Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Bushwalking gear and paraphernalia. Electronic gadget topics (inc. GPS, PLB, chargers) belong in the 'Techno Babble' sub-forum.
Forum rules
TIP: The online Bushwalk Inventory System can help bushwalkers with a variety of bushwalk planning tasks, including: Manage which items they take bushwalking so that they do not forget anything they might need, plan meals for their walks, and automatically compile food/fuel shopping lists (lists of consumables) required to make and cook the meals for each walk. It is particularly useful for planning for groups who share food or other items, but is also useful for individual walkers.

Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Tue 12 Jul, 2022 10:10 pm

Hello,

I'm pretty new to overnight hiking and would really appreciate some advice.

My partner and I are new to hiking, and progressively getting into it. We're planning our first overnight hike at the end of July, and hope to build up to hikes in AAWT (winter and summer), NZ and potentially Nepal in the coming 2-3 years. Keeping this in mind we're slowly working on developing our skills and accumulating gear. Gear wise, we'd obviously like to keep things as light as possible whilst maintaining a reasonable buget (not shell out for really expensive unless we really need to).

Presently, we'd really appreciate some advice regarding sleeping setup and sleeping mats. We're one hot and one cold sleeper between us :wink:

- Amongst other things, we've inherited the following:

1. 1xBig Agnes Insulated Q-Core SLX: R-value:3.2, weight: 539g
(https://www.bigagnes.com/Q-Core-SLX)
2. 1xBig Agnes Copper Spur HV UL2 (https://www.bigagnes.com/Copper-Spur-HV-UL2-2020)
3. Kathmandu - Columbus Down Sleeping Bag - 650 fill
(https://www.kathmandu.com.au/columbus-d ... olour=4739)
4. Hi-Country Lite Hiker -5 Sleeping Bag
https://www.aussiedisposals.com.au/hi-c ... ker-5.html

- We've been eyeing sales at Snowys on the Sea to Summit sleeping mat range. These seemed like possibly good options to us:

1. Ether Light XT Extreme Insulated Sleeping Mat: R-value:6.2, weight: 720g
(https://www.snowys.com.au/ether-light-x ... eeping-mat)
2. Ultralight Insulated Sleeping Mat: R-value:3.1, weight: 480g
(https://www.snowys.com.au/ultralight-in ... eeping-mat)


We'd appreciate advice on the following:
1. Would the tent we have inherited be good enough for AAWT during winter?
2. Would the sleeping bags and sleep mat combos be good enough for AAWT winter?

Between the two options from SeatoSummit, would you recommend one over the other. Or would you recommend something else enitrely.

Any advice is greatly apprecaited, thanks very much :D


PS - should add, for summer, we have cheapo and light sleeping gear sorted
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby sandym » Wed 13 Jul, 2022 7:33 am

Personally, not a fan of S2S products, but that could be just me.

We have the Big Agnes tent and, with the standard caveat that your mileage may vary, it is a cold tent in winter. We generally only use it in the warmer months.

That said, we took it up to the ACT and had a couple of frosty nights in it (probably -3C to -5C) and it was OK with good down sleeping bags but it would not be my choice of tent for winter camping.
sandym
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 355
Joined: Wed 19 Sep, 2012 7:34 pm
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Female

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby johnrs » Wed 13 Jul, 2022 12:25 pm

Heh Windsong
maybe your bags are a bit marginal for winter.
If you want some inexpensive down have a look at Aegis Max china products.
John
johnrs
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
Phyllocladus aspleniifolius
 
Posts: 555
Joined: Mon 09 Aug, 2010 6:09 pm
Region: New South Wales

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby myrtlegirl » Wed 13 Jul, 2022 2:30 pm

Hm. I'm thinking your tent, bags and mats are a bit light for winter trip at altitude. My mat has R=7 (Exped down mat), bag is 700g & 700lft (MacPac Altitude), and I take a 4-season tent (Mont dragonfly.)
I'm probably a midrange female when it comes to sleep temp.

I just hate being cold overnight and it ruins me for the next day - dozy & uncoordinated, I trip, stagger and stuff around which uses more energy thus making me even more dozy and unco. I'm def not a joy to be around, as opposed to my usual sparkling self tripping gaily across the mountains.

