Trail hunting in winter may seem like an adventure for veterans in the field. The main obstacle is the weather. When cold makes your fingers fall off and snow buries you alive, you lose the enjoyment of winter hunting. However, backpack hikers have long ago treaded the path for winter camping. They assembled the set of gear needed for the task and mastered the backcountry journey in cold seasons.
We discuss their technics in the three categories: staying warm, shelter, and fire lightning.
Staying warm below zero
The rule of thumb is layers. While hunting, you rapidly change the activity – from running to trailing and sitting low, waiting for the chance. Your clothes should adapt to your activity by filtering out residual moisture and keeping the warmth inside.
Moreover, you’ll need to stay dry as long as possible. While trail hunting, you won’t be able to carry a lot on your back, so wear waterproof garments and plan how you’re going to dry yourself in the tent. One of the options is setting a camp and using one of the tent stoves that is a great helper in drying boots and warming the whole place to comfortable temperatures.
Here we list several recommendations that help keep you warm for longer:
- Get off from the frozen ground. Sitting in the snow may seem harmless, but while you linger, your clothes become wet and heavy. Have a foam mat with you to place underneath or use a tarp as an alternative. If you have none, use your backpack as a substitute, but make sure it’s waterproof.
- Take hand warmers to save fingers. Put the warmers in the gloves and let your fingers feel the life again. Warmers become a life savior when your hands are frozen and wet that makes them unfit for producing heat and warming the gloves’ inside. Moreover, at night put the warmers in the boots to get rid of the ice inside. Cover them with socks to insulate heat. Your shoes should protect your feet and not cause frostbite.
- Have multiple gloves and socks. It’s a crucial point because constantly wet hands and feet will lead to horrible health issues. Also, in below zero temperature, your skin won’t last without protection, so keep spare dry pairs near.
- Make a base to return to. The tent will serve as a resting point, where you can leave the gear you don’t need during the trailing and later dry clothes. We recommend choosing an outfitter wall tent that gives much space for keeping equipment.
Here we go into details about tents and sleeping systems. You need to have sturdy gear to stand up to weather like harsh winds and heavy snow load. One more tip for the tent – it should have an operatable vestibule. This space is perfect for storing the gear that otherwise will bring moisture inside the tent. Moreover, it’s a place for cooking away from the strong wind and freezing temperatures.
Now let’s turn to the technical points on setting up the shelter:
- Make sure that the tent’s door doesn’t face the wind direction. The fly isn’t the perfect insulation from the wind, and you’ll feel the hard blow right away. Moreover, the zipper may freeze during the night and trap you inside, which will become a real obstacle to continuing the journey. Place the tent in the way so that snow will drift on the non-door side.
- Choose a tent with proper ventilation. It may seem like a good idea to have a closed environment inside the tent to keep the warmth. However, the residual moisture that you omit needs to get out. If it stays, vapor will turn into water drops, snow, and ice inside the tent.
- Don’t leave your face open during the night. We don’t say that you need to hide inside a sleeping bag because it will also cause damage – the moisture from breathing will accumulate inside and lower the temperature. However, in extreme temperatures, you should cover the face with a beanie or a light facemask. It’ll help to get to sleep faster and in more comfort.
- Put the clothes beneath you at night. In the morning you’d like to wear dry and warm clothes, and the best way to preserve them like that is to sleep on top of them during the night.
You won’t survive the day without the source of heat. Your body is an excellent generator of warmth, but trail hunting will take all your power resources and leave you in need of refueling. If you stop in one place, you’ll slowly lose body heat and risk freezing to death. That’s why some kind of fire is essential for camping in winter.
- Bring firestarters. Cold weather creates two significant problems – it’s harder to light wood, and your hands work poorly. Your fingers won’t last long without gloves, which in turn complicates the process of trying to start a fire. Take a lighter and a sparker that doesn’t rely on fuel. Keep them close to the body to keep dry. An excellent lightweight firestarter will quickly ignite and stay burning, so you don’t have to fiddle around.
- Try out the JetBoil before taking it with you. Alas, you can’t rely on gas-fueled portable stoves in any weather. A part of them last through extreme temperatures but never rely on it as the sole source of heat. Be ready to make a fire if something goes wrong.
- Know the field – find the best flammable materials. Your best friend is a dry pine with brown needles. It fires quickly, but at the same time lasts only a short time, so prepare logs to feed the campfire. When deciding where to set a tent, look for appropriate materials for the fire.