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William Tell

Field Test

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Hey guys! Damn this new website looks pretty sleek, eh?

 

First off I am enrolled in a wilderness first aid and survival class at my local Community College. Well we went out for a camping trip in the middle of November this weekend. It actually happened to be about a 30 minute drive from my bug out route, which is actually kind of awesome. I took this opportunity to field test alot of my gear. I figured "what the hell? Why not." I figured that even if my gear failed, it was only for one night, and if push came to shove I could camp out in the suburbans that we had. So as long winded as this may get, here is what I learned about my preparedness level and my gear.

 

First off my tent. The Tent did ok, but in NO way is this a winter or cold weather tent. We had huge wind gusts of up to 35 MPH I think. The Tent held up fine, but gathered a lot of condensation. This caused it to snow IN my tent because of the sub- Zero temperatures that night. It was also very crowded and I will need a larger one to accommodate my girlfriend.

 

My sleeping bag was ok. It is rated to 0 for comfort, but I ended up in all my layers (including coats and sweaters/sweatpants) because of the wind. It is a mummy bag, and I was able to curl up and pull a part of the head area in and seal it off to stay warm(ish).

 

My Pack did fine, but if it is going to be more than 2 or MAYBE 3 days, I really need to re-think and re-organize, or go back to my old ruck sack.

 

My winter wear did ok, but I need to get some good cold weather coveralls, and few more pairs of wool socks I think.

 

I got a chance to use some of those 64 cent hand warmers from walmart. Though they take about 15 - 30 minutes to warm up, they did a good job keeping my hands (and feet!) warm through the night.

 

Now to the things that are NOT good, or MUST be replaced.

 

First, my stove. I was using Sterno, with a sterno stove. If it was warmer and less windy out, this would have been fine. But with the Wind, there was no way in hell I was cooking, or even getting water to a boil.

 

My food rations (Mountain Home Freeze dried meals, which were just for the camping trip, not my go to BOB meals.) sucked, because of the lack of water I could boil.

 

Matches - well, it was just too windy to use them very well. Ended up using them with some vaseline covered cottonballs to get a fire going. Just took a few extra tries. Will be getting stormproof matches soon.

 

Lighter - My long nose lighter got too cold and wouldnt light.

 

My gloves did ok, but they got a little damp on the inside by the end of the day. Was able to warm them up near the fire though.

 

Overall, I did ok, but there are some definate things to change. If it would have been summer I would have been fine. But these Wyoming winters are a whole beast and challenge unto themselves.

 

In conclusion the things to swap out or add are:

Storm proof matches.

Propane or white gas Camp stove (with fuel)

extra or better gloves

A sleeping bag liner, or maybe a Bivy Bag

And definately need some rations that dont need to be cooked.

 

That was about all the bug out gear I could take with me. I had a few firestarters that I didnt get to test, and couldnt bring my Biolite stove, so no word on how rockin that is yet.

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I would also add a fleece sleeping bag as a bag liner. It will actually add alot of warmth.

 

You may need to look at one of the handwarmers that uses lighter fluid to help warm the entire tent. This may help push the condensation out (something I was told many, many winters ago) if using a regular open dome with rain fly. Some of the more experienced cold weather campers can probably chime in with better ideas.

 

Did you have a sleeping pad? If not, this could have caused you to lose alot of body heat to the ground. Most (if not all) sleeping bags are insulated on top, not the underside.

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One of the things that we used to do was put our sleeping bag inside our poncho...<Poncho has snaps, would close the snaps then slide the sleeping bag inside.> Blocks wind and would add about 10 degrees to your sleeping bag temp rating.

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Great review!

A thin 5'x7' back pack tarp is now at wally world(I bought 2)they have 8 gramets..maybe adding this as a additional cover for the tent may help!they are water proof.

 

a couple of heated Rocks in a cloth bag or a cooking pan can help with the heat in the tent.

Boy Scouts..Michigan..winter..

food=potted meat and crackers..

 

over all you did fine. One ? what did the girl friend say about it? and her thoughts about fixing the problems..

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One of the things that we used to do was put our sleeping bag inside our poncho...<Poncho has snaps, would close the snaps then slide the sleeping bag inside.> Blocks wind and would add about 10 degrees to your sleeping bag temp rating.

 

tried that back when i was in the army worked great till the condensation built up and the bag got wet, sleeping bags breath ponchos dont

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Hey guys all the input is greatly appreciated! I have a few new Ideas now. I had some floor insulation but not the right kind. It was meant for a mattress, but wally world was out of stock of the rolls of camping foam.

 

 

Jumbo - The GF did not tag along with me, it was just for a class.

