Solo igloo camping: A how-to instructional series

6:00 p.m. on March 29, 2013 (EDT)
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With a view to encouraging people to give winter camping a try, I've created a series of instructional videos in the form of a short cold-camping trip report.

The video series touches on basic principles of snow shelters, what to bring, how to dress, keeping warm, how to eat, sleeping, cooking, keeping water from freezing, how to carry gear on snowshoes, etc.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:
Part 4:

Part 5:

Hope this helps,
- Martin

7:28 p.m. on March 29, 2013 (EDT)
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I disagree with several points made in the videos.

  • I do not like the notion of drying out damp clothing by placing it in the sleeping bag over night.  If the air temperature inside your habitat is below freezing moisture from the evaporating items will re-condense in the insulating layers of your bag.  If this happens over a several day period your bag will progressively lose its thermal efficiency.  Wear only dry articles to bed.  Dry out damp items by wearing damp articles of clothing into the evening under warm dry layers and let the moisture sublimate through less critical warm gear such as a parka.  Stuff like boot liners can be worn over dry socks set up in a VBL configuration expressly used to dry the liners.  This of course assumes you are not an early to bed person.  Furthermore the amount of sweat soddened gear can be minimized by using hybrid VBL techniques, such as limiting sweat to a pair of thin socks while protecting the more bulky boot liners with VBL membranes.
  • Snow shelters are not always dry.  In fact they can be very damp when outside air temps are at or above freezing.  I remember a warm February when it pretty much “rained” inside a snow cave.  I dug a replacement shelter that was situated in heavy shade to remedy the situation.
  • Snow shelters – or any enclosed camping shelter for that matter- are NOT safe to cook in!  If a gas fired camping stove misbehaves you may find the inside of your shelter filled with flames.  I don’t care how expertise one thinks they are, if you do enough camping a stove accident will eventually happen.  Don’t let luck find you cooking inside a shelter of any kind when this occurs.

Ed

8:24 a.m. on March 30, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for taking the time to post your comments Ed.  There's plenty of room for disagreement on these matters and I'm happy to entertain dissenting opinions based on other people's experiences.  Let me address each of your points in turn based upon my own winter camping experiences.

With respect to night-drying of clothes:
I've camped in snow shelters (primarily quinzhees and igloos) since I was a boy and, provided one is only bringing damp clothes into one's bag overnight, they will dry and the bag won't accumulated any significant moisture on multi-night trips.  But there's a caveat, and it's one I should have included in the video; no bivies of any kind, so your bag can breathe. 

Bivies protect your bag from external moisture, but they tend to trap your body's moisture, especially in sub-freezing temperatures because as the hot moist air travels through the bag it cools down as it moves farther from your body.  A bivy doesn't breathe well in sub-freezing temperatures (even when made of Gore-Tex) and so when the moisture finally reaches the cold bivy material, it doesn't escape but is trapped and the moist air transitions back into a liquid and then into ice crystals.  I always sleep without a bivy in a quinzhee or igloo and that permits the moisture in the bag to freely escape.  By morning I will occasionally have the smallest amount of crystallization on the outside of my bag, but usually none at all.  But if I were to use a bivy, my bag would accumulate significant moisture night after night, thus degrading it's insulating properties.  The technique of night-drying clothes has been widely used for ages and it has never compromised my sleeping system in the years I've used it.  But again, it's vital that the bag be completely uncovered so it can vent moisture as it is designed to do.  It's a very different matter in a tent. Tents are much colder than snow shelters and if you night-dry your gear in a tent, you'll get way more condensation on your bag because the exterior surface of your bag will be so very much colder than in a heat-trapping igloo or snow shelter.  I do not recommend night-drying one's clothes if sleeping in a tent.

With respect to the dryness of snow shelters:
Snow shelters are not always dry. In fact, they are often damp, especially small quinzhees and cramped snow caves.  Igloos tend to be quite roomy and luxurious by comparison with their high-vaulting roof which means warm moisture rises and escapes quite nicely instead of hovering around you at floor level as I've experienced in snow tunnels, caves and small quinzhees.  In my experience a candle or two inside a roomy snow shelter will drive the moisture up and outwards where it gets absorbed into the very snow walls.  After several nights the interior walls are very hard glazed, and further moisture that doesn't escape via the vent runs down the walls and freezes near the floor.  Whenever I have winter camped in a tent I've found that ice crystals form and accumulate night after night and those crystals tend to get flung around and all over my gear.  This doesn't happen in an igloo or roomy quinzhee.  The only way to avoid condensation and crystallization in a tent is to open a lot of the zippered vents, but this comes at the cost of heat loss.  Tents are poor heat traps to begin with and they trap almost none when one opens up the zipper vents to let moisture escape.  In a well-built snow shelter that is roomy, has a high-arched roof, and a small vent hole, the heat is trapped well but moisture is absorbed into or attaches itself permanently into the shelter itself, so it doesn't get all over your gear. 

You also mentioned it 'raining' in a snow cave.  This has been my experience as well in small cramped snow shelters in mild temperatures.  Snow caves tend to be small, cramped, low-ceilinged affairs, and because they are carved/excavated, they have a lot of drip points where condensation collects and rains down on you.  So, in my experience, the secret to a dryer snow shelter is a roomier shelter, with a high-arched roof and a small vent hole.  In a small space, moisture builds up faster than it can escape or be absorbed until it feels like the air is completely moisture-laden and everything starts to feel clammy.  A larger snow shelter takes longer to warm up than a tiny snow cave or tunnel, but they are such effective heat traps that once they warm up, they stay warm.  In fact, as I mentioned in my video, I have never had a water bottle freeze in one of my igloos and the sleeping bag I use is a heavy 3-season down bag.  I don't even own a true winter sleeping bag because the temperatures in the snow shelters typically hover just around the freezing point and seldom much lower than that.

With respect to cooking in a snow shelter:
It depends what sort of stove you use.  Most winter campers like stoves that can generate a fast boil, so they opt for stoves that burn highly caloric fuels such as white gas, butane, propane, and the like, under pressure.  I use a simple Trangia alcohol stove with methylated spirits.  It takes longer to cook, but the Trangia burner seals up so it can be carried in a pocket by day or kept in a sock in one's bag overnight so that the fuel is warm when you need to light your stove.  I never have to prime my Trangia stove.  More relevant to your point, because the fuel is not under pressure in such a stove, there's no risk of a flare-up.  Additionally, a simple alcohol stove has no parts to lose, freeze up or stick so it's virtually foolproof, which is what I value most in a winter stove. 

