It’s a camping formality that when the
weather gets cold you start taking every rug, blanket and sleeping bag you can
get your hands on, but it’s not always wise to pile everything over the top. Don’t underestimate just how much heat is lost through the ground. The
cold earth absorbs your heat during the night and a good roll matt is
essential. Moreover, if you’ve taken a thick pile of blankets and you find
yourself getting cold, remember the counter intuitive: pull a blanket over the
top of you, yes, but also put some extra layers underneath.
Most sleeping bags work by trapping pockets of air that absorb heat from your body and then keep you well insulated. To achieve the maximum insulation, therefore, give your bag a good shake before you use it to make sure it’s lofty and full of air. With light bags, shake it from the bottom end to encourage the filling to accumulate in the upper sections of the bag where the insulation is most needed. Don’t fill your sleeping bag with too many of your belongings either. Its may seem a bright idea to stick all your clothes inside overnight to keep them warm and dry, but if you have too much it can compress the bag lining and lessen the effect of the insulation.
It’s a natural chain of events: First you
tuck your shoulders inside the sleeping bag, then your head, and then you begin
retreating down inside until your bundled at the bottom. To get the most from
your bag though, keep your face in the open. By enclosing yourself within, the
moisture in your breath will begin condensing inside your sleeping bag, making
it damp and ruining its insulating effect. Keep your mouth and nose in the open
to keep the moisture outside. It’s condensation that makes the walls of the
tent wet when you touch them in the mornings. You don’t want that inside your sleeping bag!
There’s nothing worse than getting tucked up for bed and then gradually realizing that all those campfire beers
have taken effect… you need another pee. When you’re cold you need to go more frequently and there’s no use holding it in. Your body has to remain at a steady temperature and, as a result,
wastes energy keeping your bladder warm. Pop out of the tent when you get the chance and let nature take its course – you’ll sleep much better after.
We all like the ease (and the back-ache
saving) or big family tents but when it comes to winter camping size matters.
Tents are – for obvious reasons – a massive part of the insulation process, so
smaller is better. If there are two of you take a small, two-person tent not
some eight-man monster. It’ll trap your warmth far better. The same goes for
your sleeping bag – if you’re small, buy small. It’ll keep you snug.
A little trick that’s a good camping
alternative to a water bottle is chucking a few hand warmers inside your
sleeping bag just before bed. It works a treat, is something you may well be
carrying with you anyway and is ten times easier and more practical than an actual water bottle. Hand warmers can easily be bought in most outdoors and hiking shops.
Lithium batteries perform consistently
better in cold conditions and also continue working down to a lower temperature
than alkaline or NiMh batteries. Not only this but they last longer and weigh
less. They’re the perfect batteries for winter camping and now one of the most common types to purchase so you shouldn’t have trouble finding them.
Layer up by all means; the point is always
to stay snug and warm in bed. But don’t wear all the clothes you have, in fact, as much as possible it’s wise to
wear less. It’s an old army trick. If you go to bed in full uniform then when
you wake up in the morning, unzip the insulated cocoon of your tent and step
out into the cold, you’ll have nothing to put on to warm you up. It’s going to
be a cold start to the day. If you sleep in minimal clothing, however, then when you step
out into the cold, you can start to get dressed, layer up and keep warm.
A lot of our heat is lost through our head. Folks used to say 50% of your body heat in fact, though this myth has recently been proven to be just that. All the same, it can pay dividends to wear a hat especially if (see number 3.) you sleep with your head outside your sleeping bag. Take some socks specifically for sleeping too, keeping them dry to put on just before you go to bed and, if its particularly cold, consider wearing gloves.
If you’re sleeping in conditions that could
genuinely be freezing, then plan ahead. Think what will happen to things when
they freeze up. Turn your stove fuel and water upside down. Ice forms from the top
down, so keeping the opening of your container at the bottom will stop it becoming unusable first thing. Where you can, of course, insulate anything that could freeze.
By James Warner Smith
We've gathered the very best things to do in the Okanagan during your next outdoor adventure. East of Vancouver and…
Make-ahead or make at camp, we’ve got the best recipes for refreshing camp cocktails to enjoy under the stars. Looking…
Hipcamp Photographer Anita Yung and her partner set out on a 4-day, 3-night road trip in a GoCamp campervan rental…
Landowners across Australia are partnering with Hipcamp to earn extra money by connecting their properties with folks looking to go…