The TURAS Team love camping in the winter, the cold is something that can be offset with a crackling fire, and winter camping just feels different than camping during milder weather. There are few reasons why we think this is true. Winter camping can be very atmospheric, perhaps the camp might be covered in snow , or perhaps its just so cold that your breath frosts when you speak or breathe..
When winter camping its very important that you are properly prepared and equipped, otherwise at best you probably won’t have a very comfortable experience and at worst might end up in danger of risking your health or your life. The good thing is that it is easy to be well prepared and while this is not an exhaustive piece of advice on winter camping, here are some general pointers on enjoying the outdoors during the winter.
Wear Layers, lots of layers of clothes , and don’t wait until you start to feel cold before you add layers. If you get too cold, it will take longer to warm up than you might think.
These layers should include a very good wicking thermal base layer, this will help to keep you warm, serve as a foundation for the other layers and will wick away perspiration (perspiration is uncomfortable in cold weather and wet clothes will chill you very quickly). Make sure your sleeping bag is rated for the temperatures you are expecting, in very cold weather a good four season sleeping bag is essential. Also make sure you use a good quality mattress or sleeping matt, which will prevent your body heat from radiating away into the ground. A sleeping bag liner may also be a good idea, and will serve as an extra layer of warmth and insulation.
Bring lots of spare blankets, good quality woolen blankets are great but any blankets are a help. You can use these over your legs and around your shoulders at a campfire and can throw them over your sleeping bag later when you retire to your tent.
Never go to bed when you are feeling cold, it will take longer than you think to warm up when you are lying in your tent. Before you go to bed it might be good to have a hot drink or to eat some hot food, or if this is not possible, to have a quick run around the campsite or do some short running or, on the spot ‘star jumping’ to warm yourself up so that you are going to bed warm.
If you can make a hot water bottle for your sleeping bag that can help to keep you warm, a normal hot water bottle is best, but you can also use a water bottle wrapped in a towel or t-shirt if you don’t have a hot water bottle, just make sure it is sealed properly. Heat the water for it on a stove or over your campfire.
When you are in your tent, avoid the temptation to cover your head with your sleeping bag as this will cause the moisture from your breath to condense on the fabric of the sleeping bag, and then to freeze, which is not good. Instead try to create a funnel for your mouth and nose so that your breath does not cause frost on your bedding.
Pack more clothes than you think you will need. Especially if camping from a vehicle. Having fresh , dry clothes can be a lifesaver, it’s much better to bring too much clothing and not need it, than having to suffer soggy socks or trousers in cold weather.
Finally try to choose the right location for your winter campsite. Choose a spot that is sheltered from the elements, you should avoid the bottom of hills or natural troughs in the landscape where cold air will tend to pool, and also the top of hills where winds will lower the air temperature. Ideally choose a flat location , stake down your tents and awnings well and pitch tents so that that the entrances are perpendicular to the direction of any prevailing wind.
Most importantly, enjoy yourself, there is nothing quite like enjoying a mug of hot chocolate or soup while chatting by a roaring fire surrounded by nature in the wintertime.