Now, in general, I cook outside, as you see me doing in my video, just because I'd rather be outside when cooking, but when the weather's really bad, sometimes one just can't get any cooking down outside.  In my experience I can cook more safely in the calm and comfortable serenity of an igloo than outside in bad weather where the wind is gusting, snow is blowing around and threatening to overturn my kitchen.  Also, in my shelter, I can cook with less clothing on and without having to wear my mitts or gloves, which makes for less clumsiness.  Now, I wouldn't want to cook inside a snow tunnel or cramped cave, but a roomy quinzhee or igloo is a nice controlled environment for safe cooking with a safe stove that can't flare up.   When the weather's awful outside, cooking in a shelter made of snow is a good deal safer than being in a synthetic shelter that can burn and melt in a moment.   Stove flare-ups, be they indoors or outdoors, are a danger.  My advice would be to avoid stoves that are complicated, have lots of parts which can stick, clog, get lost, freeze up, or which can flare up and set fire to your clothing and gear in a split second.

Thanks again for your input Ed.  Feel free to comment further if you wish.

Hope this helps,
- Martin

12:49 a.m. on April 4, 2013 (EDT)
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PineMartyn is a longtime member of www.wintertrekking.com, which is where I first saw some his videos posted. If I remember right, he's in Ontario, where the weather is quite different from what we encounter out here in CA, so I think it helps to keep that in mind. Also, he's talking about using a Trangia, not a canister or pressurized white gas stove, so the risks of a problem are minimized compared to the other two. I would never use one of my canister or liquid fuel stoves inside anything, unless it was a real emergency. I don't really trust any of them.

12:20 a.m. on April 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Martin, I really liked that video a lot. (watched all 5)

Living in NH's White Mountains i share some like weather, and some rather more harsh that the mild days you created the video. 

I am somewhat hard of hearing and didn't understand if you named the tool you built the igloo with. It's nice i tripped over your videos here on Trailspace since i have a direct way to ask.

It is late in the season now, but by next winter i simply must have a tool like that,  and have book learning to go with it.

Was that store bought or did you make it? 

I can be very handy if it is a DIY project.

I would be a party of 2 maybe 3 sometimes. Can 7 feet become 8 to 10 with out a lot more trouble? Same tool?

In good snow conditions working alone about what time does it take to from start to finish after the snowshoe pack has set up?

I will finish asking questions for the moment with why was no entryway built after the igloo was done?

12:43 a.m. on April 5, 2013 (EDT)
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It was a serious mistake for me to go over and look at the other site.. This PineMartyn is a very bad man... I am saying to come here at winter's end, when i can't build all this stuff, sleds and the like and go play.....

Bad PineMartyn Bad  LOL

5:17 a.m. on April 5, 2013 (EDT)
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PineMartyn said:

..There's plenty of room for disagreement on these matters and I'm happy to entertain dissenting opinions...

 

Well it looks like we have a debate!

I have considered your counterpoints, and think there are explanations to our differences.  But before I get into the talking points, let me state I prefer igloos, too, but not for any of the aformentioned reasons.  I prefer igloos because they take less effort to construct.  I noticed you “make” your bricks from loose snow.  Most of the time I can find consolidated snow and cut my bricks from the pack with a snow saw.  A 3P igloo goes up in about an hour working solo, provided the site is prepped – or about forty minutes if assisted by someone who has done it before. 

 

  • With regards to wearing wet stuff into our sleeping bags:
    I claim moisture accumulates in the bag and reduces warmth over time, while you state you the moisture exits the bag and has little or no affect.  We are both right, but under different circumstances.  Before I continue, let me first discount the affect of bivy sacks.  They may indeed affect the performance of our g\ear, but you don’t use one, nor do I.  So any reference to bivies are a red herring in this context. 

    Our experiences are affected by certain variables: dew point, shelter temperature, and the duty rating of our gear.  In your case you describe pre-spring conditions – the air temperature is cold enough that the warmth of your shelter is primarily originates from the ground, hence the ambient shelter temperature hovering near freezing, once you have the shelter enclosed.  You also describe using a bag that is duty rated for that temperature range.  I suspect what is happening is the dew point temperature is lower than the coldest temperature within your sleeping bag insulation.  That is why the moisture evaporates from your clothes and passes out of your bag before finding a surface to re-condense on.  But if relative humidity was high or the shelter temperature dropped sufficiently, you would end up with moisture re-condensing in your bag, and freezing when your body heat no longer keeps it above freezing.  I suspect your gear is a good match to the climate of your shelter and minimizes these issues.

    I usually don’t have the option to assume I will have a snow shelter, thus must often carry a bag rated for colder temperatures, as I may be sleeping in the open or in a tent when a snow shelter isn’t feasible.  As a result the thicker insulating layer sets up circumstances where the dew point temperature can occur inside the layers of my insulation, hence why my bag accumulates moisture and loses loft over the duration of a trip.  I surmise by the advisories against wet gear in a bag when tent camping, that you probably will agree why I am concerned with moisture in my bag.  Thus if you have the luxury of assuming you can construct a snow shelter, your assertions hold, provided you bag isn’t overrated for the ambient shelter temperatures (note: ambient shelter temperatures drop at higher altitudes and the further north you go).

 

  • With regards to snow shelters being dry or wet inside:
    If I understand your claim, it is igloos are dry because they are large, while caves, etc are wet because they lack interior volume/surface area.  If a cave is wet from moisture generated from within, its problem is poor ventilation, not insufficient interior volume.  In any case my caves have about the same interior volume per person as an igloo, I hate the claustrophobic and depressing feeling of small caves.  So size is not the reason for our differing experiences.

    Since you describe your igloos as having interior temps hovering around freezing I surmise you are camping in pre-spring conditions.  I, however, frequently camp in spring and later season where snow persists at higher elevations, but the day time temperatures can climb into the 50-60° F range.  In these conditions the surface of the snow pack thaws and the snow melt percolates through the pack.  The less snow residing between the interior ceiling of your shelter and the snow pack surface, the more vulnerable you are to this melt off raining down into your shelter interior.  And since the thickness of igloo bricks are measured in inches rather than feet, igloos are quite vulnerable to getting wet inside under these conditions.  Thus I believe our difference in opinion here has to do with the seasonal conditions we camp in.