 

I'm thankful however, because there is no way we both would have fit. I'm 5'11 and she is about 5'10 (yes thats a ten) and that tent was a tight fit just for me. For one man and gear, it did ok, but i really dont think it would fit two tall adults without some serious bending of the tent walls. Am already looking into a 3 man dome tent. The tent I had was an A-frame style backpacking tent. It also had to be tied down, because it was only made with three short sticks, the guy lines provided the suspension to keep it upright. I live in serious wind country (winter winds are pretty commonly around 25 MPH here). Good ol' high altitude desert. I think the dome tent will fare a bit better in the foul weather, or at least the wind.

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I always buy my sleeping bags for the worst currently -40s and carry a silk ultra light and a medium weight fleece liner packed in the compression sack with it it is a lot easier and safer to unzip the bag and layers till I am comfortable than shiver through the night and get up exausted or worse and while I have the training and knowledge to get by without these why do it if I do not have to. Through a lot of cold nights I have found the extra weight and protection that come with it are well worth it on top of that my rig stays the same I am not dumping copious amounts of money on several different weight bags, also when cold weather camping if you wear your clothes in the sleeping bag you will be colder either wear light dedicated sleep clothes (if your shy or that inhibited to be ashamed) that can be aired out and dried thoroughly and quicly by the fire while you pack camp or sleep in the nude sounds crazy and no I am not being funny but it works and works well because all those layers hold the moisture from your days perspiration against you as well as trapping more against you while you sleep drawing off your body heat like a heat sink, all you old boy scouts should know that, old Klondike advice for all you Nothern scouts and it was in the old scout handbooks. Although my Grandfather taught me long before I became a scout he learned in Korea 1950-1953. Also an old wool army blanket works to keep you off the ground if you don't have a pad, worse comes to worse stuff leaves or pine boughs under your tent to get you off the snow, rocks or dirt. As for the condensation it is because the tent did not have the proper ventilation this is a sign of a "cheap" tent (maybe not financialy but by design and quality) the size issue also points to a cheaper genaric tent. If you were south of Nebraska I would tell you you could get away with a three season tent but where you are I definately recommend a Four Season back packing or mountain tent Eureka makes a Quality tent as does Black Diamond, The North Face, Petzel, and Cabela's but they are an initial investment starting at about $200 for a four season but it pays huge in comfort, room, and durability there are things you can afford to be stingy with, your sleeping bags, firearms and tents are not in that category especially if you live in the North or in high country it isn't worth it and it could be lethal. Just some food for thought.

Edited by warrior7r

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Yes and Amen ..

 

also when cold weather camping if you wear your clothes in the sleeping bag you will be colder either wear light dedicated sleep clothes (if your shy or that inhibited to be ashamed) that can be aired out and dried thoroughly and quicly by the fire while you pack camp or sleep in the nude sounds crazy and no I am not being funny but it works and works well because all those layers hold the moisture from your days perspiration against you as well as trapping more more against you while you sleep drawing off your body heat like a heat sink, all you old boy scouts should know that, old Klondike advice for all you Nothern scouts and it was in the old scout handbooks..

 

We were told to have the "RED long johns" to sleep in when we went north in Michigan during the winter.

 

Good times..:eek:

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My sleeping bag is rated to 0 degrees if memory serves <been awhile since I had to know that>, but what a lot of us would do is climb in with clothes on, take em off in the bag and kick em to the bottom. Next morning you'd drag em up let em warm up against you a bit and then put em back on.

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Yes and Amen ..

 

also when cold weather camping if you wear your clothes in the sleeping bag you will be colder either wear light dedicated sleep clothes (if your shy or that inhibited to be ashamed) that can be aired out and dried thoroughly and quicly by the fire while you pack camp or sleep in the nude sounds crazy and no I am not being funny but it works and works well because all those layers hold the moisture from your days perspiration against you as well as trapping more more against you while you sleep drawing off your body heat like a heat sink, all you old boy scouts should know that, old Klondike advice for all you Nothern scouts and it was in the old scout handbooks..

 

We were told to have the "RED long johns" to sleep in when we went north in Michigan during the winter.

 

Good times..:eek:

Matt,

Yep, in cold country, always nude in the bag. It helps to have your bride to cuddle up against - better than central heating. What I did learn up around Prescott, AZ is that the rain drops off the trees, falling down the small of your back at Oh-dark-thirty while you sit on the (literally) can that you placed under the tree for "physiological" needs, is cold as all get out and your lady WILL NOT appreciate you trying to cuddle if you're a Popsicle and she's nice and warm. :rolleyes:

 

Every cold weather survival course I know of says share body heat if possible. There is no room for embarrassed when the alternative is hypothermia!

 

Just my (and the US Army's) not so humble opinion.

Edited by Capt Bart

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Cap,

Dont forget the dangers of plain old exhaustion and sleep deprivation you start making poor desicion and your motor functions go down the drain and the cold expedites this process exponentially leading to injuries and/or hypothermia

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