EP30 | A Crash Course in Winter Overlanding with Clay Croft

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Episode Description

When it comes to learning about winter camping and overlanding, you’re in good hands with Expedition Overland founder, Clay Croft.

A native Montanan, Clay grew up with winter camping and winter driving. He still ventures out regularly with his boys to camp in winter and is constantly learning new techniques and approaches to enjoy cold weather camping.

Add to this Clay’s experience in dealing with an extremely cold weather environment (-41 Fahrenheit!!) during his time spent with Expeditions 7 in Greenland, and you have a level of experience and expertise you can trust.

Join Jimmy and Clay as the two bundle up for the night to discuss all things winter camping and overlanding, providing you with the tips, knowledge, and inspiration you need to get out there this winter while staying safe and having fun!

Detailed Episode Summary

Part 1 (1:30-6:20) Intro and Thoughts on Cold Weather and Where and When You Find it: Clay explains his adventures in Bolivia while filming the South American Series and how elevation can lead you into cold, wintry-like weather at any time of year.

Part 2 (6:20-8:55) Essential Cold Weather Items to have with you while Overlanding and the Need to Understand Differing Use Cases: Clay explains the value of specific items to have with you while overlanding along with the nuances of packing for specific regions and seasons while traveling. (Our Arctic Solo Series is an excellent example of a specific use-case that demands a unique approach to preparation.)

Part 3 (8:55-12:55) Getting Ready to Go Winter Camping: Clay explains the mindset shift needed for winter camping and the value of having the right clothing, gear, and equipment.

Part 4 (12:58-16:45) What does Winter Camping offer that Summer Camping Doesn’t? Clay and Jimmy explore the advantages and joys of winter camping, sharing their own experiences in Montana and providing some suggestions for winter activities to enjoy.

Part 5 (16:47-19:20) Clay’s Experience Overlanding in Greenland and What that’s Taught Him about Cold Weather Camping and Overlanding: In the winter of 2018, Clay joined Expeditions 7 with Overland Journal founder Scott Brady to embark upon the first overland travel of Greenland from South to North and Back. The cold weather in Greenland during that expedition was extreme with temperatures reaching -41 Fahrenheit. Clay shares what he learned from that adventure about overlanding in extremely cold weather.

Part 6 (19:20-32:09) Setting up Your Sleep System for Winter Camping: Clay explains the difference between passive heat and power-generated heat and what you need to know in order to have the gear you need to survive with only your body heat. Clay further explains everything you need to know about sleeping bags and pads to make sure you’re set up properly for winter camping. The different ratings of sleeping bags and how to evaluate them to suit your conditions, how to effectively layer with extra sleeping bags, blankets, and clothing, and how to set up your sleeping pads are all addressed in detail here.

Part 7 (32:10-38:10) Survival Basics when Camping in Extremely Cold Weather: Clays share more of what he learned from his experience in Greenland and how to keep yourself thriving in cold weather environments. Water, food, and energy needs are all discussed. Clay shares his winter mountaineering experience as a source of tips and information for using only your body heat to survive in extremely cold environments.

Part 8 (38:15-49:22) Setting up your Galley and Overland Kitchen for Winter Camping: Clay explains how to manage water for winter camping and how to set up your galley for winter camp cooking. (Bonus in this section is a quick bit on how to use Nalgene bottles to manage urinating in your sleeping bag on cold winter nights!!!) The best fuels to use in winter for your camp cooking stoves are addressed here.

Part 9 (49:24-58:10) Preparing Your Overland Vehicle for Winter Camping: Clay shares pro tips and explains what happens to vehicles in extreme cold. He explains how to manage your vehicle and equipment when the temps drop in cold environments, including how to manage diesel engines in winter, along with vehicle lubricant and fluid management in any vehicle, gas or diesel.

Part 10 (58:10-1:00:00) Managing Battery Systems for Cold Weather Camping and Overlanding: Clay and Jimmy discuss the limitations of lithium batteries in cold weather and how to effectively work around the issues that accompany these batteries in cold weather.

Part 11 (1:00:00-1:06:05) What are the Best Tires for Winter Overlanding? As Montanans, Clay and Jimmy have a lot of experience in using a variety of different winter tires. Join the discussion as the two explain pros and cons of different types of tires in winter and how much of what you might think about winter tires is counter-intuitive.

Part 12 (1:06:08-1:10:45) Can you safely sleep in a running vehicle in winter? During the Greenland expedition and during his time working with Search & Rescue, Clay has spent many very cold nights sleeping inside running vehicles. Join the discussion as he shares how to do this safely. Bonus item covered in this section is how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning while camping.

Part 13 (1:10:45-1:14:15) How to Manage Condensation while Winter Camping: One of the biggest problems you’re likely to encounter while camping in winter is condensation. Join the discussion here as Clay explains the steps you need to take to effectively manage condensation while winter camping.

Part 14 (1:14:55-End) Essential Recovery Items for Winter Overlanding: Winter driving conditions create unique challenges. Clay shares the essential recovery items you need for winter overlanding and how to safely use this equipment. Bonus item covered is how to install and use tire chains for winter driving.

Final Pro Tip!!! Practice using your winter overlanding and camping gear in your driveway, and go practice winter recovery techniques with some friends in a safe and reasonably controlled environment.

Useful Resources


ARB Snatch/Recovery Strap

DMOS Shovel

Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage to the Antarctic

Pop Up Fire Pit

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