Winter camping can be a lot of fun, no bugs, snakes, sweating or excessive people. It’s the perfect setting for hiking or, if you’re in a snowy area, snowshoeing. Winter offers some of the prettiest scenery and with proper planning can be as rewarding and comfortable as spring or fall.
However, many people may forget that one of their most important assets lye’s not in their ruck or the quality of their tent but in their boots, and many a sturdy camper has had nightmarish results from not taking proper care of their feet or thinking that winter weather, water proof boots are enough. Don’t let this happen to you. Nothing can ruin a winter camping trip fast than soggy, blistered, cold or frostbitten feet.
Know You Materials:
Boots: These come in a variety of styles and fits, and you’ll want to make sure that you get the right type for both your feet and the conditions you are facing. Things to remember are:
1. Water Resistance: winter camping brings with it snow, rain, and sleet. Even if your boots have a gortex lining, remember that water can freeze on the surface and leave you with an ice pack on that expensive insulation.
2. Breath-ability: Boots that are waterproof may not allow your foot enough ventilation and you’ll end up with soggy feet that can lead to blistering and discomfort. Also, a sweaty foot in cold weather, can become uncomfortable if there is too much ventilation as your feet will become cold when the sweat evaporates.
3. Surface Material: Consider a pair of boots that will allow you to apply weather proofing polish or waxes to them. You’ll be able to judge when and where you need more protection and help your boots adjust to the weather you’re facing.
Know your Socks:
1. Cotton: Winter camping is great, right up until you have a wet sock. Cotton is notorious for it’s inability to dry properly, and will leave your feet wet, soggy and cold. It’s best to leave the cotton for other times of the year.
2. Wool: Although it can be hard to dry out, it’s thicker, and stands up better to moisture from your boots than cotton. When camping in winter, wool is the next best thing to synthetic fabric for keeping your feet up to par.
3. Synthetic Material: Be thinking Under Armour for your feet. These will help to pull moisture off of your feet and can easily be covered by a warmer pair of woolen socks on top.
Note: When out for winter camping, keep in mind that if you’re layering your feet, be sure there is plenty of spare room in our boots. You can quickly restrict blood flow to your feet if things get too tight. This can cause numbness and will take away all of the benefits of layering: less blood flow = more cold.
1. Foot Powder: It doesn’t matter whether you’re camping in winter or summer, you need to be using foot powder at the end of the day. Cold or not, your feet will appreciate the dryness of foot powder, and your camping partners will appreciate the dissipating odors.
2. Blisters: Keep your feet in good shape and you should minimize blisters, but it’s easy to create hotshots and points of rubbing that you never knew you had when you’re layering socks. If you get a blister, be sure to pop it and drain it. Use mole skin and keep the area dry and clean. Winter camping is all about keeping your feet dry, don’t ruin it with a soggy sock from an inadvertently popped blister.
3. Airing Out: You’ll want to take your boots off at night. You’re in a sleeping bag and under shelter anyway, so let your feet breath. It’s okay to keep them wrapped up in socks, but make sure they are warm without getting sweaty.
1. Keep them Clean: Winter camping means keeping your boots dry. Gortex or waterproof, it doesn’t matter. Keep as much snow off of them as possible. Left over moisture will freeze in and on boots.
2. Water Bottles: After you get your boots dry, consider keeping them from freezing and helping your feet stay more comfortable in them by sticking in a hot water bottle (sealed properly). Winter camping is all about comfort, so give your boots and your feet a little something to look forward too.
3. Clean Your Tread: It’s easy to forget about the tread on your boots, but it’s there for a reason. Winter conditions could mean a lot of mud and debris will get caught in the tread of your boots, so make sure that you keep the tread cleaned out, lest you slip and end your winter camping trip early.
Keep your feet in mind at all times if you decide to do your camping in the winter. The views are wonderful, the weather never lacking for challenges and the experiences inspiring, but winter camping can take a turn for the worst if your feet aren’t taken care of. So be cautions, and always be on the lookout for faltering blood flow and frostbite.