Camping is an activity that people do that can be described as being full of charm and excitement. It can be done in all types of weather conditions but camping in the winter is an amazing way to savour those peaceful moments that you can get only in winter.
The beauty of the winter includes untouched landscapes covered with snow, early nights and early mornings, a warm fire and having a peaceful night snooze in the sleeping bag.
Despite its beauty, camping outdoors in the winter can still be dark and cold. Freezing weather can ruin your camping joy. But you can be prepared to face bad weather conditions without a problem. Of course, keeping yourself warm is the biggest challenge during winter camping.
There are several measures that you can stay warm when camping outdoors on a cold chilly night. The best way is that I’ve found to stay warm is to avoid getting cold in the first place.
That does not mean that you need stack up layer upon layer of clothing before going to bed. The key thing is to invest in a few well-chosen items and gear specially made to help make your outdoor camping experience really worth it.
There are a few simple techniques that you can avoid to get cold and stay warm when camping,
- Don’t get wet or stay wet.
- Choose the right camping spot.
- If possible, choose a sheltered spot where the windbreaks for your camp.
- Avoid camping on the floors of a valley because cold air moves to the bottom of the valley.
- Buy a few well-chosen items which are specifically designed for outdoor camping in winter.
Camp like a Cold-Weather Pro:
Despite the above-mentioned things to consider before going camping, I have organised some of the other best ways to help you during winter camping.
How to make your tent warmer?
If you want to be able to face the dark and cold winter nights while camping, the most important thing that you need to do is to keep inside your tent warm at night. Nights in cold weather climates are frosty and freezing, you may get sick if you don’t apply the measures to keep your camping tent warm.
Your tent is a thing to provide you with a covering against the rain, snow, and wind, along with keeping the little buggers out. In the summer, it can get warmer due to sunlight but that does not mean that you cannot make the tent warmer in winter. If you want to keep your tent warm in the winter, you will have to insulate it completely as well as manage a heat source.
1. Insulating your Tent:
Here are some tips to help you to insulate your tent as follows
- Just put a rug or tent carpet on the ground, it will insulate the bottom of the tent. In the winter, the ground is colder than the atmosphere, so the heat in your tent will not escape through the cold ground.
- Throw an extra tarp the tent to insulate it externally and prevent the heat from escaping.
A sleeping pad is important too. This is the only thing that can break the contact of your heated body from the colder ground. You can stay warm while sleeping on a lightweight high-quality sleeping pad.
2. Heat Source:
Managing what heat source you get will depend on the setup of your tent and the type of camping you are doing. There are two methods to manage a heat source for your tent during winter camping.
- Portable Tent Heater: If you want a simple solution to heat your tent, a portable tent heater is the best solution. This is the safest option if used according to the instructions given. There are several smart, safer and efficient tent heater brands available in the market to use when camping. You just need to make sure that the heater is specifically designed for tent use – like the one below. Halogen heaters are also very good options to have for this purpose. It can provide heat to make your tent warmer very well and it is not risky because it does not emit dangerous gasses.
- Safety Warning: Don’t leave the heater running all night. Run the heater for some time before you go to sleep and shut it off. Then you can switch it on in the morning.
- Using A Hot Water Bottle: A bottle filled with hot water also can make your tent warmer. How do we can make our tent warmer with a hot water bottle? Just buy yourself a hot water bottle – these highly rated ones work a treat – then fill it with hot steaming water and close the lid tightly. Now wrap up the bottle in a few towels or thick clothes. Put the bottle near your feet or near your sleeping area. It will start emitting the heat and you will be the wonder how faster it makes your tent warmer.
How to Stay Warm Camping in a Sleeping Bag?
Whether you are using an old and trusted sleeping bag while doing camping or you just purchased the new, costly and branded sleeping bag, to make it warm, cosy and comfortable in winter camping, there are some simple tips or strategies to follow:
1. Cleaning your body:
After every hiking day, cleaning up is necessary to keep you warm in your sleeping bag. Try to take a swim in a lake or just wipe your body down with a damp cloth or towel. The sweat from hiking all day can lead to you catching the chills at night.
2. Wear Dry Clothes:
Change into dry clothes before going to sleep, as clothes wet with sweat after a long hiking day can make you feel cold when asleep.
3. Dress Smart:
While in your sleeping bag, you should wear a cap, socks, and some extra layers on your body. But don’t wear too many layers as it may cause you to feel uncomfortable. One or two light or medium weight layers is enough to help you stay warm in the sleeping bag.
4. Using A Hot Water Bottle:
A hot water bottle as mentioned above can be a great source of heat in winter camping. Take a bottle, fill it with steaming hot water and close the lid tightly. It will emit heat slowly and make your bag warmer.
5. High-Quality Sleeping Pad:
The pad base in your sleeping bag should be made of high-quality material. A good sleeping pad can completely insulate your sleeping bag from the cold ground.
6. Complete Insulation:
Your sleeping bag should not have opening spaces as your body heat can escape from these points. Try to completely cover up all the opening spaces you have in your sleeping bag.