I suggest plan a single night trip that gets you up high and exposed on a cold night to see how you go. For me, good sleep is not negotiable on a long walk.
myrtlegirl
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 114
Joined: Wed 06 Jan, 2010 3:40 pm
Region: Tasmania
Gender: Female

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby crollsurf » Wed 13 Jul, 2022 7:10 pm

I wouldn't want to give advice, but I can offer some thoughts about travelling in the high country during winter. Probably the biggest consideration about gearing up for the white season, is spending a heap of money on equipment you'll only use a few nights a year.

Tent: You don't need a 4 season tent but it depends on what your plan is. If you want to camp above the tree line, or in bad weather below the tree line. If you want to traverse open exposed areas and be prepared for a potential accident, you're definitely going to want a 4 season tent. And just because you have a 4 season tent, don't count on it surviving on a mountain top in a blizzard. Site selection is still important unless the weather is fine.

If you’re planning to walk/ski and camp in good weather, in other words, you have a weather window so you can avoid bad weather. A quality 3 season tent, below the tree line is fine.

Sleeping: You want a mat or a combination of mats that equal an R rating of ~7. Doesn't matter how good your bag/quilt is, if the ground is sucking your heat, you will end up cold. For a sleeping bag/quilt, you want to get down to -10C comfort. Ideally -20C.

Cooking: A metho stove or cannister will work, but you need to protect the stove from the cold. You will need an isolation layer between the stove and the snow and maybe carry fuel near your body. Also note the fuel mix of the cannister. Some of the cheaper mixes won’t work. There are specialised cooking systems for minus degrees also.

Electronics: You need to keep them warm so carry your batteries near your body.

Extremities: make sure your feet, hands and head stay warm.

What can you do, without spending a fortune on gear? You can double up. Take 2 mats, take 2 quilts, wear your day gear to bed. R values and bag ratings are accumulative so do the maths. If you get to that R7 and -10C (-20 is better) comfort rating, you should be right.

Recently I have been travelling with a -6C down combined with a 10C Apex quilt. So the combined quilts get me down to around -20C and it works well, but the Thermarest Neo Xlite and a 3mm CCF doesn't quite get me there. I never woke up cold, but the mat system meant I wasn't waking up toasty. I've since moved to a Thermarest Xtherm and that's made the difference. I've also bought some insulated pants and an Apex beanie which means I don't need to bring the 10C quilt and I'm a lot more comfortable around camp.

I bought the pants and beanie, ditched the 10C quilt, but I didn't just go and hit up the wilderness snow country. Even after decades of ski touring, I went for a shakedown at a campground when night-time temps got below -6C. And that's probably the most important point to make. Don't just head out and hope for the best. Make sure you'll be OK because the snow country, particularly when bad weather comes in, is the most unforgiving environment you're likely to come across.

Use what you already have, purchase other items depending... and test your systems before you head out into the unknown.

Pro tip: Put your boots or ski boot liners in your bag/quilt at night to stop them freezing. But don't tell your friends. I've always got a laugh watching them putting on there frozen boots in the morning :twisted:
User avatar
crollsurf
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1837
Joined: Tue 07 Mar, 2017 10:07 am
Location: Sydney
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby Gadgetgeek » Wed 13 Jul, 2022 8:10 pm

Just some general advice for the moment because I'm behind the curve right now on the latest and greatest in gear. There are a hundred little tips and tricks for getting the most out of your sleeping gear, and they are very valuable. However, I think that they should be what gives you a margin of error, and not what claws your sleeping gear into being enough for the conditions. Over a few nights, your sleeping bag will get damp and lose efficiency. Sleeping bag ratings presume a 4 hour sleep pattern and a wake-up/warm-up, which for some people is really not effective for sleep, or comfort. Conditioning matters, I know that as a SEQ resident, I'm not nearly as cold tolerant as I was when I lived in Canada. So while thermals, a liner, mat and tent might start to seem like overkill, a lot of times you can leverage the different bits of gear for different conditions.
No material is "magic" go for the strengths that you need, but understand the downsides, for example, I have a down bag that has a lower threshold of 6C, in Queensland when a 15c night can be 85% or higher relative humidity, it can be nearly useless.
Know yourself, some people will only feel "core" cold, and some feel "skin" cold. If you are a skin-cold person, make sure your insulating layers are not too tight, because even though you might be warm enough, you won't be comfortable.
To be totally fair, when I think cold, I think sub -10C, so hypothermia is always on my mind, rather than just discomfort, but I've seen people get hypothermic due to being damp, low food, or poor conditioning even around 0C. So it's worth knowing how you will react, because if your plan involves lighting a stove, but your hands don't work, it could be a problem.

