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Camping in winter may seem like the height of madness, but with proper gear and experience you can turn it into a very enjoyable activity.
If you think only of bright sunshine and green meadows at the mention of camping, then you’re mistaken. With the approach of winter, camping on as yet untouched, pristine snow can be a lot more enjoyable than you imagine. Camping in winter might seem mad at first, but with the right gear and experience, instead of scary it can be downright fun.
Imagine now an enormous open place, quiet, deserted, and covered in pure white snow. Can’t you just feel a fierce snowball fight coming on? Or an urge to slide down that hill over there at breakneck speed? Don’t you take a childish delight in stepping on those virgin snows where no one else has yet set foot? Well, that’s winter camping! An unparalleled opportunity to be a kid again and relive all those moments.
Inside the tent the conversation is unending. And the pleasure you’ll take in crawling into the snug sleeping bag waiting for you in your tent when you get cold is no different from the warm bed you hate to crawl out of on the same cold winter mornings. If there’s a cup of piping hot tea or coffee just waiting to be sipped, you’re all set. And when you’ve downed your coffee, unzipping your tent and watching the snow drift down the slopes will fill you with peace and happiness.
WHAT TO PAY ATTENTION TO
Choose as level an area as possible for your campsite. Avoid steep slopes to protect yourself from a possible avalanche, and stay as far away as possible from hills and ridges to avoid high winds and lightning. You can solve your water problem easily in winter by melting some snow, thus eliminating the summer necessity of setting up camp near a water source. But the water you get from melting snow will be low in minerals and could upset the mineral balance in your body. So be sure to add some mineral-containing fruit juice powder; even better, take along some isotonic mixtures. If it continues to snow all the while you are camping, take care to clear off the snow buildup on your tent from time to time to prevent it collapsing under the weight or a reduction in heat insulation if the two walls of the tent are touching.
WHEN AND WHERE TO GO
Since Turkey gets significant snowfall in winter, you have a lot of choices. Many of the highlands are covered in snow all winter long. In spring, almost all the trekking routes around Izmit and Adapazarı are suitable for winter camping, among them, Kartepe, the Erikli and Delmece Highalnds, Menekşe Highland and the lake known as Sülüklü Göl. Uludağ, which offers winter sports, is another ideal spot for winter camping.
Bolu with its rare natural beauty in the Köroğlu Mountains offers several alternatives. You might prefer Abant and the Yedigöller or Seven Lakes, or you might opt for the Köroğlu highlands, which are more secluded and even farther from civilization. Kıbrısçık and its environs also have many highlands where you can go. The foothills of the mountains all along the Black Sea are chock full of suitable sites. There are several highlands in the Ilgaz Mountains and around the Kaçkars on the Eastern Black Sea. An the south the Niğde-Aladağlar region, now a center for climbing sports, offers several different valleys. While each region is different, the appropriate time for winter camping is always the months from November to March. Months like October and March when the weather can be very changeable must be avoided. Check the water in the region up to the day you leave, and postpone your camping activities if there is any chance of violent storms or heavy precipitation. If there is a ski center near the place you’re going, you can monitor precipitation and weather conditions over the internet.
“TURKEY IS A WINTER CAMPING PARADISE”
Mikail Köroğlu (Professional mountain and camping guide)
Winter camping has ceased to be a risky hobby thanks to technological developments in gear. Thanks to specially heated tents that can withstand snow pressure up to 75 kilograms per square meter and wind gusts up to 150 km/hr, it is possible to camp even under polar conditions today. It is very important that gear for winter camping be light and strong. The use of nanotechnology in camping gear now offers that advantage. Even if you have no gear whatsoever, there are travel agents in Turkey who can offer you the opportunity to camp under even the most severe winter conditions. We live in a country extraordinarily rich in winter camping site=es. Not far from Istanbul, the Erikli, Çiğdem, Pürenli and Sultan Pınar Highlands, and the Seven Lakes, Sülükgöl and Sansarak Canyon are ideal for winter camping. Kastro and İğneada on the shores of Thrace are excellent alternatives while, a little farther afield, the foothills of the Kazdağları and Valla Canyon in Kastamonu are yet another possibility. The Eastern Black Sea Highlands meanwhile are hard to beat in winter.
Double-walled canvas tents that provide insulation thanks to the air between the two layers are recommended for winter camping. Given that it is going to be used under cold, difficult conditions, a dome-type tent that is easy to set up, can stand on its own, provides a large living space and is resistant to wind and snow buildup is to be preferred.
It is vitally important in winter that you wear clothing that can breathe well and provides good heat insulation. Depending on the temperature and your degree of activity, we recommend the following layers, which you can peel off if needed. Under: garments made of wool or a synthetic like polyester whose main purpose is to keep you from perspiring. Intermediate: preferably polar and zippered garments of varying thickness. Outer: something than breathes while giving protection again external factors like wind and water.
Goose down is lighter and takes up less space but is more expensive than synthetic materials and loses its insulating properties when wet. A sleeping bag to be used for winter camping should be a small one. It usually says on the bag up to what temperatures it can be used. You will also need a mat or pad that provides serious heat insulation that you can spread under your sleeping bag to completely insulate it from the ground.
Gas stoves that use a gas mixture (butane/propane) appropriate for winter conditions are to be preferred. Such stoves are small and light, as well as being easy to use and maintain. Kerosene stoves may be preferable for larger groups or longer periods of camping. These perform better than gas stoves but are slightly more difficult to use. Besides these things, don’t forget to have with you at all times a thermos with warm water and a headlamp, which is essential camp gear.