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Gear Testing - Cold Night In Tillamook Forest 6 Degrees

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by TapRackNGo, Dec 18, 2013.

  1. TapRackNGo

    TapRackNGo PNW Well-Known Member

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    Two weeks ago during the cold snap I decided to test some gear. I called a buddy and decided to camp overnight in the Tillamook forest. In town, the temps at night were hovering around 12 degrees and up in the mountains it was about 0-6. While I could have made it easy on myself and brought a 0 degree bag, I left it behind in favor of testing my Marmot Pounder Plus 25 degree bag. I also brought my Esee Junglas for some cold weather testing. We headed out about 3pm.

    I was wearing Smartwool light weight long johns, light weight pants and a REI wool zip up med weight jacket. My buddy had on 2 pairs of poly long johns, sweatshirt, jacket. The bulk of the initial time we were getting wood, finding pitch wood, setting up shelters. I was comfortable, and didn't get overheated. Standing around tho I needed to be around the fire for sure.

    Didn't really expect snow since we hadn't had rain in a couple weeks. Oh well...
    20131208_152140_zpsc407d6f8.jpg

    Getting a bit deeper, dang should have brought more gear...
    20131208_152742_zpsceff34db.jpg

    Our View - We had about 45 minutes before dark. We selected a gravel landing, just for the view really. Not the ideal place if we were serious about staying warm. It also limited our tarp configurations. Couple of issues with this site selection. The gravel landing was very hard to stake our tarps, but it was a good improv test. Also, the way I wanted to set my tarp wasn't really possible, because I didn't have a couple trees to setup my ridge line to reflect / trap heat so we just improvised with what we had. Not an ideal shelter to trap heat at all, but just went with it for the night to see how I would react.
    20131208_155047_zps45c853f6.jpg

    My buddies tarp setup, we basically did the same thing. He had a Bivi, REI zero degree bag, full length theromorest with a 10x10 siltarp, and ground cloth. His main goal was to find pitchwood and get a fire going without matches, not test the limits of his bag. He spent the last 1/2 hr until dark finding pitchwood to get our fire started. He told me that he was frustrated and wanted to give up looking. But kept looking cause in his head he heard my voice saying "You don't have a choice, your family is freezing, you can't fail!" I got a kick out of that when he told me. I would have said that exactly to him, lol. After about an hour we had a bit of wood collected. We did bring a large limb saw, but the wood was so hard and frozen it was like sawing through ice and wood. We made the decision to just walk about and kick up lumps in the snow (quicker, less work) and found quite a bit of dead wood just laying around.
    20131208_202648_zpse3eb85ba.jpg

    We made a sort of a wall of wood on both sides like a tunnel to help create a pocket of heat. By now it was about 10pm maybe 8 degrees. Our tarp stakes were sticking to our hands, anything metal really. My Junglas split wood like a champ. But holding the blade wouldn't be possible with bare hands if you wanted to keep your skin attatched.
    20131208_204224_zps8066cb9a.jpg

    My setup, a Bivi, 25 degree Marmot Pounder plus, 3/4 length .5 inch guide mat (older model by thermorest) no ground cloth 10x10 siltarp. Out getting more wood.
    20131208_204246_zps3ffa8088.jpg

    Getting some dinner started. My Pocket Rocket fuel canister failed at these temps. Even warming it by the fire for 15 minutes didn't help. We spent the rest of the evening hydrating, collecting more snow to melt and filling our water bottles. I usually do not like cooking by the fire just because of the residue left on the Ti pot but we had no choice. My buddy had an MRE which after he used the heater for his meal he placed under his arms for an hour or so, great idea! I had Mountain House spaghetti (tasty, lot of meat).

    20131208_204335_zpsc9685acf.jpg

    We headed to bed about 12am, I was up 5 times during the night feeding the fire. I really didn't sleep that much. Never really do the first night out, but I was cold. Not shivering cold, but cold enough to keep moving my feet around in my bag all night. I went to bed in my long johns, light pants and 1 layer of wool socks and hat. I had the bivi closed except for about 8 inches (I could really feel the draft) and my bag cinched closed. Now I have to pee, great;). Where's my pee bottle (guys in mummy bags can relate) damn forgot it. I have one arm outside my bag reaching for my pot (improvise, adapt, overcome). Now I sorta regret drinking all of that water. 4 times during the night I made the treacherous journey with an open pot through my mummy bag. Never spilled a drop, whew!:cool:

    About 5am we got this party started. Warm Oatmeal, loaded up the fire with the rest of our wood. I probably slept an hour at most, but didn't feel like it. My buddy was up every hour or so, but snoring within 5 minutes of hitting his bag.
    20131209_065625_zps37cf2430.jpg

    Things that I learned from this trip. Don't depend on fancy stoves, fuel, etc in cold weather fire is king. It's also a lot of work collecting wood, done this many many times and know this. Look around for wood, don't think you need to process everything (saw, axe, etc) sometimes whats under your feet will work just fine. Also, keep gloves away from the fire, one of mine got pretty scorched by the fire. NightVision worked perfect in near zero degree weather. A pot packed full of snow will give you about 2 inches of water when melted. I dressed about right for our outting. I never felt the need for a jacket because of the fire, just two layers of wool were just fine. Coyotes can be annoying. Poachers even go out in very cold weather. We heard 3 loud magnum rifle rounds go off around 11pm.

