/February, usually.

BTW: The best camping tent by far in cold weather: The Lavvo, into which you can make a fire if you need to. Here's my favourite winter lavvo, the Helsport Varanger ("best in test"). Oh, and while in the north, buy yourself a couple of reindeer skins to use as carpets in your tent. You'll never worry about the cold ground ever again.



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  #4  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by indu View Post
Bloody h*** Matt - If I didn't know better I'd say you were Norwegian! ;-)
Thanks! I'll take that as a compliment!

A friend of mine has one of those tipi things, absolutely awesome! One ill-advised canoeing trip in November last year was made bearable by cramming nine of us in it with the fire and cracking open the malt!

Ooh, I just remembered, for obvious reasons, you want a PLASTIC pee bottle, rather than a metal one!

Matt
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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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  #5  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Matt has summed a lot of it up well enough. So i have little to add. However I think you are not going to get the very cold temperatures that yo are worried about.. according to the world met service in September the temperatures in Murmansk range from 4.3 to 9.5 degs (Celcius), but always better safe then sorry....so..

One of the best bits of advice I was ever given was keep some Gorp (GORP - Food - Good Old Raisins and Peanuts : aka muesli with chocolate in it) in the tent with you at night if you wake up cold eat a handful and you will be amazed how much you can warm up and then sleep afterwards (the scientific reason is called HIF - heat increment of feeding)...yes i am a geek bugger off.

Personally I like the mesh inner tents as they keep you breath condensation away from you and your stuff but it really does have to be a good design. The Tipi styles are what we (British Antarctic survey Camping in the Antarctic - British Antarctic Survey) use "on the Ice" but they are VERY VERY HEAVY and i find quite difficult to set up solo, if you do go this way and make fire in side please please be aware of the carbon monoxide poising risk. I have seen people effected by this several times to many (although luckily none fatal). For that reason i never use any combustion stove inside. (there is also the fire thing..)

Good luck mate. and have fun..
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  #6  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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I use this

Buy 4 Leg Camp Bed. at Argos.co.uk - Your Online Shop for .

They are £7-99 at the RANGE shop.
I roll it up with my dome tent.
You will actuall enjoy your sleep!!!!!!!!! And you can camp on any ground, even with rocks!
Hint: place your boot under your bed where yuor head goes so the material does not sag. Use a jacket as a pillow! Job done.
Cheers
orrin
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  #7  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xander View Post
Personally I like the mesh inner tents as they keep you breath condensation away from you and your stuff but it really does have to be a good design. .
Hi Xander,

This is a really good point. In Norway a few years ago in a one man tent I had a really bad time keeping my down bag dry because the condensation would freeze on the inside of the inner then drop onto (or fall off when I brushed against it) my sleeping bag, where it would melt. Luckily I had enough decent days that I could sun my bag for a few hours and dry it out a bit. It never occured to me a mesh tent would prevent this!

The only reservation I have is that, on the same trip, there was a bit of a hoolie and lots of spindrift blew in the outer door. It didn't get into my inner tent, because it was full nylon, but the door did have a an optional outer of no-see-um mozzie netting. The tiny flakes of spindrift went straight through the netting, getting trapped between the two doors. There was a couple of pounds by morning! I'd be scared that this would happen in a mesh tent and I'd get covered in spindrift! Have you ever experienced anything like this or was it a freakish event? I guess if you could stop the spindrift by-passing the outer, it wouldn't get in through the inner, which is where I guess that 'good design' comes in! Would appreciate your thoughts on this (or anyone elses with similar experience!).

Matt
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*Disclaimer* - I am not saying my bike is better than your bike. I am not saying my way is better than your way. I am not mocking your religion/politics/other belief system. When reading my post imagine me sitting behind a frothing pint of ale, smiling and offering you a bag of peanuts. This is the sentiment in which my post is made. Please accept it as such!
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  #8  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xander View Post
The Tipi styles are what we use "on the Ice" but they are VERY VERY HEAVY and i find quite difficult to set up solo, if you do go this way and make fire in side please please be aware of the carbon monoxide poising risk.
We're not talking Antarctic Expedition tipis here, I think. The Helsport Varanger is 11.3 kg in total, incl tent, inner tent, "floor", pole, plugs etc. I don't use the inner tent, shaving off 2.8 kgs. That's 8.5 kg for 17 square meters of tent space. And you can even have the Helsport Lavvulight, weighing in at 2.4 kgs - in total! - but then you have only 6.5 sqm to your disposal.

With some practice it isn't too difficult to put up these modern lavvos by yourself either.

The beauty of lavvos, or tipis if you will, is the continuous air current from the bottom of the lavvo and all the way up through the top. By adjusting the top venting hat and the vents at the bottom you can regulate that current to pull out the smoke and CO. Obviously you want to pay attention, but it has worked for e.g the American Indians and the Sami for ages.



