Winter Camping

Much of the information below came from the Denver Council Okpik Page In addition to attending Okpik, Troops 737 often hosts their own Quinzee campouts. This information is highly useful for either campout.


BE PREPARED: The temperature will probably be at or below freezing all the time with colder nights. Your Scouts need to be warm or they will drop out!? Inexpensive cold weather clothing is readily available at thrift stores like: ARC, Goodwill, Vet. Foreign Wars, etc., at surplus stores, and through online catalogs.


    1. Everything on the Summer Camping Equipment List
    2. WARM SLEEPING BAG (or two bags inside each other or a liner and/or outer bag) and insulated pad (air mattresses are cold), and space blanket,
    3. Sleeping garments: clean heavy wool socks, stocking cap or hooded sweat shirt, sweat pants. Polypro is VERY MUCH BETTER THAN COTTON even inside a sleeping bag
    4. Plate, bowl, CUP (carried at all times), eating utensils, (metal is cold, use plastic, etc.)
    5. Six pairs of socks (3 heavy wool, 3 liners of polypro NOT COTTON)
    6. Polypro or silk (NOT COTTON) long underwear tops and bottom
    7. Brimmed hat for sum, warm hat for cold (balaclava, stockingcap, windproof warm hat)
    8. Warm wool or polyfleece shirts, sweaters, vests, etc. for layers (one heavy jacket is not flexible and may get wet) however, bring a warm coat and insulated pants for morning and evening wear.
    9. Parka, anorak, hooded wind breaker for outer wind-proof layer (hood required)
    10. Warm wool or fleece pants. (NO COTTON: jeans, sweats, Scout pants, etc.)
    11. Boots for snow (NO ATHLETIC SHOES). Gaiters are a great addition in snow! See more info on Boots below.
    12. AT LEAST two pairs of mittens (best) or insulated gloves
    13. Sun glasses, lip salve, Sun Block lotion (all required)
    14. Toilet gear (tooth brush, comb, toilet paper)
    15. Snacks: GORP, cheese, sausage, jerky, etc. In moderation!
    16. Full water bottle that hangs underneath parka. Insulated containers or Nalgene works best.
    17. Pocket knife, compass and plastic whistle on cord around neck
    18. Scout Book for information and advancement
    19. Small flashlight
    20. Gear sack or pack to put it all in.
    21. Day pack or fanny pack for your CUP, extra mittens, extra food, etc.


Secrets of Winter Warmth


To keep warm sleeping, you should bring the following:

  • Tarp (goes underneath your sleeping pad
  • CLOSED-CELL Sleeping Pad (NO inflatable pads!)
  • Outer Sleeping Bag (or a good sleeping bag liner)
  • Zero-Degree (or better) sleeping bag
  • Hot Water Bottle (Nalgene or other type of bottle that will be 100% sealed. Can be filled with warm water and inserted into sleeping bag to aid in warmth)
  • Don’t have a winter-weight sleeping bag (one that is rated at around zero degrees) but you have a good 3 -season bag? Make or buy a polar - fleece liner, insert it your 3 -season bag and you‟ve lowered the temperature rating 10 to 20 degrees!
  • It’s more important what you have under you than on top of you. Put as much as you can under you, between your sleeping bag and the snow or cold ground. One or two foam ground pads or a good Thermo -Rest pad placed on a plastic/waterproof ground sheet work well. Don‟t use an air mattress – it provides no insulation.
  • The fewer clothes you wear to bed the better. The more layers you wear inside the sleeping bag the more body moisture will be trapped inside the layers of clothing & bedding. Remember – moisture robs your body of heat, the more moisture that can migrate out of the sleeping bag the drier you‟ll stay and the warmer you‟ll be through the night.
  • Winter camping can mean some very long nights in bed. Take a midnight snack and a bottle of water to bed with you. If you wake up in the middle of the night feeling chilled, a snack of nuts, chocolate, sausage and cheese, washed down with a little water can help re -light the furnace and warm you back up. Save some of your dinner cooking or wash water and fill a water bottle with that warm (not hot!) water and put it at your feet in the sleeping bag. If it is too hot you‟ll sweat (see above), warm and it will help you stay comfortable.
  • Hunker down in your sleeping bag but breathe outside the bag. If you breathe inside the sleeping bag your breath will condense and you‟ll get wet – not a good thing! (See the notes above.)
  • Wear a light stocking cap to bed. A body loses a big percentage of its heat through your head and neck, a cap helps preserve that warmth.
  • If you‟ve been drinking enough water it will be inevitable that you‟ll have to get up at some time during the night to go to the bathroom. When you do, just get up & go, take care of business and get back into bed. If you try to wait it out until morning, you will be miserable and probably not sleep well!




(National Outdoor Leadership School Educational Videos)