Nice Camp site
(Click picture for a larger image.) At this time of year, thoughts often turn to escaping to sunny, sandy beaches. Some folks, however, enjoy romping in the snow. They brave the elements, and camp out in the wild. One benefit is that you can have the park or wildlife area practically to yourself.
Just as you need to account for the extreme heat of summer, so should you plan for the challenges of camping in snow and cold.
Start by checking the forecast. You should know going in what to expect. Never camp alone, and always tell someone where youre going and when youll be back. Prepare for the worst so youre not taken by surprise. (And if a bad storm is predicted, stay home.) Clothing The most important factor is to stay warm and dry. Frostbite and hypothermia arent just annoyances. They can be killers.
Needless to say, youll need warm clothing and lots of it. Clothing that incorporates Gore-Tex (or similar fabric) is very useful. You need to wick out as much sweat as possible. Damp clothing can chill you quickly, and bring on hypothermia.
Outercoats should have a nylon shell to break the wind. Thinsulate is a great insulating material for coats and gloves.
Layer your clothing during the day. Make sure theres some give, though. If you feel constricted, the fabric will be packed so tightly that itll lose some insulating ability.
Having extra clothing also ensures that you can change into dry stuff at the end of the day. Look for sturdy boots. Sorel is a good brand, but there are others. Youll want rubber soles with good traction. Leather uppers are nice, but treat with a sealant. Tent I recommend a 4-season tent. The walls on these are solid material to block wind and shed snow. I prefer those with a full fly over the tent as well. Unbelievable, it makes for a better desert tent too. The fly creates shade and the combination of 2 walls keeps blowing sand out. Look for a model that has a vestibule. Thats where youll store your outerwear and boots. A vestibule, provides a transition area to reduce the snow you track into the main tent. It provides more room for sleeping, and your bedding and dry clothing wont get wet.
Incidentally, never sleep in clothes youve been working in. They will be damp with perspiration, which means youll be uncomfortable all night. Set aside dry clothing for sleeping. That includes socks, heavy pajamas (or sweat shirt and sweat pants) and a warm hat.
Prior to setting up, pack down the snow for a firm base. Create a berm around the sides for wind break, and remember to face the front door away from the wind.
A good sleeping bag is a must. If you cant find one rated to the proper temperature, take along two. You can stuff one inside the other. Understand that manufacturers take liberty with the temperature ratings on their products. Assume your boots, sleeping bag, and clothing wont really keep you comfortable at the manufactures rated temperature. Thats why you pack heavy clothing, and even feet and hand warmers.
Use a foam mattress or blankets as insulation under your sleeping bag. Termarest mattresses work but the $20 / $30 6 inch type air mattresses dont provide much insulation, because the air inside circulates too much. Dead air space is a great insulator but it has to be dead (i.e. not circulate).
Tent heaters are nice, however be careful. Todays models are small and easy to use. The Little Buddy by Mr Heater, for example, uses the standard 1 lb. propane cylinder. The manufacturer claims it can heat up to 100 square feet.
Do not leave the heater running all night. Even though it has an oxygen sensor and a very sensitive tip-over switch, I wouldnt want to take the risk of fire or CO poisoning. Run the heater before you snuggle into your tent, then again when you wake up.
If you are on a hunting trip, store guns and outerwear outside but away from snow (in the vestibule or your vehicle). A gun warming up will generate condensation if brought inside. Any snow on your outer clothing wont melt if left in the cold, so youre not likely to get damp (at least from that).
Also, dont leave gear, including shovels, axe, etc. outside. They could get buried in the snow. Store those in your vehicle. Cooking Cooking, as you can imagine, presents its own challenges. Interestingly, the cold temps can work against you. To prevent (or minimize) freezing, keep fresh food it in a cooler. (Secure during the day to thwart critters.) You may want to stash the cooler in your vehicle overnight.
Use wooden or plastic utensils as much as possible. Metal objects get blasted cold in the winter. Propane is fine for most winter applications, but it is sluggish in severe cold. If you anticipate those temps, pack a stove that runs on white gas.
Vehicle This is a good time to recheck the vitals. Inspect your tires. Rotate and replace as needed. Test the battery and windshield wipers; replace if necessary. Check your antifreeze: Is it still at full strength? Are you low on windshield washer fluid? Make sure you have a survival kit and tire chains (if applicable).
Room permitting, pack a snow shovelsmall models are availableand ice pick. Orange spray paint comes in handy for marking the snow in the event of an emergency.
Remember to include a fire-starter kit. Fill a baggie with matches and cotton balls coated with Vaseline. Communication Keep your cell phone charged up. Before you leave, identify the frequencies of the ham radio repeaters in the area you are visiting. Make a habit of listing to the NOAA weather broadcasts each day. If youll be in a really remote area, consider a Sat phone or other device discussed in "Communications equipment is critical for off-road driving.
Mother Nature puts on a new performance during winter. For those hardy enough, camping can be very enjoyable and rewarding. As with any other four wheeling experience, preparation is key.
