Here are a few cold weather camping tips if you’re outing takes you into the winter months. One of the best tools you can bring into the woods is a few minutes of preparation.
Check out the weather forecast for the area that you’re heading into and look for any precipitation and the forecasted low temps. In some cases, you can change the schedule or timing of your outing to avoid nasty weather. Many campers opt to stay in cabins located close to campgrounds during the winter months so that they can still enjoy the beauty of nature, with the warmth and security of a roof over their heads. If the timing is fixed, make sure you pack the right items to stay warm & dry. Try these tips to keep Old Man Winter at bay…
Cold Weather Camping Tip #1:
Wear a Hat & Gloves!
It’s estimated that up to 70% of our body heat can be lost through our extremities. I know that this tip will fall on deaf ears for all of you non-hat-wearers out there. But do yourself a favor a pack a knit cap, just in case. Ball caps offer very little insulation compared to a nice wool or synthetic fiber hat. Their worth their packing weight and might just keep you alive. And I know that gloves can be cumbersome, but depending on the conditions, a slim pair of glove liners might keep your fingers warm enough to maneuver. Fingers can get easily frostbitten, and gloves can prevent this…pack a pair.
Cold Weather Camping Tip #2:
Choose the Right Sleeping Bag!
Sleeping bags come in many shapes, sizes, materials, and ratings. A good rule-of-thumb is to look for a sleeping bag rating that’s 10 degrees colder than the expected low. So, for example, if you’ll be headed out on a trip where the temps will be dipping into the low 30s (F), a sleeping bag that’s rated to 20F should suffice. Everyone’s different when it comes to comfort, but it’s far easier to work with a sleeping bag that’s too warm than it is with one that’s not keeping you warm enough! Check out these sleeping bag buying tips for more guidance.
Cold Weather Camping Tip #3:
Stay Off of the Ground
The ground is usually a consistently cool 55 degrees (F), depending on the surface and frost layer. If your sleeping bag is right on the ground, you will lose a lot of your body heat to the ground. A sleeping pad, blanket, or cot can prevent a lot of this heat loss by insulating your body’s heat from the cool ground. Keep that in mind when you plan your sleeping arrangements, as the ground can and will quietly steal your body heat!
Cold Weather Camping Tip #4:
Keep Clothes Warm & Dry
Having warm and dry clothes to put on will prevent body heat loss and maximize comfort. When you pack your clothes, try using zip-lock bags or another means to keep they dry. Another time that’s particularly tough in cold weather camping is the early morning. Getting that first toe out of the sleeping bag and braving the cold can be brutal. One way to ease this pain, is to put your next day’s clothes in the sleeping bag with you. I would usually pack clean socks, shirt, and underwear and stash them in the sleeping bag each night. The next morning, the clothes are toasty warm and much easier to slip on than had they been in my cold backpack. It’s just a little thing…but it helps you start the day off right.
Cold Weather Camping Tip #5:
Dress in Layers
Many cold weather environments have times during the day when the sun brings a nice cold-weather reprieve. In fact, it can get so warm that we go from shivering to sweating. This can be dangerous, as that cool sweat and a setting sun can cause you to get the chills rather quickly as the day winds down. By dressing in layers, you can peel off the outer and middle layer, as needed, and then put them back on when the temperatures dip. If you’re headed out on a winter hike, plan your clothing accordingly, as you’ll need more warm at the end of the day that you might think at mid-day. Check out the camping clothing for more information.
The winter can be a fun time to go camping, as the bugs are gone and the woods are quieter, but take a few moments to plan for your comfort and safety. I hope that these cold weather camping tips help you get ready for your trip and avoid those cold related injuries that the winter months can bring.