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Sleeping Pad Recommendations

3120 Views 18 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  Karl
My son is getting ready to go on his Klondike Derby and I am wondering if any of you have recommendations for a good sleeping pad. I would like him to be able to use it in all seasons and pack it, too.

Is an inflatable air pad better than the foam egg crate type or any other suggestions?
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the air ones have left me cold. I use a foam one and it seems to do a much better job.
I prefer the inflatable ones since they can usually pack down smaller and are more comfortable for their size. I use the Klymit Static V which is about $40 on amazon or Ebay. It packs down to the size of a nalgene and is over 3 inches thick when inflated. They have inflatable pillows too. I haven't been cold with it but I haven't tried a trip in January. I think they have insulated versions too.
I second Inertia stuff. Check out their "X wave" line for ultra light backpacking
Big Agnes has a line of insulated air core pads. They work pretty good.
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air mattresses are out. provide no insulation. I have used a thermarest for 35 years and I like it... inflatable foam. good insulation and sufficient thickness to provide comfort. if I have room and no size weight restrictions, I use a jacks pad... twice the thickness of the therm a rest pad. and if its girls camp, I take a cot and 2 4 inch foam pads for ultimate comfort.

don't hurry into a pad. take some time. look em all over. for the Klondike, just take a couple of sleeping bags, a foam pad or two... you are going to drive there. take the kitchen sink. burrow him in and have a nice comfortable night out.
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air mattresses are out. provide no insulation. ..............................................
I agree. I made enough overnight camping ice fishing trips where I slept in the ice shack on the lake to realize foam kept you warmer than air.

There are some foam/air combo pads out there that are supposed to be as good as foam and, like gdog referenced, Big Agnes is a leader in them. I have one but haven't use it yet on frozen ground or ice.
Sleeping pads are not all created equally. Surprising huh?

If you look closely, they will have an "R value" rating. The higher the value, the better insulation it provides and the warmer you will stay. However, this doesn't always translate into awesomeness as the higher R value sleeping pads are heavier and may not be ideal for backpacking (just in case you are wondering).

Being a scout master, a few things I have shared with my scouts to help keep them warmer at night:

1- if you are sleeping on an air mattress, place a quilt UNDER your sleeping bag. This will keep you warmer.
2- sleep with a beanie on. Heat escapes from your head.
3- throw hand warmers in your sleeping bag. I really like them around my feet.
4- a hot bottle of water will keep you warm for quite a while.

Check the following link to look at options. Note that the filters on the left column allow you to choose a sleeping pad with higher R values (it is toward the bottom)


Hope this helps.

PS: I'll be at Klondike on the 23rd too! But at Rockport
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Another quick suggestion for Klondike:

Have your son bring garbage bags to put his shoes in. Tell him to take his shoes off outside the tent and to put them in the bag. This will keep his tent dry and therefore warmer.

I have had so many kids sleep in sopping wet bags because they don't take their shoes off in the tent, or don't zip it up all the way during a storm.

If it aint freezing out, I will make them sleep in their self made messes. Teach your son to think before he makes him and potentially others have a rough night.
Hard to do with scout age kids, but if you can not have them get running around and all sweaty before bed, they will sleep warmer. Take fresh warm things to sleep in, like fresh wool socks, merino wool thermals or long johns. Insulation under the sleeping bag is a must. We used to take newspaper and crinkle it up and throw it all over the tent floor until it was piled pretty thick, then put our sleeping pads down. It seemed to work well, and it could be burned in the fire the next morning.
Hard to do with scout age kids, but if you can not have them get running around and all sweaty before bed, they will sleep warmer. Take fresh warm things to sleep in, like fresh wool socks, merino wool thermals or long johns. Insulation under the sleeping bag is a must. We used to take newspaper and crinkle it up and throw it all over the tent floor until it was piled pretty thick, then put our sleeping pads down. It seemed to work well, and it could be burned in the fire the next morning.
This is so true and even for adults. I remember my scouting day and freezing to death in my dads sleeping bag. That was until one of the scout masters told me to take my outer layer of clothing off and sleep in my long johns or to put on some PJ's. Since that time I haven't slept in my clothes when camping and sleep a lot more comfortable and have gotten better sleep.

For those that don't like air pads during the winter you need to place a blanket between the pad and your sleeping bag as a insulation layer. I purchased some German GI wool blankets that do a very good job and they were not that expensive. I'll even throw one of them down on the dirt if I don't have a tarp under my bag.
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I'm feeling like rants today (sorry)

Don't buy those egg crate foam pads. If you think about it, it's just a big sponge. Inevitably the tent will get wet inside, either this trip or another, and it'll suck up water and then the sleeping bag will absorb the rest when your son lays down.