 

  • As for cooking in a shelter:
    Alcohol stoves are safer than gas fired stoves, but they still have their issues.  I camp with a friend who is so clumsy I will not permit use of candles in our shelters, because he ALWAYS gets wax all over the place.  AND he is forever banned from using a stove because he has a knack for spilling pots and creating less pleasant stove related incidents.  I can envision him picking up an alcohol stove, not seeing the flame, then flinging the hot stove across the shelter, enveloping an indie pit crew and climbing team in flames.  Face it:: we are monkeys and wherever there are monkeys there will be monkey business.

Ed

7:53 a.m. on April 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Where's IglooEd when we need him? I'm sure he'd be willing to tell LodgePole all about the IceBox(Tm)...

11:37 a.m. on April 5, 2013 (EDT)
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'Ed Said' 'I can envision him picking up an alcohol stove, not seeing the flame, then flinging the hot stove across the shelter, enveloping an indie pit crew and climbing team in flames.  Face it:: we are monkeys and wherever there are monkeys there will be monkey business.'

LOL, Notice PineMartyn goes solo..... I get the idea you two birds know the same monkey Ha Ha Ha

I do use a biviy,  also vapor barrier sleeping bag liners. The one time a the seam failed at my feet and went un-noticed it wasn't many mornings come before i did notice. That was a horrible moment at -40 F / -40 C on the side of Mt Adams NH. There is no way I will sleep with anything wet inside my sleeping bag. Not gonna happen in this life time because i want to delay the next life time for so long as possible.

My way to dry gear is not get it wet in the first place, and then I sublimate anything slightly damp.

I have only experienced one ice block igloo so far and it was exotic, luxurious, and super well built. I just have no idea who built it and or when. The day before in the Whites in a place called Thunderstorm Jct it wasn't there, and that day was crystal clear. I could see the Atlantic.

The next day was whiteout wind around 90 to 110 mph wind chill -96 below according to the weather relayed to me at Gray Know RMC Hut, from Pinkham Notch the trail head for the AMC to Mt Washington NH.With out the radio I would never have known.

 

All I know about that igloo is it was put up sometime in night and apparently abandoned by 9:00 AM. I just took rest from the wind in it a while both ways.

I was called out to search and rescue lost winter hikers/campers at the AMC Madison Hut. I didn't find any one over there, and I didn't consider the people who must have built the igloo lost or stranded.

For all these years I have and still question if it was people who built the igloo though. Maybe here on Trailspace I can finally conclude some better answer.

....................................

Big Red Thanks man. I liked that link a lot. I am sure this thread will get more interesting shortly ;-)

9:39 p.m. on April 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole said:

..I have only experienced one ice block igloo so far and it was exotic, luxurious, and super well built. I just have no idea who built it and or when...

..For all these years I have and still question if it was people who built the igloo though. Maybe here on Trailspace I can finally conclude some better answer...

The Igloo god loves you; your medicine is good. 

It is a windfall to come upon a preexisting snow shelter when you need one.  Most of the time anyway.  I have seen caves on heavily traveled routes that were litter strewn and rank with the filth one normally associates with caged monkeys or perhaps sloven Hobbits.  I'd use those abodes as a last resort and only if life or limb were at stake.

Ed 

10:07 p.m. on April 5, 2013 (EDT)
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whomeworry said:

Lodge Pole said:

..I have only experienced one ice block igloo so far and it was exotic, luxurious, and super well built. I just have no idea who built it and or when...

..For all these years I have and still question if it was people who built the igloo though. Maybe here on Trailspace I can finally conclude some better answer...

The Igloo god loves you; your medicine is good. 

It is a windfall to come upon a preexisting snow shelter when you need one.  Most of the time anyway.  I have seen caves on heavily traveled routes that were litter strewn and rank with the filth one normally associates with caged monkeys or perhaps sloven Hobbits.  I'd use those abodes as a last resort and only if life or limb were at stake.

Ed 

 If I had been looking for that igloo, it's a good bet i would not have found it. On the other hand it was just a stroke of luck I did walk smack into it in the white out. I thought I walked into the Dartmouth Cairn at Thunderstorm Junction, but it seems a tad too low and bit too soon.

I have read of strange occurrences on the summit of Mt Adams. The summit stone has a triangle paint mark, and this igloo had the same mark in the pentagon ice block at the top.

There were several other odd markings, but at the moment I have no way to show anyone and can't paint any picture with word. I do have 35 mm slides. All of these were on the inside. If i recall I tried to get one shot outside.

And yeah I have seen the shelters over below Tucks buried under snow with ice stairs cut to go down and enter them and the stench and filth was so bad I left and camped out in a snow bank as far as i could get.

I haven't been back since. Tucks is just not the place it used to be. It's become mecca to the high winter tech wanna be hero, and totally trashed and very over used. With enough money you can get  chopper ride up to ski down and do it all day. Or at one point you could anyway.

Screw up, and Lunch Rocks will treat every as equal.

............................. on Edit:

One saving grace for that place is the poor weather. I have a weather app on my pc and can just have a look as I please for the weather up there. 

This evening will separate the men from the boys pretty easy.

Warm at +9 degrees F, Uh Oh +9 degrees Dew point ;-) ,

winds NW at a mild 70 mph gusting to 77 mph :-)

Wind chill - 22 below 0 F

11:14 a.m. on April 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Lodge Pole said:

Martin, I really liked that video a lot. (watched all 5)

Living in NH's White Mountains i share some like weather, and some rather more harsh that the mild days you created the video. 

I am somewhat hard of hearing and didn't understand if you named the tool you built the igloo with. It's nice i tripped over your videos here on Trailspace since i have a direct way to ask.

It is late in the season now, but by next winter i simply must have a tool like that,  and have book learning to go with it.

Was that store bought or did you make it? 

I can be very handy if it is a DIY project.

I would be a party of 2 maybe 3 sometimes. Can 7 feet become 8 to 10 with out a lot more trouble? Same tool?

In good snow conditions working alone about what time does it take to from start to finish after the snowshoe pack has set up?

I will finish asking questions for the moment with why was no entryway built after the igloo was done?

 Lodge Pole,

I'm pleased that you enjoyed the videos.  I'll try to answer each of your questions. If I've left something out, or if it's not clear, just let me know.

As someone's already mentioned, the tool I use for building my igloos is the Icebox Igloo Tool which is designed and sold by Igloo Ed of Grand Shelters Inc.  You can order it directly from the Grand Shelters Inc website or you can check that same site to see if there are any local retailers who carry it.

