Want to create a family adventure to remember? Go winter camping! It’s easier than you think. The trick is creating a comfort zone that keeps everybody happy and healthy. That means getting there in good order, taking care of hydration needs, eating often and well, and sleeping warm and comfortably. Here’s how.
A Honda ATV is perfect for getting off the beaten path and into the backcountry for a great winter camping experience. But before you go, prepare your machine for winter use, to assure smooth and reliable performance. Give the battery a good charge. On an unsealed battery, be sure to replenish water. If your battery is aged or questionable, now is the time to replace it! Change oil. Replace the old oil with lighter winter blend oil–5W30 or even 0W30. Test your winch and make sure it’s in complete working order. Somebody’s going to get stuck–that means you’re having fun!-but you don’t want your machine there until spring.
Your body will metabolize a lot of water trying to stay warm. Staying well hydrated is essential. Carry a water bottle inside a layer or two of clothing — so it won’t freeze — and drink often. Clean snow does make a good water source though, and snow is pure for drinking. Melt it in a pot on your camp stove. Ten quarts of snow make one quart of water, so bring a big pot! If you have any concerns about purity, bring the water to a full boil.
Your body uses more energy in cold weather. Maintaining core temperature in cold weather is hard work. Feed your internal furnace generously. For breakfast, brew warm beverages and drink powdered juices such as Tang. Make oatmeal with hot milk. Toast bread or muffins near the fire. Eat carbohydrates to create quick energy. Stopping for too long will cool you down, so eat lunch on the run. Pack crackers, cheese, jerky, granola, and trail mix featuring nuts, figs, raisins, and M&Ms. Add plenty of meat. Dinner is time for a rich, meat-based stew. Protein energy releases slowly all night long, which helps you stay warm in the sleeping bag.
Nothing’s worse than a cold, sleepless night. Cold air beneath will keep you chilled all night, so forget the cots. Instead, stack of a couple of sleeping pads (try one inflatable and one foam), and sleep on insulation. Opt for mummy-style sleeping bags that hold warmth in close. Choose a rating 15 degrees below the coldest outside temperature you think you will ever have to endure. Bundle up for sleeping. Wear a stocking cap, socks, base layer underwear top and bottoms, and light silk or polypropylene gloves. Put your boots in a rucksack and bring them inside your bag so they’re not frozen in the morning.