Bushcraft: How to Select a Winter Tent Site

14 02 2011

Gimili MB 8, 2011.Winnipeg - Soldiers from The Arctic Response Company Group set up their 10-person tent and get the Coleman stove started so they can cook their lunch.

Originally posted at sectionhiker.com

Picking the right site will definitely increase your level of comfort, but can also protect you from serious injury. Here are some basic guidelines to keep in mind.

Avoid Avalanche Zones

Before you pitch your tent make sure that you are not in an avalanche zone. Most avalanche zones have a slope of 40 degrees or higher, so avoid camping on them or in forest area below them. If you hear cracking sounds in the snow beneath you or see evidence of a prior slide, clear the area carefully.

Do Not Camp Under Snow Covered Branches

Snow covered branches can snap at night and fall on your tent. Avoid sleeping under them to prevent injury.

Avoid Valley Floors or Deep Canyons

Cold air flows downhill and pools at the bottom of valleys or canyons. To avoid this, don’t camp in a low spot.

Try to find Natural Wind Breaks

Moving air and wind will strip heat from you through a process known as convection. If possible, try to pitch your tent and dig your kitchen area behind a natural wind break such as a large boulder or small hill, or build one using snow blocks.

Camp Near Running Water

Melting snow takes a long time and burns through a lot of stove fuel. If you can find a tent site near running water, you can save yourself a lot of fuel and time by purifying existing sources. This can be done by boiling the water or warming it and treating it with chlorine dioxide tablets. Either way, you’ll save a lot of fuel.

Morning Sun

Sites that get morning sun will warm up faster in winter. They’re also useful if you need to dry out your sleeping bag due to internal condensation. In such cases, you should open the sleeping bag and drape it inside out over your tent. Many cold weather bags have black or darkly colored interiors to absorb more heat and accelerate the drying process.

Flatten the Snow under your Tent

Before you pitch your tent, flatten the snow under it by walking over it wearing snowshoes or boot. This will begin a process known as scintering, where the snow will harden into a firm platform. If the tent site you have selected is not level, you can shovel snow onto it and to adjust it’s pitch

Point Your Door Downhill

Point the front of your tent downhill when you pitch it. This will prevent cold air from flowing into your tent when you need to go outside.

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