“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.”
This is a beautiful quote from Charles Dickens which immediately floats across my mind as soon as I see mercury taking a gradual flight toward the upper end of the funnel. For adventurers, it’s an invitation from the Mother Nature that they should step out of their concrete cubicles to see new colors that await them in the outdoors. Summer camps sound cool but there is a segment of thrill seekers who would call it a choice of an average Joe. Real adventurers would look for some real challenges the extreme weather conditions pose while setting a camp on ice cold turf.
So, when you are planning an escapade with your friends in the snowy trails and camp out in temperatures hovering between -25 to -30, you need to stay well prepared for the worst before extremely cold night freezes you to death. Mercury will continue to drop toward the dawn. There are certain tricks to avoid uninvited troubles your next cold weather camping might impose upon you.
Quality sleeping bag
Sleeping bag has to be lightweight. In order to buy a sleeping bag that is lightweight, people more often fail to assess its basic and most important credential, i.e., warmth. Most of the people forget that they will be out there sleeping under a thin sheet of tent and without any warm blanket, heaters, nothing. So buying an appropriate sleeping bag that can fight subzero temperatures is very important. A quality sleeping bag and good night’s sleep are proportional to each other, which further translates into a good camping or trekking experience. If your bag isn’t stuffed with quality material to create a good insulation, it will be hard to stay warm and catch a good night’s sleep.
The scale on basis of which you can categories a sleeping bag is EN temperature rating. Always look for an EN tag while buying a sleeping bag. EN rating defines the lowest temperature at which a bag can keep you warm.
- Upper limit: The temperature at which a standard man can sleep without excessive perspiration.
- Comfort: The temperature at which a person can expect to sleep comfortably in a relaxed position.
- Lower limit: The temperature at which a person can sleep for eight hours in a curled position without waking.
- Extreme: The minimum temperature at which a person can remain warm for six hours without risk of death from hypothermia.
Highly insulated sleeping pads
You will be out there leaving all the comforts of your bedroom to be close to nature. So, the cold ground is going to be your mattress. Having a sleeping pad with good insulation properties is of vital importance. If for some reason, you have ignored this important factor, then you are going to shiver to death in the middle of the night because cold temperature of the ground can suck all warmth away from your body. A cell foam pad with a layer of insulated, inflatable pad on top is just perfect to keep you warm in subzero temperatures.
Don’t forget to carry a hot water bottle
Nothing beats the comfort of sleeping in a warm bed. As you are out into the wild, a warm bed seems a far cry. But a hot water bottle can work like a charm when it comes to tucking yourself inside an ice-cold sleeping bag. You can fill a bottle with hot water and place it inside the sleeping bag well before slipping in it.
Eat as much as you can
Cold is going to test you to the limit. It’s your body that will be on the receiving end. You will burn more calories in subzero temperatures. So keeping your body well-fueled is the key to beat cold temperatures. You will start feeling colder if your stomach feels a dearth of food in the middle of the night. Food with more fatty acids is good. Also, a chocolate bar for instant calories should always be lying next to your pillow.
Keep your feet warm
Cold feet are every sleep lover’s nightmare. This is the most common reason for disturbed sleep during cold weather. The cold will gradually start creeping up your legs and then entire body if you have cold feet. Sleeping with your dry woolen socks on is the key to keep your toes warm.
Don’t go to sleep as soon as the sun goes down
After hours of hiking and trekking, crawling into your sleeping bag inside the tent might seem very tempting, but don’t fall for it, because you have a long night ahead. If you will tuck yourself inside your bag the onset of night, you will end up waking at 4 a.m. And the aftereffects are: you will feel cold, hungry in the middle of the night, and impatient to see the sunrise. So, it’s better to share some beautiful moments under the star-studded sky and enjoy long discussions until you start feeling dizzy at 9 p.m.
Go pee before crawling into the sleeping bag
This might sound funny, but it appears t be a problem when it comes to climbing out of your sleeping bag at 2:00 a.m. in subzero temperatures. So the only way to bypass this awkward situation without having to damage your organs is to stay decently hydrated around dinner time and then going pee before climbing into the sleeping bag so that you don’t have to leave your warm bed in the middle of the night to relieve yourself. If you have a habit of urinating at night, then carrying a pee bottle is a good option.
Apart from all this, dry and warm clothes are going to keep you cozy all the way; which implies: an extra pair of woolens is highly recommended. In case everything else fails, just try and do some crunches or pushups, maybe, to warm up and generate some heat. It will make you feel better when the temperature drops many points below zero – the most common weather condition you will face during the world’s wildest walk, i.e., Chadar trek. Hence, be prepared for all odds and keep morale high to beat the bone-chilling cold when you walk into the 1000-year-old history of the Zanskar Valley.