Snow Camping Packing List

Updated February 2013 snow camping page
  • Personal Clothing
    • Two pair thin polypro long underwear pants
    • Two pair thin polypro long sleeve shirt
    • Two pair heavier polypro or fleece long pants
    • Two pair heavier polypro or fleece or wool long sleeve shirt
    • Two pair light polypro sock
    • Two pair medium wool socks
    • Two pair heavy wool socks
    • Snow pants
    • Heavy sweater
    • Snow jacket
    • Wool hat
    • Scarf (optional)
    • Three (or more) pair polypro glove liners
    • Four (or more) pair outer gloves (these get very wet digging a cave)
    • Snow boots, sized to fit over three pair socks
  • Personal Items
    • Sunglasses
    • Sunscreen
    • Chapstick
    • Eating bowl, cup, spoon
    • Hand warmer, feet warmer packets
    • Personal first aid kit
    • 2 or 3 water bottles
    • Extra empty bottle for urination at night
  • Sleeping Gear
    • (Sleep in the second set of long underwear, which are dry!)
    • Plastic sheet, or emergency blanket for bottom layer against snow
    • Closed cell foam pad
    • Regular foam pad
    • 20-degree sleeping bag
    • Fleece sleeping bag liner (may be used inside bag, or below bag for another layer)
  • Gear
    • Snowshoes
    • Ski poles (optional for smaller scouts)
    • Backpack
    • Sled for extra gear (not everyone needs a sled)
  • Troop Gear
    • Snow/Grain shovels (troop has lots of these)
    • Smaller snow shovels and scrapers
    • Cooking boards (troop has lots of these)
    • Troop first aid kit
    • Coleman stoves and fuel (need several, one for each food group)
    • Cooking gear
    • One 4-season tent for emergency


Why two sets of long underwear?

Our Troop spends all day Saturday digging caves. That can be hot work, so adults and older scouts are going to sweat. The gloves you wear during cave digging get pretty wet. For best results, you'll want to change out of all your wet clothes toward the end of the day. Then you can spend the evening meal activities in warm, dry clothes. I imagine that younger scouts have a hard time doing a full change of clothes. Second best is changing in your sleeping bag as you go to sleep for the night. Then you can stay in your warm clothes in the morning and just put on more layers. This is the motivation for two full sets of polypro long underwear.

Why so many gloves?

Pack as many pairs of gloves as you can afford. Unfortunately, good winter gloves are not cheap. Digging snow caves really soaks gloves. So, being extra pairs, but also be willing to work in wet gloves. Save the dry pairs for toward the end of the day, and the following day.

How cold is it, really?

The snow cave itself is above freezing when there are people inside. Snow is a great insulator, and the insides of the cave will drip a little as you heat it up. So, inside your sleeping bag in the cave can be toasty. However, the snow/ice you sleep on can be cold, so you want a good set of layers between you and the snow. (One night I kept thinking my sholders were cold. In the morning I rolled over and looked down at pure white. My layers had slide out from under me so the upper part of my sleeping back was directly on the snow.)

Staying warm

Dress in layers. Eat food. Stay ahead of it (i.e., don't cool down). Wear your wool hat. Put your jacket back on when you stop work. Ask for hot chocolate. Change out of wet clothes. Wear your wool hat, always. In the morning, put on all your warm clothes, even though the snow pants and coat may be covered in snow and ice. They still provide warmth.

Staying hydrated

Drink plenty of water. We will run stoves to melt snow to make water. Sometimes during the day you can put a little snow into a half-full water bottle and keep the bottle inside your jacket (or in a sunny spot) to melt more snow. Not drinking enough water can lead to head aches.