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Cold weather larping

Summer is gone, and colder weather is here. Yet there are still larps around in Croatia. Tragači zore and Jaska 11 will be overnight larps, and some of us are going to Hungary on Chronicles of Demgard, which is a camping larp as well. Most people are used to camping only in summer time, and recent Rajski Vrhovi XVII suffered due to rain and cold, even though people were more prepared for it than usual. Here's a few tips (in no particular order) that will allow you to camp in comfort and have a good time on a larp in colder weather, even in winter:
  • Wool is your friend. Wear it, a lot. It's water resistant, windproof, and historically accurate. From socks to cloaks, you can't go wrong with wool.
  • Multiple layers of cotton don't help and can't emulate wool. Don't try this. You'll have a bad time.
  • Wear long underwear and hats (woolen, if possible). Wear them in autumn, even if you don't regularly wear them in winter in your daily life.
  • Fleece can emulate wool to a point. It looks like wool but it's lighter, way cheaper and less scratchy. It is more waterproof than wool. However, it's not nearly as much windproof, and beware of open flames.
  • Wear plenty of layers so you can regulate your heat according to your activity.
  • Feeling slightly chilly is better than overheating. Overheating will get you sweaty. When you're wet you can lose your heat up to 25 times faster.
  • Your clothing, sleeping bag etc. are not producing heat. You're producing heat, everything else just helps keep it in. Always remember that.
  • To warm up the sleeping bag, you can put a bottle of hot water inside. Be careful so that it doesn't leak, a wet sleeping bag will not insulate you from cold.
  • Another nice way to heat up the bag is to get your circulation up before you go to sleep. Do some jumping jacks or something. It will make you warmer, and you'll heat up inside of your bag nicely.
  • In general, activity will produce heat.
  • Don't bring your wet clothes inside your sleeping bag - condensation will make your sleeping bag wet, and then you'll be cold.
  • Don't put your sleeping bag over your face. It will condensate moisture inside your sleeping bag. If your face is cold while you're sleeping - and it will likely be so - wear a scarf or something.
  • Wear a hat, especially while sleeping. You can lose a lot of body heat from your head. Also, are your hands or feet cold? Put on a hat. It works.
  • A hat is the single most important piece of clothing you're wearing while in your sleeping bag. However, if your sleeping bag is too big, you might want to stuff clothes on entrance to prevent the bellows effect.
  • Warm and dry feet are happy feet.
  • Don't forget extra clothes. They're more important when it's cold outside than in summer.
  • Gloves are also a good idea.
  • Don't wear your clothes or boots too tight. You'll restrict your circulation, which will make you colder.
  • Insulate your tent. Put a tarp underneath (be careful that none of the edges stick out or rain will make you regret it). Put cheap blankets on the bottom of your tent. Watch out for tent placement, you don't want to be in a windy place - if you are, you might want to place something (like a makeshift fence) as a wind break. Trees are great because they help shelter your tent, unless stuff is falling from them (branches, fruit, snow, etc).
  • Don't forget your sleeping pad. In fact, you might want to double up on them. Sleeping bag doesn't insulate from below when compressed, and you lose more heat to the ground than to the air around you.
  • Bring extra blankets, tarps and rope. You'll thank me later.
  • Sleeping pads and extra blankets are crucial if your sleeping bag is not rated for current temperatures.
  • Tarps are excellent and versatile. You can put it below your tent to protect it from getting wet, you can put it above for extra rain/snow protection, you can string it to provide a wind break, you can string it above your tent if it's raining so you can raise your tent dry, you can use them to build an outdoor living space, you can use them instead of the tent, or as backup/emergency shelter, you can use them to cover your stuff outside... Seriously, get a few tarps, they're extremely versatile and simply awesome to have around.
  • Eat. You need more food when you're outside in the cold than when it's warm outside. Even if you don't have appetite, eat. If you don't eat enough, you'll feel cold. Well fed campers are happy campers.
  • Drink a lot of water. Drink like it's summer. Drink twice what you think you need. If your urine is not clear, drink more water. Water is extremely important, and not drinking enough will also make you feel colder.
  • If you're drinking alcohol, drink extra water.
  • Camping in cold can be not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous. If you're having trouble getting your nice winter larp set, wear modern clothes underneath your standard larp clothes (just camouflage it if you can please). It's not the nicest solution, but it works. I do, however, suggest you make yourself some winter gear.
  • More people in tent will help keep it warmer.
  • If after all of this you're still freezing, don't hesitate to get close to other people. Even if someone smells funny, it's way better than hypothermia.
Hope for the best, but always prepare for the worst. That way if worst happens, you can still make the best of it and have fun.

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