Anyone use igloos or....

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KMartman

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Anyone here use igloos or snowcaves for camping in winter? Seems a lot of work, but if you "base" out of a certian location more than a few times a season its probably worth the time it takes to build.

I found this tool HERE and thought it VERY interesting. Seems like you could carry WAY less gear if you built an igloo/snowcave, as apparently they stay MUCH warmer.

Any thoughts?

M
 

Pete_Hickey

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I've been using their magic igloo-a-tron for quiter a few years. I was planning on building one at the gathering last winter, but there was no snow. I hope this year will be better.

The amount of time it takes to build, REALLY depends on the kind of snow. I've done it in less than 2 hours (solo), but it has also taken me 5 hours.

It is a LUXURIOUS place to sleep and eat. Warm enought that you don't need much of a coat, big enough to STAND in. You can sit up straight while eating, a candle lantern brightens the whole thing.

Build one on your front lawn too:

http://newmud.comm.uottawa.ca/~pete/bike-gloo.jpg

http://newmud.comm.uottawa.ca/~pete/igloo-seat.jpg


Plus! If you have to pee at night, just zip down the bag, and go against the wall! Try THAT in your tent!
 

Neil

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I've used a no-brainer variant on the igloo called a quinzee. All you do is make a huge pile of snow then carve out your sleeping quarters. Sort of a cro-magnon igloo. Rather time consuming and wet work but great for a base camp. Even if it's -40 outside it'll be near 32 inside. We usually had to poke a few air holes to let the humidity and heat out.
 

Pete_Hickey

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Neil said:
I've used a no-brainer variant on the igloo called a quinzee.

I've slept in quinzees before becoming igloo-ized. While easier to build (although an igloo can be built in conditions that make it difficult to build a quinzee), an igloo has some definate advantages.

Its 'engineered' shape means strenght by the structure, and the walls can be thinner, letting light through it. Both inside light going out at night, as well as daylight coming in during the day. The other thing about the igloo, is that it is higher, allowing one to stand.

Both are equally warm.
 

spaddock

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Last winter I built a quinzee and it was fantastic. Since it was our first attempt we built it at my buddy's cottage. If we failed miserably, we could head back to the heated cottage.

It turned out to be a success, one of the best nights I've ever spent outside. But.... It took us a long time to build. There wasn't much snow around so we really had to spread out and bring back the snow. Plus after you pile it up you have to let it sit for a while, the longer the better. Since we were spending a leisurely weekend at the cottage we had lots of time, building the structure was our big event for the day.

Before that I have brought a shovel along intending to build one, but each time at the end of a long hike we never had the energy to do it, and just pitched the tent.


-Shayne
 

Nessmuk

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Neil said:
I've used a no-brainer variant on the igloo called a quinzee. All you do is make a huge pile of snow then carve out your sleeping quarters. Sort of a cro-magnon igloo. Rather time consuming and wet work but great for a base camp. Even if it's -40 outside it'll be near 32 inside. We usually had to poke a few air holes to let the humidity and heat out.
I've slept very comfortably in a quinzee many times, including -35 outside while it was in the high 20's inside.

There are a couple of problems to consider when constructing one.
You need to stop early in the afternoon if you want to be finished before winter darkness, considering that you will require at least a couple of hours for construction. Part of that is you must wait at least an hour, 2 hours is much better, for the pile of snow to consolidate before you can carve out the inside. Otherwise you risk collapse during construction.

You will get wet, either from sweating on the inside or from snow melt by your overheated body laying on snow during construction. I usually strip down to minimum clothing, wear a rain suit and work slowly to stay reasonably dry.

Construct a slightly elevated sleeping platform above the floor, lower toward the door. A candle or two works wonders for light and warmth, but don't forget a small (ski pole basket size) hole for ventilation. Keep the hole clear of frost and snowfall.

Last year I ran across some inflatable balloon contraption for sale online, so you didn't have to pile and remove all the interior snow. I don't know if it was worthwile or is still available or not.
 

Neil

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Great memories!

lumberzac said:
I knew it. Canadians really do live in igloos. :D
LOL except Pete isn't a Canuck.

About waiting for x amount of time for the quinzee snow to harden: we waited at first then eventually didn't wait at all and had no problems.

We used a big kitchen knife for carving and wore jean coveralls carried for that express purpose.

By our nth quinzee we shovelled right down to the ground first before piling up the snow because we read somewhere about geothermal heat. Also, once while building one right top of the snow the whole thing shifted and scared us pretty good. You could say that sleeping on a layer of snow would be warmer than the ground and you'd be right. At the time I think we just liked the geothermal heat idea.

Given the right conditions you can throw up a quinzee pretty quickly but I also remember spending hours scouring a huge area clean of a scanty layer of very sugary snow. We only had one shovel so 2 of us were carrying it in stuff sacs.

