I’m compiling some of the lessons and interesting tidbits I’ve learned with the hopes of passing along useful information to fellow wanderers. Especially families of travelers similar to ours.
Even though we knew we’d be beginning our adventures during the colder months, we thought to combat the weather with layers of clothing and our Little Buddy Heater. We knew snow might very well be in our future but we didn’t take into the account how bad cold, clear nights would be. For the most part, we did very well. Mobility was impaired but not very badly and we almost got away with it, too. If it wasn’t for the cold front that hit us in Gila National Forest (NM).
When we arrived, it was a decently balmy 60°F. We set up camp and CJ went about making the tent as heat efficient as possible. Despite all the Mylar, heater, body heat, layers of clothing and blankets, we threw in the towel when we found that the condensation on the inside of the tent was frozen.
We tried, but like fighting the wind in Carlsbad, Old Man Winter won. We knew it was going to be pretty cold, but because there was no cell reception in Gila National Forest’s Forks campgrounds, we didn’t know how cold. Turns out, it was pretty darn cold and it got colder still.
We woke the monkeys and got them into ‘Hoe-Nu. While the girls and CJ got situated, I started up the SUV and noticed the display, the temperature read 18°F. The Hyatt’s dream of tent camping in the winter was shattered! From that day on, we decided to spend our nights with ‘Hoe-Nu or in the trailer, if we ever end up getting one.
Conclusion: That night I ran the SUV twice for warmth, with the temperature reading 10°F at the lowest. CJ and I have decided to spend some money on quality, purpose-built clothing that will act as more than just a cover for our bodies. It will not be inexpensive but we will have the proper clothing for cold weather before we set out again. We may end up saving room with the change in wardrobe and it would much better than wearing every single article of clothing we own.
[An interjection from CJ]
Lessons Learned: Yes! Invest in quality clothes meant for sub-freezing temperatures. I was the only one that purchased a set (top and bottoms) from Cabela’s before our trip. They were rated for extreme cold weather, but are no thicker or heavier than normal sweats, perhaps even thinner than I expected. These articles of clothing have served me very well on this trip. They were on sale for $15 a piece, so $30 in total. However, you can probably find them for much cheaper online.
There are such things as 4 season or (3 season +) Nylon tents! My previous research made it seem like only Canvas type tents were available for cold weather camping. How wrong I was. For our particular needs, we are looking to invest in the Big Agnes Flying Diamond 6. It is pricey, but I think will be worth the investment. Hopefully more to come on that.
Epic win: Rubber pads, such as those used in preschools, in combination with mylar duck-taped securely to them, make for effective window/blackout covers. This significantly reduced the amount of cold and light coming in from the windows, making the Tahoe aka Hoe-Nu very cozy! Maybe even a little too warm sometimes, but no complaints about that in 10 degree weather.