6 “Do’s” and “Don’t’s” of Ice Camping and Backpacking
From leaving behind a clean campground to checking the weather before you leave the house, here are six answers to the question, “What are some important ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ for ice camping and ice backpacking?”
- Do Clean Up After You Leave
- Do Use Satellite Phones and Don’t Forget Extra Batteries
- Do Bring Synthetic Sleeping Bags and Know the Ice Thickness
- Do Stay Warm and Dry
- Don’t Sleep in Damp or Wet Gear
- Do Check the Weather Beforehand
Do Clean Up After You Leave
Ice camping and ice backpacking can be incredibly rewarding outdoor experiences. I’ve done both myself, and it’s always been an amazing way to explore new landscapes in a novel way.
To make the most of a trip, make sure you’re dressed warmly and have the correct gear. Clean up after you leave the area, too: take all your garbage away with you and leave the area looking spotless. Finally, don’t forget to appreciate your surroundings — when ice camping or backpacking, you get front-row seats to some incredible views!
Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer
Do Use Satellite Phones and Don’t Forget Extra Batteries
Ice camping and ice backpacking both require unique safety precautions because of their spectacularly beautiful, yet incredibly treacherous environments. It is important to recognize the potential dangers and ensure you are taking the steps to stay safe while enjoying these activities.
One thing to do before starting an ice camping or backpacking trip is to use a satellite phone, even in areas of supposedly good cell service. Don’t rely solely on one device and bring backup batteries and charging ports.
Being able to communicate with emergency responders is paramount in times of distress, especially in remote arctic regions where response times may be delayed because of limited resources and long distances.
Without a reliable form of long-distance communication such as this, your chances of survival may become slim if you run into an unexpected danger on your journey.
Michael Alexis, CEO, Tiny Campfire
Do Bring Synthetic Sleeping Bags and Know the Ice Thickness
Synthetic sleeping bags are lightweight and packable, allowing for easy transport. They are designed specifically to keep the user warm in cold temperatures, making them ideal for ice camping and backpacking.
They are also able to hold in body heat more effectively than other types of sleeping bags, which will help keep the user warm during the night under the stars.
Also, when engaging in activities on frozen bodies of water, it’s important to be aware of the ice’s thickness. If you enter without knowing its thickness, you put yourself at risk of falling through and potentially drowning or suffering hypothermia. Before venturing out, research the area and ask other experienced ice campers or backpacking guides about the thickness of the ice in that area.
Erik Pham, CEO, Health Canal
Do Stay Warm and Dry
One important “do” for ice camping and ice backpacking is to stay warm and dry. This means wearing appropriate clothing, including a waterproof and windproof outer layer, insulating layers, and moisture-wicking base layers.
It’s also important to make sure that your sleeping bag and sleeping pad are rated for the conditions you’ll be camping in, and that you have a reliable shelter that can protect you from wind and snow.
An important “don’t” for ice camping and ice backpacking is to never walk on thin ice. Always check the thickness of the ice before stepping onto it, and avoid areas where the ice may be unstable, such as near open water or areas where the ice has melted and refrozen.
Sean Harris, Managing Editor, FamilyDestinationsGuide
Don’t Sleep in Damp or Wet Gear
When camping or backpacking in icy conditions, it’s easy to get your gear wet from snow, ice, or even sweat. However, using wet gear when sleeping can reduce your body’s ability to keep heat, which can lead to a cold and uncomfortable night’s sleep.
Therefore, it’s crucial to make sure that your sleeping gear is dry and free of moisture. If any of your gear gets wet, dry it out thoroughly before using it for sleeping.
Consider using a waterproof gear cover or stuff sack to keep your gear dry and avoid storing your gear in a damp or moist area. By keeping your sleeping gear dry, you can maintain warmth and comfort throughout the night, and be well-rested for the next day’s activities.
Marc Werner, CEO and Founder, GhostBed
Do Check the Weather Beforehand
The weather can be unpredictable sometimes. Just when you think it is safe to go on vacation to icy campgrounds, check the weather forecast first. There are online hiking forums for parks you want to visit.
For instance, if you are planning to visit Vancouver, it is important to check the snow conditions there. Sites like OpenSnow can help you determine the best time to go ice camping. The site provides you with a quick glimpse of snow reports, so you will have an idea about present and future snow conditions.
No ice camping is enjoyable if it will put your safety at risk, so be sure to make everyone’s safety a top priority.
Becky Moore, Founder, Global Grasshopper