Spotlight - equipment views and reviews from the AK team
By Kenny Stocker
20, Dec, 2010
Some hints and tips for camping and cooking in winter.
Summer camping can be a pain. First there are the midgies, wasps and other bugs that want to eat you. Then there are all those sticky summer evenings that never get dark and conspire to make falling asleep a challenge. You can avoid all of these problems by getting out in winter and enjoying our spectacular winter wonderland.
There is no doubt that you need to scale up your summer camping skills, but the truth is you probably have most of the equipment you need to spend at least one night under a winter moon... We are going to try and convince you that winter camping is where it is at, so get insulated and enjoy winter camping in all its frostiness, stay warm and dry with the right gear and the right attitude. Grab a hot chocolate and sit back to enjoy some of our starter guides to winter camp craft.
Fueling the fire
Sure, you want to jump straight to the kit right? But hold it, if there is one element that needs to be set up right.. it is you. As this Spotlight will reveal, if you are cold, miserable and hungry you will only become colder, more miserable, more hungry. You will want to take all your kit back to where you bought it, have a rant about comfort ratings and you will probably never want to sleep in the snow again. That would be a shame, so let's put aside all that expensive stuff and consider what goes into your stomach... food. Official Alpkit foodie Nick shares some Winter camp food cooking pointers in his Spotlight article The Winter Chef.
You Warm the Bag
Who hasn't swaggered into a shop and fondled fluffy, cacoon shaped bags sporting impressive swing tag claims that this bag will keep you warm down to -40C. Oh yes, with figures proven by official lab tests it would appear that all your camping fears could be eliminated in one clinical strike. Sigh, if only that were true there would already be a lot more people winter camping. If there is just one thing to take away from this video, it should be that old saying you warm the bag, the bag does not warm you.
For more detail on this topic check out our support guide: You Warm the Bag
Now hopefully this hasn't screwed your plans for your first winter camp before you have even had time to dig out your gloves. Come on, you have been to an Andy Kirkpatrick lecture and you left thinking I want some of that right? However, maybe you don't want to suffer quite so much! Well there is no time like the present and you are just itching to buy that 4 season sleeping bag with quadzoid baffles, Alp-o-Therm liner and CyberGoose® down. But there is much more to winter camping than simply running out and purchasing the warmest, most expensive sleeping bag you can find, so much infact that we couldn't resist making up an acronym of our own.
For more detail on this topic check out our support guide: SLEEP
We can't talk about winter camping without mentioning the C word - Condensation. It is bad enough in summer where at worst you are just going to get damp, or bonus, you can watch all those midgies get trapped on your wet inner. In winter condensation freezes and if it freezes in your sleeping bag you are not going to be a happy camper. We do not have a magic bullet that will solve your condensation problems, what! gasp!! even if you have the latest 'breathable' fabrics? yup even if... The best you can do is get ready for condensation and try to manage it.
Top Winter Camping Tips
Somethings just have to be experienced to be appreciated and winter camping is certainly one of them. Why can it feel colder at 0C in Scotland than -10C in the Alps?, how do you get in a bivvy bag without a kilo of snow? How do you stop your water bottle freezing up? and how do you pass those long dark hours in your tent?! We can't give you answers to everything but here are just a few ideas from the office.
This Spotlight has just scratched the surface on the topic of Winter Camping, but hopefully you will feel inspired to get out and pitch you tent on some nice crispy snow this winter. Don't forget your set of Pass the Pigs!