It can be a little discouraging when thinking about camping in the winter time. I mean, just the thought of sleeping in freezing temperatures sounds very unappealing to some, but I am here to tell you it’s completely possible to stay warm when hiking, bumming around the campsite, or sleeping in the winter time. This is my blog that will explain how to stay warm winter camping.
Nature is beautiful through all seasons. Of course, Spring, Summer, and Fall have a distinct beauty..but the elegance of nature in the winter is completely evident and a breathtaking thing to experience. If you haven’t been on a hike through a seemingly endless white ocean, where the sun glistens off the snow creating an endless array of diamond-like sparkles, then you’ve definitely got something to add to your bucket list.
Let’s first begin by discussing the ways to stay warm when hiking during the winter. It seems pretty simple, but layer correctly makes a hug difference. You will still want your base to be a wicking material of sorts. It will ensure any sweat or moisture that’s created while hiking is able to dry quick and not go through the outer layers. Your jacket is one of the three most important and daunting pieces of clothing. REI actually has their own Down Jacket available for under $100 and has kept us nice and toasty on all our winter hikes. It’s light, compact, and efficient! The last two important clothing items will be your socks and hat. Making sure your extremities stay covered and warm are vital. Always have a warm beanie and always have wool socks on. Bring extra incase they get wet. Do it, you’ll thank me.
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”
Sir Rannulph Fiennes
Hand warmers have been around since 1923. They’re light, small, and get the job done. They are a game changer when on the trails or laying in your hammock. Not only do hand warmers regulate your body temperature, but they can also be used for sore muscles and joints after long hikes. Maybe you don’t want to spend the extra money on hand warmers, that’s okay. Once you’ve built your campfire for the evening, lay a couple hand-sized rocks around it and within a few minutes they’ll be warm and ready to stick in each pocket! You can even sleep with them at night to assist in building up your body heat.
Redirecting your mind is also a nice way of forgetting how cold it is. Reading and photography are my distractions of choice. Playing a game at camp is a great way to redirect and get your blood flowing. frisbee, a game of horseshoes, or play go fish with a deck of cards. On our last camping trip we set up a slack line between two trees; the energy and concentration it took completely diverted my brain away from any coldness. I think I actually got a little warm. There are a million techniques and we would love to hear your comments on how your distract your mind away from the cold when camping.
“To appreciate the beauty of a snow flake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.”
Another trick, and tip, we’ve learned on our winter adventures: start your camp fire early. Building up a base of coals makes all the difference. Start your fire at 4 pm so when the sun sets and the temperature drops quickly, you already have your fire hot coal perimeter going strong.
I’d imagine the thought of sleeping in 25° weather seems unpleasant, but since we invested in quality gear, it’s actually a thought that goes unnoticed for us. Buying the right sleeping bag is crucial and can seem intimidating; PRICE, mummy vs envelope, temperature ratings, material, etc; but I have your solution. Outdoors Vitals Down Sleeping Bag will keep you toasty and make you forget about the cold; until you have to get up and pee of course.
In-Depth Review: Outdoor Vitals Summit 20°
Having a sleeping pad will also keep those cold nights a little more tolerable. The point is to elevate yourself off of the cold ground. Our Therm-a-rest keeps the winter nights warm and, actually, really comfortable. On extra cold nights, a Sleeping Liner comes in handy. It can add up to 5-10° extra in warmth. If you’re buying a liner for warmth purposes, make sure you get one made out of cotton or a thicker material.
The last tip I’ll end with: less is more when in a sleeping bag. You don’t need socks or gloves, for this will constrict the heat from filling up your sleeping bag. You can always start with clothes on, but if you invest in a good bag you’ll be sweating within a couple of hours.
Camping and hiking in the winter time should be taken with caution. These tips will definitely assist in staying cozy and comfortable during the colder months. Don’t let the cold intimidate you. Go out and explore the rawness and beauty of nature in the Winter. Stay hydrated, stay safe, and stay warm.
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