I actually told parents their kids are forbidden from bringing those. And they will be left behind if they do.
a neat little trick we teach in arctic survival lessons at snow school... after constructing your snow shelter... of what ever kind... take and gather pine boughs. lots of them. preferably fir if you can. strip them off into short lengths, 6 inches to 12 inches and just the soft outter tips. take these and at the far end of your shelter, stick them at a 45 degree angle into the floor of your shelter with the tips facing away from you and obviously the big end of the bough stuck several inches into the snow. back up and make the next row and the next and the next. soon you will have a thick and very soft pine bough mattress to lay on... with no twigs facing up to poke in your back or sides. provides excellent insulation and softness. if you just take branches and stick them inside... you will be ok. but a good nights rest is out of the question.
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since you are klondiking... here is a little thing I put together when I was doing Klondike for trapper trails. its large so, will post in 2 sections. has some good info and tips.

Klondike Derby
By: Randall Julander - SnowNerd and Winter Camper 1/2005

The Klondike Derby is a great opportunity to take your troop out for a winter camping experience that is structured, safe and has the company of many Scout troops. You can gain a great deal of experience in winter camping by participating. This is a very simple list of tips for having an enjoyable Klondike experience and deals mainly with keeping warm - there are a ton of niceties that you can and should bring not mentioned here.

Take time in the weeks prior to the Klondike to prepare the troop for a winter camping experience. Handout lists of gear to bring, stage a troop evening where all the boys come with gear packed for review so that you as a Scoutmaster have the opportunity to do an assessment and take corrective action early on. This is also a great time to check out the troop gear as well - tents, kitchen, stoves, lanterns, Klondike sled, etc will all need to be in top condition. Trying to clean the gas orifice on a propane stove in 3 feet of snow and temperatures in the single digits or colder is not a lot of fun. This simple drill will go a long way to prevent problems that may and undoubtedly will occur. Make sure you prepare for the Klondike events - get a list of events/agenda/schedule from your District Camping Committee and prepare the troop accordingly. Normally events will include Scout skills such as fire building, ice rescue, winter first aid, etc. Skills that are easy to do in the summer become very difficult in winter - fire preparation in the snow is vastly different than in a prepared campfire bowl and is a skill that needs to be practiced. Even lighting a match with gloves or mittens on is something that most Scouts have never done. This a wonderful time of year for camping and offers great experiences for Scouts and Scouter's that will test even the most rudimentary of skills. There are huge differences between a 'drive to' and a 'pack in' winter camping experience. Klondikes normally fall in the 'drive to' category. With a drive to camp, you have the luxury of gear compensation. Gear compensation is the same as the old adage about knots, 'if you don't know knots, tie a lot' and with gear, if you don't have the best gear, bring a lot. If all you have is a summer sleeping bag, bring 2 and a blanket. This applies to socks, coats, gloves and all kinds of gear. At the end, have a party on the Scoutmasters lawn for Scouts to retrieve lost gear. Seriously, with this much stuff, emphasize to the Scouts that they must be diligent in taking care of their personal gear.

Individual Gear
This is an area that if you have previously checked, will go a long way to having a great winter camp. The first general rule is to bring extra of everything - have the Scouts bring extra of all clothes and as a Scoutmaster - bring extra to cover what the Scouts may not have or forget. In summer camping, you may be able to tell a Scout that he forgot this or that item and make it a good preparation teaching moment - in winter camping this is just not appropriate. In a 'drive to' winter camp - take everything you can, extra gloves, socks, pants, shirts, blankets, sleeping bags, even coats.

Now, I recognize that winter gear can be expensive, especially boots. However this is a situation that you will absolutely need good gear. No ifs, ands or buts. Notice the period. So, beg, borrow or whatever but get the gear or your experience will be one of babysitting, nurse-maiding and otherwise wiping snotty noses. Thrift stores often have coats, pants, even snow suits at very cheap prices. Army navy stores carry excess military grade clothing at reasonable prices - Smith and Edwards (not an endorsement) gets Swedish army pants - heavy felted wool for 20 bucks, a pant that would sell for 200 in retail outlets.