Igloos are notoriously hard to build by traditional means and require rather specific snow conditions (wind-packed snow) and so can't be build in most places where there is snow.  The Icebox tool lets you build igloos in any type of snow (wet, fresh powder, dry and granular sugar snow, all sorts of temperature gradients snow, and even depth hoar) because it  uses some clever properties of the slip form to facilitate the sintering process and not break the 'block' when moving the form.  In essense,  with the Icebox, you're not making discrete, delicate blocks which then have to be positioned and precisely angled and shaped to fit.  Instead you're essentially making one long, continuous block that winds up tighter and tighter.  It takes all the guesswork out of the process as the pre-set adjustments of the pole guarantee you finish up with a proper catenary arch.  It makes for a remarkably stable and long-standing shelters.  I have 2 or 3 other videos on my channel about the use of the Icebox and the quality of the igloos it makes, if you're interested (links below).
I should mention that it's not cheap to buy, but that's because it's intended to replace a winter tent.  It packs up flat and weighs 5 lbs for ease of carrying.

As for learning to use it, it's not hard.  It does take practice to get fast and efficient at it.  You can't just hike into the mountains or bush without having built one.  So build a couple in your yard first.  Your kids will love it.  It comes with written, illustrated instructions and a nice detailed DVD that shows exactly how to use the tool from start to finish (using very dry sugar snow, in fact). I recommend watching it twice before building your first igloo, as it's chock full of great little tips and tricks.  

You can expect that your first igloo will take absurdly long to build.  My wife and I built our first (a 9' wide one) over three afternoons in very old and dry snow and it took us a ridiculous 12 hours.  The very next one took half as long.  We typically build a roomy 2-person (8') igloo in four hours in most snow conditions and that includes letting the snow sinter up, taking breaks, etc.  I can build a 7' igloo in the same time entirely by myself, as you saw in my video.  After you've built two practice igloos, you should be fine.  I recommend building a modest igloo (an 8-footer) with a partner for your first try.

The tool allows you to build igloos with interior floor widths of 7', 8', 9', 10', and 11'.  The smallest is intended for one adult or else two very cuddly adults of small stature.  The 8-footer comfortably sleeps 2 plus gear. The 9-footer sleeps 3 to 4, and up to 5 or 6 people can sleep in an 11-footer.  Realistically, only 3 to 4 people can work on an igloo at a given time, no matter how big it is.  Others in the party can tend to other business, make hot beverages, or fill in for breaks.   If you're going to be 3 people, I recommend building a 9-footer.

Regarding making your own tool:  It's hard to do without specially molded plastics.  I have seen some blogs and and posts by people who've tried to fashion their own slip forms.  Building a slip form out of wood is what people usually come up with. The problem is that wooden forms can't be engineered precisely so that they will hold the snow together under the needed pressure while still allowing the form to gently release the sintering snow when the form has to be moved over.  Also, snow tends to stick to the wood and then you can't release/spread the form without breaking the block you've just made.  And then there is the fact that the molded plastic slip form has two gentle curves which helps build the walls.  The Icebox also comes apart so that the outer panel and then side panel can be removed when they are no longer needed and in the way towards the end of the build (see video below).  Lastly, the adjustable pole is what ensures that each section of wall built is the correct distance and angle from the center of the igloo to produce a proper catenary arch.  Without that pole, you really have to have a good, trained eye for what the shape needs to be.  Having built quite a lot of igloos now, I think I have a sense of what the shape is, but it'd still be hard to eyeball it.

Regarding the "entryway", do you mean a kind of tunnel around the door/hole that leads into the igloo?  I didn't make on because it's not really necessary.  Instead, I typically build up a kind of snow wall a few feet away from the entrance hole. This serves to block wind and spindrift from getting in an I use that wall as a kind of counter and shelf for cooking so I can work and cook standing up, instead of being crouched down on the ground.

I hope this answered your questions.  Let me know if you have others.  Here are a few links to some other short vids I've made that may anticipate some of your questions:







I should perhaps mention that I'm in no way affiliated or connected to Grand Shelters.  I'm happy to recommend the tool to people just because I've used it in a lot of snow conditions and it works as advertised.  But, it's not a toy. It won't build an igloo for you.  It's a tool, and like any tool, you need practice using it a bit before putting it to use for real.   

2:29 p.m. on April 6, 2013 (EDT)
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I had one friend that recorded the temps, humidity and dew point through an evening and night in an igloo. The humidity was very high, above 90% most times and the dew point stayed just below any particular temperature.

The igloos built with the igloo tool are very smooth and it is easy to see any projecting snow that might drip. It is easy to smooth them off.

When first moving into a new snow shelter, the walls will drop snow on ones gear if they are touched. Later the snow turns to slush and generally sticks/compacts if touched. I have a large/light tarp that I place on the floor with the extra width/material towards the wall and pull it back over my gear until the walls warm up. After they warm up and everyone is moved in and settled down, I lift the tarp so any snow slides off towards the wall. The roominess of the igloo helps stop accidentally touching of the wall through the evening. It's a skill that needs to be learned and engrained as far as touching the wall. I brush the snow off myself while I'm in the door so it doesn't get on my gear. With sufficient snow pack, I make my door tall enough to bend over and walk in instead of crawling. Crawling gets one's gloves and knees wet.

My bag is a down bag rated at +15F and I have had friends use bags rated colder without moisture buildup as the days pass. Generally, I camp with ambient temps at 0F. or above but have camped in colder temps. When at Zero or above the temperature at the floor is 34F. in the morning without any heat source through the night. One one trip to Yellowstone it was -27F. outside the the floor measured +17F. I had a very damp day previous to this and I had a tiny bit of frost on my bag down by my feet in the morning. My bag did get a bit damp that evening but I managed my moisture well the next day and my bag dried out again the following evening.

Back in the day when  we built snow caves, my water always froze a little bit if I didn't sleep with it. I along have my water freeze in the igloo if it is windy or the ambient temps drop below Zero. I suspect air travels through a natural snowpack but not through the compacted snow walls of the igloo.

Concerning stove use inside, enter at your own risk. I've been using a canister stove and lantern for the last 15 years without mishap. I do tend to get rather vocal with the clumsy ones though.

8:31 p.m. on April 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi, Ed. Good to see you chiming in here. A couple staff members for the Boy Scout adult leaders' snow camping course I developed (and still help staff) have been demoing your Ice Box for the last few years, along with quinzhees, snow caves, and snow block igloos (you have to spend the night in your snow shelter to "graduate" from the course).

