Ideas and tips for comfort and safety

Clothing for sleeping
Clothing for night use should not be part of your normal day clothes. Suggestions for night clothing are wool or synthetic (polypropylene, chlorofibre) singlets, tracksuits, or long johns and socks.

Keeping pack contents dry
Most packs are not waterproof in rain or snow. Place a heavy duty 240 litre bin liner bag or garden clean up bag inside your pack, and put everything inside this. Pack every item of clothing, food, etc. in plastic bags. Also carry spare plastic bags, including a 240 litre bin-liner bag for use in hypothermia treatment.

Preventing frozen boots
Frozen boots are unpleasant, so try to prevent them freezing at night. Keep them inside the tent. Some walkers and skiers wrap them in plastic bags and stow them in or at the feet of their sleeping bags.

Have plenty to drink, as dehydration is a common problem with snow walkers and skiers. Do not swallow snow, as it can cause stomach cramps. If you have to eat snow or ice, let it melt in your mouth before swallowing. This is not recommended, due to the body heat loss from melting snow.

Toiletting in the snow
Toilet activities should be performed well away from huts and summer tracks, and your waste should be buried deeply in the snow. Where the snow cover is light enough, a hole should be dug down into the ground. Many areas above the snow line have or are considering regulations which require faecal waste to be carried out. The best method seems to be allowing faeces to freeze, then carrying in heavy plastic bags in outer pockets of the pack, or in a poo tube made from 100 mm PVC pipe. Plastic barrels for a group can be towed on a sled if snow cover is good. Remember to empty as soon as you reach a toilet.

Walking in snow
Walking in snow is discussed in Chapter 14.

Use of huts
For comfort and cleanliness, many skiers and walkers remove their boots and pull plastic bags over their socks or wear bootees while moving around inside the hut.

Snow shovels
Snow shovels are indispensable for a wide variety of snow construction and general camp activities.

Special equipment for snow and ice climbing
An iceaxe, instep crampons, crampons and ropes are not normally necessary for snow walking, but are essentials for snow climbing. These are specialist items of equipment, so learn the correct way to carry and use them.