As a scout going on monthly camping trips it is important to prepare yourself for the conditions you expect to encounter. Summer camping is very lenient, keeping warm is not an issue and not having the proper attire is not so much an emergency as it is an inconvenience. You might get wet, but the weather is warm enough its not going to be a life threatening situation. However, this is not the case when it comes to winter camping. During the colder months of the year it is of the utmost important to keep yourself insulated against the elements because exposure could be the difference between a weekend of fun or a night in the hospital.
Some of the most common problems cold weather campers run into are Hypothermia and Frost Bite, both are caused by exposure to cold weather, and both can develop into emergencysituation. Having the right clothing is only half the battle, thermals are a good first line of defense they keep warm air close to the body and help reduce the heat lost due to wind. A thick waterproof jacket is also important, it will insulate your core and keep blood circulating to your extremities. A hat is one of the most important items to wear, most of the body heat is lost through the head and a hat will keep that heat in. Hats are especially important when sleeping, while the body is at rest it will burn less calories and cool down making it important to conserve any heat it produces. A trick that most people don’t know about is to change your clothes before you go to sleep. Even though its cold out your body will sweat. You may not feel it, but that little bit of moisture when exposed to cold, will accelerate the cooling of the body. Changing into dry clothes can make a big difference when you’re sleeping outside in sub zero temperatures, even if they are colder than the ones you are currently wearing.
A properly rated sleeping bag will keep you safe from Hypothermia or Frost Bite as well. That in conjunction with a sleeping bag liner or thin fleece blanket will keep a lot of heat inside the sleeping bag allowing you a proper and comfortable nights rest. But its not only whats on top of you that’s important, proper ground insulation below you is just as important as a blanket on top of you. Without a good ground pad the earth beneath you will suck the heat from your body quicker than you might expect even if you are in a cot or hammock the air below you will rob your body of heat just as well.
Cold weather camping isn’t for everyone, the casual camping enthusiast usually doesn’t make an trips in the months after September that don’t involve some sort of heat and running water. But as a Boy Scout that camps year round, you are expected to be an authority on survival in different conditions. Gather info on the area you plan to attend, pack your gear accordingly, and follow the tips outlined here, this will ensure that you stay safe and warm while you enjoy the outdoors.