Test your knowledge of winter camping with this quiz

From the January-February 2013 issue of Scouting Magazine by Cliff Jacobson and illustrations by John Kachik

IF YOU LIKE TO BE on your own, go camping in winter. However, the winter woods won’t tolerate sloppy skills. You can get into trouble fast if you don’t know what you’re doing. Take this quiz to see how much you know about winter camping.

Note: Some questions may have more than one correct answer, but you must choose the best answer available. 

Are You Prepared for Cold-Weather Camping?

Test your knowledge of winter camping by answering these challenging questions.


Temperatures may dip to zero at night. Which sleeping system is best?

D – Two nested sleeping bags work as well as one cold-weather bag. An air mattress provides no insulation.


You don’t need a water bottle in winter. If you’re thirsty, just eat snow.

False – Eating cold snow will drop your body temperature and cause you to burn more calories.


Given equal thermal efficiency, which sleeping-bag fill is best in below-freezing temperatures?

D – Down absorbs moisture, so it’s not the best choice for winter.


You’re going on a five-mile hike on a cold (10-degree), clear day. What shouldn’t you wear?

B – Several thin layers are better than one. You can overheat quickly in a snowmobile suit. Cotton-shell parkas (outer wind layer) are more breathable than nylon.


Which of the following shouldn’t you wear when winter camping?

B – Wet blue jeans wick away heat from your body.


You are building a Quinzee hut. The wind is blowing from the north. In which direction should the door face?

A – Discourages blowing snow from sealing the entry. If you face the door into the wind, the snow will blow over the hut and pile up in back. But if you face the door away from the wind, the snow will blow over the hut and possibly seal the entry to the hut (in a big blizzard). Always face your hut into the wind and utilize a partial snow-block door or low wall at the entry to keep out the blowing wind and snow.


Which of these should you have inside your Quinzee hut at night?

D – If the entrance is buried by blowing snow, you’ll have to dig out.


You have a jug filled with drinking water. It’s best to:

A – The buried end won’t freeze.


Where should you place your plastic ground cloth when tenting in snow?

B – Under the tent to keep the floor from freezing to the ground. In summer, place it inside the tent to contain flowing ground water.


Which trail stove is bad for winter camping?

B – The thermal efficiency of butane decreases as the temperature drops.


Which of the following would be most useful when washing dishes?

B – Wear warm gloves inside rubber gloves when you wash dishes. The plastic scraper may freeze and break.


You’re going on a five-day hike. Temperatures may vary from zero to freezing. Which item is best left at home?

B – Bring rain gear if temperatures could reach freezing.


What do you do with your boots at night?

B – This will keep boots from freezing.


You’re camping in deep snow and cooking on a one-burner gasoline stove. Which of the following would be useful?

B – The wood square will keep the hot stove from sinking into the snow.


What should you do with your sleeping bag when you get up in the morning?

D is correct, but C is also good — It’s best to air out your sleeping bag. On a sunny day, moisture will evaporate by sublimation.


Besides a cell phone, what’s the best signal gear to bring on a winter campout?

C – Orange smoke is visible for miles. Flares can only be seen at night. An air horn is useful only if rescuers are nearby.


What’s the best water bottle for winter?

B – Water freezes faster in metal than in plastic. Metal bottles can cause “ice burns” when touched to skin.


What’s the best way to treat an advanced case of hypothermia (victim is disoriented and shivering)?

D – Warming the extremities too rapidly (big fire) can send cold blood to the heart and brain.


Where should you build your campfire?

B – A fire built on the snow will soon sink out-of-sight; foam could melt with direct exposure to flame.


What should you do with your headlamp when you go to sleep?

C – Batteries should be kept warm for maximum light. Lithium batteries are best in winter.