Michelle Blakey Goes Snow Camping

Michelle Blakey Goes Snow Camping in this episode of Unusual Hobbies.

Snow camping in Canada is not for the feint of heart as reviewer Michelle Blakey explains.

In this episode:

  • Why you would want to camp in the snow
  • What gear you need
  • How to keep your dog warm
  • Some awesome gadgets that she uses

Listen to this podcast here


please note this transcript has not been edited and is automatically generated meaning certain words will be incorrect.

[Music] I’m Sheena and this is unusual hobbies a short podcast series where we talk to people about hobbies that are different and unique today I’m joined by Michelle and we’re talking about the fantastic world of snow camping slow camping rats yes yeah winter camping winter winter camping I think snow camping sounds fancier so [Music] so this is a new phenomenon for me I lived in the southern hemisphere which means that we don’t get snow ice and all sorts of cool things Michelle lives in Canada which means they get a lot of its you don’t know what you’re missing I know I have no idea what I’m missing which is why are you here you’re gonna inform me about all the fantasticness I’m missing so how this podcast came about is Michelle sent me a photograph of herself snow camping and there was literally like piles of snow on the firewood as the fire burned and I was like how is this even possible seems like this should not be physically possible but they have it so I thought okay cool let’s talk to an expert about it so Michelle let’s start with why would you want to do this thing so I’m pretty much an outdoors person at the best of times I’m also a very hot person and so my wife and I do a lot of hiking and camping in the summer which I find rather uncomfortable because I’m always hot so I decided hey why not try this in the actual winter where the weather is much cooler and I don’t get as sticky as I do in the summer so that’s that’s what first kind of got us into it then we had so much fun we decided we’re gonna keep trying it again the best part about it I find is that not a lot of people are really interested in doing it so if you like to be by yourself and not engaged in a lot of social activity then it’s a great way to go camping and and not run into a whole bunch of crowds I can see the merits of this the best I saved this one for last the absolute best part about it is the lack of bugs right I’m apparently very tasty I don’t know because I can walk into a room with 20 other people and if there’s a mosquito in that room it’s coming for me so the winter is perfect because there’s no bugs all mosquitoes bed in Canada mosquitoes are incredibly bad in Canada especially in the spring we also have black flies which are smaller than mosquitos but leave much bigger bites neither one of them are very enjoyable lovely but I’m guessing you had you need special gear to be able to actually accomplish this camping thing in the snow absolutely fortunately we have a lot of that gear already because we do a lot of backpacking merino wool anything for in terms of clothing is something that I highly recommend something that wicks away any of the moisture on your body good winter jacket I like down because it keeps you nice and warm for season tents ok let’s just back up a second so why do you want clothing that moves the moisture away from your body because it’ll freeze so if you’re sweating and the moisture is staying on your body you’re gonna get cold so anything that wicks that away from you is gonna help keep you warm ok so you went to material that’s not gonna get weight per se so because you don’t want the material to freeze but it needs to kind of absorb the moisture in such a way that you can stay well correct and I mean it’s it’s like I like to compare it to any good book has a lot of layers to it so when you’re camping you also want a lot of layers do your clothing ok all right so Four Seasons tent which I assume is a tent that can withstand the icy temperatures yeah yeah it’s a little more sturdy it’s shaped a little differently for the wind to go over it aerodynamics I guess but you don’t want a lot of space in the tent because if there’s a lot of space in the tent then it’s harder to keep it warm huh so ok but they snow on the ground right so do you just camp like on top of the snow or do you dig your trench in the snow like how does that work yeah so when you get to your site you figure out where you want to put your and we there’s a couple different ways that you can go hiking and that’s you can either do it with skis or snowshoes we choose snowshoes and then you take your snowshoes and you pack down a flat area so that it’s a little bit sturdier and then there’s a little bit of a wall made up around the outskirts of what your tents gonna be this is so complicated okay and then you put your tent down straight down you don’t have like a ground sheets or something yeah we have a ground sheet that we put down but it’s just a thin tarp okay and I assume your tent has to be waterproof considering that snow is water yeah okay so what other gear and things do you use to make it more comfortable for you at those temperatures so you don’t want to once you set your tent up you don’t want to actually be sleeping on the snow either so we have air mattresses and they just blow up so they roll up and fit really nicely into your backpack and that keeps your body off the ground we also have sleeping bags that are rated for minus 25 so every different kind of sleeping bag has a different temperature rating so that keeps you warmer at night there’s a few other tricks for nighttime you don’t want to be sleeping in the clothes that you’ve been wearing all day for one so you want to have extra clothes to sleep in we also like to fill up our Nalgene bottle with boiling water and slide that into the sleeping bag before you go in protip though make sure you screw the lid on really tight because you don’t want it to leak into your sleeping bag has it happened yes Wow we’ve we’ve had a couple interesting fails let’s put it that way Oh tell us tell us tell us that’s why actually when we started it the very first time we went we only went car camping so basically we went to a site that everybody would go to in the summer so you can just drive up to it and we just set up there and did pretty much the same thing you would do in the summer but in the winter that way the car was there and if there were any issues we could basically get over it away so start smaller rather than the big stuff now you have it it sounds like you’ve got a lot more gear because you’ve got extra jackets and extra clothing and extra