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Author Topic: Cold tent advise for long term winter  (Read 537 times)

Offline seitsme

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Cold tent advise for long term winter
« on: September 10, 2018, 02:46:29 PM »
hello to all wintertrekkers !

I could not find anywhere good advise on long term winter camping and tent systems or experienced advise so i would take the chance to post my issue and get your lights on it...

Last year i tried about 2 months winter camping in the forest a bit outside of the country in SE.
First time and experience with -20C environment.
Food was not cooked in the wild but i was moving in the city.
I was using the tent for sleeping and some rest at night most of the times.

I have to say i was not so well prepared. I was using a 750 alpkit inside a taurus -5 sleeping bag and wearing clothes as well which most times kept me warm. Some other times i was returning back to citylights to rest...

My tent was a gift and has not even a model on it but had no issues with condensation and also i use a plastic tarp or groundsheet in other words, that is long, over the tent, supported on wooden -A- style construction poles i cut from the trees, to get protection from heavy snow or accumulating frozen snow.
 
This year after the past experience... i am thinking of buying a small tent that i read as -family tent- or sometimes 3 - 4 person tent, that has a vestitube at the front etc. about 425cm total length and a sleeping area 210x210 approx. height about 150cm

An example of tents interested in buying (some are 2 person)
as i have budget about 200GBP incl p&p, are ie.

SKANDIKA VĂ„STERVIK, Vango Scafell 300+, Zelt TOURIST Highlander HAWTHORN 2, Vango Winslow 400,
Outwell Vigor 3, Vango Langley 400XL, Vango Lauder 400.

these tents i see are not marked as winter season and i am not sure, if buying such tent is a good choice,
as i like to add a bedchair for extra comfort, as the ground sometimes can be very frozen ...
I must have a 210x210x120Height inner tent for sure at the moment. Even higher height to allow me
move in tent or leave my backpack etc without bending too much on ground with weight.

I was thinking of condensation or possibly colder environment as the tent is big for one person and after some quest on getting advise i registered here and i post my Q now.

Has anyone tried such large tents in humid and cold environment and what would advise or suggest.
Does a large tent means colder in winter etc.

thanks

Offline Bothwell Voyageur

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2018, 11:22:12 AM »
If you are camped in a sheltered area and have your tarp to keep off the snow load most tents will cope.

Small tents are warmer but are often more humid I have found.

Without a tent heater you will get lots of moisture accumulating in your sleeping bag. If you can take the bag into town to warm it up that is good, otherwise you may need to look at a vapour barrier liner.

If you use a bed chair (what we call a cot) don't forget you will still need a good mat for insulation.

Interested to read what others think?
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Offline seitsme

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2018, 11:49:34 AM »
hi Bothwell V. Thanks for your comments.

Last year i have had lots of moisture due to the environment surrounding the tent, which is trees.
I was leaving the door partly open to ventilate and all moisture was evaporising during the day.
When temperature was around -20C then i have had frost issues on the external sleeping bag,
a tarius -5 which i was using as second layer to keep me warmer but also as a kind of protective
bivy for the second sleeping bag underneath, which was at the limits of its performance because
i pressume it could not ventilate enough - it was always inside all time around.

This year i decided to buy a heavier winter second sleeping bag ie UK army surplus style and use it
instead of my taurus -5. Maybe i might need an inner layer to stop some furthers damaging my alpkit bag.

I believe also tha the cheaper tents will be more humid indeed. the tarp saved my 100%...
regarding the vapour barrier liner, what brands would you suggest and maybe an ebay link, as i find lot of results on the web but not sure which would be used inside the tent i assume, or is it serving instead of a tarp ?
How can i apply to the tent inner surface etc (if is for interior usage)

For a cot, i think is one way solution for better sleep. The only thing i dont like is the cord they usually supply with the cot to stretch the fabric to hold the mat etc. for a mat i was thinking of the vango comfort 10.
I was told it contains a kind of foam insulation inside and should be ok with winter camping.