I think you are on the right track thinking of taking a couple years to get some experience, even the same walk in different conditions will teach you a lot. You will find out what you are willing to sacrifice and what you will not compromise on. For example, I'm heading out tomorrow to play SAR games with some students and the kit I will be taking is very different than it would have been a few years ago had I been leading a group of school kids, but then the conditions will be very different, as will my goals. Sure I'll take a tent, bag and mat "just in case" but I've got a swag, two wool blankets and a forecast of a damp 8C night, at the basecamp, because who knows what will happen? Different goals, different gear.
Gadgetgeek
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1208
Joined: Sun 23 Sep, 2012 4:10 pm
Region: Queensland
Gender: Male

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby Neo » Wed 13 Jul, 2022 9:58 pm

Now is a great time to test your gear near home, unless you live in the far north.

Don't have to go far just camp in an exposed spot, pitch low in a southern gully or head up the great divide a bit to get some chillier test conditions.
Neo
Athrotaxis selaginoides
Athrotaxis selaginoides
 
Posts: 1766
Joined: Wed 31 Aug, 2016 4:53 pm
Location: Port Macquarie NSW
Region: New South Wales
Gender: Male

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby Biggles » Thu 14 Jul, 2022 1:24 pm

High country snow camping is an experience like none other, chiefly because of the constant chill! This is what you have to guard against, irrespective of being either a hot or cold sleeper.

Tent: double skinned, double-poled with one roomy vestibule and peg-out points, including storm-guy peg-outs (usually at the middle). You will be bunkered down with all tent openings closed, save for vents, which should be left open on the side opposite to the prevailing wind.

I have never heard of the tent you have mentioned; and I am not a fan of High Street outdoor equipment retailers offering stuff that is not intended for the snow.
Snow camping is about safety, foremost, as well as comfort, and thorough thought and careful selection will mean spending some serious money.

Sleeping bag: for hot sleeper, —5° to —7° is fine; for a cold sleeper, a —10°+ — bit of guesswork there, but could go to —15°. These dinkum snow camping bags can also increase in weight and size as ratings increase. Choose carefully.

Sleeping mat: insulated e.g. Sea to Summit self-inflating full-thickness (inflation/hardness can be adjusted at will). Cheap foam mattresses are a fail.
Stove: Propane/butane mix canisters perform well in the cold, but liquid fuel stoves, like MSRs, taking Shellite, burn fiercely (they are also very pricey now); the biggest problem is touching the cold steel; I placed a thick black pantyhose over the canister I had. Girlfriend stuff can be useful... :lol:

Batteries for example headlamps, tent lantern: go for lithium (light weight and tolerate extreme cold well). Headlamps use either button cell lithiums e.g. the extremely tiny, light Petzel E+Lite, no bigger than a matchbox when packed. Pack your phone (turned off) in your sleeping bag with you to keep it snug and warm.

When snow camping, I put a thermal blanket underneath the sleeping mat to protect against cold soak. These are the ubiquitous silver fold-up affairs available in many places. Outside I put a trekking pole with fluoro flagging tape attached so I can locate the tent in dimmer winter light. Many better quality tents have striped guys that reflect light, additional to reflective patches on or proximal to entry doors.

I have camped on Mount Clear in —8°c in a Mont Moondance I full nylon inner; the hardest part was just breathing in the chill air, second being the condensation inside next morning saturating everything. Same thing for camping on the slope of Mt Kosciuszko (whee camp was pummelled by a ferocious electrical and wind storm). Condensation cannot be left on the sleeping bag when packing it away. Therein lies the challenge when breaking camp to dry it out as much as possible.

