Tips & Tricks: Drying out your ski gear while winter camping

One of the main reasons we decided to sell our little teardrop and move up to a bigger trailer was because we wanted to make sure we really could camp (or RV) year round, including at ski areas. We love to ski and snowboard. When I was young we had a camper on the back of my dad’s pea soup green and white Chevy pickup truck. He modified parts to make baby cribs and later beds for all of us. We would pack up on Friday nights and head up the mountain. We had a spot in the ski area parking lot we would pull into and we would “live” there for the whole weekend while my dad worked as a ski patroller and my mom worked either in customer service or as a ticket checker. We would park next to my grandparent’s RV and would bounce between the two rigs and pretty much had free run of the place. It was the late 70s after all and the adults figured we couldn’t get into too much trouble with everyone there knowing us. It was awesome to be able to ski all day, head in for a chat with grandma and to warm up with a cup of hot cocoa, and then to head back out to ski the final “sweep” run with dad before having some dinner and turning in to do it all again tomorrow. I am not sure we will be doing that every weekend like we did as kids, but we want to give our son a similar life since it is something I loved and value even to this day. We still have 3 generations on the hill skiing every winter. It is just what my family does together.

One thing all skiers know is that gear needs to be dried out or you will be cold and miserable the next day. There is no greater adversary than “wet” when you are in the cold. The teardrop didn’t give me the ability or space to dry out boots, gloves, jackets and pants. We just didn’t have the room or outlets for all of that and the 3 of us. We just spent a week camping and skiing and here are our tricks on how we have been able to dry things out in the new trailer. We will be tweaking our ritual as we do this more, but so far this is working well. We were plugged into “shore power” which meant we had lots of outlets. When we are “off grid” we will have to come up with different solutions. This can happen when we are camped in certain parking lots at some ski areas. We will update once we have experienced that.

1) Boots

We have small boot dryers that we plug into the wall and and then insert into our wet boots. We have two sets of the DryGuy Travel Guy Boot dryers which are great for our adult sized boots. We find they get too hot and can melt in kids boots, so I don’t recommend them for that application. We use a different one for my son’s boots and they work as well in mittens that can be stubborn to get dry too. The Happy Feet Boot Dryers are the ones we use for smaller boots and gloves (they will do well for adult sized boots as the Dry Guy boot dryers). They are little wands that get warm (but not hot) and do a good job of drying out the toes and fingers of boots and gloves.

In our trailer we have an outlet under our table where we have plugged in a multi-plug strip with 3 outlets so we can have all 3 dryers plugged into one outlet at once (you can see it in the picture on the left). We leave the boots standing up until we need to turn the table into our son’s bed, then we lay them on their sides so they can still breathe and leave them plugged in so they can continue to dry through the night. We often put gloves on top of them to use some of the heat escaping to help dry them, but if the gloves are really soaked they will need more head than that. We put the boots on a thick bath mat to help with any extra moisture that might melt off of them or to control any gravel or dirt that travels into the trailer on them. We wanted to try and put them in the shower area and they some times travel there but outlets were an issue and also the thought of water mixing with the electrical was unappealing (and dangerous) so we opted to not do this.

Note: These do take a lot of power, so we make sure we have a camp site where we can be plugged in because they will drain your batteries quickly.  Most of our outlets don’t work unless we are plugged into “shore power” anyway, but it is something to consider when picking where you want to camp.

2) Gloves

Gloves can be really tricky to dry out especially on super wet days or for folks who tend to sweat a lot. Kids are born with all of the same sweat glands adults have but they are all bunched up over a smaller surface area, so they can really put out a lot of moisture and those little fingers in gloves and mittens can make it tough for air to circulate. I mentioned above that some times we put the gloves on the boots to get some of the extra heat coming out of them. Other times we put the heaters (just the Happy Feet Dryers though) inside to get more heat in there. Usually though we just get them up as high as we can in the trailer so that the heat from the furnace will dry them out. We found if we open our cupboards we could hang the gloves off the ends and they are directly above the heat vents for our furnance (we have a heat pump with vents on our ceiling which also pushes out heat, but we need it to be warmer than 40 degrees outside for that to work and haven’t been so lucky yet!). The folks who owned the trailer before us installed a few key hooks above the sink so we use those as well to hang gloves on to dry them out.  So far this has been working out pretty well.

3) Outerwear

This is probably the easiest stuff to dry out but it takes up a tremendous amount of space. We have a couple of “bars” in our trailer where we can hang things off hangers. One is a bar that a curtain slides across in our main living area. We hang heavier stuff (like big ski coats) closer to the mounts and lighter stuff (like helmets) in the middle. This helps for some of our gear. We have another “bar” in the bathroom for our shower door that we are able to hang gear from. We also have a clothes line in the shower were we can put more items. When we have gear hanging in the bathroom we make sure to leave the door open so heat can get back there to help with drying. We keep the over head vent open at the back of the trailer to allow some of the moisture out back there since that is where most of our gear is hanging and the furnace vents are in the front of the trailer which also provides some great air circulation throughout the cabin.

4) A note about condensation
As humans we produce a lot of condensation through our breathing and overall living and cooking. We see that when we wake up in a trailer in the morning and the windows are covered in moisture. When you have wet ski gear that condensation is multiplied. Heat and ventilation will be your friend here. Open your vents to move that air and if you need to, bring in some dehumidifiers. We use 2 Eva Dry dehumidifiers that are rechargeable and we don’t have to worry about emptying a water basin. We plug them in and they recharge themselves by drying out the “magic beads” that drink the water out of the air. We unplug them, place them on a counter and check them every so often for charging again. These are one of my favorite things we travel with and find them invaluable. We also leave them in the trailer when it is parked for periods of time as well and found them especially helpful to keep in our teardrop galley as our cook top was cast iron and moisture found it’s way into the galley through the sink. It is basically a “set it and forget it” solution and it is amazing how hard they work.

The trailer really looks like a proper ski cabin when we are drying gear. The only things missing are the roaring fire place and the hot toddies (we need to get some hot toddies!). Winter camping and skiing go hand in hand and it can be really fun and easy if you have the right gear and have figured out what works best for you. Good luck and we’ll see you on the hill!

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