A snow day takes on a whole new meaning when you're a field recordist because you can capture snow crunches, squeaks, and more. As exciting as this is, protecting your equipment from the elements is always a concern. That's why I've come up with a few solutions for keeping audio gear safe.
This is what you can do to prevent snow from damaging your gear in the field:
#1 - Keep accessories in plastic bags when you can
Accessories that don't typically have their own dedicated bags can go in plastic. I keep batteries, gear for wind protection, and cables inside plastic bags when I know I'll be in snow. My more valuable items have heavier water/snow protection than this, which leads me to...
#2 - Bring a waterproof mixer bag for your recorder
Companies such as K-Tek, Orca, and others make waterproof mixer bags for field recorders. I highly recommend using these types of bags for any type of session since you never know when the weather will turn. This also makes it a lot harder to drop your recorder in the snow.
#3 - Use waterproof cases for your most valuable items
Companies such as Pelican and Nanuk make great, robust carrying cases for day trips or travel. Some of their cases are waterproof, fireproof, and even accident-proof. Despite not wanting to test these claims to their limits, it's assuring to carry your gear in one of these.
#4 - Use your wind blockers as water blockers
Accessories that offer thick, reliable wind protection tend to protect your microphone from unexpected snowfall or snow blowing in the wind. Blimps with dead wombats on them, cyclones, etc. can offer barriers from the snow. Just check them for holes first.
#5 - Bring a towel to wipe down equipment
Make sure snow doesn't melt on your equipment or stay on it for long. Bring a towel to wipe down your gear, and stow it in a place that's separate from your audio equipment. You could also wipe down your clothes and hands so that you don't transfer water onto your mics.
#6 - Wear yak-trax so you don't eat snow
If you're walking through slippery snow or ice, it's all too easy to slip and fall. You need to keep yourself safe, too! I highly recommend purchasing a pair of yak-trax (pictured above) to help you stay level on icy patches. I usually wear these on snowy days with or without my gear.
#7 - Use your back-up gear if you're feeling uneasy
Bringing your backup recorder to field recording spots that are really hard to get to is a viable option, too. In the photo above, I had to hike several miles to get to that location, so I only brought the gear associated with my TASCAM DR-40.
Recording in the Snow Can Yield Great Sounds
I hope you now feel more comfortable with field recording in the snow so that you can capture some great ambiences and make some cool sound effects! I've used recordings of ice scrapes, kicking snow, snow impacts, and more in my sound design for video games. If you want to learn more about how sound design can take your game to the next level, break the ice and contact me.