Anyway, I have spent many a night in snow shelters of various sorts, ranging from "bolt holes" (quick emergency snow shelter) to cut block igloos to one massive quinzhee. The temperature inside depends on several factors, including the interior volume vs number of occupants. In really cold situations (e.g., Denali higher camps or Antarctica), using a tarp or pulk to block (not seal) the entrance to slow the air exchange rate, we generally measure no more than a few degrees C below freezing, given a proper "cold well" for an entrance. This includes a few times with temperatures around -30C. I have never had water freeze in an igloo or quinzhee more than a few crystals on the surface, when left sitting out in a cozy. I have gotten slush in the bottle in a bolt hole and in a snow cave that had a relatively large door that wasn't blocked (it was more of a wind shelter than a snow cave. Thankfully, I never had to dig a bolt hole "in anger", just to try one out to see whether I would be comfortable sitting on a foam pad, wearing down parka and using a pied d'elefant - I was cool, but not cold, and did get a few hours of sleep. Ok for an emergency, but I wouldn't choose to do it intentionally.

On stoves and candles in snow shelters - My feeling is that the BSA rule is the one to follow - no open flames inside any shelter, whether a tent or a snow shelter. It is just too easy to get the flame against "modern" synthetics and get actual fire or molten nylon. Plus there are the CO and CO2 problems and oxygen depletion. Yes, snow breathes, and you do get some circulation with a vent in the roof and a doorway that is not fully sealed. But the interior surface gets pretty well glazed, and thus pretty impermeable to air, in a day or so of occupation. I definitely would advise against using a white gas or kerosene stove inside one. The risk is just too high, given what I have seen even very experienced outdoor types do.

On the other hand, I will readily admit that I use a 4-season expedition tent most of the time in mountaineering and polar conditions. My sleeping bags are Feathered Friends and Western Mountaineering, and on expeditions I have my nice warm down parka and down overpants if I really need to extend the temperatures. But even when spending a week each at the high camps on Vinson and Denali, I haven't felt the need to supplement the FF bag. In those cases, we did our cooking either in a "kitchen" pit that we dug in the snow with a windwall or in a Posh Tent (a mountaineering-aimed tipi-shaped tent manufactured in Alaska and quite popular among climbers - hard to get unless you know someone, though).

9:58 p.m. on April 6, 2013 (EDT)
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Hi Ed..... Am I to understand that even after the snow has set up and the glazed has formed, still at no time should anyone sit and lean back on the walls inside a igloo?

Is this just because body heat would damped an article of clothing, or for some  other reason?

Sitting in  the same ice block igloo twice in the same day , one time does not a expert make ....

However being a resident of NH I do understand the concept of if one disturbs snow it will surely harden like a rock.

I have tinkered with assorted play igloos when my son was a child, more the quinzhees and usually more just plain digging a hole into the side of a snow bank that i plowed up. getting wet in the dooryard meant nothing.

Getting gear wet wasn't going to happen because there was none.

I have seen what happens with a candle in a shelter like this and that parts suits me well enough. I have never trued cooking inside one, and can see that might be a little risky, but not for closing off air because i wouldn't. I wouldn't cook in a modern nylon tent either, but would in one made of canvass and have in time measured in years, like no less than 1,095 days in a row years.

I understand heat melts snow and that makes water and if the sides of the shelter are not smooth, and or hairs, or in the case of tipi poles are rough for any reason, water will find that and drips will ensue from there.

But i don't understand why you can't lean on a igloo wall a while.

10:14 p.m. on April 6, 2013 (EDT)
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PineMartn, "Regarding the "entryway", do you mean a kind of tunnel around the door/hole that leads into the igloo?'

Yep that's what i meant. The only igloo so far,  had one, so I just figured they all should have one. That entryway also had 2 ice block doors. One was for leaving i assumed being that you could sort of block off the opening from the out side and another inside. Perhaps that was just unique to this one igloo? These doors were not something you could seal or made to look as if you could seal. I highly doubt that this igloo I speak of could even have been built with the tool you have since this area is hard boiler plate ice. 

My best guess is this was made with ice axes to make first cuts in ice and then a saw was used. I have been wanting to get some slides like these and other made into digital format, and now i wish for that even more.

So many hobbies, so little time, and where is the money? 

Had tea this afternoon sitting on a tiny mt pond. 

11:01 p.m. on April 6, 2013 (EDT)
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When the inside walls of any snow shelter have glazed, the snow no longer breathes. So you have to have enough ventilation through the door or ceiling vent holes.

Yes, you can lean back against an igloo wall after it has hardened (doesn't actually take all that long), but you will lose body heat, just as sitting directly on snow. Some of us carry a Crazy Creek chair, which acts as extra insulation under the sleeping bag when laid out flat (or the "Thermarester" sleeve that makes a Thermarest or Blue Foam pad into a chair). Depends on how much the snow has hardened and set up, which does take a few hours to get really solid (again depending on outside air temperature, amount of sunlight, etc - I have seen igloos melt faster than they could be built on sunny days around 32°F)

Making igloos from glacial ice or firm windpack can be done with a snow saw (many of us carry these, or even an arbor saw). The right choice of saw cuts really fast. Igloo Ed's tool works quite well in even unconsolidated snow, which is what you get with fresh snowfall.

Cooking in a tent is fine with the right tent and stove. Pictured below is the Arctic Oven and its little wood stove we were using last week when it was -30°F up on the Yukon River:


EagleDogBTS1.jpg

Note the chimney extending up from the back of the stove (the grey-steel pipe extending vertically just left of th peak of the tent). It passes through a fire-proof "grommet" in the roofs of the inner and outer tents. Note the fire-proof platform on which the stove is standing (under the wood pieces)


EagleDogBTS2.jpg

Note the black plastic vent pipe to the left of the open tent door. This allows cold, fresh outside air to come into the main tent room. If you look at the enlarged picture (click on the photo, then on "View"), you can see the chimney coming up from the back of the tent.


                       --OGBO

12:05 a.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S, Thanks..... I would rather have things over explained than not get enough info.

The one igloo I happened on was still 'breathable' but also strong enough to lean on, as I did. 

It was some cold, below -30 so no melting was going to take place. I don't recall what i sat on, but my best guess at this time was my mitten shells. I would have been in green wool American made or at least Canadian made pants with goretex over pants.

I am familiar with assorted canvass tents having stoves.

I lived in a tipi 3 straight years and made tin can ditches below ground lever for the winters. The cats like em too so long as the fire was out.

