How to Stay Warm While Winter Camping
Contrary to popular belief, winter camping can be an enjoyable adventure! The key between a winter camping trip that borderlines suffering and one that is pleasant comes down to a few critical tips and gear.
As experts in all-season camping here at Four Wheel Campers, here are our biggest tips for staying warm while winter camping.
1. Choose Your Camping Setup Wisely
Where you’re sleeping when winter camping makes a big difference! Will you be sleeping in a tent? In a truck camper? Or in an RV? Tent camping will require the most preparation and gear, and you’ll want to ensure your tent is rated for winter camping. If you have a truck camper, invest in add-ons like the quilted thermal pack, which traps the heat and keeps it warmer in those cold temperatures.
2. What Are You Sleeping On?
Many make the mistake of investing in a winter-rated sleeping bag but don’t realize how much a sleeping pad or mattress contributes to warmth when winter camping. Many actually say the sleeping pad rating is MORE important than the sleeping bag. Sleeping pads have what is called an ‘R’ rating, which dictates how insulated it is for cold weather. The scale ranges from R1 to R7. When winter camping, whether in a tent or truck camper, you want to ensure your sleeping pad is rated R-value of at least 4.
3. What Are You Sleeping in?
Once you find a sleeping pad, then it is time to move on to your sleeping bag! Different sleeping bags are rated for different weather types. Most sleeping bags are rated as ‘3 seasons’ and usually max around 35 degrees. When winter camping, you want to ensure your sleeping bag is rated to 0F. It may be tempting to go with cheaper options, but you will be happy to have the insulated bag when out in cold temperatures.
4. Layers, Layers, Layers
Sleep in layers! It is much better to start the night in too many layers and take them off as the night goes. Upper layers should consist of a thermal layer, sweater/sweatshirt, and down jacket. Pack items like thermal socks, winter hats, and insulated pants. You’d be surprised how toasty one can feel when winter camping with the right layers!
5. Try External Heating Sources
If you are in a truck camper or have a setup where ventilation is possible, a few heating sources are available that will help immensely during winter camping. The most affordable and easiest option is the Mr. Buddy heater, which runs off propane and works as a space heater for smaller campers and spaces. The Mr. Buddy does have a detector that automatically shuts off if oxygen levels get too low, but it is still not recommended to use inside a tent.
Diesel heaters are becoming more and more common with truck campers, vans, and RVs in the winter. It is the safest way to warm small spaces, even tents, in the winter.
6. Hand, Body, Feet Warmers
When it comes to staying warm while winter camping, body heat makes all the difference. Body warmers are often used when skiing, snowmobiling, or enjoying other winter sports. They also come in handy when winter camping. Before you head to bed, stick some warmers in areas where you are susceptible to the cold, such as in your hat, gloves, or chest.
7. Upgrade Clothing Gear
Just like camping gear is important when winter camping, so is your clothing. Investing in things such as a down coat, insulted gloves, and thermal socks can make all the difference. And no, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to upgrade your wardrobe before your go. Just a few key clothing items will do the trick! We love this hooded-down jacket from Decathlon and these lightweight base layers from Backcountry.
8. Insulted Foot Booties
If you suffer from chronic cold feet, down booties can make all the difference when it comes to winter camping in your truck camper or tent. They are specifically designed for mountaineers to keep their feet warm in the world’s harshest conditions, which means they will have no problem keeping your feet warm while winter camping. Here is an example pair.
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