Offline Bkrgi

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2018, 12:49:29 PM »
IMO if your wanting to spend winter camping full time you need a heat source inside your tent. Dealing with frost, condensation and general wetness must be dealt with within your living space. Why everyone eventually migrates to Cotton Canvas tents with a wood stove....the cotton breathes driving moisture out created by the warmth of the glorious wood stove.
It is going to cost $$$$ to maintain a level of lasting comfort....otherwise as you experienced the cold will eventual win and force you back to the warmth of city lights...it is a fine line and general not one to take lightly as death can win.
If your good with/or willing to learn....get a sewing machine and fabricate your tent to meet your needs.....a route I went since I use a Hammock to sleep in and no one makes Hot tents to accommodate the hammock.
For sleeping in a cot like a Hammock insulation under you is critical and it must not be compressed....you need more R-value under you than ultimately on top of you. Down filled exped mats for the ground or cot is a wise starting point. Foam filled mats could come up short in extreme cold. This is one of those things you need to understand through careful thought based on how warm, or cold you sleep
Having wool clothing and blankets will save your butt long term IMO....is like having extra insurance.
Down sleeping bags are awesome....but do need to be dried as well to maintain top performance
Managing the cold, staying warm, keeping everything dry, being well fed is the battle to be dealt with.
Keep doing, never ever stop learning through YOUR experiences and be very wise in your spending ...spend once cry once...
Living warm in North x Northwest BC
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Offline Moondog55

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2018, 08:02:19 PM »
After this winter here in Australia I think you need to divide the tents function into two main areas. Keeping the wind off and resisting snow load. If you are in a relatively sheltered area [ that is in woodland or forest] them almost any good quality tent will keep the wind off so the problem than becomes resistance to snow loading. You say that you used a tarp over a timber frame so I think if you stayed with this and got a better double skin tent with good ventilation you would be OK, but as noted above a stove would allow you to dry out everything and staying dry is the key to comfort. I have to say tho that based on my own experiences with long term tent living that going bigger is much more comfortable, being able to stand up and stretch simply feels good.
Use a cot but do take the advice and insulate the space under it and use a full depth slip cover as well.
If you need extra warmth you can always use LW bulk insulation or woollen /fleece blankets as an  extra liner layer to slow the movement of air out of the tent without sacrificing ventilation, in effect a triple skin tent.
I used a Helsport 8 man tipi this season and it was too small using a cot and the wood stove, I will be selling it soon.
If only Eureka made an 8 person version of their Timberline I would be buying that as I feel the 6P version is simply too small to use a stove in
With a large tarp over the top tho and a liner I think it would work here in Australia and our wet cold conditions are much more uncomfortable than -20C

Offline Undersky

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #5 on: September 11, 2018, 08:13:23 PM »
Hi Seitsme,

You mention that in -20C weather your -5C outer bag got frosty. Some people would consider that a good thing when sleeping without any external heat source.

If your personal heat output while sleeping is quite high, and if you have just the right amount of insulation in your sleeping clothing plus your sleeping bag/pad combo, then you might be able to drive the moisture you naturally produce all the way out through your bag and into the atmosphere.

Unfortunately this perfect balance is not typical. Usually you'll have too little or too much insulation so that the condensation point may well be within your sleep system.

If that "dew point" happens outside your main bag, and just inside the outer bag, that you can manage that moisture by (i) hanging the outer bag in the breeze and sunshine during the day, and/or (ii) flip that outer bag inside out to get that frost on the extreme outside of your sleep system where you may be able to brush some off, and where more of it will sublimate over the next night.

Just some ideas from my experiences of many cold tenting nights.

Offline seitsme

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2018, 10:26:16 AM »
Bkrgi: Thanks for the great advice. Cotton canvas tents are now excluded due to cost first of all and i also leave the tent at about 8am so worry about theft as well... smoke also brings other animals close to my area... and i want to avoid smoke, except necessary cooking... For this reason i bought a used multifuel stove that i hope will work with some gas or petrol and will test it soon.

when you refer to hammock insulation, do you mean, layer a hammock insulation over the cot bed surface, or wrap it around to block the underside of cot surface as well. any examples with images on web if you have so i can have a visual would also help.

I am not sure how cold or warm i sleep... how can i measure this by experience. i am slim type person i would say.
I saw some winter down socks - i think were exped for about 50 GBP and might order one pair for extra warmth when cold days arrive. I have snow gloves that cover upto my arm length as well and they work pretty good.

I might buy a woolen blanket and lay it on the PU floor and above i install the cot.

MoonDog55 Thanks for all tips as well. Right now i am affraid if i add blankets on the top of tent will not be able to handle it. I decided to go for large tent that has vestitube area 2 meters and 250x250 appros sleep space to accommodate the cot. i will use a thin timber to make support for tarp. When i will install i will try to post pics.

