Earlier this winter, a few of the guys braved the temperatures and conditions and headed out for a winter camping trip. Winter camping may not be for everyone, but can be successful with the proper equipment, clothing and understanding of the risks.
Away they go!
Excitement was high as everyone met up at the shop and started loading up the supplies in the back of the truck. Although the weather turned out to be colder than hoped for, it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Winter in Saskatchewan can be long and dreary, so the opportunity to get outside was not going to be wasted, even in -20 degree weather (and colder with the added wind chill).
After loading up the gear, the three guys trekked into the Nisbet forest on the Altai backcountry skis for their winter camping adventure.
3 Men, 3 Styles
One member of the group packed heavy, one packed pretty light, and one was in the middle. Bringing with him the experience of many nights under the stars, Adam loaded up his pack with multiple options for layers to accommodate various temperatures, as well as his highly compressible down sleeping bag, inflatable sleeping mat, and fold-up sleeping pad. These items were all relatively lightweight (although more than capable of handling the cold night ahead) and meant he was able to carry all of it in his backpack and simply focus on skiing into camp. Chris carried his slightly heavier sleeping bag and pad, along with various sleeping pads, and was also tasked with bringing the tent – a Lite Outdoors teepee tent with a titanium stove – and a few other extras. This meant he needed to pull along a sled behind him in addition to his backpack. Being new to the camping scene, especially winter camping, Dave hauled whatever he had, along with a cot to keep him off the snowy ground for the night. Most of Dave’s gear was built strictly for warmth, not lightweight, so he indeed had the heaviest sled to haul and felt it!
Skiing and Finding Camp
Skiing into the bush and finding a place to camp was fun, but for the two hauling sleds, they definitely felt the burn in their hips. The sleds were also just pulled by ropes, which meant care needed to be taken when heading downhill to avoid being run over by the sled itself! Thankfully, the trails chosen were not too deeply snow-covered, which made the trek a bit easier overall.
After trekking down a few trails, the group found a nice open area to set up camp. The first thing done was to start building the fire, utilizing deadfall as easily as possible for firewood. Once the fire was started, preparations were made for the tent area. The teepee tent was a simple setup, requiring only the four corners to be staked, and then the center pole installed. Snow was piled up along the bottom edges for better sealing in warmth. The stove was quickly set up, and a fire was started inside the tent as well.
Good Times Around the Fire
Once nightfall came, the group set up around the fire outside the tent, enjoying good conversation, snacks, and a beverage or two, of course! The warmth of the fire was sharply contrasted with the cold air behind, but the silence of the winter forest was a welcome and refreshing break from the hustle and bustle they had come from just a few hours earlier! Concerned about getting too cold during the night, Dave set himself a repeating alarm to wake up and keep the fire going. This worked well, but waking up to -23 degrees was still shocking!
In the morning, with the stove keeping the tent warm, the group enjoyed a nice warm breakfast as they discussed plans for the day. After breakfast, they also got the outside fire going again while taking out a .22 Henry lever-action rifle for some target practice fun (Not to worry, there were no live furry creatures were harmed in this pastime!).
As the camping trip came to an end, the guys had mixed feelings while packing up the campsite. Though they were excited to head back home, the thought of the camping adventure ending was not enjoyable. However, packing up the winter campsite was a breeze. The sleeping bags, pads, cots, and other gear were quickly deflated, broken down, and folded. The tent was also packed up effortlessly, and the stove was loaded onto the sled. The skiing back to the truck was a great opportunity to take in the winter scenery once again.
Overall, the winter camping adventure was a success! With proper gear, clothing, and some know-how, winter camping is a very doable venture. If you’re considering it for next season, stop by the store and discuss what you might need and how to prepare. Better yet, put your name down to join the next winter camping session next year!