Guys, as you know, we camp twelve months out of the year. That means there are some cold weather camp outs and you’ll need to BE PREPARED. Here are a few of our favorite ways to stay warm out there.
Dress in layers.
As the temperature changes throughout the camp out, you’ll want to be able to adjust your clothing accordingly. Having too heavy a coat could lead to perspiration which will make you colder later. Be prepared for 45 degree temperatures and 4 degree temperatures.
Bring extra shoes/boots and socks.
Ideally, you’ll have some waterproof insulated boots to keep your feet warm. But what happens if you step in a big muddy puddle and you get your one pair of boots wet? Wet feet on a camp out will make you miserable. Have a dry backup pair, even if it’s a pair of sneakers.
Use a sleeping pad for insulation.
Not an air mattress. They just get filled up with air that can get as cold as the ground. Use a foam or insulated pad. If you don’t have one, bring a big warm blanket and lay it under your sleeping bag. Speaking of blankets…
Use heavy wool or fleece blankets.
You can lay these on top of your sleeping bag (although they tend to slip off in the middle of the night), or you can tuck them down inside your sleeping bag if there’s room.
Put your bag in a bag.
If you have two of them, it’s sometimes a good idea to put your sleeping bag inside another sleeping bag. This is the same concept as using blankets above and below your bag, with the added benefit that it all stays in place.
Don’t sleep in your clothes.
I know this sounds counter intuitive, but trust me, you’re going to want to wear loose pajamas or sweat pants and a t-shirt. Sleeping in jeans or tight clothing reduces blood flow. Also, the clothes you wore all day are probably a little damp from your sweat.
Create a bed warmer with your nalgeen.
Just before bed, boil some water and put it in a nalgeen bottle. Seal it up tight and put it in your bag. It’ll act like a big hand warmer. Consider putting the bottle in a large sock or wrapping in a t-shirt to keep it from burning your skin.
Wear a cap to bed.
You loose a lot of heat through your head (especially some of us old bald guys!), so wear a stocking cap or a buff on your head at night.
Don’t breathe in your bag.
It’s tempting to put your whole head inside your bag but don’t do it! The condensation from your breath will make you and your bed damp, and damp = cold.
Consume some extra calories before bed.
Calories are units of heat. Snack just before bed or even keep some snacks in your tent. (as long as you’re not in bear country!) Consuming hot cocoa right before bed can warm you up from the inside out. It’ll probably make you have to pee in the night, so…
Pee in your tent.
Okay, that didn’t come across exactly right. What I meant was that you’ll want to keep a designated bottle in your tent so you won’t have to leave the tent to use the bathroom in the middle of the night. Just be sure to label it so you don’t accidentally drink it. And dump it in the latrine or deep in the woods the next day. (Staying hydrated throughout the day and then cutting your liquid consumption after 8pm can help a lot in this department as well.)
Don’t go to bed with anything damp. Make sure that nalgeen is completely dry. In the morning, you may want to consider laying your bag out on top of your tent to let the sun dry it out for the next night.
Tuck tomorrow’s clothes into your sleeping bag.
Even when you stay warm through the night, getting dressed that next morning can be brutal. Keeping your clothes in your bag will make sure they are toasty warm in the morning. If they are clean and dry, you can even push your boots to the base of your bag so your feet are warm when you put them on. (Consider using a dry bag for boots to keep your bag clean and dry.)
Do you have some cold weather tips that have worked for you? Please share in the comments section.