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How to Sleep and Stay Warm while Camping

By: Josh @rawtrails

Love to camp year round, but hate the cold?? Me too! I’m willing to put up with a lot when camping: a moth trapped in my tent, loud neighbors, a bright full moon shining in my face all night, all while lying on a popped air mattress…but being cold is not one of those things!! So in order to feed my craving of being outside all year, I have incorporated some stay-warm tips and techniques into my repertoire to help stave off the cold weather camping blues. 

First off, don’t let yourself get too cold. Once you get chilled-to-the-bone cold, it’s really hard to warm back up. So if you start getting cold, try to nip it in the bud. Change out of wet or sweaty clothes as soon as you are done with your wet and sweaty activity. If you know you will be camping in cold conditions, plan your food accordingly. Cooking hot meals and preparing hot drinks will not only feel good going down, but when they begin to metabolize, that will raise your internal body temperature. 

What you wear is super important! Keep your hands, feet and head covered since heat easily escapes that way. Bring foot and hand warmers to stick to your socks and gloves to give you that extra warmth. Wear clothing made out of 100% merino wool to help keep you warm and dry. Layer up, so that throughout the night you can add or delete layers as needed. In temps below freezing, I typically wear two layers of comfortable pants: a base layer tight and a sweat pant. On top, I will wear three to four layers: a thin merino wool layer, a tee, a long sleeve (mid layer), and a puffy down-filled outer. 

As much as the right clothing can help improve your cold-camping experience, having the wrong gear can negate it all. Invest in a high quality sleeping bag if you plan on camping in the cold regularly.  The Teton Sports Altos -10 Ultralight Down Mummy Bag and the Altos 0 Ultralight Down Mummy Bag are my go-to sleeping bags for cold nights. Be aware of your sleeping bag’s temperature rating and keep in mind that these numbers are not “gospel” when it comes to your comfort level. The best way to know how you will feel in your sleeping bag is to test it out, preferably in less extreme temperatures first, and bring back up just in case, like a good sleeping bag liner.  And having a great bag does no good if you don’t know how to use it! Simply keeping it fully zipped, with the drawstring pulled around your face, will make ALL the difference in keeping that body heat in. 

Some other tips on staying warm: 

  • Having an insulated sleeping pad like the Altos Insulated Sleeping Pad will add one more layer of separation between you and the cold, hard ground. 
  • Even when the forecast calls for clear skies, use the rainfly on your tent to help trap your body heat inside.
  • Fill an air-tight bottle with boiling water to place in the bottom of your sleeping bag to add warmth. 
  • Bring a battery powered heating blanket.
  • There are even tent heaters out there with safety mechanisms in place to prevent setting fire to your tent.

And don’t forget one of the best ways to stay warm is using body heat. Bring a double sleeping bag like the Fahrenheit Mammoth 0 Degree Double Sleeping Bag and use the cold as an excuse to get nice and cozy with your camping partner. 

Happy Cold-Weather Camping!

About the Author:
Josh @rawtrails

Josh (@rawtrails) is an avid outdoorsman that lives for the weekend.  His youthful spirit is ignited by exploring new terrain wherever he goes.  Most weekends are filled with canyoneering expeditions throughout the Colorado Plateau, but he loves the logistics of piecing together trips involving multiple activities (backpacking, pack rafting, etc) to access remote locations deep in the backcountry.

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