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Whether you are in snow-covered mountain or a cold desert, the most spectacular sights will also not make up a cold night camping.
You have to be prepared for the worst-case scenario in the freezing, the best way is to know how you can protect yourself from the cold during camping.
So, in this article, you will know some hacks, tips and gear information to keep yourself and tent warm during cold weather.
Check Weather Before You Plan Camping
The best way to reduce the problem is to know in advance where you are heading for. Know about the weather condition, know about its terrain and facilities provided that is served in that place.
Pack gear according to the place and weather. You can take help from the guides, internet, and apps.
Choose Campsite Wisely
Knowing about the weather condition is a key to avoid cold. Cold air rises up and cold air sinks in.
When you are camping in a mountainous terrain remember the highest points are often exposed to windy and dangerous weather conditions. To avoid the wind-chill pick a protected mid-elevation point.
Do Not Use Bigger Tents
To keep your tent warmer you have to reduce the air ventilation and for that, you must choose a tent which is not bigger than required.
Like, if two people are camping then do not bring a bigger tent. In a bigger tent, only a few people will remain that will mean a much larger empty space will be there for air circulation. the more empty space inside the tent the colder it will be.
Material Of The Tent
Cotton and canvas tent are often better than polyester tents because they are effective in preventing heat loss. Cotton and canvas have better-insulating properties than a nylon or polyester tents.
Insulate The Tent With Rugs
You can use fitted tent carpet or rugs on the floor of the tent. This is an excellent way to insulate the floor and stop cold from coming through the floor.
You can further insulate the tent by covering it with rags from the top. There will be double insulation to keep the tent warmer.
Remove Morning Frost From The Tent
Water vapor condenses on the roof and wall of the tent when the temperature is freezing cold.
Take a tent brush and sweep the ice crystals before they melt. You should keep the gear dry daily if this kind of condition permits. If the day is pleasant and there is sunshine then you could even invert the tent to dry it.
Reduce Empty Space Inside The Tent
The reason to reduce empty space inside the tent is to insulate the tent further and to reduce air circulation.
Put the partner sleeping pad close to yours to reduce ambient space. You can place your stuff and extra gear inside the tent whenever possible to insulate the area.
Prepare Your Camp Site
Find a place which is dry, flat and protected by winds and set up your tent. Always clear away the snow to expose dirt and do not place your camp on the snow.
Make the campsite flat with the tools or boots. Make your sleeping area is flat. Remember, once the snow melts and refreezes it is hard to manipulate.
Create a shallow trough for the tent, by this way you will reduce the ambient space and will prevent potential heat loss from the exposure.
Bring Well Rated Sleeping Bag
A cheap sleeping bag can be big trouble, that’s why invest once but in a good and well rated sleeping bags.
Look for a sleeping bag that is rated for 10 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the night lowest. Close fitting mummy bags are also a good option to keep yourself warmer.
Keep Sleeping Bags Dry
This is one of the most important work to do. It is your most powerful armor against cold.
If you will not keep it dry then the moisture will pull the heat from the body. Cotton sleeping bags will lose heat when they are wet and synthetic sleeping bags will retain most of the heat when wet.
Keep in inside a plastic bag to protect it from moisture and dry it every morning by inverting it.
Fluff Your Sleeping Bag
When you pack your sleeping bag or keep them aside for a long time it gets compressed. This flattens the insulation which decreases its insulating properties.
So, before going to bed take time to fluff the sleeping bag and also shake up the internal insulation. This will ensure that the insulating material remains in working condition.
Whenever you get up in the morning and find a sunny day – let it dry outside and invert it so that it can dry from inside too.
Hide In Sleeping Bags
Conquer your fears of claustrophobia and get inside your sleeping bag, pull the drawstrings to tighten the hood around the face.
Some sleeping bags have a strip of fabric around the back of the neck which is called a draft tube. It is useful in preventing heat to escape from around your shoulders.
Do not breathe inside the sleeping bags as it will make it warmer for quite some time but eventually moist air will build up in the bag. Always keep your nose and mouth out of the sleeping bag to breathe.
Bring Insulated Sleeping Pad
You know how conduction can help in heat loss, by sleeping on the cold ground. You cannot sleep in the sleeping bags without a well-insulated sleeping pad or mat.
See whether your sleeping bag has a quality insulated pad underneath the sleeping pad.
The self-insulating air mattresses can only insulate down to about 3 degrees F. bring a closed-cell foam pad or CCF.
Look for the R-value which refers to the ability of the insulating material to resist the conductive flow of heat. A higher R-value rating means it is more effective in insulation. Pad with R-value of 5 or more is good for protection.
Look also for the sleeping pad weight, compressibility, and comfort before buying a product.
Put More Layers Under The Sleeping Pad
You can make a good warm bed by putting one another insulation under your sleeping pad.
You can use a woolen blanket, foil blanket or even spare clothes to insulate further. The more layer is between you and ground the better. You can also layer a CCF pad on the top of your air mattress for further protection from cold.
Do Not Wait To Feel Cold
When the temperature starts to drop in the evening, wear an extra layer of clothes to remain warm. Do not wait to feel cold as it can take longer to warm up again.
Do Not Go To Bed Cold
You should not enter your sleeping bag cold as you may still feel cold inside it.
