4 Winter Camping Tips to Help Keep You Warm and Dry

winter camping tips

It can be challenging for nature lovers to go camping in the cold season. The low temperatures, wind, rain and even snow can make it difficult to pitch your tent and keep warm during a night under the canvas. However, the camping season doesn’t have to be over once the days start getting shorter and colder. Here are our top tips for a great camping experience and enjoying the great outdoors in the winter.  

1. Choose your tent carefully

It’s vital that you choose the right type of tent. Opt for the correct size more than anything. If the tent is too big, it will be harder to warm up and maintain the heat. Smaller tents are better insulators because there is less air to heat up, so go for a size that will keep you warm without being too small and restrict your movements.  

Check for other characteristics and features such as waterproofing, three or four-season grading and taped seams. The ideal tent should be reliable, strong, lightweight and easy to pitch. 

Picking a suitable tent is just the first step to keeping warm “indoors”. There are a few things you can do to help your tent warm up. For instance, you can put a picnic blanket inside on the ground to create another layer of insulation between your sleeping bags and the freezing ground. You could also put your backpacks in the corners of the tent to create a smaller space.  

Lastly, ventilate the tent throughout the night. This reduces the risk of condensation and the temperature dropping. 

2. Pay special attention to your extremities

The extremities of your body are important as they either lose a lot of heat or are difficult to warm up. For example, people lose a lot of heat through the head. The solution is to wear a hat even when you’re inside the tent and at night time. A waterproof hat is ideal during the day when you’re out and about and a knitted beanie hat is perfect overnight. 

Hands and feet are usually the first to get cold, especially if you have poor peripheral circulation. Wear a thick pair of socks over a thin pair and make sure to bring plenty of spares. Don’t wear too many pairs at the same time though otherwise, your boots will be very tight and restrict your circulation. Another good trick is to put some feet warmers inside your boots overnight so that they’re nice and warm in the morning.  

As for gloves, if it’s really cold, wear a pair of hiking gloves which will keep your hands warm and dry at the same time. A thin liner pair will do for when you’re inside the tent. 

winter camping tent

3. Make the most of your sleeping bag 

Your sleeping bag should be made for below-freezing temperatures as the temperature can drop significantly during the night. The best sleeping bags are made from water-resistant fibres and are lightweight. If you’re on a budget, just add a sleeping bag liner to your current bag as this will increase its temperature rating by 10-15 degrees.  

In winter, a sleeping bag put directly on the ground will struggle to keep you warm. The ground is colder than the air and you’ll need more insulating layers between your body and the ground. Good options are inflatable mattresses, thick foam mats or camp beds.   

Seasoned campers would recommend shaking the sleeping bag before getting in. This will ensure that it is full of air and will maximise the amount of heat that it will trap. Shake the light bags from the bottom end to make sure the filling goes all the way to the upper end where insulation is more critical.  

Your instinct might tell you to tuck your head in, but you would be mistaken. Your breath will create condensation inside the bag which will make it damp and lower its insulation capacity. It’s best if you keep your nose and mouth out in the open to ensure the sleeping bag is dry at all times. If you prefer to have some insulation around your head, opt for a sleeping bag with a hood which will keep your head warm but won’t cover your face.   

A nice little trick to speed up the warming up process of your bag is to throw in a few hand warmers before you get in. They will work the same way as a hot water bottle, but they’re more suitable for a camping trip.

4. Wear the right camping gear

First of all, layer up! Wear a close-fitting thermal base layer, an insulating middle layer and a waterproof outer layer. Selecting clothes for camping in the winter is more time-consuming, but you won’t regret it. Pack more t-shirts than you need to make sure you always have a dry one to put on.    

If you’re all about wearing cotton in the warm season, you can forget about it in winter. Cotton absorbs moisture and will keep you damp and cold. Instead opt for wool or synthetic materials for the base layer, fleece for the middle layer and a waterproof material for the outer layer.

It’s a good idea to wear a minimal number of layers at night. Why? Because this way you’ll be able to put on more clothes in the morning when it’s cold and warm up faster. Wearing all your clothes while you sleep will keep you warm and snug but when you get out of the sleeping bag at dawn you won’t have any additional layers to put on. 

Now you’re all set for your next camping holiday in the winter! Following these tips should make your next camping experience in the cold season more comfortable and enjoyable. 

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