    In case you are interested here's another outing with same friend in absolutely horrible conditions with hardly any gear. We had 2-3 inches of rain. Lots of fun, after we got back.

    http://www.northwestfirearms.com/pr...e-night-out-tillamook-forest-review-pics.html

    I guess that's about it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2015
  2. Navman

    Navman Canby Oregon Active Member

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    Great adventure, I enjoyed reading about it!
     
  3. simon99

    simon99 Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Wow....great post.
     
  4. kickstart my heart

    kickstart my heart South King County, WA Active Member

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    Awesome read! Thank you for posting it.

    I've had the misfortune of a couple very cold camping trips in the snow so I can relate. One was an unplanned trip where a few of us went wheelin' up in the mountains and had mechanical issues that made us decide to try to make it out during daylight. I slept in truck, another buddy slept in his truck, and 3 others slept in a tent that luckily was stashed behind the seat. Drank all the cinnamon schnaps we had, fire up my truck an hour before bed with the heat on full blast, and slept fairly comfortably (until someone opened my door and snow fell on my head). It snows over a foot that night. My buddy in the truck slept pretty good. The poor bastards in the tent were miserable. They dug down to ground below the tent but had no mats to sleep on or sleeping bags. They never admitted it, but I can almost guarantee they all cuddled up together that night to stay warm. The snow melted a little so the guys on both outside ends of the tent got a little damp. We were glad to get out the next morning.

    2nd trip was a bird hunting trip in eastern WA. It was in the 20's during the day (didn't look ahead at the weather). That night it got colder than I've ever felt. We drank a fifth of cheap rum between 2 of us. Slept in my el cheapo sleeping bag that was mean for "30 degrees" supposedly. Had long jons, Columbia wool hunting gear on, merino wool socks, and slept with a 3 hole ski mask on. Woke up at one point to pee and took the mask off because of the smell of rum breath. When I woke back up to pee the 2nd time I had ice in my beard and couldn't get warm again. Ended up hopping in the truck with the heat on full blast for a couple hours to warm up. In the morning all our eggs were frozen solid inside the cooler and all them ice/melted water mix was frozen. Beer was frozen solid. Propane camp stove wouldn't start. We cut that trip a day short and headed home that afternoon. Didn't see any chukar.
     
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  5. sheepdip

    sheepdip Redland Well-Known Member

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    you did that for fun? not hunting?:nuts: nice pics by the way:thumbup:
     
  6. simon99

    simon99 Central Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I don't know if you guys have ever read the great Patrick McM****, but these posts are like the stories he would tell. If you haven't read his stuff, you should! Required reading at my house......sooo funny.

    edit - I can't believe that name got edited....Mick - Man - US
     
  7. Stepside2000

    Stepside2000 Vancouver Member

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    Sounds like a relaxing time in the woods to me. Now if only I could get the wife to camp that basic.
     
    parallax and (deleted member) like this.
  8. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Heh, I always like reading about misery.. so much fun!
    Who hasn't been there, done that and it's usually the best of times.. especially when it's all over.
    Bottom line, Fire Good!
     
  9. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Heh, you got bubblegummed by Pat.. lol. You're right he wrote the best stuff!
     
  10. CamoDeafie

    CamoDeafie Albany Well-Known Member

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    thats actually a good test of gear!

    may I suggest you look at the tarp tent configurations in these two diagrams?

    also; check out this idea for your next cold weather thing, if you have a canvas USGI pup tent;

    6635198933_f00b2bc0c7_b.jpg -from Bushcraft.co.uk

    Tarp-Configs1.jpg

    Tarp-Configs2.jpg
     
  11. TapRackNGo

    TapRackNGo PNW Well-Known Member

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    Yes, actually the config I wanted to make was a half hex, which is the same idea. Thanks for the photos!
     