I am still trying to find a tent around 450cm that will have height to walk in it, because when i go back in snow, my back and bones are cracking me because i have to bend with weight on floor then transfer backpack in tent etc. So, i think big tent height, despite my fear for more condensation, can help me in combination with the cot. I found a 2-skin tent with 3000 or maybe 4000mm flysheet and i see it has ventilation, so sounds good for example as it is much better shape than the tent i use now.

I thought i can buy some down secondhand jackets at small flea markets that cost 10-20 quid each and use them as first layer over the cot bed surface. I try also to decide which cot to buy short or larger width one.

What is a flip cover please. never heard of it before.
I dont want to add any timber layer on ground as in the summer time ticks can gather up on the inside of tent and this is a nightmare to clean. the interior will be kept as clean as possible, no food etc to avoid also mice visiting me and opening holes on tent.

Stove with funnel etc cannot be used with the tent as not sure how fire retardant is it and chances to catch fire in the forest... but i have been told by a friend in finland, that he is bringing in tent his multifuel mini stove and allows it to burn for 5 minutes to bring temperature down and then sleeps and repeats if he feels humid but in a small size winter tent.

Undersky Thanks on the frozen outter layer sleeping bag tips. When you refer to dew point and i see this in weather forecasts, what actually mean for a camper ? That at xx Celcious temperature the air forms water drops ?

i think i will go first for possibly a woburn400 or skye400  and buy a larvik3 for portable camping installations.

Offline Moondog55

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2018, 05:20:18 PM »
Put any bulk insulation under the cot, this way the insulation doesn't get compressed. This winter here in Oz I used an older synthetic quilt folded in half, I think I bought it in IKEA for $20-. Held in place with string tied in the 4 corners

Offline Bkrgi

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2018, 08:48:50 PM »
What Moondog said for insulating under the fabric of the cot....key is not to compress the insulation while being able to hold it tight against the bottom of the cot...any air gaps will feel cold as temps drop.

For being a warm or cold sleeper...you'll figure that out by how much insulation you need per a given temp...key is to never overheat yourself while sleeping but still maintain the right warmth for a perfect sleep. Experience leads the way on this one.

Wool anything is a good investment...even more so since your hardcore cold camping it....I'll applaud you for sticking with that vs going to a hot tent setup.

Any thrift or second hand store in your area that you can rummage through for some scores.....I find lots of wool goodies at mine.

Dew point refers to the point where water vapour will condense out.....that can happen in your insulation layer where your warm moist air meets the cold outside air. At a specific temperature/point the water vapour condenses...if that point aka dew point, falls within your insulation you will get moisture build up...if that point stays outside of your insulation then the water vapour will disappear into the atmosphere
Now here is a good read for you to better understand some concepts for moisture management http://windowoutdoors.com/WindowOutdoors/Dew%20Frost%20Condensation%20and%20Radiation.htm
Living warm in North x Northwest BC
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Offline Undersky

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2018, 12:34:04 AM »
Hey Seitsme,

My understanding of dew point might be wrong, but I think of it as the temperature when water in a gas state has saturated the air at that given temperature. If the temp. continues to fall the water will condense out of the air and onto the coldest solid nearby. If the temperature is already below freezing, the water will sublimate out of the air directly into ice crystals on the nearby coldest solid, or just into ice crystals in the cold air if there is no cold solid nearby.

Some people use the term dew point to describe the position within the insulation, between the inside warmer layers and the outside colder layers where condensation or sublimation begins to occur.

I hope those with better understanding than mine will add their two-bits here.  :)


 

Offline seitsme

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2018, 01:19:50 PM »
Moondog55 sounds that quilt is great idea... i will check it out in local ikea as well.
Bkrgi thanks for advise and link i will check it out.
Undersky thanks for the additive bits on dew point. i understood now about that middle point between the inside warmer layers and the outside colder layers....

Offline Pathfinder

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Re: Cold tent advise for long term winter
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2018, 04:20:10 PM »
Or you could simply do what the rest of us do...winter camp for a few days or a week.  Then afterwards, return home to a warm dry bed and forgo the need for survival.  Why punish yourself unnecessarily, unless you're a Christian and feel the need to repent. :P