Winter Camping

Camping in the winter requires a lot of mettle. This is because the camper is bound to face some unappealing conditions some of which are the frigid temperatures and the unpredictable weather.

A good number of people still enjoy going camping when the weather is atrocious in the winter because of the added excitement of having to brave the harsh winter weather. It becomes a so-called “adrenaline rush” to be out in the wilderness when the weather is wild. Camping in the Winter is also called “Extreme Camping” and has grown in popularity over the years, as people seek out more and more inventive ways to fulfill their adventurous desires and their urge to live life on the edge.

If you do decide to go camping during the cold winter months, here are a couple of ideas that might make those long, cold nights under the stars more bearable.

The first thing you should do is linked to the second thing, which is to buy a sleeping pad and a sleeping bag. I listed the pad first because no matter what awesome sleeping bag you might buy, you’re not going to be warm after the temperature drops below thirty since the ground will suck the warmth right out of you.

Even the greatest of sleeping bags need loft (the space inside the bag that holds in your heat, aided by the use of various insulation materials), and when the bag is being squashed beneath you, there is nothing to retain your hard-earned warmth.

The sleeping pad should be the number one concern of cold-weather campers!

Luckily, there are a couple of types to choose from. The first is the closed-cell kind made of foam, which can be rolled up or folded into a rectangle, depending on the style. You should carry one of these whenever you go hiking or camping, because not only do they do a great job insulating you, they also have a variety of uses in backcountry emergencies.

The other type of sleeping pad is the inflatable pad. This kind of sleeping pad is more comfortable than the foam even though it can easily get punctured and be rendered completely useless. Most likely this will happen the afternoon preceding the coldest night of your trip. That is why you can’t afford to forget your repair kit or duct tape.

Your sleeping bag will reflect your budget’s limitations, but usually, you can buy yourself something that will work well enough, as long as you don’t get too ambitious with the projected temperatures of your camping trip. What to look for in a sleeping bag will be explained in more details in a subsequent chapter, so stay tuned. For now, I’ll assume you’ve gotten something that will do a reasonable job in keeping you warm.

A lot of people make the mistake of not changing their clothing before they crawl into their icy sleeping bags. I don’t just mean shirts and pants, but underwear and socks as well. It all has to be totally new, or else you’ll find yourself shivering miserably well before sunrise. During the day, you sweat whether you realize it or not, and this moisture will rob you of your body heat as the night goes on. You should also remember that your temperature falls slightly with sleep.

Keep a separate change of clothing for sleepwear and allow it to dry out the following day so that it’s completely dry for the next night of camping. Avoid cotton if possible!

If dry clothing, a decent sleeping bag, and a sleeping pad don’t do the trick, then it’s time to move on to other options. When you are camping in temperatures around the mid-20s, a good tip would be to boil some water right before you go to bed and make some hot chocolate in your thermos. That way, if you wake up cold, you would have a ready-made hot drink to sip, which would warm you right up and help you get back to sleep. The sugar will do its part as well, and if you just don’t feel like boiling water, you should remember to bring some hard candies and eat one whenever you start getting cold. It’s amazing what a little sugar can do!

When everything else fails, you should heat up water and pour it into a sturdy water bottle.

Don’t use the flimsy plastic type of water bottle, as this will hurt a lot when the plastic melts! You should put your good water bottle into a wool sock and lay it next to your neck, or on your stomach. The heat can last for hours.

Something to remember when trying to stay warm on a cold night is that if you need to go to the bathroom, go! It will warm you up, since your body is expending a lot of energy to keep urine warm, so no matter how little you want to get out of your sleeping bag into the biting air, just do it and get it over with. You’ll ultimately be more comfortable. It follows that if you’re going to have a warm drink, consume it an hour before you intend to go to bed. You’ll decrease the chances of making a midnight visit to the outhouse.

If things get really bad, and you feel like you’ll never get warm, it’s time to get drastic. I usually slog around with a fleece blanket and a silk sleeping bag liner to boost my sleeping bag’s temperature rating. These serve two purposes. The first, and most obvious, is to provide more insulation to my sleeping bag, but I drape my sleeping bag with the fleece rather than having it inside with me. The reason for this is the same reason that you shouldn’t try to go to sleep wearing every bit of clothing you brought with you. The more bulk you try to stuff into the bag, the more compressed the sleeping bag insulation will get and the less effective it will be in keeping you warm. Also, do wear a hat as you lose a lot of heat through your head.

Now to the benefits of camping in winter, one of the main advantages of camping in winter is the beautiful scenery. If you go camping in the mountains during winter, one of the highlights is the serenity of the snow capped mountains and the quality photographs that come with it. Some of the most amazing scenic shots are during winter so be sure to take a lot of photos and wear your best smile!

Another benefit of camping in winter is that there is less wildlife on the prowl and you should be safe when out in the wilderness. This doesn’t mean you don’t have to be careful though; you should always remain cautious. The main thing you don’t have to worry too much about is seeing bears and the likes as the bigger animals like to stay in hibernation during the colder months.

Lastly, a significant benefit of camping in the winter months is being able to book campgrounds without worrying too much about large crowds as is the case in warmer seasons.

Winter sports are also appealing as one can participate in fun activities including skating, skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, tubing, and more.

Just like summer camping, winter camping requires a good amount of preparation. Here are some tips to help make your winter camping experience a safe one.

  • Bring lots of water to stay hydrated. Dehydration is still possible in winter just as it is in the summer. It’s a good habit to drink water even when you are not thirsty.
  • Bring a good amount of clothes to stay warm and avoid frostbite. Rain gear is also a good idea for rainy conditions.
  • Maintain a good diet and make sure to consider proper nutrition including complex carbohydrates to help you stay warm.