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Thread: Winter Camping with a 30F Bag

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    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Post Winter Camping with a 30F Bag

    Hey all,

    I'm going camping along the Au Sable river in Michigan to hike and trout fish in a few weeks.
    Temps are planning to hit 15F at night.

    Here's my sleep setup:
    - Summer tent with rain fly
    - 30F Mummy Synthetic Bag
    - Wool blanket for bag lining
    - Cheap sleeping pad I got from harbor freight

    Sleeping Clothes:
    - Balaclava and hat
    - T-Shirt, waffle sweater, thermal flannel, and hoodie
    - Regular socks under thermal socks
    - Boxers, thermal pants, sweat pants, sleeping jeans

    Think I'll make it ? I've never slept this cold before so I plan to do a test run at 25F in my backyard before.
    I'm mainly concerned with gaining 15 degrees of rating in my sleeping bag.


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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    I advise you to chuck anything cotton (t-shirt, regular socks, boxers, sweat pants) and stick with other fabrics like poly or fleece. You want to layer. Think base, middle layer and outer layer. You want to wick as much moisture away from your skin as possible. Cotton with hold next to you. If you get hot you can always shed a layer.

    That summer tent is probably not going to be very helpful but it could work if you set it up next to a solid wind break. Trees (not under them) or a hill. Anything that will keep the wind off the tent. I would suggest a double ground cover rather than just a single cheap sleeping pad. That sleeping pad also has insulation value and the more you have between you and the cold (Brrrrrr) ground the more comfortable you are going to be. A single cheap pad is not going to cut it. Look and see if the pad has an R value rating. It will probably be somewhere around 0.7 to 3.5. At -15F you need a pad with an R value of around 10 so you don't feel the cold from the ground and that means 2 pads to protect you (depending on the pad of course). More is better.

    You'll need just as much water in frigid conditions as you do in hot conditions so plan on a lot of water. You need to stay hydrated.

    Just my 2 cents.

  3. #3
    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick View Post
    I advise you to chuck anything cotton (t-shirt, regular socks, boxers, sweat pants) and stick with other fabrics like poly or fleece. You want to layer. Think base, middle layer and outer layer. You want to wick as much moisture away from your skin as possible. Cotton with hold next to you. If you get hot you can always shed a layer.

    That summer tent is probably not going to be very helpful but it could work if you set it up next to a solid wind break. Trees (not under them) or a hill. Anything that will keep the wind off the tent. I would suggest a double ground cover rather than just a single cheap sleeping pad. That sleeping pad also has insulation value and the more you have between you and the cold (Brrrrrr) ground the more comfortable you are going to be. A single cheap pad is not going to cut it. Look and see if the pad has an R value rating. It will probably be somewhere around 0.7 to 3.5. At -15F you need a pad with an R value of around 10 so you don't feel the cold from the ground and that means 2 pads to protect you (depending on the pad of course). More is better.

    You'll need just as much water in frigid conditions as you do in hot conditions so plan on a lot of water. You need to stay hydrated.

    Just my 2 cents.
    The temp will only be 15 degrees NOT negative 15F! I'm not sure I could do sub zeros in a 30 degree bag but thank you for all your advice!

    The summer tent is pretty concealed. It's older so the only mesh screen on it is the front door, which can be zipped closed with its fabric layer, so I'm mainly using it as a wind break and I'll take your advice on setting up next to a hill if I can.

    If I have poly thermal pants (first layer) and a mid layer of cotton do you think I'll have problems with moisture absorption? Even if I only wear the sweats at night and keep them dry in my bag?

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    Ooops. Sorry. I misread the temp. In that case, you're looking at an R value of 7-8 to insulate you from the ground. Still, in the 2 pad range.

    I'm not a fan of cotton in the winter. The weave of the fabric has openings between the thread allowing heat to escape. These openings remain whether the fabric is dry or wet. Other fabrics like poly or wool will swell and close as they get wet with perspiration or wick it away from you. Both methods retain body heat. There is an old adage for cotton in the winter. Cotton kills. That's why. If you happen to fall in the water then you have no protection from hypothermia...at least from the cotton clothing.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    You mignt survive a 15 degree night in a 30 degree bag, but you will not be comfortable. The liner will help. There is absolutely no reason to put yourself in an "uncomfortable" situation.
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    My experiences at that temp is that you are going to need a second 30 degree bag inside the first, the wool blanket, every piece of clothing you own and a Buddy Heater.

    But I sleep cold, so when the temp is predicted to hit 30 degrees I have already been in my zero bag since it hit 40 and had the Buddy Heater in the tent when it hit 50.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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    Good READ, from a Florida man perspective and some very good points to ponder. Enjoyed the ICE image, nice touch.
    The Wilderness for myself has always been a place, I can escape to and discover my stronger self. A true builder of self-confidence and skills, I never knew we're possible within me to achieve. A tough taskmaster breakdown my self-limits and barriers. I have overcome and found my inner self, leaving behind only the old skin, blood, and sweat, having won a newer stronger self. The Wilderness shows me a better reflection of myself.
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    Yes. All of us who live in Florida have always lived here. And never ever camped in cold weather.

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    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    I'll update you guys on my 25 degree test run next week!
    Either way, it's only a 0.5mi hike from my car to the river once I'm there. So, if I need to pack up and night-hike out I can worst case.

    I could buy better gear, but I'm moving to Tennessee in May so I'll have no need for a nice 0 degree bag.

