Coleman is the brand of choice for winter tents if you are a protester at the Occupy Maine encampment in Portland.

Oddly enough, this high-profile Occupy Maine in Portland that is a good two dozen strong has not a single L.L. Bean tent. But by no means are these determined novices when it comes to winter camping, either.

Many have fashioned hay bales around tents, carpeted their “occupy homes” with flannel and wool blankets, and say despite the signs winter is coming, they are ready.

Occupy enthusiast Alan Porter of Portland all but said: Bring it.

“Everyone has enough blankets and knows how to stay dry and layer. I’ve been a tree climber my whole life and always dressed in layers. You stay dry and layer, it’s really not that difficult to stay warm,” said Porter, an unemployed arborist.

Nearly all the tents in Lincoln Park were covered Friday with tarps, and a number were top outdoor brands, such as Eureka, Sierra Designs and Swiss Gear.

Not that the Occupy Maine protesters are walking around in fancy Gore-Tex, Patagonia fleece, or even down coats. This is most definitely a wool, flannel and sweater-heavy crew.

But they are not scared of single-digit temperatures, either.

“There is no knowing about winter camping until you actually do it. You can hypothesize all you want and plan all you want, but until you are faced with a reality, there is no telling what it will be like. But it’s an international movement, the Occupy Winter. And we are collaborating on winter survival techniques with others,” said Heather Curtis, who has never winter camped but does not plan to return to her Munjoy Hill apartment.

Despite the snow that hit Portland the day before Thanksgiving, the two dozen or so protesters encamped in the makeshift campground are not deterred.

Some were packing Friday to head south, but many plan to stay, so long as the city approves their winter village in the coming weeks.

Deese Hamilton, 45, of Billings, Mont., isn’t fazed at all by the prospects of ice and bitter cold.

With only a stylish gray plaid shirt to keep him warm Friday, Hamilton described the camping trips he’d taken to Indian reservations in North Dakota, where he learned how to live outside in winter.

“I’m going up to Augusta, to the Occupy camp there for winter,” Hamilton smiled.

Porter said the only concern they have is the city’s refusal to allow fires in contained cans.

He said the Occupy Maine campers are willing to get rid of hay bales and get new tarps that are not flammable, but the lack of contained bonfires may be too much to ask by Portland city officials.

“The whole fire issue could cause a protest,” Porter said. “Don’t be surprised to see a campfire started up here, and a protest.”

However, Curtis, who runs a vintage clothing business out of her apartment, said the Occupy Maine site is a wonderful way to teach about community coming together, and soon the joy of winter camping.

She practically said in a few months’ time, Lincoln Park will be a winter wonderland.

“It has become an ‘Occupy tourism’ opportunity. There are people traveling around and staying, like at (youth) hostels. We talked about starting a student tent for students,” Curtis said.

Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at:

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