5 Tips to Minimize Your Impact This Winter

From https://lnt.org/blog/5-tips-minimize-your-impact-winter

Winter is a wonderful time to experience the outdoors. Many find that winter offers solitude, scenic beauty, and a chance to hone outdoor skills. But, with winter use on the rise, users and land managers are beginning to witness more winter recreation-related impacts such as user conflicts, inappropriate human waste disposal, vegetation damage and significant impacts on wildlife. As a growing number of skiers, snowboarders, snowshoers, and telemarkers venture out in winter for day or overnight trips, the need to practice Leave No Trace winter techniques is now greater than ever.

Fortunately, for the recreationist, many of the usual concerns about the impacts of three-season backcountry use are of little concern in winter. Although growing, the visitor numbers are lower than those of other seasons, and soil and vegetation are often covered under a thick layer of snow, which greatly helps to minimize impacts.

Below are 5 tips to minimizing your impact when exploring these beautiful winter opportunities.

1.) Dress in layers.  In winter, more so than any other season, dressing appropriately could mean the difference between comfort and despair.  Dressing in layers allows you to take off clothing as your body heat increases.  If you cross the threshold into sweating, when you stop moving or the sun goes down, that wet clothing will not be good.

2.) Stay on deep snow whenever possible.  Snow deeper than 6 inches adequately protects underlying vegetation from trampling.  Thus, nearly any surface covered by enough snow is considered “durable”.

3.) Use the area’s natural topography.  When recreating in snow-covered areas, it’s often challenging to find exposed, soft ground to site and dig a cat-hole.  For this reason, packing out solid waste is always the best recommendation.  However, this isn’t always possible.  In this case, it’s appropriate to dig a snow cat-hole, but be aware that come spring, when the snow melts, that waste will end up resting directly on the surface of the ground.  With a topographical map, we can ensure our snow cat-holes aren’t dug in drainages, near water sources, trails, or other areas of concern.

4.) Snow makes a great natural toilet paper alternative.

5.) Winter is an especially vulnerable time for wildlife and it’s important more so now than any other time to respect an animals space, properly secure your food and trash, and observe area closures.

By following the Leave No Trace winter use principles and the simple tips outlined above, outdoor enthusiasts can help to ensure protection of resources and the quality of winter experiences.

Jason Grubb – Education Programs Coordinator


Body Heat

An average human being puts out about 400 BTU’s/hour at rest.   A candle puts out between 100 and 300 BTU’s/hour.

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Two Tricks for Getting Water From Snow (without a fire)

Brian from SnowWalker has a video with two trick for obtaining water from clean snow without resorting to a fire.

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How closely to you follow Leave No Trace?


The Leave No Trace Blog conducted a small poll; the basic question was: How closely to you follow Leave No Trace practices and techniques?  The four answer choices were:

1) I strictly follow Leave No Trace practices and even carry out my human waste.
2) I try to practice Leave No Trace to the best of my knowledge (and comfort level).
3) I don’t follow Leave No Trace practices. What I do in the backcountry is my business.
4) I am unfamiliar with Leave No Trace practices.

The most popular answer was #2.   Because it began more as a slogan before it became an educational program, Leave No Trace often gets confused with a strict set of rules or guidelines.

The truth is, anything you do to maintain the quality of the resource (and the experience of others in the outdoors) is practicing Leave No Trace.

The comfort and experience levels of everyone enjoying the outdoors varies greatly. In other words, the individual packing out his/her human waste camping next to the individual attempting to dig a cat-hole for the first time are both demonstrating a LNT outdoor ethic. Where do you all fit along the spectrum?


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Space Blankets

First developed by NASA in 1964 for the US space program, space blankets consist of a thin sheet of plastic coated with a metallic reflecting agent which reflects up to 97% of radiated heat.  Many campers have a space blanket in their emergency kit, however, few have ever used one.

Space blankets are not blankets.  We usually think of a blanket as something that will insulate from the cold air – you can fold up a wool blanket and place it on the snow, sit on the blanket and for the most part your posterior won’t get overly cold. Conversely, space blankets offer near zero insulating properties and conduct cold or hot temperatures very efficiently.

The purpose of a space blanket is to reflect heat back towards the source of the heat. If you are very cold a space blanket alone will do little to help reheat you.  If, however, if you are producing heat (e.g. a marathon runner at the end of a long run)  a space blanket will significantly slow down the rate at which your radiated heat dissipates into the environment.  If you find yourself stranded in a blizzard you can use a space blanket to slow the rate of heat loss but it won’t do anything to heat you up after you’ve spent 2 hours wandering around.

Space blankets have drawbacks:

  • You can never get a space blanket folded up like they were before you opened them.
  • Light weight space blankets tear easily and may be single use.
  • Space blankets are loud and can crinkle through the night.

So what good are space blankets then?

  • Space blankets are inexpensive, light weight and packable.
  • Space blankets are multi-purpose; serving as a clothing, a shelter or signaling device.
  • A space blanket can be used as a emergency poncho or wind jacket.
  • Space blankets can be used as a emergency shelter.  They can shed rain/snow and offer a good wind break.
  • A space blanket can be used under a sleeping bag as a ground cloth.
  • Space blankets will reflect the sun’s energy away from you and provide shade.
  • A space blanket makes a good emergency signal flapping in the breeze and reflecting sunlight.
  • A space blanket can be used as a heat reflector in back of a camp fire to direct heat from the fire.
  • In a first aid situation a space blanket can be combined with a traditional blanket to maximize the reheating of a victim much better than either used by themselves.

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Ylvis – The Trucker’s Hitch

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