Spring is springing here in Canada. The snow is melting, and it won’t be long until the mosquitos are out. We’ve spent the winter practising our snow camping. We still have a lot to learn, but we’ve come a long way from this time last year. I thought I’d share some general tips, mostly for my own benefit when winter comes around again. It’s easy to forget little skills and tips when you don’t need them all summer.
Dig out the fire pit. No, seriously, dig it out more than that. As far down as you can go. Otherwise, as the snow melts under your fire, it drops down and suffocates.
Melting snow takes forever, and you should stop early to do this. Three cups of snow makes one cup of water, as long as you don’t spill any of it on the fire.
If you stomp out your sleeping area and paths between the fire and the tent early, the snow underneath will firm up and harden while you’re off doing other things like collecting wood. This means less postholing when the snowshoes come off.
If you set up the tent during the day, come back and check on your inflatable mattress before you’re ready to go to bed. The cold air compresses inside, so it will feel flat if the temperature has dropped. If you remember to do this before you go to bed, you can go warm up by the fire again once you’re done blowing it up.
Boiling water to put in a nalgene at night can seem like a lot of work, but it’s so worth it. If it’s not too cold, just boil half so you don’t have a half frozen nalgene at your feet. If it’s really cold, boil all the water and it will keep you warm until well after midnight.
Bring things to do in camp. You’ll have a lot of free time while you’re melting snow. Despite bringing books, we rarely read. We listen to audiobooks and podcasts, or do crosswords instead.
When it’s cold, you’re most likely to get wet feet around the fire, as the heat will melt the snow on your boots. Knock as much snow off as possible, so it doesn’t melt.
Snowshoes make great tent stakes if you’re struggling to stake out a tarp or tent.
Hopefully these reminders will help me out next year on our first winter trip of the season.