Boy Scouts in Lake Forest Park, Washington

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Be Prepared and Stay Warm!!

Useful information for Fall, Winter, and Spring Outings
The boys train each other in outdoor skills, but they do not necessarily purchase their own clothing or equipment, especially the younger Scouts.  I will offer this advice so parents and Scouts can be on the same page regarding what is necessary to stay safe and warm on Fall-Winter-Spring outings. Cold and Wet are the norm but the trails are far less traveled and it is a great time to get out.
Clothing…
The key is to stay dry, but even if you get wet you stay warm.

Ways to get wet…

  • Perspire
  • Rain
  • Melting Snow
A breathable shell is the best defense against all the above…
How can you stay warm even if you get wet??… choose the right fabrics for insulation.
  • In cold weather cotton is potentially dangerous… when wet cotton looses 90% of its insulating properties and wicks heat 25 times the rate of when it is dry.  No Cotton!!!
  • The expectations for Down are much greater when it is dry, but it loses its properties just like cotton when it gets wet.
  • Wool is much better, but is heavy and there are now better choices.
  • Synthetic fabrics such as fleece maintain their insulating value when wet.
 
How to stay warm sleeping…
  • Be hydrated and well fed… If your energy level is low it will not be generating heat. Generating heat is as important as insulation.
  • Insulate yourself from the ground.  Bare ground is probably your worst enemy from staying warm through the night… just behind being wet.  Use a foam pad and a reflective blanket for the best protection.  Under the insulation you provide, bare ground is far worse than snow or a mattress of vegetation (note a mattress of vegetation is not too compatible with “leave no trace”).
  • Bags need to be rated at their safety range… about ten degrees below the temperature where they will be comfortable, i.e. a 20 degree bag is comfortable to 30 degrees.
  • You must be dry.  Change “all” your clothes before you get in the sack. Even if you think you are dry, your clothes have picked up perspiration and you will be a whole lot warmer in fresh clothing.
  • Sleep in long underwear, fleece shirt and pants or even tomorrows clothing to extend your comfort to below your bags rating.
  • Cover your head and feet by wearing a stocking cap and thick socks.  A lot of body heat is lost through the head and feet.  This is an inherent design feature of the human body… cover them up to keep the heat in!
  • Use a bag liner… can be purchased or made from thin fleece... a handy Scout should be able to make one.
  • Create a tube blanket for over and around your bag.  Take a heavy wool or fleece blanket and safety pin it into a tube.  Slip your bag inside.  It works!
  • Zip your jacket together and jam the bottom of your sleeping bag (with your feet inside) into it help keep your feet warm… you can do the same with an empty backpack.
Be Prepared and Stay Warm!!
--- ASM Todd