Saturday, September 28, 2013

"I Wanna Snow-Cave Camp!

Looking through the clearance section on REI I cam across a pic of a tarp in the snow. Suddenly, a little voice shouts in my ear, "I want to snow camp!"

So it doesn't snow much where we are, and it would take a little doing. How old do you think a kid needs to be to go snow camping?

winter camping


  1. Does age truly matter?
    Get good quality winter equipment and ensure dry warm clothes are worn and it's no harder than summer camping. If you can keep warm on a long winter walk you can keep warm on a winter camp.

    If you've never been winter camping before ensure you get a 4 seasons (or even 5!) sleeping bag, a good liner and a thick mat (usually one with the foil on the back). An additional layer underneath the mat sometimes helps (such as a blanket). Tent wants to be a little on the small side (less area to warm up) or at least have a dedicated sleeping area.
    Ensure you have plenty of hot drinks and food available.
    And nothing beats a good old camp fire if you are allowed one.

    Best of luck and let us know how it goes :)

    1. (Argh, my first reply got eaten!)

      Age may not matter, but maturity and thermal mass might. It's hard to keep her dry, and she's not good at telling us (noticing?) when she's getting warm until she's sweating, or getting cold until she's shivering. Maybe I should listen to what I've written elsewhere and pay attention to my specific kid.

      The adults have winter camped, but in snow caves, not tents. And we no longer live in a place where one can build a snow cave in the backyard. But affording gear is a lot easier now...

      Do you have any advice for how to tell if a kid is ready to winter camp? Any good stories? Does your advice change with only one adult?

      Thanks for the comment, good stuff to think about.

    2. Sorry no advice really, every kid would be different, most will be excited about the possibility but the practicality is a different matter. I don't think any kid is great at telling their own condition, we just have to keep an eye out for the kids that are been quiet which are normally loud, saying silly things out of character or not looking "right". As you know it's abut knowing each child individually. Body mass definitely plays a roll as does surface area, children been smaller will get colder faster, there is a plus side though, if you catch it soon enough you can reverse the effect quickly.

      Clothing wise is she brushing against things or falling in puddles? If it's moister from contact good waterproofs are great, don't know how hard it would be to get them for kids but you can get fleece lined waterproof trousers which are really comfy and trap heat without been too hot, far better than normal trousers with waterproofs over top (which tend to also trap sweat). If it's from puddles then the only real option other than a dry-suit is the hi-tech path, get several thin layers that are fast drying, will be cold when she first gets wet but soon dry off and warm up again after, benefit with thin layers is you can also strip off a layer or two if it gets too warm. Either way ensuring socks stay dry or swapped is a must, amazing how much of a difference cold feet makes.

      When the Scouts camp in winter we just make sure they have plenty of changes of clothes and change often, similar goes on with the Cubs but with them there is always a building nearby which can be used if necessary. Some leaders do take their younger kids with them and other than cold hands (too many snowball fights usually) they tend to do well. Outside sessions tend to be short with the possibility of retreating to shelter at regular opportunities and hot drinks are free flowing.

      As to if my advice would change with just one adult, somewhat. Having multiple adults means one can be watching the kids while the other is busy with the task. While I find it much easier to look after my nephew solo than my pack (2 adults to 16 kids) it's much harder to do something if the child is also not taking part when it's just you and them.
      Do make sure you have an escape plan, for minor problems a trip to a cafe, museum or play centre can be handy as somewhere to warm up and offer a distraction, bigger problems consider aborting and returning home and of course do consider how the emergency services would get to you in the unlikely event it all goes wrong. I'm from the UK so get outs tend to be easier to find as we're never truly that far from a road or some sort of shelter (assuming you know where they are), as a first camp I'd definitely recommend somewhere close to civilisation even if it may not seem as exciting.