Winter temperatures in suburbia are nowhere near low enough to mimic overnight temps in the snow, but you could pack up and head to somewhere familiar to get a feel for what you need to do, and learn from any mistakes before heading upstream to the peaks where mistakes may not be so forgiving.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.
—Lao Tzu.
User avatar
Biggles
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 269
Joined: Thu 14 May, 2009 12:14 pm
Location: Castlemaine, Victoria
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby Hiking Exped » Sat 16 Jul, 2022 3:21 pm

Lots of good advice here from others.

The best advice I have is testing your gear, set ups and camp routines for Alpine Winter somewhere relatively safe. I spend a lot of time up around Mt Stirling or BHP in winter to test gear, etc.

If the sun is out, with no wind it’s beautiful and great fun, but things change quickly up high and you need to really perfect staying warm and dry over multiple nights and days.

The use of a hot water bottle (I use a Nalgene inside a sock) can really help staying warm at night, but if you are using a down bag discipline with keeping it dry is crucial and it takes practice. What base layers you wear, what down jackets you have with you and critically what you eat and when all impact how warm and comfortable you stay.

Insulation underneath is critical aim for a combination R6-7. I use a cell foam thermarest under an R6 Insulated bed. I’ve had lovely comfy nights with much less and good camp discipline in good weather, but when the weather changes and wind chill plummets temperatures quickly it can get nasty.

Keeping your batteries and comms gear warm enough also takes practice and discipline.

Researching, Refining and testing your gear and camp discipline is all part of the fun, but gets addictive (trust me) :)

Enjoy both..
Hiking Exped
Athrotaxis cupressoides
Athrotaxis cupressoides
 
Posts: 117
Joined: Wed 13 Oct, 2021 8:05 am
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby Moondog55 » Sun 17 Jul, 2022 11:57 am

What has made the biggest difference for me over the last few white seasons has been putting a second set of CCF mats under the tent floor and using an UL synthetic quilt over my down bag.
The overquilt is lighter than my bivvy bag and adds several degrees to my systems lower end rating.
Ditto all the above comments of needing sufficient insulation from the cold snow underneath
Ve are too soon old und too late schmart
Moondog55
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 10607
Joined: Thu 03 Dec, 2009 4:15 pm
Location: Norlane Geelong Victoria Australia
Region: Victoria
Gender: Male

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:07 pm

sandym wrote:Personally, not a fan of S2S products, but that could be just me.

We have the Big Agnes tent and, with the standard caveat that your mileage may vary, it is a cold tent in winter. We generally only use it in the warmer months.

That said, we took it up to the ACT and had a couple of frosty nights in it (probably -3C to -5C) and it was OK with good down sleeping bags but it would not be my choice of tent for winter camping.


Thanks, we've been told S2S is great by some, but haven't had much direct experience ourselves (yet). What have you found to be issues? And great to know regarding the tent, doable, if not comfortable.
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:08 pm

johnrs wrote:Heh Windsong
maybe your bags are a bit marginal for winter.
If you want some inexpensive down have a look at Aegis Max china products.
John


Thanks very much, yes we've been hearing that a bit. Will take a look at Aegis, haven't heard of it before!
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:10 pm

myrtlegirl wrote:Hm. I'm thinking your tent, bags and mats are a bit light for winter trip at altitude. My mat has R=7 (Exped down mat), bag is 700g & 700lft (MacPac Altitude), and I take a 4-season tent (Mont dragonfly.)
I'm probably a midrange female when it comes to sleep temp.

I just hate being cold overnight and it ruins me for the next day - dozy & uncoordinated, I trip, stagger and stuff around which uses more energy thus making me even more dozy and unco. I'm def not a joy to be around, as opposed to my usual sparkling self tripping gaily across the mountains.

I suggest plan a single night trip that gets you up high and exposed on a cold night to see how you go. For me, good sleep is not negotiable on a long walk.


