Popsicle Toes

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    Justin Baker
    BPL Member


    Locale: Santa Rosa, CA

    On a trip last December, I ended up in a really bad situati0on where my feet were very dangerously cold. I took some plastic grocery bags and put them over my feet and under my wool socks to act as a vapor barrier. These added a surprising amount of warm. I am a believer in adding vapor barriers for warmth.

    Cayenne Redmonk
    BPL Member


    Locale: Greater California Ecosystem

    I would guess too much insulation.

    I would sweat and freeze with that much bag and pad.

    stefan hoffman


    Locale: between trees

    I have always had similar problems. The warmest sweater is the one you wear on the inside :). Eat plenty, for sure, spicy is a good idea IMO. I recently learned a cheap trick on Maui…..Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water!
    I drink it straight, warm or cold, no matter. Hawaiian chili peppers are the best to use, the effects of peppers differ quite a bit. This is as much a mental cure as it is a physiological one. Might be a good one to keep close by in the middle of the night.
    Also, in all of my winter camping, the most valuable thing i have come to realize is how delicate ones circulation is while horizontal and sleeping. Even my waistband seems to cut circulation to my legs sometimes. So now i just sleep nekkid with a soft sleeping bag liner to keep me feeling snuggly when i sweat a little. Very loose, fluffy socks for popsicle toes, if anything.

    Daniel Fish


    Locale: PDX


    Liners are ok depending, but i wouldn't want to carry around a liner that weighs almost a pound. Hollow fibers are a great idea, provided the fiber diameter is not on the larger side. There was a study done which compared different fibers as woven into fabrics, and somewhat surprisingly it was found that the smaller diameter solid fibers and their fabrics were actually a bit warmer than the larger diameter semi hollow fibers and their fabrics (this is for synthetics) because they ultimately trapped more air. Furthermore, the triangular shaped fibers trapped more air and thus were warmer than the more round ones.

    Silk for example, is quite fine, animal protein, and somewhat triangular shaped so it's quite warm for it's weight, as far as fabrics go and very strong for a natural fabric. A silk liner is also, much, much lighter than the previously mentioned one by Daniel. So if you're looking to prevent draft heat loss near the zipper areas etc, to me it would make more sense to get a silk liner, or possibly a poly microfiber liner.

    And if someone has the money, it also makes more sense to just get a bag with a greater fill weight and/or better quality fill. 8 oz of extra, good quality down, will be MUCH, MUCH warmer than a lb of Sea to Summit Reactor extreme liner.

    Or as i advised to someone else on another thread, if you need to go the cheaper route, and still add significant warmth at not too much extra weight you can make a small quilt with thin Climashield Apex, and either put it inside your bag (if low humidity), on on top off your bag (with higher humidity, especially if cold). This will add a lot more warmth than the specialized liner, at around the same weight.

    Daniel Fish


    Locale: PDX

    matt brisbin


    Locale: Bay Area

    Just thought I'd throw something out there. I'm not really a cold sleeper but my finger/toes do tend to get cold from time to time as I'm sure everyones does. I started out using the hand warmers you might find at REI but then quickly switched to the holy grail of long term heat, the zippo hand warmer. While it might be a slight pain to get started it lasts upwards of 8-10hrs and can get extremely hot (this is controlled by the user of course).

    Well worth the money and I don't go on a winter trip anymore without taking one.

    Fitz Travels


    I wonder if someone had vertical baffles and they woke up with extremely cold feet, if they should move more down to the toe area or more to the chest area?

    Tanner M


    I imagine you have worked something out by now. However, since the thread has floated up again:

    I agree with the recommendation to eat protein.

    Also, try adding a little olive oil to food. Couple teaspoons, whatever. You could try it at home to see if it agrees with you.

    Diane Pinkers
    BPL Member


    Locale: Western Washington

    A cup of hot cocoa right before bed adds increased hydration, fat, and warmth, all at once. Failing that, if you like chocolate, bedtime is a good time to bring out the chocolate covered peanuts or other desert items–long slow burn at night as opposed to quick flame out from carbs.

    Valerie E


    Locale: Grand Canyon State

    I am also a cold sleeper, but in hindsight, I realize that my shivering-coldest nights have always been when I was less than perfectly hydrated…which is really easy to do in the mountains or in cool weather when you don't feel like drinking. Eating is definitely important, but staying hydrated may just do the trick for you! Oh, and it's free!

