Tips and Tricks for Cold Weather Camping

Tips and Tricks for Cold Weather Camping

Tricks and Tips for Cold Weather Camping

Most people avoid cold weather camping.  This is because they hate being cold.  However, if you know a few simple tricks for cold weather camping, it will be enjoyable.  In fact done right you’ll find cold weather camping is better. Most of the things you need for camping are the same no matter what the weather.  Cold weather camping does require a few different things due to the temperature.

The right tent

When warm weather camping you want a spacious tent.  The exact opposite is true in cold weather camping.  It’s good to have a small tent when cold weather camping.  With less space inside the tent your body heat has a better chance of heating the inside of the tent up.  Leaving you to feel warmer.

There are a few tricks if you still want to set up your big tent to keep all your gear covered.  You can buy a single person instant popup tent.  Set it up inside your normal tent.  This keeps you warmer as you sleep and still gives you room to move around inside a tent.

The other more expensive option is to buy a cabin tent, and heater.  The canvas style usually have an opening for the chimney of a stove.  Using a couple Propane Buddy Heaters with low oxygen shut offs are an option.

Sleeping Bags

During the summer many people bring only a blanket or sheet camping.  Come colder weather you need a good sleeping bag.  There are millions of options for sleeping bags.  You’re going to have to find what is right for you.

Temperature ratings

Every sleeping bag comes with some type of temperature rating.  This rating does not mean you can crawl inside it naked and be almost sweating at its lowest rated temperature.  When a manufacturer rates the temperature of a sleeping bag they assume you be wearing thermal underwear at minimum.  Of course the colder the rating the more they expect you to be wearing.   Thus buy a bag that is rated lower than the temperature you are expecting.

Bag Shape

Remember when picking out a sleeping bag the bigger the bag the more air inside for you to warm up.  This is why they make tapered sleeping bags.  So you don’t have as much space to warm up before your feet and legs get warm.  However in the flip side it doesn’t matter how warm you are.  If you feel like it takes a shoe horn to zip up your sleeping bag.  You’ve got to be comfortable.

Bag Liner

For those of you who do a lot of summer camping.  You may have a light weight fleece or flannel sleeping bag.  These are usually good to 50 degrees.  For cold weather camping they add an extra 5-10 degrees comfort to your winter sleeping bag.


Dressing in layers is the most important thing for cold weather camping.  If you get to warm and start sweating this is a problem.  Eventually you will cool off and wet clothing isn’t as warm as dry clothing.  Thus when you dress in layers you can strip a layer if you start getting warm.  When you start to get cold you can put it back on.  This keeps you comfortable all the time without problems.

Clothing Material

For summer you want cotton.  For winter, cotton is the worst thing you can wear.  Cotton  is great for wicking up moisture.  Ice against your body is not good.  You don’t wanna to wear cotton because it will hold the moisture in the clothing and ruin the insulating quality of your clothing.  This means you’ll want to have synthetic material against your body.  You can also use wool as it will keep you warm even when wet.

Tips on Staying Warm

You’ve got the right tent, great sleeping bag and are wearing many layers.  This is all fine but what about other tips and tricks?  Here are a few that will help you stay warm.

  • Put your clothes for the next day in your sleeping bag with you at night
  • Change your socks regularly
  • Drink lots of water even if your not thirsty
  • Pour the water for you’re coffee into a pot the night before.  It’s easier to melt small amounts of ice
  • Bring extra mittens and gloves
  • Keep your head and other extremities warm
  • Sleep in clean dry clothing
  • Coolers will also keep things warm and from freezing
  • Put long lasting hand warmed in your boots when you take them off for the night
  • Wear a stocking cap to bed even if you have a mummy bag
  • Eat a high-energy snack before bed.  The extra food will help you stay warm
  • Keep your mouth and nose outside your sleeping bag.  The moisture from your breathing with make you colder
  • Don’t sleep directly on the ground, or an air mattress, or cot.  Add an extra layer of insulation like a foam mate underneath yourself
  • Go to the bathroom before bed.  If you must go in the middle of the night have a bottle or a tent with two doors


When camping in the summer you can only legally take so much clothing off.  Even then you’ll most likely be warm.  In the winter you can always put more clothes on to stay warm.  This is what makes cold weather camping so much fun.  You get to regulate your own temperature by just a few simple things.  Which the exception of the sub 0 temperatures, you can always have fun as long as you dress in layers.  In fact as long as you’re active you can stay warm even then.  You should always dress in lots of thin layers of synthetic or wool material. Avoid wearing cotton or other materials designed to hold moisture.  Have a good sleeping bag rated below the temps you are expecting.  Have a good tent.  Above all else enjoy the piece and quiet because there are not may who are willing to brave the fun of cold weather camping.

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