6 Tips to Keep Warm for Winter Camping

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Camp­ing in the cold has its perks: Avoid the crowds, nab the best camp sites, and for­get about those pesky sum­mer insects while enjoy­ing beau­ti­ful land­scapes dur­ing a bit­ter sea­son that no one else wants to mess with. These six tips will ensure that you stay toasty on your next win­ter out­ing.

Con­sume Those Calo­ries
For­get watch­ing that waist­line and fill up on big, hearty meals dur­ing your win­ter camp­ing trips. Calo­ries are heat units that burn inside your body, keep­ing you warm and ready for action. Keep snacks handy to con­sis­tent­ly replen­ish calo­ries, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the shiv­er­ing nights. Also, because it’s not hot out does­n’t mean skimp on the hydra­tion; it’s just as easy if not eas­i­er to get dehy­drat­ed in the snow as it is under a scorch­ing sun. Boil snow for a trusty and easy water source that won’t low­er your core tem­per­a­ture. Shoot for con­sum­ing at least a gal­lon of water a day.

Get Picky About the Camp Site
When set­ting up camp, find an area out of the wind and avoid low areas, such as val­leys, where cold air set­tles. A good start­ing point is to look at least 50 ft above the val­ley floor. When you’ve cho­sen your site, take time to pack the floor down if it is filled with loose snow. Pack it down hard- you don’t want to rip a hole in the bot­tom of your tent due to step­ping on a soft spot. Also, place the tent entrance fac­ing down­hill; cold air will flow into a tent fac­ing uphill.

Bed Time
The body cools down dur­ing sleep, so it’s cru­cial to pre­pare care­ful­ly for bed. Start by doing some jump­ing jacks, hik­ing, or drink­ing hot liq­uids so you are already warm when you climb under the cov­ers. Also, invest in a qual­i­ty insu­lat­ing pad to sleep on; what’s under­neath you is just as impor­tant as what’s on top when it comes to keep­ing things heat­ed up right. Don’t be afraid to sleep with your socks and boots on, the more lay­ers the bet­ter. If still cold, lay your pack and extra clothes flat under the sleep­ing pad to get you off the ground some more.

Gear
Most body heat escapes through the head, so a warm stock­ing hat is per­fect to chase away the chills. Bring plen­ty of extra dry socks and gloves, and some long under­wear. Invest in a pair of qual­i­ty fiber­fill booties for down­town around the camp site, then top it off with some water-resis­tant over boots to keep your toes snug and dry. For cloth­ing, obvi­ous­ly lay­ers are the way to go. Shoot for a thin lay­er against skin, an insu­la­tion lay­er such as fleece, and then a wind and water­proof out­er jack­et. Stay away from cot­ton and down fab­rics, and instead opt for thick wool and syn­thet­ic mate­ri­als.

Heap on the Extra Heat
Pur­chase some heater packs or make your own. Fill a water bot­tle with hot water or a sock with heat­ed rocks from the camp­fire. Always pay atten­tion to your body’s heat and take care to remove or add lay­ers. Sweat­ing isn’t a good idea because mois­ture will build up in your bag leav­ing it vul­ner­a­ble to chill­ing as the tem­per­a­ture drops. Go for jack­ets that have pit zips (zip­pers in the armpits) to vent and pre­vent mois­ture build up. Store bat­ter­ies in a warm place or keep them close to your body–exposure to extreme cold drains them. If you decide to remove your boots for a long peri­od of time, make sure they are stored under clothes or your pack and open them up wide to avoid frozen shoes the next morn­ing.

Be a Snug­gler
Noth­ing is warmer or bet­ter than a cud­dle bud­dy dur­ing those long win­ter nights! Share a tent or set up tents close togeth­er to share warmth. And on a more seri­ous note: using a bud­dy sys­tem is vital for safe­ty in case some­one is hurt, sick, or expe­ri­enc­ing frost bite. Share knowl­edge with each oth­er as com­bined skills are essen­tial for keep­ing warm and being smart dur­ing the win­ter.