Cold Weather Camping: Your guide to Keeping Warm at Night

Camping in the off-season has its perks; more secluded, quieter sites and fall colours, to name a couple. But if you’re like the many who sleep cold, getting rest through a cold night can be difficult. Here are our top 8 tips to avoid shivering through the night when cold weather camping.

1. Get the right gear. Even if you dress warmly & add a bag liner, using a sleeping bag that is not rated for the temperatures that you expect to experience could leave you chilly.

2. Don’t sleep directly on the ground. Using an airbed or camp pad always helps for comfort, but is especially important in the cooler weather months to provide a bit of extra insulation from the cold ground.

3. Stay dry. Be sure to always have more dry socks, mittens and hats than you ever suspect you’ll need. Oftentimes if you have a chill, changing into dry clothes alone can bring your body temperature back up. Even if you don’t feel damp, changing into fresh base layers & socks before getting into your sleeping bag will ensure you’re not bringing any moisture into the sleeping bag which will contribute to making you feel cold.

4. Make a hot water bottle. Boil a little extra water when you’re cooking dinner, pour it into a bottle with a secure, non-leaky lid, and use it in the bottom of your sleeping bag to keep your feet warm. Be careful to remove the bottle if you become too warm, as you want to prevent sweating in your sleeping bag.

5. Choose your site carefully. In cooler weather, avoid setting up right beside a creek or body of water as they often have cooler microclimates. If wind is a concern, setting up in a low lying area will help. Consider where the sun will rise when selecting your location, so you can benefit from early morning rays warming your tent.

6. Hot chocolate. Calories help keep you warm, as do warm beverages. Take one to bed with you.

7. Don’t go to bed cold. If you are already cold while sitting around camp, do some jumping jacks, walk about the trail, or do something active for a short period of time to warm up, then change into fresh clothing and bring some good body heat into your sleeping bag with you.

8. Resist the urge to cover your face with your sleeping bag. Instead, reach for a toque and neck warmer, or a balaclava. Breathing into your sleeping bag will lead to condensation, which might mean you wake up much colder in the middle of the night.

Don’t be intimidated by camping year-round. Get outside & enjoy Canada!