In there I used a open fire pit and used a cracked pot belly stove as the reflector with it's feet in the fire one one long side.

Just 2 sections of stove pipe to enhance draft, and not draw real hard to assist in having coals come morning.

It is the Devils own work finding that stove pipe. Blends with the trees.

If you go to my profile you will see my canvass lodge and in that I can have a pit fire anywhere in the center line.

With that lodge there is 0 nylon 100% of the time since only pre 1840 items are allowed. I don't store my black powder by the fire either! :-)

One candle in a cut out on the wall wouldn't stop a entire say 10 foot diameter igloo from breathing totally with in a week at say -10 below would it. Lets use 4 adults sleeping and presumably breathing for that time too.

I understand that from tenting in winter enough to know you need a lot of ventilation if you want a dry tent. I like my cold camps dry.

OT: somewhat recently i bought a Gardua Trykaya and the front vestiblue is slathered with seam sealer. You can read it. The first applications were beautifully executed. The owner found condensation and assumed it was a leak. It must have been in rainy weather I guess.

I would put money it was in rainy weather and that boots were left too close to the unprotected ft zippers. A flaw in this design IMO that the zippers are not covered at all here.

But as time passed more and more seam sealer was used in the area of the ft vestibule and the work just gets sloppy.  You sure can seal this tent up too much, and doing that will soak the inner side of the vented vestibule.

More OT: I have read the frustration of a blacksmith with a leather and wood, large double bellows before too. He had a mouse problem. The sign was fine hand stitching of leather patches,  and then hob gob stitching as the mouse won the war.

8:10 a.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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The ceiling of my igloo is usually soft slush while I'm in the igloo and if touched wrong, the slush can get brushed off and fall on my gear. Depending on how much heat I have going on in the igloo, how cold it is outside, and the density of the snow/R value, it will vary how far down the wall the slush line exists. It's just a good practice to avoid touching the walls.

With the conditions varying, the slush level varies too along with how far the water runs down the wall before freezing. I've had a cotton bandana get completely soaked when touching the wall at floor level through the night.

A candle in the wall melts a hole up through the igloo wall as well as a stove placed close to the wall. It is best to set the stove towards the center of the igloo where the natural convection current rises until it cools on the ceiling and runs down the cold walls. In a snowcave, the candle in the wall has unlimited snow above it and shouldn't melt a hole to the outside but still, it is wasted heat.

1:56 p.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Ed,

You are right. To reiterate a couple points -

1. While you can lean against or touch the walls of an igloo or other snow shelter and get away with it, it really is not a good idea to do so for reasons mentioned by Ed, me, and a couple others, one of which is lowering your own body temperature, another being knocking snow off the wall onto your gear, and so on.

2. While it is possible to cook inside a tent or snow shelter and get away with it, there are enough precautions you must take for safety to avoid doing so under most conditions and only when done by a very experienced camper. Potential problems include fire hazard, oxygen depletion, CO poisoning, excess CO2, glazing of the snow shelter walls (with loss of breathability of the walls). and even weakening of the walls with sagging or collapse.

Just because something is possible to do does not mean you should do it. There is a reason, for example, why all backpacking stove manufacturers state emphatically "do not use the stove indoors".

I have witnessed the aftermath of both of the above far too many times to encourage, bless, or even suggest that these are good ideas. Instead, as both Igloo Ed and Whomeworry Ed have said, I would strongly DIScourage doing such actions.

I will also have to disagree with Pinemartyn about the safety of alcohol stoves, having witnessed one person manage to set a picnic table on fire by dumping the burner over - for one thing, he hadn't realized it was lit (the light blue flame can be very hard to see in daylight), so went to pick it up, then dropped it and spilled the alcohol in the burner, followed by knocking the open fuel storage can, which dumped the remaining alcohol onto the table. As Clyde Soles (a noted mountaineer and gear reviewer) once wrote, "Treat all stoves as the barely contained bombs that they are."

3:28 p.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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IglooEd, It surprises me that the top would get slushy. It's nice to know ahead of time. There isn't really snow enough now where I live in NH to really get serious about testing it building a igloo. Here in Tamworth NH winters back is broke. Guys that maple sugar are pulling taps out now.

I can see a slushy top in the warmer of days but it does seem surprising in the dead of winter cold.  

Everything is relative. When i think candle i think an hour maybe 2 at bed time.

In my winter camp outs with no shelter other than a bivy sack and a hold dug in the snow more like a shallow grave I used to cut a shelf and set up my candle and stove and sitting in my down bag cook dinner which meant boil water, and stay boiling water til 'Instant Crank' was made.

That was tang and tea mixed and I would put that in wide mouth nalgene bottles and that in spare wool socks and sleep with it all. Making sure the bottle didn't leak. That would usually be slushy by morning even though it was in my bag with me.

if course that candle was in a allow and glass sliding case. Early Winters had these made and they are still being made to day as i saw these at EMS last week. I have 4 in all but can't find the only red one. The others are just bare alloy.

,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Bill S my first tipi was made for the Boy Scouts. It had a front door and a rear door for a fire escape, but by the look of the canvass i would have to say no fire was ever built inside..

I sewed the read door back up and lived in that 14 foot diameter tipi a year with a fire inside, and a steel folding stove too.

At that years end I sold that and bought a 18ft used and lived in that 2 more years. At that point i sold that and bought the tarp tent lodge I have now, but I would not want to winter it that all winter long.

If i ever winter out in a tent for a the entire winter again it will be in another 18 footer. With in reason the 18's work best for 2 adults IMO.

6:16 p.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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There are real tipis and there are tipi-like tents that people call "tipis". Those of us who grew up on the reservation know the difference, and some re-enactors know as well. Tipi Walter knows very well, and has lived in them for years.

7:07 p.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Well my 2nd one had a rain liner on the inside, and a ozan.

I have been into Buck Skinning and re-enactors 30+ years. I think it was a Nomadic's but i can't recall for sure. The logo was of a tree with as long roots and lavender color on white. It was Lakota style.

If i recall it had 17 poles and 2 flaps poles. I made the poles from a grove of pine in Naples NY. 

The lodge I have now is on it's 2nd set of poles and are balsam fir. This is not a tipi, but a hunter's lodge where fire can be anywhere on the center line and is ok for 3 seasons.

Which reservation?

9:25 p.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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Went up skiing today to find winter is still hanging on in the CO Rockies and an expected foot more of snow this coming Tues.

I don't always check for where the slush line is or if there is any at all but there probably wouldn't be any slush on the ceiling if it was -40 outside.

