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Thinking of heading out to the wilderness? Keep safe with some tips from Scouts Canada

'Be Prepared' for winter camping

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Saturday, March 1, 2014, 6:39 AM -

I should begin by saying that I am NOT a camper. My only camping experience came in grade 12 gym class: three days of camping and portaging in Central Ontario in early May. The weather was beautiful, the waters were calm…and I was lucky enough to get paired up with two teachers (which means I didn’t actually have to paddle or portage!).

So I am not claiming to be a camping expert. I’m just claiming that I spoke to some.

Vikram, Kateryna and Diana are members of Scouts Canada. And just as the Scouts’ motto of “be prepared” suggests, the three teens agreed that you need to be extra prepared when it comes to camping in the winter.

If you are interested in trying winter camping for the first time, the most important thing to prepare for is the cold at night.

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What kind of sleeping bag should you buy?

Sleeping bags are temperature rated. In the summer, you can get away with a sleeping bag that keeps you warm up to 10°C. Obviously in the winter, you need something that will keep you warm in temperatures closer to -30°C. A “mummy” bag is a good option, as it also covers your head. Only part of your face is exposed.

What should you wear to bed?

LAYERS! Day or night, layers are key. Layer your socks (synthetic is better than cotton), wear long underwear underneath your clothes, and always wear a hat to retain your body heat.

You should always go to bed in DRY clothes, as well, or you run the risk of hypothermia.

Here are some other tips I learned from the Scouts:

  • Since water freezes from the bottom, pack your bottle of water upside down. 
  • Regular lint from your dryer makes a great tool for building a fire that lasts. 
  • The worst part of winter camping is going to the bathroom at night: if you can get through that, you can get through anything!

Sound like something you are up to trying? March break is just around the corner. Go for it!

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