Do pack a sharp axe and saw. Having a sharp high quality axe and saw makes a big difference when cutting frozen wood. Having enough wood is very important, this is your primary heat source and you do not want to be running out.
Do pack plenty of extra layers. Extra hats, mittens, base layers and socks are going to make a big difference. As you get hot and begin to sweat or your clothing gets wet from snow it is important to take off these wet items and change into dry items. Nothing will bring on hypothermia quicker than wet clothing items.
Don’t bring in food items that are going to freeze. Bringing in pre cooked items that can easily be warmed on top of the stove will save time and energy. Some of our favorites are burritos; breakfast or regular, soups and chili, meat with peppers over instant mash potatoes. Dehydrated meals are great however getting water to boil in extremely cold conditions uses a lot of fuel and takes a long time to boil.
Do bring quick energy food items. Between all the work of winter camping and the cold you will be burning a lot of calories. It is important to refuel your body and stay hydrated. Things like Cliff bars, Gu, Cliff Shot Blocks, Pro bars and Honey Stinger Waffles will get the job done.
Do bring in hot drinks in a well insulated mug. Coffee, tea and hot chocolate are great. Nothing better than a warm drink to warm up your tummy.
Don’t underestimate Mother Nature. Wind and snow can make your travel extremely difficult. People get wind bound all the time in the summer on canoe trips – the same can happen when skiing or snowshoeing into the Boundary Waters for winter camping. The journey into your camping spot could be completely different than your trek out. Bringing a weather radio can be a big help. Also give yourself plenty of extra travel time then you would expect.
Do pay attention to the wind. When setting up your tent it is important to set up your tent in a way that the wind exposure is at its least. South and East winds tend to be warmer, winds out of the North tend to be much colder.
Do know how to vent the stove and tent. Controlling the vent on the stove can maximize its efficacy and cut back on the amount of wood you are burning through. Venting the tent is important because extra built up condensation can quickly turn sleeping bags and other items wet. It’s also important to vent the tent properly so any smoke that may be coming in from the stove is not staying in the tent.
Do bring an ice auger or chisel. By having an ice auger or chisel along you can access the water under the ice. This is a more fuel efficient way to get water rather than melting snow. We tend to think the water out of the lake tastes better too. A water filter may or may not be needed depending on where you access the water.