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6 Tips for Staying Warm When Winter Camping

flickr/Alastair Wilson

Winter is coming, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying winter camping with these six tips to help stay warm.

The cold weather is upon us, but it certainly has its perks. Escape the crowds, get the best secluded campsites and avoid the annoying insects so many of us suffer from in the warmer months.

It may be cold, but that doesn’t mean you have to pack up your camping gear and put it in storage until all the snow has melted. With the right attitude and approach you can enjoy camping whatever the weather.

1. Have the Right Gear

Everyone sleeps differently. Some people sleep better in the warmth, others sleep better in the cold. Knowing how you sleep is crucial, as is knowing your gear if you are to survive low temperatures. Even if you sleep better when it’s cold, it’s much better to have more of something rather than realizing too late that may be you should have packed that extra fleece.

If you need to, double up your sleeping back or purchase a 4-season sleeping bag and a liner. An inflatable mattress will also be handy to have on hand, as this will provide a barrier between your back and the ground.

Cuddle Buddy

flickr/Alite Designs, Inc.
flickr/Alite Designs, Inc.

If you’re camping with someone and the two of you don’t mind getting close, a great way of generating heat is by cuddling up to someone. You can also zipper together the two sleeping bags to make one large one, just make sure that one sleeping bag has a right zipper and the other has a left zipper for the two to be connected. Furthermore, a cuddle buddy system can also be a life saver if someone is hurt or sick.

Don’t Breath into Your Sleeping Bag


While it may be tempting to snuggle down into your sleeping back, you should avoid breathing into it when you’re sleeping. Breathing into your sleeping bag will introduce moisture, which is what you want to avoid, particularly if you are sleeping in a down sleeping bag.

Once you wake up take the time to dry out your bag as best as you can which will help to expel any body moisture inside.

Wear the Right Clothes

During the winter avoid wearing cotton as it won’t insulate you. Instead, it works better as a conductor and will pull vital heat away from your body making you cold once it gets wet. It also takes a long while to dry out, so leave your cotton for the summer months.

An alternative would be to wear merino wool or synthetic materials at night as these will keep you warm, and include an insulating layer on top of your base layer. If it’s really cold add a fleece or wool hat and a neck warmer.

A pair of thick wool socks will keep your feet nice and toasty at night too. However, don’t fall into the mistake of overdressing as you will quickly heat up once you’re inside your sleeping bag and the last thing you want is to wake up sweating and overheated.

Eat Late

flickr/MIKI Yoshihito
flickr/MIKI Yoshihito

Now is not the time to be worrying about your waistline. When it comes to consuming calories, the more you eat the better during your winter camping trips. Calories equate to heat units which burn inside your body, keeping you warm.

Try and eat as late as possible so that when you do go to bed your body will be busy metabolizing your food as you sleep, keeping you warm for longer at night.

Also, just because the cold weather may be upon us that doesn’t mean you should skip on your hydration levels. Using the snow outside will be an easy way to maintain your hydration levels, just make sure you avoid that patch of yellow snow beforehand.

More from Wide Open Spaces:

Don’t Let the Cold Weather Stop Your Hiking Adventures

6 Tips for Wild Camping

8 Tips for Staying Warm on a Winter Hike

Time for Bed

While it may be easy to jump into your sleeping bag straight away, there’s no point in trying to get warm quickly once you’re inside if you’re already freezing. You want to make sure that you’re warm beforehand and that your sleeping bag and the clothes you wear help you to keep it there once you do get inside. Get warm by doing quick jumping jacks, push ups or sit ups then crawl inside your bag, so that you’ll be toasty when you turn the lights off.

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6 Tips for Staying Warm When Winter Camping