Thanks, that's really good feedback. Yes, we're learning that one of us is a lot colder sleeper than the other. So we're definitely going to work this out iteratively. And agree that sleep is pretty important to your enjoyment of a trip overall! Good to know what gear you use, will look them up.
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:16 pm

crollsurf wrote:I wouldn't want to give advice, but I can offer some thoughts about travelling in the high country during winter. Probably the biggest consideration about gearing up for the white season, is spending a heap of money on equipment you'll only use a few nights a year.

Tent: You don't need a 4 season tent but it depends on what your plan is. If you want to camp above the tree line, or in bad weather below the tree line. If you want to traverse open exposed areas and be prepared for a potential accident, you're definitely going to want a 4 season tent. And just because you have a 4 season tent, don't count on it surviving on a mountain top in a blizzard. Site selection is still important unless the weather is fine.

If you’re planning to walk/ski and camp in good weather, in other words, you have a weather window so you can avoid bad weather. A quality 3 season tent, below the tree line is fine.

Sleeping: You want a mat or a combination of mats that equal an R rating of ~7. Doesn't matter how good your bag/quilt is, if the ground is sucking your heat, you will end up cold. For a sleeping bag/quilt, you want to get down to -10C comfort. Ideally -20C.

Cooking: A metho stove or cannister will work, but you need to protect the stove from the cold. You will need an isolation layer between the stove and the snow and maybe carry fuel near your body. Also note the fuel mix of the cannister. Some of the cheaper mixes won’t work. There are specialised cooking systems for minus degrees also.

Electronics: You need to keep them warm so carry your batteries near your body.

Extremities: make sure your feet, hands and head stay warm.

What can you do, without spending a fortune on gear? You can double up. Take 2 mats, take 2 quilts, wear your day gear to bed. R values and bag ratings are accumulative so do the maths. If you get to that R7 and -10C (-20 is better) comfort rating, you should be right.

Recently I have been travelling with a -6C down combined with a 10C Apex quilt. So the combined quilts get me down to around -20C and it works well, but the Thermarest Neo Xlite and a 3mm CCF doesn't quite get me there. I never woke up cold, but the mat system meant I wasn't waking up toasty. I've since moved to a Thermarest Xtherm and that's made the difference. I've also bought some insulated pants and an Apex beanie which means I don't need to bring the 10C quilt and I'm a lot more comfortable around camp.

I bought the pants and beanie, ditched the 10C quilt, but I didn't just go and hit up the wilderness snow country. Even after decades of ski touring, I went for a shakedown at a campground when night-time temps got below -6C. And that's probably the most important point to make. Don't just head out and hope for the best. Make sure you'll be OK because the snow country, particularly when bad weather comes in, is the most unforgiving environment you're likely to come across.

Use what you already have, purchase other items depending... and test your systems before you head out into the unknown.

Pro tip: Put your boots or ski boot liners in your bag/quilt at night to stop them freezing. But don't tell your friends. I've always got a laugh watching them putting on there frozen boots in the morning :twisted:


So many helpful perspectives and experiences, thanks so much for sharing. Yes, I think the biggest takeaway so far is to gradually build up and accumulate as you go. Really good points regarding combining and swapping gear to get to something which works best for you. I guess it can be easy to get caught up in R ratings and technical information, which doesn't necessarily tell you how it will play for you in real life. I think lots of testing, trial and error will be involved for us. Also, huge thanks for the tips on other equipment and gear, these are very likely things we would have learned the hard way!
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:22 pm