Once we built a 4 man quinzee and the interior was cubic. We were all lying in there like cordwood with either a flashlight or a candle burning and I said," look at all those pounds of snow just hanging suspended over our heads held together only by hydrogen bonds." That did it for for one of the guys, he still slept in it but he had to be right next to the door. I have a picture somewhere of 2 or 3 of us standing on the roof.
 

Nessmuk

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Neil said:
Also, once while building one right top of the snow the whole thing shifted and scared us pretty good.
I've not had great luck digging out a really fresh snowpile, but my snow tends to be of the extremely fluffy lightweight "lake effect" variety. It piles like cotton candy until it self compresses.

You haven't really lived until you experience building or relaxing in a quinzee and hear a sudden low pitch terrifying sound that can only be spelled as "thfwump". When your heart stops pounding you tell yourself that is the sound of snow compressing and getting stronger, not of a collapse. Tell that to your shorts.
 
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grasshopper

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I'm an igloo builder ever since I was a kid.whenever we got good snow I would build one in the back yard that would last the rest of the season.I built one when I was in school of architecture and slept in it at -37, I was way to hot!.I've also done leangloos = block in the front of a leanto, with small tarp door on one side,very cozy but not as warm due to uninsulated floor.I just saw that icebox tool and wondered how much does it weigh?I usualy use my ice ax to cut blocks.
Run me out in the cold rain and snow (GD)
 

post'r boy

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built a quinzhee in late fall 1995 it kept it up for 123 days well into spring of 1996 documented the whole evolution of it!!! :D
if i had a scanner and knew how to use it i'd post some awsome photos of it. it could fit 8 people in it standing up. it was massive and solid as a rock
 

blueridge

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You guys have totally changed my outlook on this winter! My neighbors are going to think I am crazy, but my backyard will be a construction site come January!

Quinzee or bust!!
 

dug

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Four of us were camping along the Cedar Brook Trail near Mt. Hancock when I noticed a lump off to the side. I investigated, and found an entrance that had recently been blown in. I quickly dug out the crawl space, went inside (hoping not to find something had nested in there), and found a spot big enough for about five. Old candle remnants. All decked out inside. One side had collapsed a bit, but still plenty of room for us four. With the howling wind outside, we partied in there all night. We guessed it was probably 35 degrees inside, and 10 outside with a good 15mph wind.

I usually am not in camp early enough to build one myself, but if you can live off the hard work of others......
 

Puma concolor

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I'm with blueridge. Just way too cool to think of building an igloo for my daughter to play in this winter! A surprisingly easy sell to my wife as well so I placed the order before she changes her mind. :D

Maybe I'll try a quinzhee as well another year. :)
 
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post'r boy

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that was a very heavy snow year,the whole yard was shoveled every storm onto the quinzhee. neighbors definatly thought i was nuts!! :D
p.s. they were right! :eek:
 

jmegillon149

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I've never slept in a full snow structure, but I once slept in a 3/4 one, it was snow walls with a tarp over, not bad, though the condesation dripped a bit.
 

spaddock

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Now that I think about it, when I was younger we built snow forts, which were basically quinzee's.

The snow plow did the work of piling the snow at the end of the driveway and after (my dad) shovelling it was in a big pile anyways.

Of course now I've been told that that was very dangerous, if cars run into the snow bank and you're inside, etc.


-Shayne
 

Pete_Hickey

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grasshopper said:
I just saw that icebox tool and wondered how much does it weigh?I usualy use my ice ax to cut blocks.

I don'T remember the weight. It is less than a winter tent, though.

The advantage of the Icebox, is that you can make blocks with really bad snow. Snow that you couldn't really cut blocks out of. You can even make them out of spring corn snow.

Oh yeah. Something else igloos have over quinzees. You can be inside one when it colapses, and not get hurt at all. It's really a non-issue, because they don't colapse anyway.
 
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spaddock

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grasshopper said:
I just saw that icebox tool and wondered how much does it weigh?

Specs from the website:

ICEBOX® configuration inside dimensions and weights:
7 ft. by 44 inches tall: 4.8 lbs (2.13 X 1.12 meters tall: 2.18kg)
8 and 10 ft by 61 inches tall: 4.88 lbs (2.44 and 3.05 X 1.55 meters tall: 2.22kg)
9 and 11 ft by 67 inches tall: 4.92 lbs (2.74 and 3.35 X 1.7 meters tall: 2.23kg)
Comfortable sleeping capacities for people 5'8" (1.54m) without a trench are:
7 ft. (2.13m) = 1 person, or 2 people less than 5 ft tall.
8 ft. (2.44m) = 3 people
9 ft. (2.74m) = 4 people
10ft. (3.05m) = 5 people
11ft. (3.35m) = 6 people


And I like how under the selling points they mention: Just plain fun.

Building a snow structure for me was a really cool experience. I enjoyed the time it took to build it much more than I would have enjoyed hiking for those 3 or 4 extra hours. I wouldn't put the time into it every time, but it's definitely something you should try once.


-Shayne
 
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