Camping in the cool

Maybe it's time you set up camp someplace high in the mountains. Here are the basics of zero-degree camping.
     Print Edition: June 9, 2013

THE DUST AND GRIME OF THE BIG CITY BRINGING YOU DOWN?
Maybe it's time you set up camp someplace high in the mountains. Here are the basics of zero-degree camping.

NESTING INSTINCT
Four-season mountaineering tents are heavier than three-season backpacking tents, but offer better protection from the wind. Typically, these are dome-shaped structures made of solid fabric (instead of mesh) for imparting more warmth, dual doors for easy access even in bad weather, and extra guy lines for more stability in high winds. Alternatively, you could opt for a bivy sack, which is simply a waterproof breathable overbag for your sleeping bag.

GOODY BAG
Use a sleeping bag that's rated at least 10»F lower than the coldest temperature you are expected to encounter. You can vent the bag if you get too toasty. Winter-rated bags are waterproof and treated with a generous dose of goose down or synthetic insulation. A bag liner will add 8» to 15»F of warmth. Winter bags are distinguished by their draft tubes behind their zippers, draft collars above the shoulders and hoods to keep the heat locked in.

TOP GEAR
As lithium batteries work better in cold weather, carry extras and keep them warm inside your sleeping bag. You can do with traditional hiking boots, but insulated mountaineering boots provide good traction for climbing, traversing, and descending slopes. These should have waterproof oiled leather or plastic exteriors. Carry an extra stove and packs of easy-to-cook one-pot meals, besides a cell foam pad to sit on inside the camp. Other dire essentials are a micro-fleece shirt, a goose-down jacket, windproof jackets and hats.

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