Gadgetgeek wrote:Just some general advice for the moment because I'm behind the curve right now on the latest and greatest in gear. There are a hundred little tips and tricks for getting the most out of your sleeping gear, and they are very valuable. However, I think that they should be what gives you a margin of error, and not what claws your sleeping gear into being enough for the conditions. Over a few nights, your sleeping bag will get damp and lose efficiency. Sleeping bag ratings presume a 4 hour sleep pattern and a wake-up/warm-up, which for some people is really not effective for sleep, or comfort. Conditioning matters, I know that as a SEQ resident, I'm not nearly as cold tolerant as I was when I lived in Canada. So while thermals, a liner, mat and tent might start to seem like overkill, a lot of times you can leverage the different bits of gear for different conditions.
No material is "magic" go for the strengths that you need, but understand the downsides, for example, I have a down bag that has a lower threshold of 6C, in Queensland when a 15c night can be 85% or higher relative humidity, it can be nearly useless.
Know yourself, some people will only feel "core" cold, and some feel "skin" cold. If you are a skin-cold person, make sure your insulating layers are not too tight, because even though you might be warm enough, you won't be comfortable.
To be totally fair, when I think cold, I think sub -10C, so hypothermia is always on my mind, rather than just discomfort, but I've seen people get hypothermic due to being damp, low food, or poor conditioning even around 0C. So it's worth knowing how you will react, because if your plan involves lighting a stove, but your hands don't work, it could be a problem.

I think you are on the right track thinking of taking a couple years to get some experience, even the same walk in different conditions will teach you a lot. You will find out what you are willing to sacrifice and what you will not compromise on. For example, I'm heading out tomorrow to play SAR games with some students and the kit I will be taking is very different than it would have been a few years ago had I been leading a group of school kids, but then the conditions will be very different, as will my goals. Sure I'll take a tent, bag and mat "just in case" but I've got a swag, two wool blankets and a forecast of a damp 8C night, at the basecamp, because who knows what will happen? Different goals, different gear.


That's a really valuable reminder, thanks. I think we really need to get out and get more experience under our belts so that we have a better understanding of how the gear will react in different environments, and what our needs are in those environments. Interesting also to learn about the core/skin cold dichotomy, that will definitely influence how we think of our sleep set ups. Would not have thought enough about environmental factors like humitidy, or the accumulation of moisture over time... So definitely see the need to get more experience in dealing with these events, so that we can be safe and enjoy time outdoors!
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:23 pm

Neo wrote:Now is a great time to test your gear near home, unless you live in the far north.

Don't have to go far just camp in an exposed spot, pitch low in a southern gully or head up the great divide a bit to get some chillier test conditions.


Haha yes, so true. We're in Melbourne, so there have been plenty of opportunities to test. We need to take better advantage of them!
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:30 pm

Biggles wrote:High country snow camping is an experience like none other, chiefly because of the constant chill! This is what you have to guard against, irrespective of being either a hot or cold sleeper.

Tent: double skinned, double-poled with one roomy vestibule and peg-out points, including storm-guy peg-outs (usually at the middle). You will be bunkered down with all tent openings closed, save for vents, which should be left open on the side opposite to the prevailing wind.

I have never heard of the tent you have mentioned; and I am not a fan of High Street outdoor equipment retailers offering stuff that is not intended for the snow.
Snow camping is about safety, foremost, as well as comfort, and thorough thought and careful selection will mean spending some serious money.

Sleeping bag: for hot sleeper, —5° to —7° is fine; for a cold sleeper, a —10°+ — bit of guesswork there, but could go to —15°. These dinkum snow camping bags can also increase in weight and size as ratings increase. Choose carefully.

Sleeping mat: insulated e.g. Sea to Summit self-inflating full-thickness (inflation/hardness can be adjusted at will). Cheap foam mattresses are a fail.
Stove: Propane/butane mix canisters perform well in the cold, but liquid fuel stoves, like MSRs, taking Shellite, burn fiercely (they are also very pricey now); the biggest problem is touching the cold steel; I placed a thick black pantyhose over the canister I had. Girlfriend stuff can be useful... :lol:

Batteries for example headlamps, tent lantern: go for lithium (light weight and tolerate extreme cold well). Headlamps use either button cell lithiums e.g. the extremely tiny, light Petzel E+Lite, no bigger than a matchbox when packed. Pack your phone (turned off) in your sleeping bag with you to keep it snug and warm.

When snow camping, I put a thermal blanket underneath the sleeping mat to protect against cold soak. These are the ubiquitous silver fold-up affairs available in many places. Outside I put a trekking pole with fluoro flagging tape attached so I can locate the tent in dimmer winter light. Many better quality tents have striped guys that reflect light, additional to reflective patches on or proximal to entry doors.

