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Here are some tips:

1. Wear an insulated hat

2. Pull the hat down over your eyes - you loose a lot of heat through the eye sockets and you don't need to see anything while you are asleep

3. Wear all of your clothes

4. Use your pack to cover the bottom of your sleeping bag

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Go to bed cold - sleep cold.

Go to bed warm - sleep warm.

Do some activity to warm up before crawling into the sack. Also, drink something hot, like cocoa.

Don't bury your face "under the covers" or else the moisture from your breath will soak the bag and ultimately result in a cold night.

Carry a better insulating pad (i.e. Thermarest Standard 3/4 length). The R-value is 5.8 - higher than most other pads, hence you'll conduct less heat to the ground. Even though it weighs slightly more, you can now get away with a lighter sleeping bag. So total weight of the two items may be the same or even less. AND, you'll have comfort that's tough to beat. The more comfortable you are, the less you'll move around and hence the less heat you'll lose. Throw your pack down beneath your feet along with any spare clothing - that will insulate just fine, besides your feet have no need for "comfort".

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Y'all are forgetting about the spoon. grin.gif I've spent many a cold night with very little snivel, let alone a sleeping bag, in relative comfort by spoon. Your comrades are losing a lot of heat just like you are. So, just huddle like penguins (sp?) or wrap up in a wobbie, and you'll be toasty. If you are in the middle. Everyone loses their personal bubble when its freezing.

Also, always wear a hat. A snookie can save you the warmth of a fleece jacket, for a quarter the weight. Neck gaiters/scarves/balacalavas are wonderful too.

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For winter camps or for Alaskan basecamps I have to second the down booties. Worth every ounce (which isn't much). I also have to second the spoon. Two of us slept this weekend with a chill liner (light nylon blanket with virtually no insulation) and were plenty warm by spooning. Of course this only works well if you are with your girlfriend or with a partner who you really get along well with.

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I've never tried it but a friend of mine uses one of those reflective windshield covers as a second sleeping pad. They are light cheap, and a large on is just the size.

Combine it w/ a 3/4 length therma rest and you are good to go in all but the colsed condtitions.

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The chemical hand warmers that REI sells are worth a try. They might sound kind of wimpy, but they are inexpensive, lighweight, and really work. I took some to Alaska this past winter in order to warm my hands while dealing with a medium format camera on a ski trip. I ended up using them at night in my sleeping bag. When it got really cold (< -40F) and I couldn't sleep, I would place one at the foot of my bag and one on my chest. They made all the difference between shivering and a night of semi-sleep. My guess is that they would more than make up for their weight on a forced bivy.


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Yaaa! A question a Minnesotian is qualified to answer! grin.gif

GOOD long underware (tops and bottoms) - midweight zip tops are wonderful.

Fleece pants

I have slept with my mukluck linings on my feet...guessing muklucks arent top priority on a mountain so I will vote for down booties! I have friends who absolutely LOVE them! You can also make good camp "booties" with liners from sorells (or whatever) and then cover them with a sleeping bag sack. Sinch it around your ankles. Basically a cheaper, lighter version of mukluks

have to admit the hand/foot warmers do WONDERS. you can usually get them cheap from a gas station. Buy 'em in the summer and they are cheaper. I have a shit load of them (also EXTREMELY helpful in the mitts when ice climbing). They actually have some that are reusable if you dont want to produce the extra paper/garbage.

balaclava....a THICK one!

Hats! Hats! and more Hats! grin.gif

Last but not least, consider what your sleeping bag is rated at. Ive done winter camping in a variety of bags...0 degrees or below makes a world of difference!

*waiting patiently for snow and ice here in MN*

Be well,

Be safe,

(and be warm)


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Two thin pads, try to get Evazote closed cell foam. Layer outer shells, mittens,etc between the two. You can widen toss n turn footprint, keep your clothes from freezing solid and dried out somewhat via body heat, and gives plenty of R value. You don't want to be using a thermarest in the winter and depend on it- lots of sharpies to poke aand valves to freeze, I've seen it happen (to my friends) WAY too often.

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I found that if my feet were cold then I wouldn't get a good nights sleep. I tried the hot water in a nalgene bottle at my feet. It would work till about 2-3am and then I would get cold again (which = no sleep).

My solution was getting a pair of down slippers. They fit into my stuff sack with my sleeping bag. I sleep in them and when I need to get up, I can walk around with them in camp. They have a sole on them so it works great in the winter time, I don't have to put on cold boots. They are in my stuff sack year around. I have converted a couple of my climbing friends into considering them essential gear.

Price = $20

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By keeping your extremities warmer, you keep your core warmer, which translates to better rest. (I use the term "rest," because I find it rather difficult to do any better than rest--but, hell, good rest is still preferable to bad rest). It is amazing how far the hat, gloves, and down booties will go. It also depends on how long you plan to stop. If you are planning for (8) hours, you need more insulation. If, however, you plan to stop for only (2) hours on a summer alpine climb, you can leave some heavy stuff at home. Put on all the clothing you have in your pack; roll out your pad inside your bivy sack; jump in quickly before your body cools off too much. With hat, gloves, and down booties it is quite tolerable for a few hours.

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I wear Outdoor Research mukkluks with Double boot liners(telemark too!) or wool socks, great for plunging thru knee deep snow on the way to the evacuation hole- fold up to virtually nothing, and no more snow cold ankles from bootie/pant gap.

I reiterate my recommendation of two foam pads with your clothes layered between as the single most important thing you can do to insulate from the snow.

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It's funny that nobody has mentioned adding gear and clothing underneath your pad...

I have found that many times when sleeping on snow, the air temperature is not cold, but the snow still sucks the heat out of you. Take any extra clothing or gear that you are not wearing and put it underneath your pad or feet and you will sleep significantly warmer. This also saves weight since you then don't have to bring extra clothing, warmer sleeping bag, or an extra pad.

Items to put underneath oneself:

-Shell Pants

-Shell Jacket

-Any other extra clothing



-Pack (this usually goes underneath my feet)

-Stuff sacks

-Anything you can find to go underneath you and still be comfortable

On one trip up Lib Ridge a few years back, all we had was bivy gear, light sleeping bags, and 3/4 pads. We ended up digging a hole underneath us to get the packs and rope to lay flat. We slept incredibly warm on a cold night...


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The answer is very simple, I used to get cold when I would sleep on snow with my thermarest so I got a ridge rest they are alot lighter than a thermarest and even the thinner one is alot warmer than my old thermarest! and they sell for somethin like 12-15$

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I agree with Kayagpa about the ridgerest - I find it both lighter and warmer than a thermarest. But lots of people will argue this point.

One other important point that I believe is not mentioned above is to keep your sleeping bag dry. By paying attention, you can sleep under a tarp in a blizzard and keep everything dry, but I have seen people completely soak their sleeping bag - even in a hut or an expedition tent - by simply being careless. Consider a garbage bag lining your stuff sack when travelling, don't get your bag out while you'll still be in and out of the tent and getting everything wet, pay close attention to ventilation and frost, hang your sleeping bag on a ski to air out while you break camp in the morning, etc.


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