Monthly Archives: March 2017

Wintertime Test Camping

There was talk of a winter time radio expedition.  I was game, but hesitant.  I don’t have the clothing or gear to support long term bad weather without a suitable location to retreat to.  I asked him for a gear list, and he provided some broad stroke answers.  Due to the trials of Jan and Feb, the wife told me to go all in on gear.

I’m not a great clothes shopper.  I’m that socially awkward run-in-grab-something-about-right-and-get-the-fuck-out guys.  I also have some sort of aversion to camoflage.  To that end, ranger green and coyote brown are godsends, but fuck Realtree and Multicam.  It may be a case of too many gun store commandos and coffee shop hunters.  Anyways, I prowled Cabelas and REI for supplementary gear.

There’s a thing about high priced gear.  That extra cost of the product comes into play a fraction of the time, and if you can control all the conditions you can get by with inexpensive gear.  The classic case of this is in rifle optics.  Yes, your Primary Arms optic is the best optic because you go to the range two days a year, only if the weather is nice, power the optic on for an hour and magdump three mags at a 10y target.  If you were over-nighting on a hunting trip and trying to work game at sunrise, into the sunrise you may find your scope requirements change.

The bottom line is I now own a softshell pair of pant that are the single most expensive piece of clothing in my closet.

To dry run for future winter adventures I spent a Saturday night outside.  I had set the tent out earlier in the day and ran the SWL antenna out.  I wanted to do more then just run out and hop into bed, so at 10pm I headed out to run my tablet and SWL radio for some digital traffic.

It was a full moon and clear sky.  No wind, no rain.  It was ~36* when I started.  Ice crystals were forming on the inside of the tent walls below the rain fly.

Before I dive right into clothes the first thing that was immediate obvious was getting up off the ground was key.  I was sitting down, setting up the tablet and what not and the ground was just leaching the heat from me.  Just throwing a doubled up blanket underneath me went along way to making things comfortable.  Having a small seat pad would be pretty key.

Clothing wise, I doubled up on my summer hiking socks (wool), polypro base, softshell pant, flannel shirt, wool hat, fleece gaiter, fleece jacket and a myriad of gloves.

I started out wearing everything, after I got settled in, it was time to find out what the minimum was.  Jackets and boots were the first to go.  no big loss, still comfortable.  I rotated through the gloves and came back to the glomits.  These aren’t suitable for abrasive use – but it’s a great balance dexterity and warmth for typing/writing/dialing.  I tried a few different hats.  The single largest change to my comfort level was when I took the gaiter off.  Once that came off, I felt the cold fast.

The SWL radio did well enough, there was an RTTY contest this weekend – so plenty of RTTY traffic everywhere.  I watched 40m and 80m – I did not try 160m.  I also listened to some rag chewing on 80m.  None of it was exciting, but it was something to do to pass the time in the cold.

Just around midnight I climbed into my sleeping bag, I discovered my “vapor barrier liner”, aka trash bag, only came up about my waist.  Not a bad evening and if there was AmRRON message traffic involved, it would have been a good time.  By the time I went to bed it was about 30* out, and when I woke up in the morning it was 28*.  The VBL, must have worked, because it smelled like ass.  The worse part of the entire experience was getting out of the warm sleeping bag in the morning…