Footwear: Scouts need appropriate boots - heavy winter pack-boots or military bunnie boots of some type. That means waterproof bottoms, insulated liners. Make them big - that is to say, allow room for heavy socks. Tennis shoes are a ready made disaster! For socks - good wool socks are best, if you can't get wool, use synthetic. Avoid socks that are tight or are made of cotton. In the snow business, cotton kills - cotton of any kind: pants, underwear, shirts, etc. Cotton absorbs moisture and reduces insulative value - your body uses 23 times more energy in wet cotton clothes than in dry. Most Scouts don't have quality wool or synthetic gear so - bring extra cotton clothes for when they get wet. Check Scouts for dry clothing regularly as they will get to playing and not realize how wet they are. When they come to the fire for a breather is a good time to check. If they are still going to play, don't bother to change but when they call it quits for a while and are around the fire, this is a good time to dry out and possibly change into dry clothes. 1 pair of heavy wool socks is better than 2 pair of light socks, particularly if the 2 pair are tight as they often are. This is because most people have only 1 size sock and putting 2 pair of the same size on cause's tightness which in turn reduces blood flow to the skin of the feet which makes your feet cold. Wool retains 95% of its insulation value when wet. This means that even if your Scouts get wet, they have a better chance of staying warm with wool than any other fiber. If boots are marginal, have the Scout put on a heavy pair of wool socks and then put plastic bags over the socks. This will keep the feet completely dry except for sweat. Regularly changing into dry socks will prevent them from getting cold. Normally, on a Klondike, dry socks in the morning will be sufficient. Many times, a Scout will have tennis shoes and try to compensate by putting on more socks - this simply complicates the matter by cramming a foot that is now way to big into a small shoe.

Pants: make sure that the Scouts have some kind of insulated pants with a water proof/resistant cover. Scouts will be Scouts and they will play in the snow, they will run, fall down, play, roll in and generally have a blast in the snow. Prepare for it. Lightweight nylon snow pants over regular pants over long johns can work in a pinch. Again try to avoid cotton whenever possible. Gaitors are a great device to seal the boot to the pant and prevent snow from getting in the boots or up a pant leg. Snow bibs, snowmobile suits, insulated pants, wool pants, etc are all great. Long johns - often cotton, try to get synthetic ones but they do offer insulation. Remember to keep all clothing loose. If it gets tight, movement is restricted and it becomes uncomfortable and looses insulative value. We are really looking for the Michelin Man/Pillsbury Doughboy look.

Shirt: Scout shirts are nice but they are often not the most appropriate gear for winter camping. Again the rule is to avoid cotton. Make them synthetic and long sleeved. Bring several as with underwear, they are the first things that will get damp due to sweat. Going to sleep in damp clothes almost guarantees a cold night. Also remember to make them loose fitting.

Coat: remember the layer principle. A light shell with a removable fleece liner is best, or even multiple layers under the shell is the best combination. If all you have is a parka type coat, make sure that the coat is at least a heavy winter variety that will provide warmth. Teach the Scouts with these kinds of coats to ventilate when doing lots of exercise and when ventilating, take proper care not to get snow inside of the coat - easier said than done when Scouts are having fun. When idle or sitting, zip the coat up to retain heat. When taking a coat off to work, fold it carefully, closing off the bottom and it will retain your body heat for quite a while, making it warm to put back on.

Hat: a knit hat is essential, even if your coat has a hood. If you get cold feet at night, put on a knit hat and it will warm your feet. The body loses a tremendous amount of heat through the head and if you keep it warm, other body parts will stay warmer as well. A good balaclava - essentially a knit hat with a neck warmer is a great item. In these, look for synthetic or wool. Again, bring at least 2 - one to play in and one to sleep in.

Gloves: you can't bring enough gloves. Hands are always busy and getting into snow/wet conditions. Mittens are far warmer than gloves and each Scout needs to bring at least one pair of mittens. Wool socks can be used as mittens in a pinch - don't use cotton.
Sunglasses - winter can be very bright - snow can reflect 95% or more incoming radiation and snow blindness can be a problem along with sunburn - sunglasses and sunscreen are advised.

Mattress: most of your cold during sleeping time will be from conduction. Each individual will need super insulation to sleep on. That is to say - an extra thick Thermarest, foam, cardboard, blankets, or other material to sleep on. If using the thin foam, take at least 2, maybe 3. Air mattresses will keep you very cold as they provide no insulation from conduction. (Thermarest and others have both air and a foam insulation and work very well - but an air only type will freeze you). Foam mattresses 4 inches thick are both thermally efficient as well as comfy to sleep on.

