Camping during the winter season can be a great experience, which will expose you to some breathtaking views and experiences. However, there is no doubt that none of these experiences will make up for the miserable time you might have camping in the cold. This especially applies to inexperienced campers who are not used to camping in the cold, and are not familiar with some of the most important tips and tricks.
You should know that your experience of camping in the cold will be greatly determined by the gear you pack, and the knowledge you have. If you are planning one of your first winter trips, or your previous ones did not go well, then keep on reading. We are here to provide you with some valuable advice on how to make camping in the cold a warmer and more comfortable experience.
Clothing for Camping in Freezing Weather
Although having good clothing sounds reasonable, most people have no idea how important this step is. In fact, we would not be exaggerating if we say that you can mess up everything else and still feel warm, as long as you prepare the right clothing for camping in freezing weather. Of course, your next question is probably – what are the mistakes to avoid, and what is the appropriate clothing to use? It may come as a surprise, but the thickness of your clothing does not really matter that much – what matters is the material it uses. As you probably already know, some materials excel at preserving heat compared to others.
A good thing to remember is that coldness is actually ‘an absence of heat.’ And when are you absent of heat? When your clothing is not preserving your body’s heat well enough. As long as you are fed, your body will produce heat – it is up to you to prevent it from escaping.
The first and most important thing to remember is to never use cotton for things that sit tight to your skin – base layer, socks, underwear. One of the reasons why people end up hypothermic in the freezing cold is sweat – and cotton does not deal well with sweat. We advise you to go with athletic underwear and socks made out of wool or synthetic. As for the base layer, a thick polar should do just fine. You are free to use cotton or all sorts of materials for the upper layers.
Boots are another important factor. You have a lot of flexibility here, but we advise you to go with higher, insulated boots. Also, keep in mind that these will make your feet sweat – make sure to pack a lot of extra pairs of socks when camping in the cold.
Finally, it’s time to talk for your hands and head. We recommend bringing a few pair of gloves – well-insulated ones for when you don’t need to do any work with your hands, and fingerless ones when you need to work with materials/tools. Finally, you might want to get a cheap pair of Jersey Gloves as well – they are comfortable and warm to wear all day, and even when you sleep.
As for your head, you might want to consider using a fleece balaclava, which will not only keep you warm, but also protect you from the wind. Keep in mind that the top of your head will still be somewhat exposed with a balaclava, so getting a Carhartt Hat is a great way to make sure that your head stays warm while camping in the cold.
Campfire Tips and Hacks
As you can see, we had quite a bit to say about clothing for camping in freezing weather. Once you have this sorted out, you can start with other important things – such as the campfire tips and hacks you can use. Needless to say, having your fire up at all times is incredibly important, and you should not hesitate to bring some lighter fuel with you. It is a guaranteed way to keep your flames going if they are about to die.
Of course, you should also follow all other rules that come with preparing a campfire – make sure you have a decent amount of tinder, kindle, and firewood. For kindle, you could consider collecting small sticks regularly while at home – and then just grab some when you are about to head camping. Having a hatchet with your is also something that you should not forget – being able to get firewood on the spot is essential. A unibody hatchet, like the Estwing Fireside Friend Splitting Hatchet can last you for hundreds of camping trips.
Last but not least, you might want to consider getting a pocket bellows tool. It is a small, telescopic metal tube that allows you to easily blow into your fair from a couple of feet way. It makes starting a camp fire in the freezing cold a lot easier.
Sleeping in a Tent in the Snow
One of the major problems with the freezing cold weather while camping is the wind. This is why you should find a tent spot that is properly shielded for the wind. Of course, this is not always possible, so you might need to build a wind shield yourself. Tarps can come in handy in this situation if you have enough trees around your tent spot – you could build a makeshift wind shield.
Another important thing to remember is that you should not sleep directly on the ground – any type of insolation is welcome. Feel free to place cardboard, foam pad, or even air mattress – this will prevent your body’s heat from escaping. Last but not least, do not for an unnecessarily large tent. You want to be in a tighter space with less air to warm up.
Do You Need Hand Warmers?
The last thing we want to talk about is a small accessory that can do wonders to improve your experience when camping in the cold – hand warmers. You could go for the classic ones like the HotHands Hand Warmers (10) Pack. Those can be used not just in your pockets, but also in your socks when you go to bed – they are an awesome way to make sure that your toes stay warm and cozy. Before using them, make sure to read the package instructions closely, as they need around 10 minutes to active once you follow the steps.
Alternatively, you could opt for a fairly new product called the Zippo Hand Warmer. It also relies on a chemical reaction involving Zippo fluid, and it is advertised as more long-lasting than typical hand warmers.