7. Pile Extra Clothing Underfoot:
Pile extra clothing under the foot end of your bag to create an extra layer of insulation between your feet and the colder ground.
8. Invite your Partner:
If you have a partner with you on camping, then you can sleep together to provide extra body heat to each other. So, invite your partner to your sleeping bag and generate enough body heat to keep both of you warm.
How to Stay Warm Camping without a Fire?
It may come as a surprise to you but camping without a fire is unusual. Fire is often used when winter camping but that does not mean you cannot camp without a fire.
The following are the strategies you can adopt to help you to camp without a fire.
1. Plan Your Food:
If you are hungry, you’ll get cold. So you will have to plan your food in a different way. You may wonder how do you plan your food without a fire but it is not impossible.
There are three ways to plan and prepare your food without a fire while camping,
- The first easy and simple way to prepare your food is to use a camping stove. you can quickly prepare the food with the stove. if you don’t have a stove, you can have a portable grill, but make sure that it heats the pans and pots.
- The second way to prepare your food at the campsite is to cook your food when staying at home before going to camping. Quinoa, Pasta, Pizza, Cake, and chicken are the best food items to eat at the campsite.
- There are some food items too that you can buy from the market and don’t need to cook like peanut butter, cold cuts, cereals, tuna salad, and bagels. You can go to the market before camping, buy prepared foods and bring that food to the campsite.
2. Stay Active:
While camping without a fire, you need to stay active at night. You should more around. It will keep you warm too. To survive camping without a fire, you need to stay as active as you can.
3. Warm Clothes:
You need some extra layers of clothing if you don’t have a campfire. Clothes like sweatpants, blankets, pyjamas, and sweatshirts, etc.
Warm clothes are very useful to keep you warm in cold weather conditions during winter camping.
Other Winter Camping Hacks & Tips:
1. Check the forecast:
It is important to check the forecast weather conditions. It will help you to be prepared for the worst weather conditions. Make a flexible plan according to the information you get from the weather forecast.
2. Use a 4-Season Tent:
A tent provides you with the coverage that you need against rain, snowing and other bad weather conditions. So if you are going to be winter camping, you may need a tent which is designed specifically for cold weather. Usually, the tents available at supermarkets are designed for 3-season like summer, spring, and fall. But you need a tent that has 4th factor of winter and is made specifically for winter camping.
3. Treat yourself:
In winter camping, you have to walk and move during cold weather and your body consumes more calories to burn and to keep your body warm. So, you need more calories in winter than summer. Take some hard and dense foods like chocolate, cheese, and nuts.
Campfire is a typical thing to have when winter camping. There is nothing more than warmth and glow of a campfire on a cold night to keep the spirits high.
5. Flashlights and lanterns:
You may need a source of light during cold and dark nights when winter camping. In some cases, when you don’t have a campfire, you can use these flashlights and lanterns as a source of light.
6. Pack Warm Clothes:
A good amount of thick and warm clothes may help to stay warm in the night. Some extra layers can insulate your body completely and you can get a cosy, comfortable and warm night sleep.
7. Hot Water Bottle:
A bottle filled with hot steaming water can be very helpful to stay warm when sleeping in your bag at night.
8. Use a Small Tent:
The smaller tent is better for cold camping. it is because the tight space of a smaller tent will heat up faster than a roomy and big tent.
9. Don’t Wear Cotton:
You need to climb and move during camping and you may get sweaty after this kind of hard work. So don’t wear cotton clothes. It becomes heavy and remains wet for a longer period of time. You should wear some synthetic materials which retain heat and dry quickly.
10. Buy a New Halogen Heater:
Buy a new halogen heater before going for winter camping. Using an old one may require some technical maintenance which is not possible when camping.
11. Change before Sleeping:
If possible, take a bath in a lake and change the clothes before getting into your sleeping bag. New clothes can help to make your sleeping bag warm and cosy at night.
12. Wear a beanie:
When lying in a sleeping bag, your head is the most exposed part of your body. Wearing a beanie will do a lot to keep you warm and help you get a good night’s sleep.
13. Sweep off Morning Frost:
Always use a tent brush to sweep away the dried ice crystal falls on the tent during the night. Don’t wait to melt it down, your tent will get wet and it will take a lot of time to get dry. So the first thing in the morning is to sweep away any dried ice crystals from your tent.
14. Bring a Book:
Winter days can be short and the nights are pretty long. So you probably would not be able to sleep from sunset to sunrise. A good book can make you happy while reading during a long cold night.
It does not matter what season you choose to go camping. There’s always a chance that you will encounter colder temperatures at night. Also, the weather conditions may change anytime, especially in winter. so, you should be prepared to encounter any sudden change in weather condition or temperature drop.
So, the best way to help you deal with the dark and cold winter nights is to prepare yourself with adequate measures.
Keeping warm in a winter camp is now a lot easier and following any of the useful tips listed above will help you stay warm when camping. With these simple strategies, hiking and camping in winter will become easier and more comfortable.