Mark Twain National Forest: Winter Campout Feb. 12-13, 2021

We haven’t had much of any sort of winter around here this season. That is until the past week and a half or so. Finally, for winter lovers here in Missouri we got some temperatures and (a little) bit of snow with more on the way today (supposedly).

Well, I naturally had to go and take advantage of it for an overnight. Since I wasn’t going to get to Minnesota for my annual dose of winter camping I figured this was better than nothing. Temps hovered around 0ºF and windchills dropped to almost -10ºF overnight. A light flurry lasted through the night leaving a light dusting on my tent in the morning.

In this post, I am going to go through my process of what I did in case any of you get that wild hair to get out and embrace the elements during these conditions. I hope you find some inspiration because winter provides some very interesting artwork to capture!

I pulled into my camp spot around 7pm or so after getting off work Friday evening. The snow-covered road leading to this camp spot had yet to receive any visitors, making me the first to travel on it. First thing I did when I got to my spot was setup my tent and stove. Most importantly, getting that fire going and warming up the inside.

Camp spot selection was also based on exposure to wind. So I set things up as far away from the lake as I could. By the time I was done with that, I had to take a moment and cool down so I didn’t break out in sweat (a killer in cold temps). So I leisurely worked on getting my bedding out of the truck without getting too cooled down and getting some other gear a bit more organized. Once that stove was really going I setup my bedding.

Let me tell ya, it gets cozy in there with that stove going. It’s more like an incinerator. For this particular trip I picked up some piñon pine logs perfectly sized for a chiminea and split them in half. They were perfect for my ammo can stove. Honestly, I didn’t feel like looking for wood that was dry enough and then having to split it on this particular night. It was worth it.

The meal this night was chili Mac with beef from Trailtopia (really good by the way) and ONE beer. Heavy drinking is not good for this type of climate. At least in my opinion, too much and they’ll make a movie about you. Same with keeping that fire going in the stove. I won’t do it but I know some do. Me personally, I won’t take the risk of not waking up due to carbon monoxide poisoning. That’s why you heat the hell out of the tent and get nice and toasty and have a sleeping bag that’s worth a damn. In my case, I use a Mountain Hardwear Lamina -30ºF and this particular night I threw in a Nalgene of hot water with me. Perfect. I slept sound from 9p-6a.

If you gotta pee, get up and pee. Or pee in a bottle in your sleeping bag. Whatever your preference. Your body will get colder if you don’t go so get it out! Also, don’t sleep in all your clothes, jackets etc. Your body heat needs to warm up the insulating properties of the sleeping bag.

Sleep in base layers, leave your face/mouth exposed. When you exhale into your sleeping bag you’re adding moisture defeating the power of its insulating capabilities. Sleep with a beanie on because your body’s heat will escape through your head.

When I woke up 6a I ran one more fire through the stove to warm up nice. Then put everything away once the fire went out. I cooled the stove off with snow so I could put it away. I started a nice drive around the area looking for some winter scenery and although I was robbed of any sunrise colors, I still managed to find some cool stuff. Hope you enjoy the images below!

Cold Weather Gear List:

We are off to Texas in only two weeks for some primitive and self reliance camping in the desert. Stay tuned!

—Jake

One thought on “Mark Twain National Forest: Winter Campout Feb. 12-13, 2021

  1. Great post, Jake! Your comments are so practical and really useful for those who are not familiar with winter camping.

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