The slush level moves up through the night with the heat sources off and only breath warming the igloo. It moves down again when making the morning coffee but freezes when I go out for the days excursion. It turns to slush again when I return and melt my next day's supply of water.

I bought my canister lantern/stove combo when I fist started using igloos and I also bought a CO meter that started reading at 5ppm and tested my stove. I am confident it burns clean. I have since read Roger Caffin's stove/CO report on Backpackinglight and one statement he made that stuck, to paraphrase: You'd be surprised at what stoves produce high amounts of CO and what doesn't.

I also have a Kestrel weather meter with a wind speed reading that I put to my 3/4 inch diameter vent hole. The fan on the meter is also about 3/4 inch diameter. It measured wind speeds of 5 to 7 mph going through the vent. It seemed to be varying from 5 to 7 due to wind gusts outside.

Great thread... Thanks PineMartyn for starting it.

10:21 p.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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I will risk a guess that you are making 4 to 6 qts of water from snow to eat dinner and have water for the next days uses. that you are doing this inside the igloo... I can see that making slush and that also you are still in fact breathing the whole time  (a joke) and may have a accomplice in high crime too, also breathing for the moment.  :-)

That makes sense.

Any chance there is a link to see what's what on CO making stoves? 

Any shelter that is small requires fair ventilation in winter where it is cold enough to condense warm moist breath on a cold surface.

I can see a igloo is far tighter than most any tent, and then sure can rain if you close them up too much.

I have no idea hope warm it was inside the igloo i tripped over. It was a lot nicer in there than it was outside. it was far brighter in there than i would have expected. In the white out i would say that is pretty close to a real 18% gray. Inside seemed brighter.

i would like to say 'soon i will get something done about the few 35 mm slides i have to get them here' but that just isn't true right now.

I could do a royal botch job, and stick them in a slide sorter and then take pics that way to get them digital but that isn't the way i would, because the quality will suffer badly. I suppose I might if my rep ends up depending on it though.

I will see what else i might do, but eating always comes first.

It may not seem like it, but i am learning too, and would thank everyone in here. As i learn i take what parts i can use and discard the rest. That's how learning works for me.

As to winter, it could still snow here but would have no impact even if it were 2 feet in one 8 hour long storm... That has happened in May of the year before but in a few days even that is gone.

In April even the big ski resorts will be closing this year in NH.

Now on Mt Washington it is still deep winter there and has been at -40 below wind chills for weeks. The snow up there now would be wind packed boiler plate, so hard it would turn all the but the best shovels .

I see on my weather app that right now Mt Washington is warmer.

+30 degrees F, Dew point 27', humidity 86%, wind W at 61 MPH gusting to 74 , wind chill + 10

Spring is here 

10:43 p.m. on April 7, 2013 (EDT)
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It isn't a problem with the igloo surface turning to slush or the moisture in the air condensing on the walls, it all runs across the ceiling and down the walls. Capillary action holds the water to the wall. I just need to make sure there are not hanging projections of snow that will drip.

My vent melts bigger over time and when it is just short of two inches in diameter, I feel a cold draft come in the door. I keep the vent smaller for warmth.

I also melt my snow for water on a simmering flame. It takes a couple hours for the igloo to warm up and turn to slush. It's very cozy like that. In two hours I've made enough water for the evening and the lantern alone will maintain the heat.

I don't cook meals with long boil times, that steam is more than can be dealt with in the igloo. I feel my gear is damp after a few minutes of someone boiling water.

8:19 a.m. on April 8, 2013 (EDT)
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I think I understand that. Keep low heat and steam to as close to none as possible. Then if it's really cold you might allow some steam but need to watch out for getting clothing damp.

This time of year here is far damper than deep winter, and has a raw feel. While it is warmer, the feel is worse and it is harder for me to get my head around camping out. It's the damp, maybe these old bones, 61 here.

I can get pretty excited about new to me ideas and i think maybe Pine Martyn read that.

The larger draft probably wouldn't bother me. I would know it means dry.

I understand Bill S to. That there are just some people who can't get things figured out. I made mittens of elk hide backed them with badger fur, and lined them with hudson bay blanket. Still have them and these are well used. The point is once at a sledding party I loaned them to someone woefully dressed to be out, and what I found was that person wearing my mittens and holding them to a fire. (wasn't happy)

Well no heat from that fire got in the mitts anymore than cold would, but it sure didn't do the badger fur any good.

For 4 winters i drove team wearing those mitts. Hitching the team with bare hands, and then getting the first ride moving out was always something of a challenge, but driving with one hand cold and working the other inside these mitts always worked. Once which ever hand was warm I switched and once both hands were warm they just stayed warm. That is 18th century style mitts not my moderns.

My wife has the last pair I made, as new. I sold a few pair too at $240.00 per, so toasting the fur was a little upsetting.

9:10 p.m. on April 8, 2013 (EDT)
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I get a smile when I think of your knowledge/experience, Lodge Pole. Those mitts sound amazing.

Me... I'm a city boy in comparison. I've done enough mountaineering that I still have fun getting to the top but do choose much easier routes these days. I'd starve if put out somewhere with only my gear and a day's rations.

Back in the day, I used to use all wool and cotton and consider going back to it at times. I have a new pair of pants that are great but they are synthetic and already have a cut through the first layer of the new high tech material. Them wools and leathers will take quite the beating in comparison.

The way I have my vent gives me 48F. at the ceiling, 42F. at chest level and 38F. at floor level. In the morning with just the breath keeping it warm it is 34F. at the floor and 38F. at the ceiling. That is a constant with ambient temperatures from 0F. to 70F.

I sit in the igloo with either my base layer, heavy wool and shell jacket or my base layer and a light weight down hooded jacket. I tend to go outside for short periods and come back in to warm up when I catch a chill. Sometimes I put the wool on with the down jacket and also put on a pair of insulted pants and then I can stay outside for an hour or so before catching a chill. Usually though, I am moving a little bit when I'm out there and I can stay warm even longer. It's nice sitting in the igloo without all the layers on though so I usually go for the lighter setup. When I feel the draft come in the igloo, it is time to put all the layers on. I plug the vent and poke a small hole again but it takes about an hour for the igloo to warm up again. The igloo has it's own little micro climate and it works, things dry out. One friend from MN was surprised when he saw steam coming of my pants on one trip where I got wetter than I normally do.

