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.
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.
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.