Sleeping bag: most Scouts and leaders do not own a $400 down bag. Most have bags rated marginally to 3 seasons. So, take 2 and put one inside the other, take quilts, blankets, etc. Scouts will often burrow down inside closing off the top and trapping moisture from respiration. This is typically not a concern on a Klondike as you are only out 1 or 2 nights. If you are out for a week, this condensation can build up and make a wet bag. You can get excess military down bags at times. You can make Bivy sacks - simply a waterproof liner for the outside of the bag that adds insulation and dead air space. It also is nice for snow caves as it keeps the bag dry. Take a ton of blankets. When you tuck those Scouts in for the night, they should be burrowing into warmth, comfort and security which will make your night as Scoutmaster - long, comfortable and uneventful - undisturbed by the cold whining of a Scout getting you out of bed. Make sure that when you get them to bed that they have dry clothes, loose socks and are wearing a hat. Make sure that no one sleeps alone - like swimming they each need a buddy - better cramped than alone.

Tents: little 2 pole tents will collapse with even light snowfall. Make sure the tents are sturdy, the bigger the rain fly the better - provides some dead air space for insulation. True winter tents have flys that go to the ground. Free standing tents are easier to deal with than tents that need to be staked to the ground. Remind the Scouts to pay particular attention when getting in and out of tents to keep snow out - sit in the doorway to take off boots, dust clothes prior to entering. This simple precaution will help keep sleeping areas dry.

Thermos and water bottles: make sure they have these going to bed - proper hydration allows the body to metabolize and generate energy/warmth. Also have an emergency in the night bottle - it is a lot more thermally efficient to whiz in a bottle, set it aside and deal with it in the morning than to get up, dress, go to the bathroom and come back, do the reverse.

Heat packets: these are neat little warmers that when used properly can make a huge difference. Remember that whatever brand or type, these can produce very high temperatures and can cause burns. When put into a sleeping bag without additional insulation around it, there is no telling just where it may end up and what burn it could inflict. Always be sure to put the hand warmer/heat packet in some kind of cloth container. For example if you use it to keep your feet warm in a sleeping bag at night, put the hand warmer in the bottom of a sock and then put the sock in the bottom of the sleeping bag.

Flashlights and other miscellaneous gear: Inside of tents will be cluttered with sleeping bags, clothes, and all kinds of gear - having a flashlight handy is always a good thing as you won't find anything without some kind of light.

Troop Gear
First general rule - keep it simple - messing with complex gear in freezing temperature is always the highlight of every Klondike. Keep your menus simple - the fewer pots, pans and dishes, the better. Keep a pot of warm/hot water always handy, on simmer. Hot chocolate is always a big hit, keeps the Scouts warm and helps preclude whining. Stop the 'I'm cold stuff' by handing them a cup of hot chocolate. Remember that everything will be very cold and that some gear may be susceptible to cold and breakage. Some plastics get very brittle in cold. Remember the standard gear… which will not be discussed here such as your flag, utensils, food, etc.
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Make sure your propane/fuel is full and that the stove is in top working order. Bring big pots for heating water and always have some warm water handy. Remember that you are working on a slippery surface so be sure to anchor the stove appropriately. Be aware of traffic issues on these same surfaces as Scouts migrate to and from the stove, fire, tents, etc so that they are not likely to bump into dangerous flames or surfaces. It only takes a brief contact with a hot stove or flame to melt a coat or pants.

Klondike sled
Get plans at various sources. Remember to take the gear necessary for Scout events - tarps, ropes, Scout books, first aid, wood, fire starter, matches, ding dongs for the Scoutmaster, etc.

Fire barrel
A fire barrel is simply a large metal barrel that allows you to build a fire inside up off the ground (on bricks, stones, etc) to prevent damage to the ground surface. Use this and keep a fire going - it provides a gathering place, warmth, comfort and security. Bank the fire at night so that in the morning or the middle of the night, it is easily re-kindled. Train the Scouts in how to do this and likely they will have a fire for you in the morning. To bank the fire, bring some very large pieces of wood or bring sufficient small pieces that you can stack together with little air space between -milled wood (4x4, 2x4, etc) works well as you can stack it solid. Charcoal can effectively last through the night if covered in ashes, it burns slowly and normally will have coals in the morning. Bring plenty of wood and the harder the wood, the longer it will burn. Remember to have plenty of tinder and kindling cut and secured under a tarp for the morning fire building. This will keep in dry and free of snow for effective fire building in cold conditions. Another possibility is propane heaters. They can put a lot of heat out in a hurry and can be directed toward clothes or cold body parts.

