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Hey campers. As we know, camping is a fun pastime all year round with many enjoying getting out and about regardless of the season. This also includes winter where even though things can get a bit chilly, the sheer beauty of the wilderness and the chance to sit around a good campfire at this time of year can definitely make things worth it. So with that, let’s have a look through my 7 winter camping tips for staying warm in 2021.
Of course as always this is not to say that if you miss one of these you will not enjoy your trip, however as we know camping trips are far more enjoyable if we are comfortable. So let’s check out my main 7 tips below:
1. Look for protection
Our first option here is all about staying protected when you are hanging out at the campsite. This starts from the time you reach your campsite in that you want to set up your tent and living areas in places where you will get the most protection from the elements. To make sure of this, as you start to scope things out, look for:
- Wind protection – Trees, rocky outcrops and even cliff faces provide good protection from the wind so look to set up near these.
- Geographical location – As we all know, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west meaning the shade from trees etc. moves around during the day. Determine whether you want sun in the morning, middle of the day or afternoon and situate your campsite where it will be at your chosen time.
- Snow – Should you be camping in areas where snow is expected, make sure you avoid setting up in areas where too much can settle or you can be caught in a drift. Watch for snow paths that will show where it may move around if windy etc.
2. Take warm bedding
One of the biggest challenges when it comes to winter camping is keeping warm at night. And this may be an obvious place to start but it is really really hard to achieve a good night’s sleep if you don’t have the right bedding. Here are some things to consider if you are looking for some cozy slumber:
1. Use fit for purpose coverings – a good feather doona (duvet, comforter) or a winter sleeping bag is a must.
2. Get some height – a lot of the cold at night comes up from the ground. Hence, the higher you can be off the ground the better either via a double height air mattress, using a stretcher or even placing your bedding on top of a sleeping pad.
3. Add some warming elements – some good winter (flannelette) sheets, a hot water bottle or an added warming blanket can also come in handy here.
At the end of the day, if you have your camp bed set up for warmth, then everything else can take care of itself.
3. Wear the right clothing
This follows on in part from tip #2 above in that when it comes to camping in the cold, the right clothing can definitely make a difference. This is not as critical in the daytime as we can add or remove layers as we need – especially if we are active during the day or spending time in a warming winter sun.
However, it is at night that we need to do a bit more planning. From the outset though keeping warm at night (in the right bedding as above) doesn’t mean wearing everything you own at once, rather wearing clothes that suit your conditions. We all still sleep better if we are not ‘suffocating’ in clothes so I would recommend wearing thinner, but warmer options such as:
- Thermal underwear (if really cold)
- Think insulated cotton clothing
- Winter pyjamas
If need be, some good winter socks can also make things more comfortable as well – especially if you are like me and struggle to keep warm if your feet are cold.
And finally here, if you can get yourself warm before you go to bed by wearing the right clothes outside, then you will not have to do all your warming up once you get there.
4. Eat hot food
Fortunately by design, camping is a time when hot food (temperature hot, not spice hot) is generally consumed year round with the good old camp grill getting a good work out. However, in winter, you will find that you can keep yourself a lot warmer if you plan your non-BBQ meals in advance as well.
Get stuck into camp stews, pasta dishes and so on in winter as they are easy to prepare – or can be precooked and frozen for heating up at the campsite. Anything you can cook in a camp oven over an open fire will keep you warm on the inside as well as the outside too.
5. Wee before bed
If your winter camping trips are anything like mine, you will often find yourself enjoying a couple of beers or a hot chocolate around the fire at night as you wind down for bed. What does this matter? Well let me paint you a word picture:
You have a few drinks around the campfire where it is warm and toasty. You then decide it is bed time and as you have followed all of my tips above so far, you manage to get your self appropriately dressed and then slip in to a nice warm camp bed. You are all toasty and about to drift off to sleep when… you guess it, you need to go… And it is cold out there and you are already in bed (and in my case I have to disturb my wife to get up again).
So, this tip is simple – pretend you are 5 again and make sure you visit the amenities before you hit the hay!
6. Put your stuff away
Oh, but before you do go to the toilet block, put everything you have been using away. Winter tends to bring with it damp nights and if cold enough, ice. So again before bed, run around your campsite and do the following:
- Fold up camp chairs etc. and put under cover
- Turn empty containers etc. upside down
- Make sure all your windows on your tent are zipped up
- Secure any valuables (this is nothing really to do with winter, it is just that things can go missing at night in camp grounds)
- Follow tip #6 above and go Pee!
7. Watch your fire
And finally, one of the most common mistakes that many make when camping is to not properly look after the campfire. Campfires are synonymous with winter camping and provide warmth, cooking options and of course access to that all important marshmallow roasting fun. However, fire can also be dangerous if not carefully managed so if you are planning a campfire, I suggest the following:
- Use a purpose built fire pit if possible
- Never leave unattended – i.e. put it out if leaving the site or going to bed
- Do not light close to tents or campsites
- Do not light if windy
- Make sure it is fully extinguished before leaving the site (If you are beach camping, do not just throw some sand on the top as this can hide hot coals etc.)
And there they are – my 7 winter camping tips for staying warm in 2021. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please let me know of your experiences or any other tips you may have.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time