This tip will be for those that want to come out and camp during the fall and winter months.
Too many times I have seen kids, and yes adults also, come out to play airsoft and pitch their tent for the night. They have not thought through the entire process of what it takes to camp out in the cold. Some of the time they barely make it all night, but most often they call a night before they make it to morning. Some end up in their car, or drive home. Others have to make a phone call to have someone come and pick them up. Dress Properly Its fall or winter, it rains, it snows. When you are out in the woods playing airsoft you are laying on the ground, running and gunning in the pucker brush, slipping and falling into the creek. In short you are getting wet. Like most of us we cannot afford the latest and greatest rain gear, especially in camouflage patterns. Places like Walmart and Kmart sell cheap rain gear; they are usually in bright colors. I know that I would not want to be hiding in the woods waiting for an ambush while wearing bright yellow. But you can wear a wool shirt (for heat retention) then the yellow rain coat followed by your favorite camouflage shirt. At the end of the day you will be warm and dry. If, or should I say when, you fall into the creek and get soaked then it is time for the second phase. A dry change of clothes, keep these set aside for the end of the day when you are ready to stop running around in the rain. Layer up. Now is the time for that ugly rain coat to be on the outside so that it will keep everything dry. If the temperatures are expected to drop into the lower ranges your first layer should be thermal underwear. Wool or wool/fleece should be the next layer. Wear a scarf so that you can remove it if you are getting over heated. A waterproof breathable jacket is the next layer. Fleece or wool stocking hats will cover the top side while wool socks should cover the bottom. Don’t forget to water proof your boots so that they remain dry. Gloves are the last but not least.
Get your fire started right off the bat, before you set the tent up. In your camping gear you should have a hatchet; this will aid you in making kindling for the fire as well as the logs for burning all night long. Find the driest wood available and make up two stacks of wood, one for starting and one for long turn. Kindling needs to be split into one inch diameter pieces and a few two to three inch pieces. Take a few of the smaller pieces and feather them by lightly chopping the edges down the length of the stick, this gives a lot of surface area for the fire to get a hold of. Place a couple of larger sticks of fire wood to the two sides and then put your paper in the center with the feathered sticks on top. Put a few more one inch pieces on top of those at a ninety degree angle. Light the paper, you may have to blow on the flame to increase the oxygen supply until the fire takes hold. Add more kindling until the fire is going rear well and add larger wood. Enjoy the heat. A few ideas on stowing your matches, use metal or higher grade plastic containers for storing your matches. The cheap ones are real brittle in cold weather and will shatter. High-tech magnesium fire starters are a great, but make sure that you practice before you are in dire need of a fire. I have seen several great ideas on the internet about making homemade fire starters. One was made with a tuna can filled with cardboard and wax. Another one was using an empty toilet roll and filling it with drier lint or cardboard and then melting wax into the filler.
Choose the Right Campsite
Unlike camping in the summer where you want to be in the shade the winter is just the opposite, orientate your tent so that it will catch the morning sun. Make sure that door flap will be shielded from the wind. Bring along a tarp, if the campsite is muddy put the tarp down first, if the ground is well drained but is really down pouring then put the tarp over the tent for extra protection.
Even in cold weather you need to stay hydrated. Hot tea or hot chocolate works just as well as cold water, it will warm belly. Speaking of warm feeling (this is for the adults), don’t drink alcohol in the cold weather. You may get a nice warm feeling but in reality you are lowering your core temperature.
Be Ready for Condensation
Condensation happens when warm moist air hits a cold surface. When you breathe you are putting out moisture. The cloths that you had worn during the day and that had gotten wet will continue to put out moisture. All of that water in the air has to go someplace and that will be the walls of the tent. Sorry there is not much that can be done about it, just remember to bring some extra towels to mop up the floor in the morning. Venting the tent at night will reduce condensation but it will also lower the temp inside of the tent, sometimes the trade off is worth it, sometimes not. Wear Your Clothes to Bed This will help retain more of your body heat and during the middle of the night when nature calls you don’t have to get dressed. If the temperature is lower than expected there is a couple of tricks that you can do to increase the temp inside of the tent. Boil some water and fill a few water bottles that you can put in your sleeping bag. Another one is to heat rocks on the fire and bring them into the tent to warm things up.
This will wrap up this tip, join us for the next one.