Check before to make sure proper working order and that the mantles are secure, bring extra mantles and propane. Look at a way to hang the lanterns from posts, stakes, etc. Lanterns on top of other items such as a camp kitchen can lead to broken lanterns. Most surfaces will be very cold and slippery and lanterns can fall and break. Electric lanterns work well but make sure to bring sufficient batteries. Sufficient light provides a safe and comforting camp area.

Use large 5 gallon jugs with large openings. Bury/cover in the snow at least 6 inches deep to prevent freezing. If you leave it out, there most likely will be several inches of ice on top in the morning. Another method is to fill the pots you will use for hot water in the evening and let them freeze, simply thaw on the stove. This takes longer than warming cold water but can be done. Start slow so as not to burn the ice - sounds funny doesn't it? Bottom line is the water can taste funny when seared as ice. Water coolers with little spigots will normally freeze and end up useless. Choose container with the largest lids/openings. Ice normally forms in the neck and lid of containers which make it difficult to get the non-frozen water below it out for use. Keeping water in a vehicle or inside a tent can also prevent freezing provided the temperatures don't get too cold. Another proven method is to heat water up on the stove and put it in containers inside a chest type cooler. This insulates the water all night and it will be cool by morning.

Make them simple, fast and easy to cook as well as hot. Pancakes are great, taste yummy but are often frozen man-hole covers with gelatinous slime and chunked yellow fat by the time they get from stove to lips unless the boys are fast! Scrambled eggs, sausage, hashbrowns hold heat longer. Boiled eggs work well. Dutch oven mountain man breakfast is great because everything is in one pot. Things that you add boiling water to are fast, easy and retain heat such as instant oatmeal, cream of wheat, etc. Sloppy joes are a great dinner item, they are warm, can be kept warm all evening, fast and simple as well as inexpensive. Soups and stews are also simple, fast and easy. When you plan your menus, keep the cold in mind as well as simplicity and focus on foods that will be warm.

Cold plan
Make sure everyone understands what to do!
Make sure all individuals are trained
First defense against cold - adequate preparation and gear - SM check each Scout prior to sleep
Second - no one sleeps alone in a shelter
Third - Dry-Dry-Dry
Fourth - if cold, exercise in your sleeping bag
Fifth - hot fluids (thermos), heat pouches, etc. remember no flames in tents.
If still unbearably cold, wake up your partner then your Scoutmaster - fire, additional blankets, dry clothes, heat pouches, warm fluids, vehicle heater, etc.

Camp set up

We all know how to set up camp but in winter and especially in cramped, crowded conditions camp set up presents some challenges especially with an eye to minimizing the risk of accidents. Look where your central gathering location will be - this is the fire barrel. Envision how much space you will need for all to get round and warm. Now look at other camps close by to see traffic patterns - where boys will be walking and running. All this is going to help you in locating the kitchen and cooking area. You want to select an area close to the fire where you can control foot traffic patterns. You want to minimize foot traffic near the stove/cooking area to minimize the risk of burns, spills, etc. Set the kitchen cook area where you can protect the access from several sides if possible - from your camp as well as from others. Tent areas will take a large part of your camp but won't necessarily be constantly accessed. Make sure you are not at the bottom of a sledding hill or other obvious hazard area.

Little tricks to try in keeping warm
If you have cold hands - try forcefully swinging them in a giant circle to force blood down the arm to the fingers. You will be surprised how effective this can be.

Remember that water will conduct heat from the body 23 to 25 times faster than air - any moisture at all at any place will sap heat from the body.

Many figures have been cited as to how much heat is lost from the head and neck region - suffice it to say, it is proportionately higher than other areas of the body - so if you are cold, put a good hat on, cover the ears and put a neck warmer on or zip the coat up around the neck. Wear a face mask, the neoprene ones are very effective. Fabric face masks are also good, but can collect moisture if pulled over the mouth and nose.

Drink warm fluids, this takes warmth directly into the body core. Always have a pot of hot water on the stove and encourage drinking hot chocolate, cider or other warm beverages.

Exercise gets the blood pumping from the core to the extremities which warms the body.

A fire is both a mechanical means of warmth as well as a psychological boost - just knowing there is a fire to stand next to is a source of comfort and safety. This will be a central place where Scouts will frequently come to for warmth and is likely where the adult leaders will congregate. It is a logical place for central activity and should be safe, comfortable and efficient with regard to people movement, drying racks, etc. Remember that many people will be coming and going so maintain effective traffic patterns and directions. One way is to block traffic on one side for drying clothes or a reflector and maintain 3 sides for traffic.

