While the majority of us prefer camping in the summer because of the warm and breezy weather, there are still lots of reasons to get outside in the wintertime. Hikes are less sweaty, parks aren’t as crowded, and camping fees typically cost less.
A lot of regions in the United States, such as the Southeast and Southwest, are great for year round camping if you have the right gear and knowledge. If you follow these ten tips for cold weather camping we guarantee the great outdoors won’t seem as intimidating even in below freezing temperatures.
Use Multiple Sleeping Pads
When camping, most people just bring a self-inflating sleeping pad because they’re cushy and comfy underneath your sleeping bag. But these pads are not as insulating as a closed-cell sleeping pad. A closed-cell sleeping pad is made of rigid, denser foam that either rolls up like a yoga pad or folds up into rectangular chunks. During cold weather camping trips, we suggest placing a closed-cell pad underneath your comfier pad in order to provide an extra layer of warmth that insulates more effectively above the ground. If you don’t have an extra pad, even a yoga mat can make a bit of a difference.
Car Camp if Possible
If you can comfortably fit in the back of your car or van, then this is by far the warmest solution for winter camping. A car is higher off the cold ground and more insulated from the cold and wind than a tent.
Avoid Cotton Clothes
Cotton does not wick moisture and will quickly dampen and smell after adventuring outside. Stay dry and comfortable throughout the night and day with proper winter layers such as wool and synthetics. We suggest wearing our Evolution Hoodie and Evolution Joggers to stay warm in bed. These pieces are made from sustainable materials (such as coffee grounds and plastic bottles!) that are moisture-wicking, quick-dry, odor-controlled, and lightweight – features that cotton can’t compete with.
Wearing layers to bed is important, but you probably won’t be wearing all of your layers. Shove any extra coats or puffy jackets at the bottom of your sleeping bag near your feet. This extra cushion makes a huge difference since feet are typically the first part of the body to get cold while sleeping. Best of all, all your clothes will be nice and toasty the next morning!
Try to avoid sleeping with your head inside your sleeping bag because the moisture from your breathing can dampen your bedding. Instead, wrap a scarf or headband around your face to keep the rest of your skin warm while your nose can breathe comfortably.
Sometimes one sleeping bag isn’t enough to stay warm and snug. Covering an extra shell layer or blanket around the sleeping bag will insulate your body heat especially in windy environments. We recommend using the trusted Kachula Adventure Blanket as an extra layer because it has lightweight, waterproof, and ComforMax® insulation qualities.
Typically boots or shoes are placed in the vestibule of the tent to prevent the inside liners from getting dirty. But consider placing boots near your sleeping bag to keep them warm throughout the night and prevent them from freezing over.
Everyone loves to pass a flask around the campfire on a cold night, but make sure to keep your alcohol consumption within reason if you’re worried about shivering in bed. Even though liquors like whiskey give you a warm fuzzy feeling, such drinks actually makes your body colder. That’s because alcohol widens the blood vessels causing blood flow and heat to exit faster and drop your body’s internal temperature.
Use the bathroom at the last minute before bed to ensure your body doesn’t expend more calories holding in your urine when it could be spending those calories on keeping you warm. If you wake up in the middle of the night and nature calls, it might be worth going through the inconvenience of getting up to prevent continuous shivering and restless sleep.
Has your phone ever died on you in the cold weather? Cold weather, especially below freezing temperatures, can drain the battery in electronics. Keep your phone and any other electronics (including a battery-powered headlamp) by your waist or feet inside your sleeping bag to keep them charged.