things to keep your sleeping bags warm and and all this sort of stuff don’t you find that that’s it makes it heavier and in class trekking through the snow is tedious this just it doesn’t sound like fun but it’s not tedious it’s beautiful a lot of our gear so we’ve actually got a sled which we pile off because you’re also going to want to take a lot of wood with you because you definitely want to have a fire so we have a nice big sled that we bring and my wife has a wonderful harness that she wears and she pulls the sled for us and then when I get tired I jump on the sled and you know go for a ride which lasts about 10 seconds because she that turns around and tells me to get off the sled so this is where snow dogs come in useful yes that was it I mean you know wipes are useful way to you’re listening to the news being talk show the lesbians or choke on your hub of podcast information okay now you actually take your dog with you yes and you’ve got special gear for mods yes yeah so we have booties for her so her paws don’t get cold being in the snow a lot she is really hairy feet so the snow tends to collect on it so we make her wear booties which is a little awkward at first she does the little goofy dance and she’s prancing around with them on but they get used to it pretty quick and we also have down jacket for her to wear when we get to the site and we have a different jacket for her to wear while we’re hiking so the down jacket keeps her warm when we’re not moving and the other jacket keeps her warm while hiking you also have like a yoga mat type thing that she sleeps on on the ground yeah and she has her own sleeping bag because we spoil Oh like a proper sleeping bag that she’s get zapped up in yes how do you keep the fire going in the snow um so before you build the fire you tend to build like dig yourself a nice little hole in the snow you don’t want to build it on top of the snow because it’ll melt and start to sink in and everything so I always bring firestarter with me the little sticks of firestarter because that makes it so much easier to start the fire I don’t have to be that much of an egotistical person that I try and do it from scratch so the firestarter is a good idea to have with you and just keep piling the wood on and once you get it going it’s not hard to keep it going okay if somebody wants to start this hobby what do you recommend that they do first research definitely research there’s a ton of sites on the internet that will give you gear lists that you want little tips on how to set up your tent and where to set it up all that kind of stuff so that’s the best thing to do first and then I would definitely recommend doing it in a car camping situation first you don’t want to go on a hike end up 15 miles from the nearest civilization and then have a problem so absolutely is there anything else that you think people need to know about this yes go to the bathroom before you go to bed because there is nothing worse than being in the dark cold tent in the middle of the night and having to choose between lying there all night staring at the ceiling in incredible discomfort or getting out of your nice warm sleeping bag and going outside in the freezing cold so that’s that’s my number one pro tip my number two pro tip is electronics do not fare well in the winter so if you’re bringing your ereader with you you might want to bring a charging source because the battery is not going to last very long or bring an old fashioned regular book with you what are those things these days yeah I know right it’s a little bit heavier but and if you’re going for a long time you you’re probably only going to want to bring one but the electronics definitely don’t fare very well in the cold is it just a matter of the actual cold so like the battery drains forced or something yep I’ve run out of juice on that a few times so do you have like a battery pack now something that you take with yeah I’ve got a couple actually we actually have an interesting stove set up that we bought and I can’t think of the name of it right now but it’s a wood-burning stove it’s very small it’s probably the size of a coffee cup and you put sticks inside of it and you ignite them and it converts the heat into electricity so it has a side on the that you can plug in charger and you can connect your phone to it and charge your phone from the fire that you’re burning that is crazy and does that actually would it does yeah we tested it out I wish I could remember the name of it because I know that they’re using it in a lot of places in Africa actually larger versions of it so that people can actually charge their devices while they’re cooking their dinner and stuff but using that stove it’s pretty neat that’s amazing yet I’m quite I like gadgets so that appeals I have tons of gadgets one of the things that you can use to keep warm or hot shot’s those little packets that you put in your gloves and stuff but because I don’t like using them because of the waste that they generate I actually have it’s a Zippo and it’s a metal container that you put the lighter fluid into and then when you ignite it you put a lid over it and the flame still burns but it burns very small and then it’s like a little hand warmer it’s pretty neat gadget I like that one that’s amazing see that makes a lot more sense to me than the stuff that you end up throwing away and it just becomes like waste off the one use yeah I mean one of the main tenets of backcountry traveling is Leave No Trace so you don’t want to be leaving a lot of stuff lying around guard that kind of stuff and then I don’t like even as a general rule at home to throw out anything if I don’t have to Michelle thank you so much for joining me today I think your hobby is completely fascinating especially for those of us in the southern hemisphere don’t really experience know much yeah I mean you get some beautiful pictures too if you’re if you’re into photography there’s nothing quite like seeing the sun shining over like a bunch of ice and snow it’s definitely worth the visual amazing thank you so much for joining me today Michelle how can people get hold of you if they decide that you are just the cutest person on earth my twitter handle is at suis killer which is soo li es que I are on Facebook it’s just Michelle and Leakey you’ve been listening to and usual hobbies check out the links in the show notes for more information about my guests and to find our link to patreon where you can get exclusive podcasts and help us grow if you enjoyed this podcast and please rate us especially if you listen on Apple podcasts that’s all for this episode have a hobby licious day