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Inspiration

March 31, 2021

3 Cold Weather Tips with Isaac Johnston

Written by
Joel Fuller

Inspiration

March 31, 2021

3 Cold Weather Tips with Isaac Johnston

Written by
Joel Fuller

New to cold-weather adventures? Meet Montana-born photographer and adventurist Isaac Johnston. In our first ever Wildist Outdoors course, Isaac teaches you the outdoor winter skills needed to access new vantage points in the most restricted season. We caught up with him to get three of his best tips for handling and planning cold weather adventures.

1. Leave Your Camera Outside

In winter conditions, condensation is a photographer's worst nightmare. Your camera gear can handle the cold, but what it can't handle is rapid temperature change. You need to be careful transitioning from a day spent shooting outside in the cold to a humid and warm place, such as a backcountry cabin. It’s not just the front element of your lens and viewfinder that will fog up, but the sensor and elements inside your lens too. In a situation where you need to get out and shoot again quickly, hours waiting for it all to defog is not an option. Wiping down a fogged sensor is something you never want to do and can easily ruin your camera, while wiping off fog inside the lens elements itself is impossible. You have two options in this situation:

  1. Leave your camera outside to maintain its cold temperature in a small bag or backpack and protected from the elements. This is ideal for situations where you’re jumping inside for a shorter period of time to warm up, but will be heading outside again soon. Leaving your camera and lenses outside overnight is also an option —just make sure you take the batteries inside with you and do your best to keep them warm.
  2. Head inside with your gear completely covered in a small camera bag or wrapped in some jackets and resist taking them out for a significant amount of time. This allows the camera to gradually warm up and limit its exposure to the indoor humidity. Once your camera is at the same temperature as the ambient air inside, the humidity is not such an issue.

If you’re backcountry camping in a tent where the environment is cold, no matter what it’s a good idea to keep your camera batteries close to your body and inside your sleeping bag as you sleep.

2. It Pays To Be Naive

Ask a lot of questions and never feel “stupid” for doing so. Regardless of your experience level, it pays dividends to ask as many questions as you can. This is a quintessential way to gain insight and knowledge for outdoor adventures. Isaac, who has more than 30+ years of outdoor experience, still spurs conversations with people at the trailhead, the local gear shop, or those with localized knowledge to gather useful information. Truth be told, most people would love to help you, and you’ll never know what you’ll find out: important beta (outdoor information) about weather, trail conditions, view points, dangers, etc. Be vulnerable and ask! Never let your feelings of inexperience deter you, and if you come across someone with a rude attitude move on —there’s plenty of wonderful people that want to help.

3. Don’t Be The Most Experienced On a Trip

When you jump into outdoor adventures, especially ones that endure the cold, surrounding yourself with people of a similar mindset is really important. It’s best to plan trips with a member or two who are more experienced than yourself until you feel the personal confidence to take on greater responsibility. Choose optimistic partners that can deal with issues, problems, or changing plans with positivity, as the people you’re with can make or break a trip. Depending on your adventure, it’s also super important to consider athletic ability. For example, taking someone on a type 2 adventure (an adventure that is strenuous to the point of misery while it's happening, but fun in retrospect) should only be done with people who know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s important to make a plan and communicate the adventure clearly with all members of a trip to make sure everyone is on the same page and properly prepared.

Bonus Tip: Bring Hand and Body Warmers No Matter What

When heading out on a winter trip, never leave home without hand and body warmers. Sticking a body warmer to your baselayer when you’re really cold or falling asleep can be a complete game changer. As you sleep, your body can rest and not fight so hard for heat. In the event of an emergency, they can also be used as a critical way to maintain someone's body temperature.

To gain 3+ decades of outdoor hacks, tips, and tricks about cold-weather adventures make sure to check out the Essential Outdoor Skills Workshop with Isaac Johnston, available now for $69. Get the workshop within the next week and receive a Friends of Wildist Brand Discount Pack: 20% off to Huckberry & 66 North.

New to cold-weather adventures? Meet Montana-born photographer and adventurist Isaac Johnston. In our first ever Wildist Outdoors course, Isaac teaches you the outdoor winter skills needed to access new vantage points in the most restricted season. We caught up with him to get three of his best tips for handling and planning cold weather adventures.

1. Leave Your Camera Outside

In winter conditions, condensation is a photographer's worst nightmare. Your camera gear can handle the cold, but what it can't handle is rapid temperature change. You need to be careful transitioning from a day spent shooting outside in the cold to a humid and warm place, such as a backcountry cabin. It’s not just the front element of your lens and viewfinder that will fog up, but the sensor and elements inside your lens too. In a situation where you need to get out and shoot again quickly, hours waiting for it all to defog is not an option. Wiping down a fogged sensor is something you never want to do and can easily ruin your camera, while wiping off fog inside the lens elements itself is impossible. You have two options in this situation:

  1. Leave your camera outside to maintain its cold temperature in a small bag or backpack and protected from the elements. This is ideal for situations where you’re jumping inside for a shorter period of time to warm up, but will be heading outside again soon. Leaving your camera and lenses outside overnight is also an option —just make sure you take the batteries inside with you and do your best to keep them warm.
  2. Head inside with your gear completely covered in a small camera bag or wrapped in some jackets and resist taking them out for a significant amount of time. This allows the camera to gradually warm up and limit its exposure to the indoor humidity. Once your camera is at the same temperature as the ambient air inside, the humidity is not such an issue.

If you’re backcountry camping in a tent where the environment is cold, no matter what it’s a good idea to keep your camera batteries close to your body and inside your sleeping bag as you sleep.

2. It Pays To Be Naive

Ask a lot of questions and never feel “stupid” for doing so. Regardless of your experience level, it pays dividends to ask as many questions as you can. This is a quintessential way to gain insight and knowledge for outdoor adventures. Isaac, who has more than 30+ years of outdoor experience, still spurs conversations with people at the trailhead, the local gear shop, or those with localized knowledge to gather useful information. Truth be told, most people would love to help you, and you’ll never know what you’ll find out: important beta (outdoor information) about weather, trail conditions, view points, dangers, etc. Be vulnerable and ask! Never let your feelings of inexperience deter you, and if you come across someone with a rude attitude move on —there’s plenty of wonderful people that want to help.

3. Don’t Be The Most Experienced On a Trip

When you jump into outdoor adventures, especially ones that endure the cold, surrounding yourself with people of a similar mindset is really important. It’s best to plan trips with a member or two who are more experienced than yourself until you feel the personal confidence to take on greater responsibility. Choose optimistic partners that can deal with issues, problems, or changing plans with positivity, as the people you’re with can make or break a trip. Depending on your adventure, it’s also super important to consider athletic ability. For example, taking someone on a type 2 adventure (an adventure that is strenuous to the point of misery while it's happening, but fun in retrospect) should only be done with people who know what they’re getting themselves into. It’s important to make a plan and communicate the adventure clearly with all members of a trip to make sure everyone is on the same page and properly prepared.

Bonus Tip: Bring Hand and Body Warmers No Matter What

When heading out on a winter trip, never leave home without hand and body warmers. Sticking a body warmer to your baselayer when you’re really cold or falling asleep can be a complete game changer. As you sleep, your body can rest and not fight so hard for heat. In the event of an emergency, they can also be used as a critical way to maintain someone's body temperature.

To gain 3+ decades of outdoor hacks, tips, and tricks about cold-weather adventures make sure to check out the Essential Outdoor Skills Workshop with Isaac Johnston, available now for $69. Get the workshop within the next week and receive a Friends of Wildist Brand Discount Pack: 20% off to Huckberry & 66 North.