I’ve put together a few of my best cold camping tips because winter camping can be just as fun as summer camping. Most people are put off by the cold, right? But you’re missing out!
There is a whole different world to experience out there when the frost hits, or when there is a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Plus, if you love camping, but happen to live in a part of the country that is cold for half the year, you might as well embrace it!
Here are some simple, but very effective tips to help you stay warmer inside and outside of your tent when cold weather camping:
Cold Camping Tips: How to Stay Warm and Safe Winter Camping
Wrap up Warm, Then Warmer (Layers over Thickness)
Did you know that more individual layers will actually keep you warmer than fewer layers of equal thickness? There is some science to back this up, but basically, it’s because warm air gets trapped in between layers and acts as an insulator.
So wear more layers when it’s really cold, don’t just throw on a massive coat and think that’ll do. Take gloves, a scarf, and nice woolly socks too. Cover all your bases and the cold won’t even be a factor.
Keep Well Hydrated
It’s not just the hot weather that saps your energy and dehydrates you as you sweat out fluids and use reserves as you burn calories.
When your body is cold it also uses fluids to generate heat to try and keep you warm. I mean, we need to keep hydrated at all times ideally, but it’s easier to forget when it’s cold and you don’t have that thirst that hot weather causes.
Hot drinks are much more enjoyable when its cold. Just be careful about relying on just coffee and tea as they contain caffeine and don’t hydrate you as well as pure water.
Think About Where You’re Pitching Up
There are a few things to take into account when pitching a tent in cold conditions. Ideally, you want to face the sun rising in the morning to start taking the chill off, and you definitely don’t want branches overhead that might drip, or worse, drop snow on your tent (or you).
I like to keep away from lakes and other water sources too as it tends to be that little bit colder near water. Oh, and don’t forget to add as many groundsheets as you can comfortably carry as every little bit of insulation counts.
Make Sure You Know a Few Ways to Make Fire
One of the first things you learn at Boy Scouts is how to make a small camping fire. That and some other useful things like fishing and even geocaching! But making fire is what’s going to come in handy when cold weather camping.
I always have some waterproof matches tucked away somewhere. Pretty cool if you’ve never heard of them, you can drop them in the snow or use them after you’ve been soaked through.
Auto-ignition stoves designed to work in all conditions can be a lifesaver, and magnesium fire starters are also pretty good when using them at low temperatures.
Don’t Let Damp into Your Tent
It sounds like an obvious point, and it is, but a damp tent has ruined many a camping trip. And, it’s something you need to proactively prevent because once you have a soggy tent it’s hard to dry out when it’s cold.
If you don’t know the landscape well, pitch up far from flowing water and away from ditches and other low spots. If there is some heavy rainfall overnight you don’t want to find yourself waking up to water flowing through your tent.
Make sure your waterproof groundsheet is in perfect condition, as is your tent. Using a rainfly is also a good idea if you want to go that step further to ensure you’re going to have a nice, dry, safe place to sleep.
Check out these reviews of kayak camping tents which are ideal for use in wet conditions.
Wrap up Nice and Snug at Bedtime
Don’t get caught out by temperatures dropping sharply overnight. Check what kind of temperatures you can expect on a weather app and layer up appropriately. Let’s be honest, there are few things as satisfying as snuggling up warm in a sleeping bag in the middle of nowhere!
I’ve covered some useful tips about increasing warmth of a sleeping bag here if you’re interested. But, seriously, it’s worth investing in a good sleeping bag. And, if you’ve paid attention to the tips above you’re not going to end up with a wet sleeping bag so I won’t explain what a misery that would be.
Don’t Forget Your Hot Waterbottle!
My final tip is a classic my grandma always used to preach to me about. A hot water bottle. I feel the need to point it out, not just to pass on the tradition but because I just don’t see people using them very often.
So, what is it with hot water bottles… why don’t people seem to use them when camping? But, I challenge you to tuck a hot water bottle in your sleeping bag on a cold night and tell me it’s not the best decision you ever made. Or, at least one of the best decisions before tucking in that night.
There you have it. Some of the basics, but often overlooked cold camping tips to consider when winter camping if you want to stay nice and toasty and not let the weather be a negative in your experience.
Some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen while camping has been snow-covered mountains, icicles hanging from trees, frosty lakes, and all those other things we rarely see in the great outdoors.
Hopefully, this post has not only helped reassure you that camping in the winter can be just as fun as the summer. It’s a completely different experience, and one I hope all you outdoor enthusiasts will try.