Winter Camping Quiz

If you like to be on your own, go camping in winter. However, the winter woods won’t tolerate sloppy skills. You can get into trouble fast if you don’t know what you’re doing. Take this quiz to see how much you know about winter camping. Note: Some questions may have more than one correct answer, but you must choose the best answer available.

This quiz to test your knowledge of winter camping was written by By Cliff Jacobson and appeared in the January-February 2013 issue of Scouting magazine.

1. Temperatures may dip to zero at night. Which sleeping system is best?

a) an air mattress and a 35-degree sleeping bag
b) a closed cell foam pad and a 35-degree sleeping bag
c) a minus-20-degree bag; snow is soft, so there’s no need for a foam pad
d) a closed-cell foam pad and two 35-degree sleeping bags

Answer: D – Two nested sleeping bags work as well as one cold-weather bag. An air mattress provides no insulation.

2. You don’t need a water bottle in winter. If you get thirsty, just eat snow.

a) true
b) false

Answer: False – Eating cold snow will drop your body temperature and cause you to burn more calories.

3. Given equal thermal efficiency, which sleeping-bag fill is best in below-freezing temperatures?

a) goose down
b) Polarguard Delta
c) Primaloft
d) all are good, if you keep them dry

Answer: D – Down absorbs moisture, so it’s not the best choice for winter.

4. You’re going on a five-mile hike on a cold (10-degree), clear day. What shouldn’t you wear?

a) fleece pullover and cotton-shell parka
b) snowmobile suit
c) acrylic sweater and nylon shell parka
d) polyester long underwear and wool sweater

Answer: B – Several thin layers are better than one. You can overheat quickly in a snowmobile suit. Cotton-shell parkas (outer wind layer) are more breathable than nylon.

5. Which of the following shouldn’t you wear when winter camping?

a) wool sweater
b) blue jeans
c) acrylic stocking cap
d) polyester long underwear

Answer: B – Wet blue jeans wick away heat from your body.

6. You are building a Quinzee hut. The wind is blowing from the north.  In which direction should the door face?

a) to the north
b) to the south
c) it doesn’t matter

Answer: A – Discourages blowing snow from sealing the entry. If you face the door into the wind, the snow will blow over the hut and pile up in back. But if you face the door away from the wind, the snow will blow over the hut and possibly seal the entry to the hut (in a big blizzard). Always face your hut into the wind and utilize a partial snow-block door or low wall at the entry to keep out the blowing wind and snow.

7. Which of these should you have inside your Quinzee (snow) hut at night?

a) trail stove
b) folding saw
c) candle
d) shovel

Answer: D – If the entrance is buried by blowing snow, you’ll have to dig out.

8. You have a jug filled with drinking water. Best to:

a) set it upside-down in the snow
b) set it right-side-up in the snow
c) cover it with a tarp
d) put it inside your tent

Answer: A – The buried end won’t freeze.

9.  Where should you place your plastic ground cloth when tenting in snow?

a) inside the tent
b) under the tent floor
c) you don’t need a ground cloth in winter.

Answer: B – Under the tent to keep the floor from freezing to the ground. In summer, place it inside the tent to contain flowing ground water.

10. Which trail stove is bad for winter camping? 

a) gasoline
b) butane
c) kerosene
d) propane

Answer: B – The thermal efficiency of butane decreases as the temperature drops.

11. Which of the following would be most useful to those who are washing dishes?

a) leather gloves
b) rubber gloves
c) a sponge
d) a thin plastic food scraper

Answer: B – Wear warm gloves inside rubber gloves when you wash dishes. The plastic scraper may freeze and break.

12. You’re going on a five-day hike. Temperatures may vary from zero to freezing.  Which item is best left at home?

a) raingear
b) cotton hoodie
c) cotton-shell parka
d) all of the above

Answer: B – Bring rain gear if temperatures could reach freezing.

13. What should you do with your winter boots at night?

a) set them outside your tent
b) put them in a stuff sack then set the sack inside your sleeping bag or under the foot of your sleeping pad
c) change socks and wear the boots to bed

Answer: B – This will keep boots from freezing.

14. You’re camping in deep snow and cooking on a one-burner gasoline stove. Which of the following would be handy to have?

a) a short length of steel chain
b) 12-inch-square piece of light plywood
c) 12-inch-square of closed-cell foam
d) two aluminum poles

Answer: B – The wood square will keep the hot stove from sinking into the snow.

15. What should you do with your sleeping bag when you get up in the morning?

a) stuff it immediately so it won’t collect moisture
b) wait 20 minutes before stuffing it
c) hang it on a limb or cord (for 20 minutes) outside your tent
d) any of the above

Answer: D is correct, but C is also good — It’s best to air out your sleeping bag. On a sunny day, moisture will evaporate by sublimation.

16. Besides a cell phone, what’s the best signal gear to bring on a winter campout?

a) a whistle
b) an air horn
c) a hand-held, marine-orange smoke signal

Answer: C – Orange smoke is visible for miles. Flares can only be seen at night.  An air horn is useful only if rescuers are nearby.

17. What’s the best water bottle for winter use?

a) aluminum
b) polycarbonate
d) any of the above

Answer: B – Water freezes faster in metal than in plastic. Metal bottles can cause “ice burns” when touched to skin.

18 What’s the best way to treat an advanced case of hypothermia (victim is disoriented and shivering)?

a)    quickly place the victim beside a roaring fire
b)    replace wet clothes with dry clothes, then place the victim beside a roaring fire
c)    administer hot soup
d)    remove wet clothes, except underwear, then place the victim in a sleeping bag between two people

Answer:  D – Warming the extremities too rapidly (big fire) can send cold blood to the heart and brain.

19 Where should you build your campfire?

a)    on top of the snow
b)    dig down to the ground and make the fire there
c)    construct a thick base of small logs on top of the snow, then build the fire on top of the base
d)    all of the above are acceptable

Answer:  B – A fire built on the snow will soon sink out-of-sight; foam could melt with direct exposure to flame.

20 What should you do with your headlamp when you go to sleep?

a)    wear it on your head
b)    set it near your sleeping bag
c)    put it inside your sleeping bag
d)    put it in a tent pocket

Answer:  C – Batteries should be kept warm for maximum light.  Lithium batteries are best in winter.