So, after a good deal of thought I’ve decided to try my hand at ‘winter camping’. Or to be more specific, bike-packing in the winter.
It’s pointless asking ‘why’, you might as well ask ‘where’s Waldo’.
I’ve conducted extensive research across a broad range of resources and I can confidently condense all of the many potential problems and issues down into one main category - ‘the cold’.
It really can’t that difficult when you think about it. After all, many animals and mammals deal with the harsh winter elements with far fewer resources at their disposal then we have. Bears and deer come to mind, also homeless people.
If you consider the challenge from a top-down perspective then what you find is that there are one or two high-level considerations followed by a lot of minor details. So what I’ve decided to do is to minimize the possibility of anything going seriously wrong by reducing the number of high-level items to consider.
By high-level I basically mean the bike and the tent. By detail I mean things like socks, matchsticks and emergency flares.
So my approach is to dispense with 50% of the high-level items from the outset by camping without a tent. This may seem extraordinarily stupid, even by my standards, but from what I’ve been able to gather from the Interwebs, tents, in winter, do nothing to retain heat. In fact all they do is make it more difficult for bears to get at your stuff - a detail which infuriates them immensely and by the time they get to where you are they’re absolutely livid. Obviously that’s not a good mindset for a bear to have when you and he meet for the first time… Tents also cause a lot of condensation to form, resulting in wet clothes, wet sleeping bags etc.
So I’ve ordered a four-seasons ‘bivy’. The bivy can be set down atop the snow or one can dig down into the snow to create a wind barrier. The bivy is essentially a warm mummy-style sleeping bag with a full-round zipper and a small mesh panel to breath through.
Since I have a fat tire bike for winter travel, that just leaves the detail items. I’ve started a list of what I intend to carry with me, things like a stove, kettle, spoons, a hunting knife, shovel etc.
I’ll add to the list as it becomes more complete.
My destination for the first night will be plot #10 at Newport State Park. I scouted the campground last weekend and I like the looks of plot 10 as it’s closest to the Lake. That’s the big lake, Michigan. Plot 10 sits right on the beach and I can’t wait to be sitting in my deckchair looking out over the Lake towards the east, with the stars twinkling in the inky black night sky.
Anyway, that’s the basic gist and the introduction. I’d like to hear from any of you passing nomads who might have had experience with winter camping, and I’d appreciate any tips and suggestions.
My target date is rather dependent upon the weather - I really want there to be a good foot of snow so I can dig down to dirt to provide a little wind shelter for the bivy. So I’m hoping for possibly the end of November, or perhaps the first week in December.
I’m really looking forward to it.