Suite Digs

How to construct a bombproof winter campsite to keep you warm and comfortable

    Photo: Illustration by Chris Philpot

1. CLOSE THE DOOR!
Store your water bottles upside down (so the lids don't freeze) in a small cupboard, using a snow block for a door.

2. BOOST YOUR BEDDING
Notch out a sleeping trench to keep you from rolling off your tarp, pad(s), and jacket. (The more layers you sleep on, the warmer you'll be.)

3.
RAISE THE ROOF
Pitch a floorless tent over your sleeping area (you're seeing only half the tent here, of course). Use a snow-filled stuffsack to support the center pole; otherwise it'll sink.

4.
"DEADMAN" YOUR TENT TO HOLD IT STEADY IN THE WIND

1. Dig a hole at the edge of the tent and tamp down the base.
2. Use parachute cord to extend your tent's tie-downs.
3. Tie the cord to a stick using a three-to-one pulley—also known as a trucker's hitch.
4. Wedge the stick into the hole's walls and bury it deep enough to pull the tent flush with snow level.
5. Bury the stick.

5. INSULATE
Bring extra pads to sit and stand on; you'll stay much warmer.

6. RAMP IT
Build your one entrance into the kitchen, from the lee side of the site.

7. BURROW DOWN
Dig to roughly two-thirds your height below snow level, then carve out seats, a sleeping area, and a kitchen, adding lots of counters and shelves (might as well; you need the snow for a wall), then flatten and tamp down all surfaces.

8. WALL UP
Using the carved-out snow, build a wall on the windward side of your kitchen that reaches to head height.

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