12:00 a.m. on April 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Igloo Ed those mittens can get a driver in deep kimshee. After work, ( I worked 3 jobs , volvo tech by day, drove a pung (logging sled) but with people with a team by night, and pounded nails come weeks and still drove at night)

By 1:30 am or so it was time to eat again for me.... I hit up a place called beef and ski that had roast beef and James River  bbq sauce as the item i was after with fries and a beer.

I was dressed in serious wool from 4:00 pm to quitting. Knee high moc boots i made with soles of elk neck 9/16th thick, wool trousers and wool duofold longies, 2 pair of wool boot socks.

Light wool trade shirt, another one, a heavy wool trade shirt, and a Whitney Capote' Blanket coat. I didn't make that Tentsmiths did, I know those folks personally as friends. A balmora hat and the mitts with no other gloves or liners. I made all that but the blanket coat and the duofold longies. I still have all of that but those moc boots.

Anyway I hit up Beef and Ski one night and they had a new gal at the bar. I took my usual seat and tossed my mitts on the bar sitting there alone.

My coat was steaming as it was cold out around -20 below if i recall. That gal looked at me like i had 2 heads as i tried to order, and finally stammered out the word fur.

I was a little bit stunned seeing the look on her face and then seeing that fur was going to be an 'issue' :-)

I kinda leaned forward to get a better look at this lass, and she was dressed up to kill, err well not really.

I started in... You don't like my gauntlet mittens, but yet wear black patent leather shoes, woolen slacks a cashmere sweater, and a leather belt. MMMMMMMM what's that smell ah perfume,  do you have any idea where that comes from,  and worst of all yer sloppin' ROAST BEEF across the bar!

That cut it.... off she went like I lit a fuse.. LOL I could hear her screaming at someone in the kitchen. 

Pete the owner comes thru the swinging doors and walks up to me and says Bill what did you do to my new girl? I said Pete she don't like the fur on my mittens, and i told here she was pushing roast beef, but i never did get my whole order in....

 Pete was looking at the mitts too, and said how much? I said $240.00 Pete he said done. I said red, blue or green blanket liners, Pete said blue.

I never did see that girl again..

I am also a Buck Skinner you can google that. I run a bow drill for fire and or a flint n steel 18th century type and or my flintlock gun, but with no powder while it is still loaded and it won't fire either. 'This heya' chil' has been at that kinda doins' nigh on 35 years...

Or as i sometimes call it say 35 years before the Liars Bench. You might call that camp fire lies.

I have been immersed in that life a long time. So I have wool and lots of it, for that and in modern light I tend to mix and match.

 Before that i was a modern hiker in winter time. What's got me back is my grandson has just turned 4 and I am hoping this summer he might be old enough to go camping not very far from his home which isn't very far from mine. 

I don't think I will live so long to be able to go winter camping with him, unless it is just out in his own door yard. I might still be alive at a time when maybe it would be more like he takes me, but only God knows things like that.

I can take a picture of these mitts that belong to my wife. Those are hers and not for sale but you can see them if you like.

I can show you mine too, but they have years of use on them and one has a hole worn thru where i held the reigns.

It takes 4 times the leather to make mitts as it does a pair of mocs. Mine have articulated thumbs too.

.............................................

igloos: The day I sat in the only one I ever knew leaning on the wall at hell bent below 0 it was far nicer inside than out. That day i was as close to serious frost bite as i ever was, but at the time i didn't know it. Some parts of my face were exposed and in the pictures I got back later I could see that I wasn't far from being damaged, but at no time was i in any pain or ever felt cold.

That igloo impressed me and mystified me and it still does. When Pine Martyn posted i became little boy 101. I am thrilled with the tool, and I just have to wonder what my grandson would think at the age he is at.

A few weeks ago i was in a walmart and bought him a 20 dollar tent. After all he is only 4.... This is a 5 x 6 feet footprint and it has a little rain cap. i wouldn't want to be in it in a bit of rain, but he can play in it inside his bed room on the floor or maybe put up in the back yard.

I am hoping to plant a dream....  being a Buck Skinner always means we know that there will be long delays between items... A Buck Skinner will typically order something, and wait a year before it arrives, unless he can make it.

I am not sure i believe I have anything much on you. I just do what i do and call things as i see em. I get my lumps for it sometimes.

12:01 a.m. on April 9, 2013 (EDT)
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ooooh that was long sorry.

1:49 p.m. on April 9, 2013 (EDT)
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Bill S said:

There are real tipis and there are tipi-like tents that people call "tipis". Those of us who grew up on the reservation know the difference, and some re-enactors know as well. Tipi Walter knows very well, and has lived in them for years.

 While I can't say for sure what brand name was on this used tipi when we bought it, here is a picture in Fall where it was the last year of 3 to live this way.

These were dollars hard days for us, and at the time film and processing was expensive, so there are not a lot of these pictures.

Note the poles are black from fires, but this is a new site. Also note there is a haze at the flaps and pole because there is a fire in a pit, and maybe a fire in a cracked wood stove too.


lodge-2.jpg

I can go from this and camp out fine. November 2010 in the 30's


Bill_path2_cropped_web.jpg

To this summit of Mt Jefferson NH in February 1999
ashes.jpg

But my little brother can't because here i am sending his ashes to the 4 winds. In my profile picture I wear that same RMC red rag. That red rag was my brothers. Mine was black and i gave it to the new winter RMC care taker at that time. It was the only way he could get one as they are no longer made. Mine was black. It's a elder thing... 

In the summit pic in the far distance you can see the ridge line, and just past that on the other side is where i live today.

In the paleo picture there is a few problems, one is the road, but my wife snagged shots while a camera man told me what he wanted with out any chance to set anything down or even for me to tell him there were no roads. Another small problem was i was supposed to be hunting the great wooley, and since this was in the salt marsh I was thinking steamed clams, oysters and mussels, not to mention assorted other for free great eats.

The location was about 1/2 mile from my Dads old place where i was raised as a child. Life is so strange at times.

What I am not accustomed to is tenting in winter or igloos. I didn't like or use tents in winter I just dug a grave and slept that way under the stars.

IMO Tents in a snow storm are damned dangerous. If you get buried in deep enough powder you might not wake up. I did get a bad scare once on the Quayside Estates a shoulder on Mt Adams at tree line.

It isn't always cold up there in winter either, but when it isn't, it is the time to look out. 55 degrees and rain up there will be followed by -20 and colder right off quick. Getting wet is no option. In my slides I even have a rainbow shot there under those conditions.

Oddly I don't have any pictures of all my fingers and all my toes, but i have them all still......

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