If you are a cold sleeper like me, winter camping can be difficult. And without a good night sleep, travel wears on you quick. But with proper planning and preparedness, I continue my outdoor adventures all year and so can you! Follow these tips to ensure that even in the winter, camping is fun, comfortable, and warm.
1. Get the right sleeping bag
This is a purchase that might seem large all at once, but the benefits are life-long. A good, well-maintained sleeping bag will last years and make winter camping so much better. Either down or synthetic are fine, just make sure you know how to properly care for it.
2. Add a sleeping bag liner
A twenty degree rated sleeping bag doesn’t mean that you’re warm and snugly at twenty degrees, it means you’ll survive. A liner adds anywhere from ten to twenty-five degrees of warmth to your sleeping bag, depending on which one you buy. I have the Thermolite Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme sleeping bag liner and love it. It extends the length of my sleeping bag by keeping it cleaner. It also multi-functions as a warm head and neck wrap, a blanket around the camp fire, and a wrap-around skirt.
3. Wear a hat and long underwear
The myth that 80% of your heat comes out of your head is not true, but the head still produces a lot of heat, Do not neglect! Silk long underwear is warm, moisture wicking, and super comfortable.
4. Load up on calories
Warm drinks like tea and coffee might appear to warm you up, but they truly aren’t. What you need is carbs and fat to get you through the cold night. Something your body can munch on, turning fuel turn into heat-producing energy. Warm drinks do feel good, so try drinking hot chocolate mixed with butter before heading to bed.
5. Add hand and feet warmers
They’re light weight and handy. You will not be sorry!
6. Put hot water bottles in sleeping bag
This is a cool trick. Boil water and put it in your Nalgene, or other hot water safe bottle, then stick it in your sleeping bag. Instant mega-warmth! In the morning, the water will have chilled enough to be drinking water for the next day.
7. Do burpees before bed
Warm your body and get that heart rate up before jumping in your sleeping bag. Your body heat will warm the bag that much faster.
Alright, alright, then maybe some push-ups. Planks. Jumping Jacks. ANYTHING!
8. Have a good sleeping pad
The true cold doesn’t come from the air, but the earth. I use a Thermarest foam pad, which is cheap without sacrificing durability, warmth, and weight. For more money, there are self-inflated sleeping pads that get you off the ground and provide better comfort. Do your research and pick the right onw!
9. Make sure your socks are dry
You might not even notice they are damp, but listen to your feet – they will tell you if every part of your body is warm and they are two bloodless shivering stumps. Change to dry socks or don’t wear any at all.
10. Snuggle up
Like these kitties. You are the furnace to the tent. If you can, share a tent with someone else and get close!
11. Avoid shaded areas
Shaded areas are colder, obviously. So take notice of where you set up camp on cold nights. Will the sun shine on you in the morning? Make sure it does!