How cold is too cold?

Discussion in 'Wilderness & Survival Skills' started by Mastalerz, Jan 27, 2014.

  1. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Maybe I'm a sissy, but if it gets below around 20 degrees F, I'm not comfortable camping in a tent or similar. I dislike getting up in the morning and getting out of a warm sleeping bag into cold temps. But you have to get moving as daylight's burning.

    Wind and humidity are killers in the winter. You also become accustomed to the cold (blood gets thicker). It is one of the reasons that folks are healthier in the cooler climates.

    The cold never felt so cold as it does in the South. I suspect it is mostly due to the humidity levels.
  2. Woods Walker

    Woods Walker

    Jun 3, 2010
    My point of concern for solo overnight is around -25F in the Dacks. It would not be the end of the world but not really the best of times alone. Would do lower with a group because the camp labor is divided up. But the worst cold weather by far is around 38F with heavy rain mixed with sleet.That is horrific. I would forgo the outing or stay in camp until that evil past.
  3. Chris Pierce

    Chris Pierce

    Nov 15, 2006
    Woods Walker makes a very good point. It's not always the cold that gets you. Moisture and air wind can be killers, especially/even above above freezing, for the uneducated or inexperienced.
  4. Bo T

    Bo T

    Feb 12, 2011
    As long as you have the right clothes/tent/sleeping bag and you don't get wet, you should be fine. Also, if I let myself get chilled before I go to bed, it seems to take forever to get warmed back up.
  5. Myal


    Jun 7, 2003
    If it gets below 20C I have the wood fire lit in the house .

    I have been camping where it gets cool enough that I get up and watch the dew turning to frost while Im making coffee and bacon .
    That was seriously cold , for me .

    That being said , there is no cold like desert cold .
  6. richard thurman

    richard thurman

    Nov 9, 2005
    Have you heard?? Atlanta George looks like the walking dead. Everyone are just leaving their cars where ever and walking home. School kids had to sleep at their school because the busses where stuck at the school because of road conditions. I am glad I am not living there. Florida I not doing too great too. I believe the temp is around 50 f. I can't wait for the summer time. My cripple leg hates the cold weather.
  7. liamstrain

    liamstrain Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 16, 2013
    For me:
    Dry - nothing below 0F.
    Lots of Snow/Wet - nothing below 20F.
    Adjust up a bit if winds are high (over 20mph).
  8. upnorth


    Nov 25, 2006
    The wind makes a big difference here, a very big difference. It's no big deal for me up to about -20 or so, then past that it bothers me.
  9. sodak

    sodak Gold Member Gold Member

    Mar 26, 2004
    I've camped overnight down to -14F. Down bag, air mattress, no fire, tent. As long as you prepare and practice, no problem. Everyone has limitations, but there are lots of techniques (called tricks :D) that can help.

    For me, I can't take the heat at all. Anything above 75 or so, and I'm miserable.
  10. OwenM


    Oct 26, 2000
    After single digits last week, and 0, if not a little below, this week, I've decided that teens are about as low as I normally want to go. A trim fitting jacket on a stocky guy with Platypus bottles, a fuel canister, and a water filter under it just isn't very stylish:eek:

    Blew my mind when I went to Utah for the first time, and was walking around, hiking, and getting hip deep in snow in a short sleeve cotton t-shirt while other people were wearing base, mid, and outer layers.
    I've also worn the exact same set of clothes, a Capilene 1 top and lightweight unlined softshell jacket, hiking from mid-teens in the higher elevations to 79F down lower a few days later without feeling a need to change anything(well, I needed to change that shirt pretty bad the fourth day:barf:). My comfort range in the same clothes is barely within 40 degrees of that here in the Southeast. By contrast, when I'm inactive, I've found my comfort range with outer layers and both my sleeping bags to be the exact same there as here. It's pretty interesting how humidity affects our body and clothing's abilities to manage moisture and temperature.
  11. gadgetgeek


    May 19, 2007
    I think the main thing with "too cold" is knowing when you've hit the end of your skill and gear. Lots of folks get into trouble by "toughing it out" when reality is they should have gone into survival mode, or started really thinking. My Mom worked on a kid who lost several toes on a scout trip because he thought his feet would be warmer if he slept in his boots. The leaders didn't catch it until morning, and his boots were nearly frozen on. My Dad told me stories of working in with guys who nearly succumbed to hypothermia while sitting in front of a camp-fire. Turns out the gear that holds in heat at -40 also does a fair job of holding it out too.

    I don't sleep well when I'm cold, I guess its a learned habit from growing up in a house with wood heat. and I've been cold on several trips, uncomfortably so. However I also knew that I wasn't at any risk of death. (except for the time I did nearly freeze to death, but it was much colder) If you feel warm, you're fine. If you feel cold, fix it. If you did feel cold, and now feel warm, you need to fix it right now, because either you wet yourself, or bits are about to fall off.

    Last time I got chilled while sleeping it was a beautiful 27C. with a 40km/h wind, in a hammock with no under-quilt or mat. So anything is possible
  12. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 20, 2005
    Wind chill estimates provided by the weather service do not factor in humidity. It is wind and temperature. So, humidity is a big deal in the winter time if you are spending much time outdoors.
  13. willrise

    willrise Gold Member Gold Member

    Sep 9, 2003
    The older I Get the more I HATE the cold, plus anything type of aerobic activity below 50ish really screws with my asthma. I would say I am a weak individual and would love to see mids 70s with sun all year around : )
  14. link2derek


    Oct 8, 2010
    I read somewhere that sled dogs (Siberian Huskies and such) are good down to about -50 to -60 deg. Fahrenheit. Any colder than that I think would qualify as "too cold!"
  15. Thomas Linton

    Thomas Linton

    Jun 16, 2003
    -17 is as cold as I've car camped. Sleeping bag was covered with frost in the morning. That was enough. It's a pain doing things wearing heavy gloves.

    In terms of "damp cold," as the temp falls below 10F the amount of water vapor in the air drops, reaching zero at -20. The water becomes white stuff.

    When I lived in central Alberta as a kid, it hit -30F regularly - occasionally -40 (Natives agreed that was cold.). Walking to school was like walking in sand - bone dry. That made the footwear (untreated cotton canvas over thick felt) work fine. Coat Room was huge to hold all the layers.
  16. PB Wilson

    PB Wilson

    Jul 17, 2006
    Wearing layers has always been the key for me. I can get sweaty moving around on snowshoes with a full pack and the last thing I need is to soak my base layers. You can feel the heat get sucked out of you once you stop.

    I find that anything around 0*F up to 20*F is great to be outside. Once it gets colder, the simple things become much harder to do. Once it gets warmer, it gets much wetter and a bit more dangerous.

    One of the best tricks for sleeping comfortably through the night is to keep nalgene bottles filled with hot water in your sleeping bag. Also, take two and put them upside down in your boots before you go to bed. Keeps them from freezing completely overnight and isn't so much of a torture session putting them on in the morning.
  17. Woods Walker

    Woods Walker

    Jun 3, 2010
    That's all part of Ice Ball USA. You come for the Global warming but stay for the hypothermia.
  18. JGON


    Mar 12, 2010
    If you haven't camped at that temperature before, just make sure you have a plan B. Temps in the teens can kill if you aren't prepared! My kit has been tested and used repeatedly at 0 degrees F. But I'm from Wisconsin and if I want to camp more than 3 months a year I have to brave temps close to 0 regularly.


Share This Page