The camping season does not end when the warm weather does. There are plenty of winter camping opportunities and sometimes, communing with nature in the winter time can be as much fun and interesting as warmer times.
However, it is more of a challenge for winter camping as you have to worry about hypothermia, frostbite and other issues relating to cold or freezing temperatures. Do you know how to stay warm and safe?
Warming tips for the daytime
The first rule of camping clothing is to avoid cotton as it tends to hold moisture in and take forever to dry in cold weather. Instead, look to wool, down and synthetic materials. Synthetic materials for clothing against the skin are optimal as they are the best at wicking moisture away from the body, keeping it dry as possible.
Wool is a great insulator and a great way to trap heat to you for warmth. Down filled clothing is alright for insulation as well but you must avoid getting it wet as it would then become useless.
Make sure to keep your head covered in cold weather as a lot of heat can escape from your body; a wool hat is nice and toasty. Layer your clothing to better insulate your body from the cold.
During physical activity, it is much easier to remove one layer of clothing to cool down a bit for ventilation (and safer too). If you do start to sweat or become overheated, remove your hat first as heat escapes from there rapidly and see if that alone can cool you off. If not, remove one layer of clothing temporarily.
Always carry extra socks with you to ensure your feet stay clean and dry at all times.
Do not wear constricting camp clothing but instead wear some that are slightly loose as the trapped warm air between your layer of clothing and your body serves as natural insulation, something you wouldn’t have with tight clothing.
Warming tips for night time
Check your camping gear to ensure that your sleeping bag is graded for cold weather temperatures. Place a layer of insulation between your sleeping bag and the ground such as newspaper, a foam pad or even a flat inflating mattress.
You don’t want to lose body heat by sleeping on cold ground. Avoid air mattresses as these are not great insulators against the cold hard ground.
Wear a warm ski cap to bed to avoid the heat from escaping during slumber. Always change into clean, dry clothes (no cotton!) before slipping into your sleeping bag, taking care to wear synthetics near the skin and wool or down layered over that.
If you hate putting on cold clothes first thing in the morning, warm them up by placing your clean clothes for the next day under the sleeping bag and above the ground insulator before bedtime.
Of course, the ultimate tip for nighttime warmth is ensuring you go to the bathroom before saying good night as you don’t want to lose that precious body heat by getting up and walking outside to the bathroom.
Winter camping is more challenging and the bonus is no mosquitoes! By being prepared with what to wear and what your sleeping bag and blankets should be, you could be well on your way to, well, being a happy camper – and safe too!