Even if you like the cold, no one likes being cold. In the world of camping in particular, freezing temperatures can quickly turn a thrilling expedition into a miserable battle with nature. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks to holding onto heat while out in the wilderness. Some of these are no-brainers while others might be new information. Whatever the case, let’s get organized and cancel the cold. Here are the best ways to stay warm while camping.
Stay Warm While Camping Tip #1 -Pack Smart
Our bodies naturally radiate heat, and clothing acts as mobile insulation to trap this heat near our person. In order to optimize these mechanics, campers must engage in effective layering.
Consider packing lightweight moisture-wicking base layers to start. This will keep skin dry and minimize wasting heat on perspiration. The second layer should ideally be a bit thicker and heavier. It will serve as your primary device to trap body heat, so don’t skimp.
A final dura-layer is never a bad call when dealing with wind or rain either. A quality windbreaker should defend against external air and moisture. This is an absolute necessity if spending the day in snow or rain.
Clothing materials determine efficacy in any environment but specifically out in the cold. For base layers, moisture resistance is key. With this in mind, make sure to choose fabrics with water-wicking properties such as merino or polyester. Please no cotton!
Secondary layers should excel in insulation. You can’t go wrong with wool, fleece, or down material. Outer layers have classically been nylon though some companies are creating new proprietary DWR (durable-water-repellent) blends. Here’s a quality list for reference, courtesy of Outside Pursuits.
While jackets and shirts keep the core warm, they might get a little too much love in this conversation. Don’t neglect the feet, legs, hands, or head. Make sure to apply the same principles regarding moisture resistance and insulation to your foot ware, pants, gloves, and hats.
Stay Warm While Camping Tip #2 -External Heat
When in need of a mobile external heat source, you can’t go wrong with hand warmers. Whether in boots, gloves, or jackets, hand warmers deliver a subtle all-day boost of around 160 degrees Fahrenheit to supplement body heat.
They traditionally come in disposable packs activated by chemicals. However, rechargeable hand warmers now offer an environmentally friendly alternative if you have access to overnight charging.
If you have adequate space and power, a more robust heating unit might be right for your campsite. These devices can emit heating ranging from 1,500 to 18,000 BTU. Some run on electricity while others rely on gas.
Some camping trailers may even come with such devices built in. The TAXA Cricket and Mantis come standard with a Truma Combi Eco Furnace. The Truma system integrates hot water heating with a thermostat. This allows for maximum temperature control with minimal energy waste.
Hot Water Bottles
This is a classic camping hack for a reason. Functioning in a very similar manner as hand warmers, hot water bottles offer warmer temperatures and a bit more bulk to body heat supplementation.
Simply boil water and pour into a container that can withstand high temperatures. Secure lid tightly. Then place wherever needed on or near your person.
Fire is a primal symbol of survival. It provides a means of cooking food, a beacon of light for a shelter, and perhaps most importantly, heat. After a long day of adventuring out in the cold, nothing warms the body quite like the flickering of a campfire.
That said, fires can be incredibly destructive if attended improperly. If your campground allows fire, please keep safety and environmental impact in mind. Here are some do’s and don’ts to consider.
Stay Warm While Camping Tip #3 – Quality Bedding
Cold objects conduct heat from warmer objects. In the context of camping, the number one way to conserve heat is avoiding contact with the ground.
To do so while sleeping, invest in an insulated sleeping pad. This item will hinder airflow from the ground to the body. For particularly cold climates, make sure to pick up a pad with a high R-value. The higher the R-value is, the warmer the pad.
In a similar way, sleeping bags are not a one temperature fits all. Manufacturers now make dozens of bag types based on material, shape, size, and amount of insulation.
In order to find the right bag for your expedition, estimate the set of conditions necessary for the bag to withstand. From there, make an informed decision on bag style and material. Generally speaking, tighter fitting bags with heavier insulated material will prove warmer. You may also want to check reviews or temperature ratings as a guidance system.
Stay Warm While Camping Tip #4 -Get (a little) Scientific
Choosing when to eat and use the restroom does make a surprising difference while attempting to stay warm. If you’re feeling frigid, try eating a meal. Metabolizing food requires lots of energy. This results in the core body temperature rising slightly, leaving you with a warm boost of energy and a full belly.
Subsequently, don’t hold in digested food before bed. The body needs to keep these items warm to exit the body. This results in a subtle loss of much needed heat.
The sun of course rises in the East and sets in the West. However, in between, the sun makes a slight swing south. In order to maximize the amount of sunlight and heat entering your campsite, make sure to orient your windows or campsite southward.
Thermal energy is a form of kinetic energy. This is true for both individual molecules and entire organisms. That said, one of the best ways to keep warm is to exercise.
Cold weather camping can be tough, but “weathering the weather” can also leave you feeling accomplished and proud. We at TAXA would love to help you take the challenge. Check out our mobile habitats to determine which trailer might be right for your cold weather adventures.