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Checklist for a Basic Cold Weather Outing

You’re frantic. Panicked even. In exactly one hour, your troop is heading out the door on a cold weather outing — and you’re struggling to pack. What clothes do you need to bring? How about extra gear?

No worries.

Just take a deep breath and use this handy checklist. In addition to the basic camping gear, you’ll also need:

  • Long-sleeved shirt
  • Long pants (fleece or wool)
  • Sweater (fleece or wool)
  • Long underwear (polypropylene)
  • Hiking boots or sturdy shoes
  • Socks (wool or synthetic)
  • Warm parka or jacket with hood
  • Stocking hat (fleece or wool)
  • Mittens or gloves (fleece or wool) with water-resistant shells
  • Wool scarf
  • Rain gear
  • Extra underwear (for longer trips)

COLD-WEATHER EXPERT ESSENTIALS

Here’s more advice from a program director at Northern Tier National High Adventure Bases in Ely, Minnesota:

Bandana. “In the cold, your nose tends to run. To keep your mittens, sleeves and jacket clean and snot-free, use the bandana to wipe your nose.”

Sorel boots. “Boots or shoes will not keep you warm and dry if you’re in the snow. And if it gets well below freezing, regular hiking boots or shoes won’t keep your feet warm either. Wear Sorel boots for wet snow conditions and mukluk-style boots for dry snow.”

Wind parka with hood. “A long wind parka that covers the upper torso down to your mid-thigh will help keep you much warmer than a regular jacket. The heat generated by the lower body and groin area moves to the upper body and then out the neck and head keeping those areas much warmer, much the way a chimney works.”

Side-attaching suspenders. “Using suspenders to keep your pants up instead of a belt is less constricting and allows heat from your lower body to rise freely to the upper body. The side-attaching type allows you to remove your pants without having to take layers off and are easier to reattach.”

TWO THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED:

Rubberized gloves. “When filling liquid-fuel cooking stoves in really cold weather, wear rubber gloves. If it’s below zero degrees, the fuel will still be liquid at that temperature and can cause instant frostbite if you spill it on your mittens or hands.”

Headlamp. “Daylight is short in the winter, and using a headlamp allows you to use both hands when you do anything from cooking to eating to searching for something in your pack. Plus, if you put your metal mini-Maglite in your mouth when it’s really cold, it’ll freeze to your tongue or lips instantly — ouch!”

13 Comments on Checklist for a Basic Cold Weather Outing

  1. Scoutmaster Larry // November 3, 2018 at 11:58 pm // Reply

    Extra set (maybe several) of dry gear is once you stop moving (and generating body heat) at the end of the day. A Nalgene filled with hot water and stuffed in a wool sock does a great job of warming up the foot end of your sleeping bag. Make sure to close it tight.

    • Experienced Klondike Chair // September 23, 2019 at 2:34 pm // Reply

      Always change into a dry base layer before turning in. The clothes you will have been wearing all day will be sweaty and dirty. A clean dry layer will keep you warmer.

  2. old scouter // March 15, 2018 at 1:39 pm // Reply

    Pee bottle for use in the middle of the night. Holding in urine uses body heat to keep the fluids warm. Using a bottle to get rid of it while not having to leave your tent helps keep you warmer.

    • Experienced Klondike Chair // September 23, 2019 at 2:37 pm // Reply

      Amen. I always take an empty 2 quart juice bottle (rinsed clean, of course). Just getting out of a warm sleeping bag is bad enough, let alone leaving the tent.

  3. VeganGivesLife // February 9, 2018 at 2:08 pm // Reply

    Thanks for putting this together.

  4. Thanks bro!

  5. If possible have the boys change their underwear(moist from sweat) to fresh dry underwear Dry insulates and moisture absorbs body heat.. Two pairs of socks,one thin synthetic (NO Cotton) for the inner layer and a thick insulated outer layer. The boys should also have a second pair of gloves or mittens

  6. Thank you so much! This is so helpful for my klondike derby, and I also need to give a presentation to my troop about cold weather camping, so this is going to be a great reference and guideline.

  7. Add long underwear or shirts that wick away moisture like heat tech brand which are super light weight and circulate heat without causing a body to become sweaty – You’ll need for extra socks too. Change your socks at least 2x a day and please don’t sleep in them it just traps moisture and makes you colder.

  8. One thing to remember is that batteries lose their charge much faster in cold weather. Be sure to bring an extra set for that headlamp and keep them in a pocket close to your body to keep them warm.

  9. Winter camper // November 30, 2017 at 6:07 pm // Reply

    We always suggest bringing a bottle of gateraid. First you drink the liquid to stay hydrated and then fill the container at night instead of having to get out of a warm spelling bag to hit the latrine.

  10. The alkaline batteries use water based chemistry to create electricity. If the batteries get cold enough, the headlight will die. The Scouts should be encouraged to keep the headlamps in their pockets close to their bodies when not in use. Or better, install lithium batteries which while they cost 2X last 4X longer and do not freeze.

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