Winter time is a special time for me in ways I cannot explain. While Summer offers a lot great activities to partake in; winter has more than a handful of its own. Despite that, camping is generally not very high on the survey list when you ask people of favourite winter activities.
I enjoy winter camping because it truly challenges the mind, body and soul. As an activity, it pushes us to persevere against the elements. Those very same elements can often change very rapidly as I’ve witnessed. I’ve camped in conditions where putting tents up was hampered by high winds and where snow that fell the day before melted very rapidly the next day.
I’ve learned from those experiences that preparation and know-how are especially key. When the wind comes, grab the shovel and move snow to create a barrier for your tent. When the snow melts, move quickly and keep your hands and knees off the ground: Wet cold is deceiving.
Now, this blog is supposed to be about my thoughts on technology, not random topics. So, where does winter camping come into play here? Very easily. Since its very much a matter of survival as it is a recreational activity, we need to be mindful that both aspects have spawned technologies to make both easier. We often forget the science and technology aspects behind both. A lot of winter gear was made possible by developments in science and technology.
I’ll assume that fancy gadgets like GPS, emergency beacons and multifunction watches are often the first things that come to peoples minds but they are only the most recent additions to the grand scheme of survival technology. We tend to forget about Multitools, Dehydrated foods, Headlamps and synthetic fabrics as technological items. Technology has also lead to lighter-weight gear, which helps to make survival and recreational camping easier and more fun, by allowing us to conserve our energy when in cold and possibly hostile environments.
Possibly one of the most underrated technologies as far as camping goes, is the internet. Do not mistake my meaning here. The internet is underrated as a survival/camping tech as far as it allows for a wider variety of individuals to be prepared for these scenarios than ever before. Thanks to the internet, people have shared packing lists and ideas on how to do things easier in colder climates.
Here’s a really good list I found after a quick search: RECREATIONAL EQUIPMENT INC’S (REI) WINTER CAMPING CHECKLIST
I’ll forgo listing all the items in REI’s list. It’s a rather long list for my blog to have.
Suffice to say, REI’s list contains quite a few items that I own because they are very useful in other situations. Unfortunately, I don’t keep any of it together in one spot because of the multi-usefulness factor. That would be a tip that I will give here now. Make your preparation easier by keeping your gear together. I recently reorganized my gear into two containers. Said containers being formerly vessels of protein powder — one 2lbs and the other a 5lbs.
In the smaller, 2lbs container I have stuffed: Two (2) headlamps, a spork, my fire-kit [magnesium, a (knock-off) Zippo, steel wool, candles, magnet*], a granola bar, camp soap, toothbrush, a cup, duct-tape, a spool of white paracord, three four-foot-long pieces of black paracord, folding knife, a pair of rubber-palm workgloves and a few other items that I can’t recall off the top of my head.
In the larger 5lbs container I have packed: two sporks, a regular KFS set, my camping knife, another headlamp, a selection of dehydrated foods and MRE packets [I acquired the latter through my volunteering with an Air Cadet squadron].
WHAT’S THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS?
Pretty much every piece of gear I have in my camping kit is some form of technology, in one way or another. Even the most lowly items involve some kind of technology. The KFS set and Sporks are made from Lexan. Steel wool is a low-grade by-product of our industrial revolution. Headlamps are the culmination a few different technologies, such as plastics, LEDs, battery and spandex/rubber-blends. Dehydrated foods and MRE’s are possible thanks to hermetic sealing and developments in the understanding of nutrition. My rubber-palmed workgloves are the result of the impregnation of cotton with nitrile rubber. I can go on…
So, the point of this is, invention and innovation surrounds us whether we recognize it or not. Of course, when it comes to camping and packing, I do owe my own cleverness and tendency to “MacGuyver” things to my liking. (such as putting gear into old protein containers)
Ahhh… organization. You make life wonderful.
* – the magnet is important here because it serves two purposes. The first in keeping the fire kit compact by squishing the steel wool against the zippo and two, if need be, can be used to make a compass.