    To crashdive's point: Camping in general is uncomfortable--especially winter camping. It does suck, but we "embrace the suck" and sip on the sweet gratification on the way home knowing we achieved something.

  10. #10

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    I'm sure you can do it.

    My first snow camp was in MN in a tube tent. I was woefully unprepared. The tent collapsed. Icy rain froze it over me. My boots were coated in ice (I guess they stuck out some lol). No pad. Canteen froze.. etc, etc, etc.

    Lol. Yeah, I'm sure you can do it. I wouldn't anymore. But I'm 61 and crackle when I stand up in 85 degree weather.

    Give us updates.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zedsdead View Post
    I'll update you guys on my 25 degree test run next week!
    Either way, it's only a 0.5mi hike from my car to the river once I'm there. So, if I need to pack up and night-hike out I can worst case.

    I could buy better gear, but I'm moving to Tennessee in May so I'll have no need for a nice 0 degree bag.

    To crashdive's point: Camping in general is uncomfortable--especially winter camping. It does suck, but we "embrace the suck" and sip on the sweet gratification on the way home knowing we achieved something.
    I've camped in temps well over 100 and as low as -25. Thoes experiences did not suck. I don't camp to achieve anything other than the enjoyment of being outside, often with friends. The solitude of being alone is refreshing. The experience of being with others away from the hustle and bustle of every day life is rewarding. If it did suck I wouldn't do it. In my time on the planet I've had to embrace the suck often. Been there, done that, got the DD-214.
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    That brought back some memories. Tennessee mountain. Cold wet snow night. Slept in the car with two cheap sleeping bags. One bag inside the other. Why? Because I had to. It was cold and uncomfortable but it worked.

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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    I do not know where in the world you really are but if you think it does not get cold in Tennessee you are somewhere besides the U.S.!!

    I have seen temps in TN down to -20, good chunks of time are spent below freezing, and they get a bit of snow on occasion.

    If you camp in TN between the first of November and the middle of April you are going to need at least a zero rated bag and a decent tent. For one thing, when you leave home in the morning there is the chance that you will think you are on another planet by dark, the weather changes rapidly.

    Even though it is south of the Ohio River it still rains, and it rains a lot, especially in the winter when those temps are right down there in hypothermia territory.

    You Yankees, if you really are a Yankee, seem to forget that people die of hypothermia at 50 degrees if they are wet and the wind chill is right.
    If you didn't bring jerky what did I just eat?

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    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kyratshooter View Post
    I do not know where in the world you really are but if you think it does not get cold in Tennessee you are somewhere besides the U.S.!!

    I have seen temps in TN down to -20, good chunks of time are spent below freezing, and they get a bit of snow on occasion.

    If you camp in TN between the first of November and the middle of April you are going to need at least a zero rated bag and a decent tent. For one thing, when you leave home in the morning there is the chance that you will think you are on another planet by dark, the weather changes rapidly.

    Even though it is south of the Ohio River it still rains, and it rains a lot, especially in the winter when those temps are right down there in hypothermia territory.

    You Yankees, if you really are a Yankee, seem to forget that people die of hypothermia at 50 degrees if they are wet and the wind chill is right.
    A little bit of research shows the average low in Knoxville TN is around 30F at its coldest time. I'm sure there are those odd ball days--but regularly single digit temps? Think again.

    Is this a bad time to admit I'm a Russian spy attempting to influence a wilderness forum?

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    Administrator Rick's Avatar
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    You do know you're talking to someone that lived in Tennessee? Your sources notwithstanding, Kyrat lived it and is attempting to give you the benefit of his experience. So, your "think again" comment was whoafully out of place.

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zedsdead View Post
    A little bit of research shows the average low in Knoxville TN is around 30F at its coldest time. I'm sure there are those odd ball days--but regularly single digit temps? Think again.

    Is this a bad time to admit I'm a Russian spy attempting to influence a wilderness forum?

    My source: https://www.climatespy.com/climate/s.../mc-ghee-tyson
    Not all areas of Tennessee are created equal.

    My source: https://www.answers.com/Q/What_is_th..._for_Tennessee
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    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    Not all areas of Tennessee are created equal.

    My source: https://www.answers.com/Q/What_is_th..._for_Tennessee
    Agreed! I just sourced where I'm moving specifically.
    Last edited by zedsdead; 12-13-2019 at 10:43 PM.

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    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Okay, update for y'all.

    It's about 30 degrees out with a sight breeze. So, I laid myself out on my driveway with base layers and a fleece blanket liner--no tent, draw string for the bag hood fully tightened. The only thing that was covered was my head with a balaclava and a hat. I laid out there for an hour and fell asleep! The alarm on my phone woke me up . So, I'm sure my double pad, poly thermal clothes set up will be more than enough for 15 degrees.

    @kyratshooter and crashdive,
    I apologize for being rude. I'm a new member to your community with no reputation, and I recognize that. I'm sorry for giving you guys the wrong first impression.

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    [QUOTE=

    @kyratshooter and crashdive,
    I apologize for being rude. I'm a new member to your community with no reputation, and I recognize that. I'm sorry for giving you guys the wrong first impression.[/QUOTE]

    That just did more for your rep here than you know.

  20. #20
    Junior Member zedsdead's Avatar
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    Updates! Camping was awesome.

    I got so hot at night I had to take my head out of the bag hood because I was beginning to sweat.
    Not one bite from the trout, but I had a large ribeye along with kielbasa in my stomach for the night.

    My next purchase: A nice inflatable sleep pad with a high R value.

    Thanks for the advice everyone!

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