How to Stay Warm Camping in the Cold
As a camper, sometimes the winter weather can be an icy reminder of how vulnerable we are to nature’s elements. With the right preparation and planning, however, camping in the cold doesn’t have to ruin your fun. With a bit of knowledge on the right materials, clothing, and techniques, you can stay warm and comfortable no matter how frigid it gets outside. Read on to learn how I stay warm on my winter camping trips with my three kids.
Gearing Up: Clothing and Equipment for Cold Weather Camping
Choosing the right camping gear is essential to staying warm and comfortable at night, so make sure to research and invest in the right equipment. Make sure you pick clothing that is designed to keep you warm, such as down jackets, insulated pants, and waterproof boots. It’s important to layer your clothes, and invest in materials such as wool and down that will trap heat, while repelling moisture.
No matter the cold weather, a good sleeping bag is key. Look for sleeping bags with a “comfort rating” that is at least 10-15 degrees lower than the nighttime temperature you’ll be camping in. You can also invest in a sleeping pad, which provides insulation while you sleep and helps to keep the temperature regulated. If you’re camping with your family, purchase a family-sized, double camping tent and turn up the heat.
Campfires and Hot Drinks
One of the simplest and most pleasurable ways to stay warm on your winter camping trips is to build a campfire. It’s important to build your fire in an appropriate area with plenty of ventilation and caution, and a fire ring is the best tool for containing sparks and embers. You can use wood found on-site to build your fire, and remember to never leave the fire unattended.
Make sure to bring some hot drink options for you and your family to enjoy, such as cocoa, coffee, herbal tea or cider. Not only will a warm drink help you stay toasty, but it will also make a great wintertime ritual for making memories with your family.
Staying Properly Ventilated
When camping in the winter months, the temperature inside your tent can easily drop. That’s why it’s essential to stay properly ventilated. Look for a tent with a breathable fabric and leave at least one side of the tent unzipped slightly so it can take in fresh and warm air. Keep the top windshield flap open so you can constantly move the dirty air out. This helps to provide a constant flow of oxygen.
A source of fresh air and proper ventilation helps reduce condensation on the walls of the tent and can make a huge difference in temperature. Just remember to always keep the airflow directed directly up onto the tent’s mesh walls.
Miscellaneous Campfire Accessories
A campfire can provide warmth and lots of fun, but there are a few other items to bring along to ensure your warmth and comfort. Consider bringing a tarp to drape over the fire pit to reflect heat, and an emergency blanket that can be placed under the tent for extra insulation. Sleeping bags with heat, known as “hot bags,” can also be used for additional warmth.
I also like to bring along a small propane heater to keep our tent warm. There are also heated mattress pads you can bring to place over your sleeping bags and ensure everyone stays warm, even when the nights get really chilly.
Staying Safe and Enjoying the Trip
Camping in the winter can be a difficult and dangerous experience if you don’t have the proper knowledge and skills. Always follow the safety guidelines and local rules, and make sure to notify park rangers about your camping plans. Be aware of local animals and their mating seasons, and if you’re camping at higher elevations, be aware of altitude sickness.
Make sure to pack all the necessary items you’ll need to survive the cold, and leave plenty of room for extra layers of clothing. Don’t forget to bring a shovel for proper fire safety, and always have a first aid kit and a spare cell phone in case of emergency.
Ultimately, camping in the winter is a great opportunity to slow down and savor the beauty of nature, and to find such a peaceful and tranquil experience without a break. With the right preparation and know-how, you can stay nice and warm and enjoy the cold weather camping experience.