I have camped on Mount Clear in —8°c in a Mont Moondance I full nylon inner; the hardest part was just breathing in the chill air, second being the condensation inside next morning saturating everything. Same thing for camping on the slope of Mt Kosciuszko (whee camp was pummelled by a ferocious electrical and wind storm). Condensation cannot be left on the sleeping bag when packing it away. Therein lies the challenge when breaking camp to dry it out as much as possible.

Winter temperatures in suburbia are nowhere near low enough to mimic overnight temps in the snow, but you could pack up and head to somewhere familiar to get a feel for what you need to do, and learn from any mistakes before heading upstream to the peaks where mistakes may not be so forgiving.


Thanks very much for the really helpful advice and warnings. Great idea about the thermal blanket under a sleeping mat, seems like a very small investment for a bit of extra security. Also really helpful to know more electrical and cooking goods in cold weather, this is something we haven't really had to face before, so will definitely need to work on the systems.

Out of interest, do you have any specific techniques for helping dry out sleeping bags when breaking camp? I'm assuming hanging them up in the sun or breeze would be the appropriate kind of steps? Or can they even be blotted before doing so?
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:33 pm

Hiking Exped wrote:Lots of good advice here from others.

The best advice I have is testing your gear, set ups and camp routines for Alpine Winter somewhere relatively safe. I spend a lot of time up around Mt Stirling or BHP in winter to test gear, etc.

If the sun is out, with no wind it’s beautiful and great fun, but things change quickly up high and you need to really perfect staying warm and dry over multiple nights and days.

The use of a hot water bottle (I use a Nalgene inside a sock) can really help staying warm at night, but if you are using a down bag discipline with keeping it dry is crucial and it takes practice. What base layers you wear, what down jackets you have with you and critically what you eat and when all impact how warm and comfortable you stay.

Insulation underneath is critical aim for a combination R6-7. I use a cell foam thermarest under an R6 Insulated bed. I’ve had lovely comfy nights with much less and good camp discipline in good weather, but when the weather changes and wind chill plummets temperatures quickly it can get nasty.

Keeping your batteries and comms gear warm enough also takes practice and discipline.

Researching, Refining and testing your gear and camp discipline is all part of the fun, but gets addictive (trust me) :)

Enjoy both..


Thank you! Very good points and tips. Hadn't even thought about the type/timing of food intake and how this would change things... As you say, discipline would be important, so practice would be key. We're getting into testing a bit this weekend, so I suspect we'll come out of it with a much better idea of gaps!
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby windsong » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 1:35 pm

Moondog55 wrote:What has made the biggest difference for me over the last few white seasons has been putting a second set of CCF mats under the tent floor and using an UL synthetic quilt over my down bag.
The overquilt is lighter than my bivvy bag and adds several degrees to my systems lower end rating.
Ditto all the above comments of needing sufficient insulation from the cold snow underneath


Yes, hadn't considered a quilt system until it was mentioned here. Interesting idea about second set of mats, I can see how this would be helpful to ensure the warmth stays where it is!
windsong
Nothofagus gunnii
Nothofagus gunnii
 
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu 07 Jul, 2022 11:31 pm
Region: Victoria

Re: Advice for winter/alpine sleeping setup!

Postby wayno » Wed 17 Aug, 2022 5:27 pm

do not use ultralight shelters for winter alpine environments. you need a minimum 3 season tent and then you have to watch the weather... a winter storm will break most tents except 4 season tents.
don't skimp on a winter sleeping bag... if you havent spent a night awake because you were too cold to sleep then you wont understand whats wrong with a bag thats too light, theres no point saving weight if you're not functioning well because you got stuff all sleep because your gear wasnt up to the job, ultralight and winter don't go together.. you can get a few extra degrees from wearing clothes to bed as well. but you want to be relying on the sleeping bag for providing the majority of the warmth...
from the land of the long white clouds...
User avatar
wayno
Lagarostrobos franklinii
Lagarostrobos franklinii
 
Posts: 8746
Joined: Sun 19 Jun, 2011 7:26 am
Location: NZ
Region: New Zealand
Gender: Male


Return to Equipment

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 8 guests