Winter camps—though not so common—can offer just as much fun as camps organized at other seasons in the year. The turn-off for many is the wrenching freezing conditions especially at night during this time of the year.
These temperatures are known to pose serious physical and health threat including frostbite and hypothermia, a condition where a person loses up to 95 percent of his body temperature.
For this reason, a camper who intends to make the winter adventure should get a bit more prepared, observe a few more precautions, and make the more careful choice of camping gear.
In this article, we outline some simple tips to stay warm while camping in cold weather conditions which characterizes the winter period. These tips range from very simple stuff like weather checks to the subtle art of choosing the best sleeping bag suited for your camping experience.
So whether you’re an experienced camper who seeks out the adventure that winter provides or an amateur who happens to be joining for the first time, do these simple things and you’re pretty much prepped for adverse cold weather.
1. Understand Yourself and Your Body System
Individuals have different thresholds for temperature—warm or cold. The first point for your camping preparation is understanding how your body deals with temperatures relative to others.
Some people naturally sleep warmer while some other always have to pull on the down comforter. This knowledge will determine your choice of camping gears.
Men are naturally warmer than women and this is reflected in women gears like the female sleeping bags.
Also factor in your camping experience. Bear in mind that winter is the coldest time of the year. If you have not attended an outdoor cam during this period, it is a wise decision to over prepare than being caught unawares.
2. Check with the Weatherman
This is a no-brainer for anyone who is used to outdoor activities. Knowing the expected temperature, extreme temperature and weather trends for the season will help the camper plan for potential hazards.
3. Locate your Campsite in a Dry Flat Spot
Set up camp early enough during the day to ensure you get a good spot where you’d be better protected from the elements. Ideally, a dry, flat area with an exposed earth surface will prove a warmer location to pitch your tent.
4. Use A Relatively Small Tent
Massive tents allow a lot of extra space which makes it a lot cooler than smaller sized tents. In large tents, the body heat generated by the people in the tent quickly dissipates to the open space making them feel cold faster than in a compact tent.
The idea is to try as much as possible to minimize the excess space. A right-sized tent would contain the number of campers and allow just enough room to movement.
5. Use Insulated Tent Rugs
One way cold can creep into your tent is through the floor. To prevent this and to keep the tent as warm as possible, use a fitted tent rug or carpet to insulate the floor.
If available, use specially designed insulation carpets or regular picnic rugs to prevent cold coming from the ground.
6. Put on the Right Clothes for Cold Temperatures
Winter period—or cold nights for that matter—is not the time to sleep light in your sleeping bag. Wear sufficient warm clothing to lock in more warmth within the bag.
Choose synthetic fabrics or wool which are warmer and can distribute moisture better compared to cotton. Silk is also a NO.
Wear socks, fingered gloves, and headgears to keep external parts of your body warm. However, avoid tight-fitting clothing that may restrict blood flow to these areas.
7. Eat A Hot Meal just before Going to Bed
Having a hot meal just before you hit the bed is one of the age-long tricks to stay warm in cold weather. Definitely not your doctor’s best advice but it helps keep the body warm against freezing cold environment.
And, it’s an added advantage if the meal is rich in fat which takes longer to be metabolized. Eating a high-calorie midnight snack like chocolate and cheese which are high in sugars and fat can help power the body at night to generate more warmth.
8. Don’t go to Bed Cold
If you’re already cold when you get into your sleeping bag, chances are you will stay cold. So, don’t allow yourself to get gold in the first place. Put on extra clothing towards evening as the temperature begins to drop.
And if you’re feeling cold just before your bedtime, you can try a warm meal or drink. A quick brisk exercise can help raise your body temperature before you sleep.
9. Use a Hot Water Bottle
To further bolster your body heat and the overall temperature of your tent in cold condition, you can onside using a stainless still water bottle which you can place close body core. But, of course, you need to come with utensils to boil the water to be used.
Similarly, you can also get disposable heat packs which you can put within your clothing or your sleeping bag.
10. Maybe A Portable Heater
A portable heater powered by electricity or gas would the desperate effort to get warm during one of these cold nights. If you are considering this, you must pay close attention to the manufacturer’s instruction as well as safety measures. Gas heaters are not meant to be used for enclosed spaces as with most tents.
11. Choose the best Sleeping Bag for Cold Weather
Probably the most important camping gear to keep you warm in cold weather is the sleeping bag. This means you must take extra care to select the right sleeping bag that is suitable for the weather and meets your personal preference as well.
For a very cold night, a four-season or five-season bag will suffice. Sleeping bags are rated from one-season to five-season bags where the latter is for the coldest and harshest conditions.
Sleeping bags can also be rated by temperature; in this case, a comfort temperature rating of 10 to 15 degrees F is ideal for cold and winter camping.
Click here to get pro tips on how to choose the best sleeping bag for you
Sleeping bag liners are also known to add between 5 to 15 degrees F of warmth to the sleeping bag. In the very cold days, every temperature gained is precious.
A few bonus tips
- Don’t hold your pee at night because the body spends extra energy keeping the pee in your bladder warm—energy that can be used to keep your body core warm all night.
- Prevent spills as much as possible. Remember, the fluid is the number one enemy of camping gears
- Also, watch condensation to prevent your gears from getting wet. Quickly remove morning frost from the tent before the ice melts. Protect your gear from frost too, and dry them in the day if you can.
- In the same vein, don’t breathe inside your sleeping bag to avoid it getting wet through condensation.
Recommended Sleeping Bags for Cold Weather
- Outdoor Vitals Summit [0°F] Premium Down Sleeping Bag
An 800-fill power duck down sleeping bag with a comfort rating of 10 degrees F. It is lightweight and super-compressible as well with a durable and water repellent outer shell fabric.
- Cotopaxi Sueno Sleeping Bag
This also has insulation made from duck down with a fill power of 800. The lightweight mummy-shaped sleeping bag has ample leg space and a water-resistant shell. Its comfort rating is 15 degrees F.
- Hyke & Byke Antero Hammock Compatible Down Sleeping Bag
A lightweight sleeping bag with 800 fill power insulation made from goose duck down. The extreme temperature rating is 15 degrees F and it has a waterproof treated shell.
Questions People Ask
- What does the temperature rating mean on a sleeping bag?
This usually the comfort temperature rating or the –that is the lowest temperature at which a standard man can sleep through the night in the bag.
- How do you stay warm in a sleeping bag?
A sleeping bag uses special insulation made from duck feather, goose feather or synthetic fiber in between layers of cloth to conserve user’s body warmth. This is known as thermal insulation.
- What is the best winter sleeping bag?
A four-season sleeping bag with a comfort temperature rating of 10 degrees with insulation from down with fill power of 800 or more is ideal.
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