Related Articles from Badlands Off-road Adventures
- Camping Gear Repair Kit
- How to Survive in Your Vehicle Stuck in Snow
- Go Romping In the Snow
- Communication Equipment is Critical for Off-Road Driving
- Take A Wilderness First Aid Course
- Build Your Own First Aid Kit
- Carry Three Ways to Make Fire
- 2016-01-03 Create Your 4-Wheel Drive Résumé
- 2015-12-09 What Kind Of 4WD Vehicle Do I Need?
- 2012-05-18 Weather to Go
(click on the link for details)
Red Pass, Death Valley - looking NW in the Grapevine Mountains
(Click picture for a larger image.) Summary of upcoming events.
- Feb 20 Getting Started Off-Road - LA area
- Feb 21 Off-Road Sand & Dunes Driving Clinic
- Feb 27 Getting Started Off-Road - San Diego area
- Feb 28 Day 2 Getting Started Clinic- San Diego area
- Mar 06 Getting Started Off-Road - San Diego area
- Mar 12 Getting Started Off-Road - LA area
- Mar 13 Getting Started Off-Road - LA area
- Apr 02 Getting Started Off-Road - LA area
- Apr 03 Day 2 Getting Started Clinic- LA area
- Apr 08 Death Valley Expedition
- Apr 16 Wilderness First Aid - still a few slots left.
- Apr 16 Getting Started Off-Road - San Diego area
- Apr 16 Day 2 Getting Started Clinic- San Diego area
- Apr 23 Winching & Recovery Clinic - Mojave CA area
Sand Clinic February 28, 2015
On Pismo Beach in California
(Click picture for a larger image.) If you have been waiting for the next Sand Driving Clinic, put it on your calendar for February 21st and sign up now. This day-long clinic will expose you to a variety of driving conditions and levels of difficulty. Driving on sand is challenging and different than dirt, so well progress slowly as you learn the proper techniques. As your confidence grows, you will master increasingly more challenging dunes. Along the way you will be exposed to the beauty of SVRA and the thrill of the windswept dunes. This is a rare opportunity to cruise the only beach in California open to vehicles.
Register for the Sand Clinic using this link.
########################## Death Valley April 08-11
This is a 4 day trip on the back roads in Death Valley. We will drive the Panamint Mountains, drive past Badwater Basin (lowest spot in North America), visit Chloride Ghost town, Titus Canyon, check out Ubehebe Crater, Teakettle junction, The Race Track & Lippencott Mine Road, camp at the Warm Springs and leave via Steal Pass up to the high meadows, then take Dedeckera Canyon down to the Eureka Sand Dunes. All four days will see some light to moderate 4-wheeling. Much of the trip is quite remote with random or no cell service. We don't plan to stop at tourist sights you can get to in a passenger car.
Check out the details and sign up on the website: http://www.4x4training.com/Adventures/Deathvalley.html
August 2013 Off-Road Adventures Magazine: Death Valley Excursion by Denis Snow
You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#Deathvalley
########################## Wilderness First Aid Course April 16 & 17, 2016
If you are interested in taking a Wilderness first Aid Course (WFA), Badlands Off-Road Adventures is sponsoring a 2 day class in April. We engage a professional medical instructor from Wilderness Medical Associates, the certifying agency.
Badlands Off-Road Adventures is sponsoring the Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WFA) clinic because we feel everyone should be prepared when they go outdoors. This will be the best first aid course you have ever taken. That is unless you go on to the Wilderness First Responder Class.
The WFA clinic will provide you with skills, knowledge and training to handle life threatening medical emergencies and allows you to be better prepared to protect your family in an emergency. Wilderness First Aid is a two day immersion into general medical concepts and Basic Life Support skills. This course teaches what to do with a medical emergency when help is miles away and calling 911 isnt an option.
The Wilderness First Aid was one of the MOST USEFULL clinics I have ever attended, due in large part to the effort you and Josh put in to make it all possible. " Joe de Kehoe.
The clinic will be held April 16 & 17, 2016 at the Hungry Valley State Vehicle Recreation Area (SVRA) near Gorman, CA. Please reserve the dates on your calendar or sign up today. (Note you must be 18 years old to take the clinic.)
If you are interested follow these links.
You can register directly at http://www.4x4training.com/calendar/calendar.php#WFA
Winch Recovery Bandana & Winching DVD
Click for higher resolution image We have our new stock with many new colors (Red, Orange, Green, and Blue) on hand. The Bandana is packed full of useful information and is a quick reference in the field when no DVD player is available."
The Bandana layout follows the Vehicle Recovery Plan with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a Winch Rigging Check: Walk through so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready!
Pick up or order the Winching DVD too! There is no substitute for hands on training. If you can, sign up for one of Badlands Off-Road Adventures Winching Clinics.
Warning the Bandana and DVD are not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment that is used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in both the Winching Recovery Bandana and the "Basic to Advanced Winching and Recovery DVD" at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.
Winch Recovery Bandana Order Button
Colors Orange Red Blue Natural Green Natural
Order a Basic to Advanced Winching & Recovery DVD too!
(Click picture for more details)
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President
Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.
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Want To Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4x4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.
Copyright 2016, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.