|Warm summer nights and cool, crisp fall weekends aren't the only times of year you can enjoy camping outside. Winter is also a great time to go outside. Just because the temperatures are starting to drop doesn't mean you need to pack all your camping gear and call it a day. To successfully stay outside and enjoy winter camping, all you need is a good attitude and some good tips on keeping warm in cold weather or winter camping.
Winter camping comes with frigid temperatures, and there's no escaping it. But don't let the thought of cold fingers and toes stop you from going on an overnight ski trip or snowshoeing adventure. With the right tips and tricks, you can stay warm while camping in the winter and get the rest you need to recharge your batteries for the next day's hard work.
l Dress in Layers
First things first: Dress to impress when you're camping in cold weather. Wearing in layers—including base layers, mid layers, and puff and soft shell jackets—gives you more control over your body temperature. As you go about your day, you burn body heat. When you do this, it's important to avoid sweating as it cools as it dries, wrapping you in an icy cocoon. Managing your body heat by continually adding and removing layers can help you keep sweat as low as possible—a key component of staying warm on winter adventures.
l Remove sweaty clothes
Once camp is established and you're ready to settle in for the evening, get out of your sweaty clothes as soon as possible. While it can be difficult to get your clothes off in rough conditions, you'll be glad you did. Put on dry clothes to warm your body (including your socks). Then, layer as many pieces as possible. Dress them up in a parka-quality puff coat.
On the coldest nights, a hardshell jacket is a great option for throwing your big fat chunks on because it does a great job of trapping heat. There's nothing shameful about sleeping in the crust if you can get a good night's sleep.
l Sleeping Pads
Your camping mattress insulates you from the cold ground and snow, and two mattresses add up to more insulation and warmth than one. A mat's warmth (technically, its thermal resistance) is measured by its R-value, and the good news is that the R-values of two mats added together provide the combined insulating capacity.
l Sleeping bags + Quilts
Finding gear that provides winter warmth while remaining lightweight and compact in your overnight pack can be difficult. This is where layering your winter sleeping bag with a lightweight comforter can be a game-changer. Today, advanced materials make sleeping bags and comforters lighter and more efficient than ever before. For barely any weight loss, the lightweight comforter wards off the coldest nights, providing an extra layer of ultralight insulation that makes all the difference.
l Vent your tent
While it may seem unusual, airflow inside a tent is important in winter. When you breathe, you release heat inside the tent. When these droplets hit the cold tent fabric, they condense into condensation, which freezes into ice. Opening the vents on your tent, even partially, will help prevent you from waking up buried in a frozen freezer that will later thaw and leave you drenched and miserable.
Your body burns calories to keep you warm, so constant snacking keeps your inner furnace going. At night, high-fat and high-protein foods burn more slowly and keep you (and warm) longer than high-carb foods.
Hydration is also a key factor in how well your body functions in the cold. Dehydrating yourself will only impair your ability to stay warm. Drinking plenty of water can reduce fatigue. If all the water is causing the need to go in the middle of the night, so be it. Your body uses energy to heat the fluid in your bladder, so it pays to be outside.
l Hand Warmers
All in all, staying warm while camping in the winter can be a challenge. Cold temperatures, strong winds and lots of snowfall work against you in winter, conspiring to create frigid conditions that make it difficult to sleep at night. On a winter camping trip, your gear must be suitable for the cold, snowy conditions. Packing a proper four-season tent for your winter adventures is one of the most important steps you can take when it comes to keeping warm at night, although by itself it's not something you can do to insulate an existing tent.
In fact, one of the main differences between a four-season tent and a three-season tent is the construction of the inner tent. In a three-season tent, you'll have a canopy made mostly of mesh, which, while breathable in the summer, won't keep you warm at night. Four-season tents have thicker tents, which means they can better insulate you from the cold. By choosing a four-season tent from the start, you can better prepare yourself for a good night's sleep in frigid conditions.
Last but not least, if you want to increase your chances of getting a good night's sleep while camping, you have to make sure you get enough activity during the day. Taking a day off here and there boosts morale and prevents injuries From a standpoint, too much rest just leads to restless nights. In fact, there's no better way to help your body get a good night's sleep than getting as much activity as possible during the day. This way, you can fall asleep quickly as soon as you lean back on the pillow at night.