Camping is a very popular activity during the summer season. But over the years, winter camping has become more popular among people who love different types of challenges and want to enjoy the unique natural beauty of the winter season. Camping in the winter season is different from summer camping and if you don’t prepare yourself properly, then winter camping can be a tricky one.
The main challenge of winter camping is to keep yourself warm in cold freezing temperatures. When you are cross-country skiing or backpacking by snowshoe, make sure you carry proper gear and clothes to stay warm and tolerate those subzero cold extremes. To keep yourself warm while winter camping depends on numerous things like sleeping method, shelter, tent, ground temperature, height, fatigue, air temperature, the wind, experience, metabolism, age, etc.
The good news is that there are very effective tips, tricks, and tactics available that you can implement to stay warm while camping in winter. In this article, we have discussed some of the best tactics to keep warm when camping in the winter season. Let’s take a look at all the tactics to make your adventure more about comfort and less about battling the cold.
How Does Your Body Lose Heat?
Before dig into the tips and tricks, it’s important to know how our body loses heat. So you can understand what types of measures you should take to keep your heat inside your body.
- Evaporation: Evaporation creates a cooling effect, and it is the reason the body loses 85% of its heat. Intense exercise or activity causes sweating and your cloth becomes wet. Wet clothes also trigger a drop in body heat.
- Radiation: Radiation is the main reason your heat moves away from the body. Your body can lose more than 50% of heat from radiation at temperatures that are lower than 68°F (20°C).
- Conduction: Conduction is a process that transfers the heat from physical contact. Conduction happens at 68°F (20°C) and is responsible for the loss of your body’s heat from sleeping on the cold ground.
- Convection: Convection happens when a warm or heated fluid travels away from a source.
10 Best Tactics to keep yourself Warm in Winter Camping
Choose a Strategic Camp Site
When choosing the campsite, you have to ensure you pick a relatively warm place. You must avoid areas where cold air settles like valleys or low areas. Therefore, it is wiser to make a base at least 50 feet above the valley floor. Generally, cold air flows into the uphill, so do not set up your tent facing the uphill. The best practice is to place the tent entrance facing downhill. Pick a hard place, because if you pick a soft spot, you can easily rip a hole in the bottom of your tent. If two people are staying in the same tent, then put your sleeping bag close to your partner’s sleeping bag and reduces ambient space.
Check Weather Conditions
Check the weather condition before heading out for camping. This is the golden rule for any kind of outdoor activity. To know the extremely cold temperatures, you may be up against, help you prepare properly and stay on top of approaching the winter condition of the camping region. Don’t forget to research the recent change of terrain, trail closures, or similar hazards. You can contact the nearby ranger station to keep yourself up to date with current news and weather conditions.
Flatten Your Sleeping Surface
This is a great way to keep yourself warm in winter camping, especially at night. Once you have secured the campsite and build the tent, make sure you flatten your sleeping surface. Don’t leave this step behind to do later because once the snow melts and refreezes, it’s hard to manipulate. Therefore, clear away any snow to expose the dirt and flatten the site with your tools or boots. Flattening the sleeping area reduce ambient space and possible heat loss from cold exposure. Losing excessive body heat during winter camping can cause the early stages of hypothermia or frostbite.
Use an Insulated, Closed-Cell Foam Sleeping Pad
In winter camping, Conduction is one of the main reasons for the heat loss that occurs when sleeping on the cold ground or low-quality bed. Most of the self-inflating air mattresses insulate down to about 30°F, therefore if you want comfort and keep your heat within yourself, use an insulated, closed-cell foam sleeping pad. There are a lot of high-quality sleeping pads available in the market that has aluminized, coated pad. These types of pads are durable, lightweight and surely keep you insulated. Many experts even recommend layering the CCF pad on top of your air mattress to prevent the loss of body heat.
Carry Extra Heat
It’s wiser to carry extra heat during winter camping for emergencies. You can either make your own heater packs or buy some for the next camping trip in winter. Heater plays a very important role in ensuring you stay warm when you’re out in the cold weather for doing outdoor activities like camping. Camping in winter is awesome but to enjoy winter camping you have to keep yourself warm. You can put your boots under your pack or clothes to prevent freezing as frozen boots are very uncomfortable to put on. You can prevent moisture buildup by wearing jackets that have pit zips. Keep a close eye on your body temperature and know when it is right to remove or add layers.
Choose the Right Type of Clothes
You should choose the right type of clothes when you are going out for camping in the winter season. Moreover, you have to keep all your clothes dry to avoid catching moist. You can wear a neck warmer and a fleece or woolen hat to keep the body heat intake. You can wear synthetics or merino wool as a base layer to keep yourself warm. The head of your body lets a lot of heat escape from the body. So it is best to bring a lot of socks and avoid down fabrics and cotton. You can also pack a waterproof outer jacket and bring fleece as an insulation layer. Layers are the best way to go when it comes to clothing. You can also bring a warm stocking hat to keep your head warm.
Sleeping at night in the cold area is very challenging, but there are few tricks available that ensure you have a comfortable sleep at night and keep yourself warm at the same time. You can raise the sleeping area above the ground to prevent your body from catching cold. The more layers you can put on your body is the better. You can also sleep with your boots and socks on. When it comes to keeping you warm while sleeping, there is nothing better than a quality insulating pad. When you get up in the morning and start heading out, don’t forget to drink hot liquids and do hiking, jogging, or even doing some jumping jacks. This is a great way to keep warm while having fun.
Drink Plenty of Water
You can get clean drinking water by melting snow, and it won’t decrease your inner temperature. In fact, this is a great way to stay hydrated and keep your body temperature intact. Cold weather doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t hydrate. During the night time, you can eat snacks to consistently replenish calories. Consuming a lot of calories is a great way to keep yourself warm in the winter season. So make sure you carry plenty of calories and hearty meals while heading out for camping in freezing cold conditions.
Don’t Breathe Deep into Your Bag
Breathing inside the sleeping bag means the moisture will get trapped inside the bag. So it is best to cinch the draft collar and close the hood down around your mouth and nose so that you have a blowhole to breathe through. This trick works best in a down sleeping bag. A wet bag quickly loses its insulation and takes time to dry. So you have to maintain your sleeping bag carefully and prevent the bag from being wet.
Remove Morning Frost from Your Tent
It is very important to remove the morning frost from your tent because once the ice melts, it can condense on a tent’s inner wall and can soak your gear. Therefore, you always have to remove the ice from the tent and you can also keep your gear covered or put them inside garbage bags. Make sure you dry all your gears daily if is possible. Inverting the tent is a very easy but effective way to remove the moisture thanks to the sunshine or dry wind.
Finally, there are a lot of tricks and processes available that will keep your body warm when camping in the winter season. But the above mentioned tactics are the best to keep yourself warm and if they are implemented properly, they are the most effective tricks for freezing cold weather. Happy camping!