Keeping feet dry: take plastic bags and slip these over the large socks, then put feet inside of boots. This is a complete waterproof and inexpensive solution to keeping feet dry and warm. The outer layer may get wet, but the inner sock and foot will stay dry. Remember that the inner sock may get damp from sweat so keep a dry pair handy.

Sleeping Warm
There are several keys to sleeping warm on a Klondike. First - sleeping gear. Make sure you have sufficient sleeping bags, blankets, etc, this will keep you warm from the ambient air temperature. Second, make sure you have good insulation between you and the sleeping surface - a good mattress of some kind or multiple blankets, foam, etc - this will minimize conduction between you and the sleeping surface as well as provide a cozy, soft bed. Next, make sure that you go to bed dry. Any kind of moisture or dampness in bed clothing will insure a cold night. Scouts will be playing, goofing and in general getting wet. Make sure they change into dry sleeping gear prior to sacking out. Even dampness caused by sweat can cause a cold night. If you get cold feet, make sure you wear a knit hat to bed. A hat will warm your feet faster than socks will. Speaking of socks, if you wear them, make them extra large so that your feet have swimming room. Any constriction on your feet and lower legs will constrict circulation and make cold feet. One pair of extra large, heavy socks will do. Even better than socks, down booties are extra warm, roomy but a bit on the pricey side. Make sure you have gone over the 'cold plan' and that every one knows the procedures. If after all your diligent preparation with gear, someone gets cold in the night - 1) exercise in the sleeping bag, run in place, etc to generate warmth. This will last some time and then likely go cold again, so exercise again. 2) a thermos of warm fluid will generate lots of heat - you also run the risk of having to get up to go to the bathroom as well. 3) a hand warmer appropriately used. 4) wake up your tent-mates and finally 5) wake up your Scoutmaster to generate a fire, get in a vehicle, building, etc.

How to dry out
To dry clothes, the first step is to wring as much water/moisture out of the clothing as possible. The first and easiest step is to use the centrifuge method. Take the clothing and swing it around as fast as possible. This will force moisture to the farthest edge of the swinging motion. Take this area and wring as much water out as possible. The next step is to finish drying by setting next to a heat source such as a fire or heater. Be aware that synthetic materials are very easy to melt and damage, especially from a fire being driven by shifting winds. A drying rack can be made from poles and ropes. When dry, remove immediately from the heat source to a safe place. Even large bulky items such as sleeping bags can be dried in this manner. As Scouts warm around the fire, they can easily melt items such as boots and clothing so keep a close eye on them as they dry out and warm up.

Emergency Plan
First Aid is located at Camp HQ
Report all accidents/emergencies immediately to Camp HQ and medical personnel
Treat to the level trained
If required - evacuate with SM and other camp staff to appropriate facility or procure emergency evacuation via paramedic/ambulance, etc.
Phone Numbers: Weber County Sheriff 24 hr - 399-8411, Emergency: 911 Davis Hospital:774-7177, KcKay-Dee: 627-2800. Be sure to notify Parents ASAP, potentially meet at medical facility.

The Cardinal Rule: No Flame In Tents.
This is no flame of any kind or anything that can create combustible conditions. Many question whether the new catalytic heaters certified for tent use are ok and the answer is no. They are lit with a match and if combustible material comes in contact with that heater, it will ignite.

Quiet Time
When the time for play is over and the boys are back in camp prior to going to bed, you will need to have some quiet activities for them. This accomplishes a couple of things (1) gets them settled down and ready for bed, (2) provides some reassurance for them that sleeping in the snow and cold will be OK and (3) gives the Senior Patrol Leader and Scoutmaster some time to review events, go over the cold plan, make sure everyone is dry and (4) some time for quiet fun and games around the campfire to bond your troop. Your whole troop will be huddling around a fire and this is a natural time to build comraderie and esprit de corp.

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Thanks so much for all the responses. Awesome information!!!
One thought I had:

I like the self inflating models for scouting. They are pretty durable and also insulate from cold well.
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Have a look at Exped DownMat. They come in different thickness so different rating how much cold they handle. They are filled with down so they are warm and I've used it when it's been well below 0 degrees. They come with own pump that is important to use so you don't get moisture in the down
An old thread, but now that the snow is starting to fall and stick up high, a good question again.

I like any inflatable mattress. Whether it inflates by itself or you have to blow it up, either one works great for me. It's perfect insulation from the cold ground or snow.
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