  12. sheepdip

    sheepdip Redland Well-Known Member

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    looks like the fire could spread into both shelters pretty easily:paranoid::paranoid::paranoid:
     
  13. CamoDeafie

    CamoDeafie Albany Well-Known Member

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    good excuse to acquire a few hiking poles to use as tent poles... :) the coldest I've camped out...was in 2008, I think Feb or March? out in Lebanon at the paintball field in the triangular hilly part; could call em mountains but I've always called em big hills lol; anyways, it snowed that night and the tent we were staying in, never got warm enough even with 3 big dudes sharing the tent....I think it got down to the teens that night, mind you, on the valley floor, it was in the 50s-60s during the day and 30s-40s...but up in those hills, it got WAY colder than we expected...so we didn't prepare for that kind of temperature swing.. Since then, Ive always packed extra blankets and long johns in another bag, if the daytime temps are lower than 60s on the valley floor....

    thats why Canvas not nylon. canvas doesn't catch fire as easily as nylon does, and if wet, will just smoke/smolder....
     
  14. alphapygmy

    alphapygmy Yamhill County Active Member

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    Great post! I love it when people get out in the nasty and see how rough it could potentially be. A few years back I lived out in the sticks on the east slopes of the coast range near Banks. I lived out of my third line and did this several times in my back yard, once in the low teens and a couple times in sopping rain. Definitely learned a lot. It sucks for me as I have really poor circulation in my toes and hands so I have to plan ahead to stay warm. It convinced me to plan on bugging in if at all possible. I think bugging out into the sticks is an absolute last resort, especially with the wife and kid. Kudos for doing some gear testing. People that have a load of nice crap but don't ever test and use it are going to be in for a nasty surprise if something goes down and they are forced to bug out in anything but summer.
     
  15. TapRackNGo

    TapRackNGo PNW Well-Known Member

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    Leaving home is an absolute last resort, agreed. I am under no fantasy of going to woods in any emergency for any reason. I have done it enough times to realize you really don't want to stay there.
     
  16. unionguy

    unionguy Portland Active Member

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    Great post, thank you. Nothing like good reporting!
     
  17. cookie

    cookie THE SOCIALIST STATE OF KALI - FORNIA Well-Known Member

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    I went snow camping for a weekend once. It would have been fun if the snow wasn't so cold.
     
  18. U201491

    U201491 Well-Known Member

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    To give it all a real test, go up on hood and spend a couple weeks in a snow cave.
    We snowshoed in about 4 yrs ago approx. and by the time we left we had furniture built even. The temp averaged about 15 the entire time were there.
    It was during search for the Kelly James party of 3 climbers that were lost that year. We were down alongside coopers spur area. Must have had 10 feet of snow come down the first week.
    We learned a lot, but stayed fairly warm and dry the entire time.
    The multiple layering of synthetics are a hundred times better than all the wool and old style clothing we used to wear. No more cotton for us except in summer. Ate 2 BIG BIG JUICY HAMBURGERS on the way home. Tasted like a fine new york or ribeye. When you begin to dream about food its time to go :D:D

    Cold Winter rain is a whole new learning curve.
     
  19. U201491

    U201491 Well-Known Member

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    They did well. That is how you realize what bug out is truly all about. But then you wont be building big fires for warmth.
    I really commend them for doing it.
    They take their life more seriously than many do. Most dont comprehend how truly difficult it will be and many will die for being unprepared or just trying to learn from some book. To put it in more simple terms it is a b,i..t.c.h to stay alive outside in cold wet rough terrain. Then you will also have to find food over long periods. Then it gets worse :D
     
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  20. AMProducts

    AMProducts Maple Valley, WA Jerk, Ammo Manufacturer Silver Supporter

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    Great writeup!

    Few bits of wisdom I've packed in from winter camping out in the desert (temps easily drop into the teens at night in the high desert, and it's bone dry)

    1) Water, drink lots of it, even if you don't think you need it
    2) Oil based hand lotions protect your skin (don't forget your face)
    3) Propane and Butane really suck at elevation and cold, coleman gas stoves work at every temperature I've tried, they may take a bit to get going on cold days but always work.
    4) Using a 30 degree bag is fine, line it with one of the cheap fleece sleeping bags, wear a poly fleece and a ski-mask (don't forget to put lotion on your lips and eyelids, keeps ice from building and chapping you) then put a bivvy bag over the outside of both.
    5) Depending on your camp situation, dig a trench (in the ground) and fill it full of coals then put 4-6" of dirt on top and sleep on that
    6) TI-Ware and stainless is great and durable, but it doesn't quickly conduct heat, aluminum conducts heat much better, but is less durable. My solution: cook in aluminum, eat from TI/SS
    7) Warming up a few large rocks and stuffing them in your sleeping bag by your feet makes it more comfy
    8) Cars make decent shelters, but are a poor substitute for a good 4 season tent

    Also, not to nit-pick too too much... but I think your fires are way bigger than you need. I usually keep one good low-burning coal fire going. If that's not enough to keep you warm, you need to find a better place to camp that isn't as exposed to the wind. I can keep a fire going all night with the amount of wood you had piled on there.