    Dan Yeruski
    BPL Member



    Line the bottom of your sleeping bag with flannel cloth. Take slacks off when sleeping and place them on top of sleeping bag over your feet to have weight press bag against feet/legs. Place jacket/shirt over feet also for additional weight/insulation.

    Kate Magill
    BPL Member


    I have cold feet+hands almost all the time–genetically inherited circulatory issues.

    Take a look at the socks you usually wear to bed. If they compress at all around your ankle, they might be doing more harm than good. Same with long johns that are really snug at the bottom.

    I sleep without socks until it gets below freezing, that way the heat radiating from the rest of my body can help warm up my feet. When it's really cold and I can't manage barefoot, I bring designated sleep socks with no elastic – either big fleece socks or handknit woolens with a wide ankle.

    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern California

    David: surely Augusts in SF went a long way towards preparing you for Alaskan winters.

    I definitely agree with the notion of sleeping with a balaclava that covers your head and neck, plus another warm hat that also covers your ears.

    Paul Huber


    Locale: Western Virginia

    The coldest night I ever spent backpacking was a night when, in retrospect, my calorie intake was 1/4 of what I normally try to consume per day on a trip. I could not get warm that night for anything. I had everything in my pack on and still froze. Next night, same temp, but having stuck to my meal plan and calorie intake, I was toasty warm. Calorie and fat intake on cold nights is critical. I also like to drink a couple cups of warm Camomile tea before bed on the really cold nights.

    J Mag


    While calorie intake is likely a part of it, if you are using a 0 degree bag (even if it is really a 10-20 degree bag) in temps above 40 degrees there must be something more to it than that. I can't even imagine using a Downmat above 30 degrees.

    I fast for 16 hours a day for months at a time every year (fitness related, long story) and have never noticed a difference in weather sensitivity. I don't usually fast when hiking, but even walking around town I certainly don't feel "colder" than usual.

    Everybody is different but I still find this very strange. (I did not read through responses so sorry if this was discussed).

    Paul Huber


    Locale: Western Virginia

    J Mag, I believe metabolism has a bit to do with it also, she is small, I am 5'10" and 140lb. When I don't keep up with my calories, I suffer. Something to consider, not everyone will see the same effect of diminished calorie intake, but for some, it is a big deal.

    J Mag


    I understand metabolisms differ a decent amount (although from experience and years of training it is IMO overstated). But I know for a fact that general metabolism differences would not account for someone using a 0 degree quilt in "summer" temperatures.

    Unless she is using a "0 deg bag" that is really a 20 or 25 degree bag in colder than average "summer" temperatures this is still very surprising.

    And I'm one of the coldest sleepers I know.

    Paul French
    BPL Member


    Locale: Northern Texas

    So far there must be hundreds of years of experience posted on this one thread alone. Here are my suggestions that I may or may not use depending upon conditions.
    I have a dead of winter (Hopefully 20 below zero or more windchill) hammock trip(s) planned for next winter in Michigan and/or Canada. I also have a fair bit of Scouts and military below zero experience.

    Stephenson's Hooded Vapor barrier jacket is fuzzy lined ($90). Columbia OMni-Heat reflective Hooded jacket ($35 end of season ebay) light-weight fishing jacket. OMni-heat reflective head and neck hood. If real bad, Heoprene chinese full face mask and a face scarf. MOST IMPORTANT is that OMni-heat jacket and hood are stretchy thus keeping the VB jacket tight to my body minimizing the environment my body heat is trying to keep warm. Omni-heat mid weight long underwear bottoms. Gloves and ample feet coverage.
    Properly sized bag stuffed with down outerwear to minimize the space you are heating.
    Before bed and after nature calls: Hot water drink and 300 calories minimum (about to 'spreadsheet' olive oil calories per ounce? then jumping jacks until perfectly warm (Reflex cozy covered water bottle inside a sealed Hefty Freezer bag! Ask me how I know. for the nature call drink.)
    I play around with Zippo heaters a lot and feel they are too much of a risk to have in a closed up sleeping bag (fumes). Wish I could figure out how to do that safely as they do really kick out the BTUs. If anyone has thoughts on this please share them.

    I use chemical heaters in my gloves(Omni heat and Omni shield that I wear under and socks when needed and that works well.

    I have around 50 bags and very few have a truly adequate chest and neck seal. I bought a very light weight micro bead filled 360 degree neck pillow ($10 ebags) that I am going to replace the micro beads with down overfilled. Also thinking about adding extra down to the "face gasket" of the sleeping bag hood.

    Here is an interesting video

    I hope you warm up.

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