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Adam Libbey reveals how to successfully camp in snow

By Adam Libbey

Camping and snow. The two words sit uneasily together, don’t they?

However, it can (and will) be done, as it’s something The Arctic V will be doing while they’re competing in The Arctic Circle Race. We spoke to Adam Libbey about his experiences of camping in snow - how to do it, what it’s really like, and the things to avoid doing if you don’t want to freeze up in the night. No, we’re not kidding.

Adam, who was in the Army for six years, has done his 'fair share’ of camping out in cold weather.

“I’m maybe a little more experienced than the rest of the gang! Most of my cold weather training was in Brecon, in Wales; it gets deathly cold up on the Beacons! It’s also surprisingly cold in Afghanistan and Belize; much colder than I thought it was going to be. I think I’ve camped in conditions of up to -10°C.”

Adam Libbey

In terms of kit, Adam has one piece of advice - just keep it dry. “If you’re wet, get dry as soon as possible. Having good equipment is great - a good warm sleeping bag and good kit is always a good thing - but keeping kit dry is essential. As soon as it gets wet, you’re done for.”

Adam has experience of an uncomfortable practice called ‘Wet to dry routine’, which involves putting on your wet kit if you have to leave the tent in the night. “It’s pretty unpleasant at 3am when you have to leave your dry, warm sleeping bag and put your wet kit back on,” Adam admits. “However, it’s necessary, so you can keep your tent, sleeping bag and any other dry parts of kit dry. A bit of discomfort can save you a lot of bother.”

When you’re putting your tent together and creating your camp, Adam advises campers to remember that snow can actually be an insulating material - as long as you’re not lying on it. “It can act like a wall,” he says.”I’ve camped before, and used snow on either side of the tent as a shelter, to stop the wind. The other big thing is to have enough insulation between you and the floor, as that’s what will really draw the heat away; you’ll lose heat through the floor. A blow-up mattress is ideal - getting an extra layer of air between you and the floor will really help keep you warm.”

Adam advises all campers to get a move on when they're putting their tent up.

“One person should be putting the tent up, and the other should be getting some hot food and drinks together. Another good tip is to dig a ditch between the two people. Cold air will sink to the bottom of the ditch, and water can drain away as well.”

Adam Libbey

Adam advises campers to avoid covering their noses and mouths when they sleep as their breath will, yes, you’ve guessed it, cause them to lose even more heat. “The temptation is to pop your mouth and nose inside your sleeping bag, and wearing it over your head, like a hood,” he says. “Because it’s so cold, the condensation from your breath will freeze around your body. You’ve got to take the pain and have a cold nose and mouth for the night!”

Adam is confident that The Arctic V will be sleeping easily throughout the three-day challenge, as although they’ll be a long way from their cosy centrally-heated bedrooms, they’ll be getting through a lot of calories. “We’ll just want to get some shut-eye, and to be honest, once you’re in your sleeping bag you warm up pretty quickly,” he says. “We won’t really be thinking about it!”

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The Arctic V The Arctic Circle Race Adam Libbey camping in snow snow

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