5 Helpful Camping Tips For Cold Weather

One of the best ways to experience all that the different seasons have to offer is by camping, but this can sometimes mean that, in order to enjoy the fall foliage or fun winter activities, campers must face the challenge of camping in the cold.

However, by following a few tips and using some simple tricks, camping in the cold can be not only comfortable but truly enjoyable.

5 Helpful Camping Tips For Cold Weather

Eat a Nutritious Meal and Stay Hydrated

Staying hydrated and eating properly are two of the most important things you can do to stay warm while you camp.

Staying warm takes a good number of calories, and burning excess calories can also generate warmth, so eat nutritious meals.

You may also want to eat a calorie-rich snack before bed. Digesting those calories as you sleep can actually keep you warmer.

Regulating your temperature can be hard work for your body, but staying hydrated can help the body regulate its temperature more efficiently.

Water is your best option for staying hydrated, but warm drinks such as hot cocoa or herbal tea can also help you stay warm.

couple drinking hot beverage while camping

Keep Warm, But Not Too Warm

When you’re camping in the cold, it’s important to wear as much clothing as possible. Cover your extremities with gloves and socks and wear a hat and scarf to stay warm.

You can also dress in warm layers to keep up your body heat. However, be sure that you don’t become too warm. If you start to sweat, remove a layer of clothing.

Sweat can become trapped in your clothes, and as the moisture evaporates, it can chill you. No matter how many layers of clothing you’re wearing, if they’re damp, they won’t keep you warm.

woman wearing warm clothing attaching a tent

Prepare Your Tent

If you’re using a trailer for camping, you might be able to hook up to a power source and use electricity to heat your sleeping area.

Camping in cold weather in a tent can be a bit trickier, but that doesn’t mean that you need to freeze when camping in a tent. The best way to stay warm in a tent is to prepare the tent properly.

The first step is making sure that your tent isn’t too big. Any excess space in the tent will need to be heated, so a smaller tent is often a better choice.

The tent should be well-ventilated, however. Although this may seem counterintuitive, good ventilation can help to prevent any condensation from forming.

Evaporating condensation will chill the air in the tent the same way evaporating sweat will chill your skin.

On particularly cold trips, you can attach a thermal blanket to the roof or sides of the tent. These blankets are designed to keep in heat, so as the heat inside the tent rises, the blanket will trap the warmer air, directing it back down.

When you spread out your sleeping bag, make sure it doesn’t touch the sides of the tent. When the sleeping bag touches the side of the tent, conduction can occur.

The side of the tent can actually cool down the sleeping bag. You may also want to use an insulated sleeping bag pad for a bit of extra warmth.

These pads can also help to prevent the cold from seeping up into the sleeping bag from the ground.

Every morning, clear any ice from the outside of your tent. If the weather is dry, you might even want to take your tent down and spread it out, letting the sun dry any excess moisture from both the inside and outside.

couple sleeping in a warm tent

Choose the Right Sleeping Bag

Many different sleeping bags are available, and it can be difficult to know which one to choose. First, pick something that’s the correct size.

A sleeping bag should cover you fully. You may also want to choose something that’s large enough to accommodate a sleeping bag liner for extra warmth.

The bag shouldn’t be too large, however. Any excess space will need to be heated, so this can lead to a waste of warmth. If the bag is a bit too large, consider adding hot water bottles or even stuffing the end with a blanket or rolled-up socks.

Sleeping bags generally have cold weather ratings. These ratings will give you a temperature at which the sleeping bag will remain comfortable as well as a lower limit temperature.

Each rating is a good way to judge how warm a particular bag is, but these ratings are only estimates. You may need to try a few different sleeping bags before you find one that works correctly for you and your personal comfort levels.

Choosing a bag that’s warm is important, but don’t select one that’s too warm. If you overheat and sweat, you can actually end up colder during the night.

Finally, never sleep with your head inside the sleeping bag. Although it might seem cozy to cover your head, the moisture from your breath will cause condensation and, as it evaporates, it will chill your sleeping bag.

woman outside of tent in a sleeping bag

Answer the Call of Nature

Although it seems silly, it’s best to always go to the bathroom before you go to bed when camping in the cold, and if you find that you need to go in the night, don’t hold it in.

Your body has to keep any stored urine warm. By answering the call of nature, you ensure that that excess heat is going towards keeping up your body temperature instead.

washrooms at a campground