Cold weather camping - not
for the faint-hearted! The key to cold weather camping is staying dry,
warm and hydrated. If you need to make a fire to keep warm, then you are
not dressed correctly. If you are beginning to feel thirsty, then you
are not drinking enough water. Follow these tips to have a safe and fun
cold weather camping trip.
is one of the keys to staying warm and dry. You need to layer your clothes,
and be sure they are not too tight. Loose clothing is more insulating
and can keep you warmer. Begin with long, thermal polypropylene underwear.
If you do not have this, wool is your next best choice. Never wear cotton
clothing when camping in the cold. It is not a good insulator, and if
wet, will chill you quickly. Wool, gore-tex and polypropylene clothing
will wick the moisture away from your body. Begin to layer your clothing,
preferably with the types above. Do not use jeans, which are cotton
and will become easily wet and cold. Old wool military uniforms can
be found at thrift stores, and are good for this type of camping. Again,
layer with loose fitting clothing. In an emergency, paper can be placed
under clothing as an insulator.
Your choice of
Be sure it is meant for extreme cold, and is large enough to wear around
your layers without being tight. A coat that has a hood will help to
keep your body warm, and will keep rain and snow off of your neck.
Always wear a hat. In extreme
cold, you may choose a ski mask for extra warmth. 90% of your body heat
can be lost through your head. Keep a warm hat on at all times.
Always wear a scarf to keep
the cold air off of your neck. Any skin that is unprotected will make
your body lose heat. Keep every part of your body covered.
Although you will probably need gloves off and
on to tend camp, keeping mittens on is best when possible.
This will allow your fingers to touch each other and gain heat from
For your feet, start with thinner wicking socks,
and finish with wool socks over them. Any boots or shoes you wear should
be waterproof. Do not wear tennis shoes, and do not wear tight leather
boots either. Your feet need to be able to move - especially your toes.
Big rubber over boots are good to place over shoes, with the socks underneath.
Tuck your pants into your boots, and use duck tape to keep them in and
snow out. If you are camping in snow, be sure to whisk off your boots
before entering your tent.
Never kneel down or touch the ground - rather, use a camp stool. You
do not want any moisture from the ground to wet your clothes.
If you are camping in moist cold, change your clothing several times
Immediately before you go to sleep, change your clothing. Never wear
clothes to bed that you have walked around in at camp. They have moisture
in them and will chill you in your sleeping bag. Always go to sleep
with dry, fresh and loose clothing.
Google Square Ad
Place your tent on higher ground, away from the colder air. Place
a moisture-proof tarp or footprint under the tent. Do not let the tarp
go past the tent, because if it rains, this will serve as a funnel for
water to go under your tent. Place your tent where the sun will shine
on it in the morning.
If you are camping in the snow, always keep sunglasses to avoid becoming
Drink drink drink water! Plan on at least 2 gallons per day, if not
more. If you even begin to think about being thirsty, then you are on
your way to becoming dehydrated, which can lead quickly to hypothermia!
Never eat snow, which can cool down your body temperature.
Eat complex carbs such as starches. Avoid caffeine and high sugar
snacks such as chocolate.
Rely on a camp stove rather than a fire for cooking in cold weather.
Campfires can be built on metal trash can lids to avoid having the
fire sink into the snow or wet ground. Again, if you are relying on
your fire for heat, you are not dressed properly. Bring dry wood and
tinder from home if possible.
Your sleeping bag should be synthetic and rated for cold weather camping.
A mummy bag intended for 0 degree weather is good. You can find mummy
sleeping bags that are malleable and easy to carry in a stuff sack.
When you are back home, store your sleeping bag outside of the stuff
sack so you won't compress the stuffing.
Never sleep on a cot in cold weather camping. This allows the cold
air to touch every side of you. Purchase an insulated mat that will
keep you off of the ground and keep you warm. If your sleeping bag does
not have head protection, wear your hat at night. Never breath inside
of the bag, which will create moisture and chill you during the night.
You may line your bag with a wool blanket for further protection from
the cold. Never use a space blanket when sleeping in cold weather -
it is a cold conductor and will lower your body temperature.
Before you go to bed, place a hand warmer in the bottom of your sleeping
bag. You can also place a container of warm water or drink inside your
bag. You may also wish to place an empty bottle with a very tight seal
in the bag with you, just in case nature calls during the night.
You may build a wall of sticks, leaves or snow next to your tent to
form a wind break.
Air out your tent each day to remove the moisture it accumulated during
If your flashlight batteries appear to be dead, warm them by the fire.
Do NOT place them near enough to the fire to ignite them.