From the Primus Winter Rally in Norway.
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  #9  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Tatonka Grönland 2 2 Personen Tunnel-ZeltHappy Card Artikel, XSPO - Cross Sports

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  #10  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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You mention you are driving?
Why not sleep in the car?
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  #11  
Old 20 Aug 2008
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Be aware that with a camp bed, you have to have lots of isolation under you, as the air under you, can be much colder than the ground and your sleeping bag is compressed where you lie on it.

Take a breathable bivy bag or fix a piece of nylon cloth over your downbag so the condensation from your breath, will collect on that and not on the sleeping bag.

By the way: between +10 and -5 centigrade, is the most annoying as you will get water condensation on the inner tent and you'll get wet every time you touch it.
If its cold enough, the condensation will be rime frost which can be so dry, that you can brush it off your bag or clothes.

A multiburner for diesel or gasolin is very effective in cold climates. A normal gas will not burn at all under 0 centigrade and even "wintergas" doesn't evaporate under -6 / -8 centigrade, if you have to use gas, heat the cannister with a candle and later over the gas fire when its burning (carefully !)
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Old 20 Aug 2008
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I wonder if you could rig up a spare battery like they do in camper vans, and use this to power heated motorcycle clothing ?

If camping at the same spot for a few days or more, enough green biomass will start to compost and keep you warm. ( six inches thick or more, you cant have too much) In Mons (Belgium) last year, I found a campsite that had put all their grass cuttings in a big heap. by placing my tent over it, the temperature inside teh tent was over 20C with frost outside. My tent is a cheap dome type that i can pick up and position by lifting it by the top.

Normally i sleep on a camp bed ( but then i try to avoid camping when it is cold). With soft warm compost under my tent, no need for the bed.
Re Butane not working in teh cold. I use a small stove that uses 270 or 470 cartridges. these are a 50/50 mix of butane and propane and will work fine down to -5c and less (I dont kno how much further as I dislike teh cold )
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Old 21 Aug 2008
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A plastic pee bottle (with tape) is a great idea (I'll just leave it outside the door) and GORP is another easy one. A tipi is out though. Great for winter, but too big and expensive for me on what is a relatively short trip. If I ever moved to Norway, I'd get one and probably live in it.

I think I'll have to hold off buying a new tent for now. They all look great, but which one to choose? Pranda - thanks for the Tatonka link. If I use my cheapo dome tent for now and just make sure it's properly zipped up and pegged down, it should hold up. If doesn't, I'll just head for the car. I have a tarpaulin that I'll take along. It's fantastic in the rain, but I don't want to make things too complicated. I'll look in the sales when the season is over. Hopefully, I'll know what I'll need before laying down any cash.

Going by replies, it seems I already have most of what I need for this trip. Keeping dry seems to be the key in staying warm and happy - an art in itself. I'll pick up a petrol stove - it may never get cold enough to merit one, but fuel is everywhere and they can be used in any climate. Truth is, I've always liked the look of them, so now I have an excuse to buy one. Cheers.

Just for the record, I'm doing Russia into Norway so I can leave earlier and still coincide with Norwegian camp fire regulations - no fires allowed until mid September. I'll still need to drive away from the public road to camp though, which is technically against regs. Apparently, the land is only available to use if you walk or ski. I also hope to catch a fish two - means another reg busted if it's fresh water, or two if I try it without a licence. I'm not sure how strict it all is. I suspect Russia will be easier.

Thanks for all the replies so far. I'm not done yet, so if anyone still has thoughts...

Cheers for now.
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Last edited by teflon; 21 Aug 2008 at 03:57.
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Old 21 Aug 2008
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Originally Posted by Monsieur-to-go View Post
You mention you are driving?
Why not sleep in the car?
I've 'camped' in a car and a tent on the same night ... a tent is warmer!!!!!! All that metal and glass .. never again. Well not unless it has been properly set up .. then a tent is cheaper.

One aspect of cold weather tents - the outer wall goes all the way to the ground .. warm weather tents outer walls stop above the ground to get rid of heat by more ventilation. If it is cold and you r tent walls dont go all the way down .. try to make something to block most of the gap.

The pee bottle should be inside the tent .. and inside the bag when you finish - it is warm - so keep trhe heat.

One firm rule - keep a light (headlight, torch or whatever) in some consistant location ... that way you'll always know where to find it .. It is the most important thing you hve on any dark night.

Nostrovia! (sp?)
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Old 21 Aug 2008
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Originally Posted by oldbmw View Post
I wonder if you could rig up a spare battery like they do in camper vans, and use this to power heated motorcycle clothing ?
My home made heated vest will not heat up from the 12 volts provided by a battery on it's own,it needs the full 13.5(ish) volts available with the engine running.I don't know about the proper commercially available heated clothing.
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