Have a warm drink, a brisk walk or jogging or jump 50 times on the same place to warm up. Do not do it till you start sweating and cool down.
All these things will help your body to warm up and after that, you can enter your sleeping bag.
Keep Your Head, Hands, Feet Dry & Covered
The place from where the most of the heat from the body escapes are head, feet and hands.
To prevent it, wear a thick pair of hiking socks, gloves and a hat. Do not sleep in your socks in which you hiked in, they could be wet.
To prevent this, leave a pair of socks in the sleeping bag when you enter it wear them.
Use Hot Water Bottle
This is the easiest way to make yourself warmer. Pour hot water in the bottle and make sure to tighten the cap to prevent spilling.
It is best to keep it where you are feeling cold or where the arteries are close to the skin. This is a easy way to generate heat which will remain all night long.
At night if you feel thirsty then this water can come in handy. You can use a stainless- steel water bottle for this, it will radiate heat like sauna stone.
Choose Right Kind Of Clothes To Sleep
You should avoid tight clothes while sleeping as they may restrict blood flow to the extremities.
Try to wear clothes that are made up of wool or synthetic fabrics as they are designed to redistribute the moisture via capillary action.
Choose thick woolen sock, gloves and cap.
Do not bring cotton clothes as they do not wick moisture well and may drop the body temperature. They easily get saturated like a sponge.
Keep Your Clothes Dry
It is better to sleep in a new and dry set of clothes as the old clothes which you were wearing all day long may be wet.
Try to change your clothes inside the sleeping bag, this will be a good warm up too.
Insulate Your Water Bottles
Do you know that you can also dehydrate in cold temperature. Cold or frozen water drops the body temperature but it also makes rehydration difficult.
Use water bottles which keep the water from freezing at night.
Use Disposable Heat Packs
These disposable heat packs are very useful things during camping in cold weather.
Pop them either in the pocket or in the sleeping bag which will make a huge difference in temperature.
Protect The Electronics
During cold weather, batteries can drain very fast or even it can permanently damage the electronics.
You can put your batteries, electronics and fuel canisters near your foot of your sleeping bag.
Eat High Calorie Food
Our body needs the energy to produce heat and it comes from food that we eat. You can eat carbs, fats and sugar for instant high energy.
The best time to eat is right before you go to bed. Remember that the body always breaks down carbs first, fats second and proteins at last.
So, to energize your body take sugar carbs and fats. Eat a warm meal to get the added boost from the food.
You can take electric or gas heaters with you for warming the tent. Portable gas heaters will need extra care and you have to follow safety advice.
Remember not to leave the heater on, while you are sleeping. Gas heater should not be used in an enclosed space and should have plenty of space for ventilation.
When a gas heater is on it uses oxygen and produces carbon monoxide which is lethal if you remain in that environment for long. So, use a carbon monoxide alarm for your protection.
You can also use camp fire which is much safer and exciting during camping. Those moments will remain forever in your mind…
Stay Hydrated But Not Too Much
Keeping yourself hydrated is a good and essential part of camping but too much water means too much urination.
Avoid drinking too much as you may have to get up in the midnight for a pee. It will take a long time to warm yourself again.
Do Not Hold Your Pee During Night
If you feel like peeing then do not hold it for long, as the body has to work hard and to spend calories to keep urine warmer.
You can have an empty bottle which you can use for peeing during the night. By this way, you will not have to get up and leave the warm bed.
Female campers can use pee funnels for this. If you don’t have pee funnel you can use a wide-mouthed jar for this or a wide bowl like thing.
In an emergency, this pee bottle can make you warmer if you are between nowhere. Make sure to tighten the lid before placing it near your thighs or belly.
Bring Extra Blankets
Bringing extra blankets can be useful during cold nights. Thick thermal blankets can make a big difference during cold.
You can use it to insulate a tent, bed and yourself. Believe us blankets are the best things when it is freezing cold.
Manage High Wind Nights
During high winds, it is better to sleep in shifts, as someone has to keep checking the tents rigging.
If you wait too long to tighten them it can be too late before total structure might get damage. After that, you have to prepare the tent in chilling winds which will become harder and harder to do.
When you are buying tents, check for wind ratings. During high wind, place the narrowest face of the tent towards the wind. It will decrease the impact force due to decreased exposed surface area.
Always bring grooved and wind resistant stakes for camping as no one knows when the wind will speed up.
Cold Weather Camping Gear Checklist
- Sleeping pad
- Sleeping bag
- Coupler strap
- Wool or synthetic base layer
- Grooved and wind resistant tent stakes
- High calorie food
- Tent brush
- Bottle insulator
- Socks, gloves and hat
- Stainless steel water bottle
- Urination device for females
There are four ways by which you can lose heat from the body, which are:
- Evaporation – evaporation can cause a cooling effect. A body can loss 85% of heat through sweating by engaging in intense exercise. Your wet clothes due to sweating and increased respiration can also drop the body heat.
- Radiation – due to radiation heat of the body can move away. You can lose 50% of the body heat from radiation at a temperature lower than 20 degrees C (68 degrees F).
- Conduction – conduction is a physical law by which body heat could transfer by physical contact. At 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) loss of body heat could occur due to sleeping on the cold ground.
- Convection – convection occurs when a heated body moves to distribute heat.
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