Cold weather camping? You bet! Read on for the next set of tips that give the basics in cold weather camping.
Top Ten Winter Camping Tips
For the first 5 tips, make sure to check out Cold Weather Camping, Part 1 >
6. Hydrate and maintain caloric intake
7. Wear layers, but never cotton
8. Sleep... the right way
9. Don't hold it, pee if you need to do so
10. Know the signs of frostbite and hypothermia
6. Hydrate & Maintain Caloric Intake
Cold and wind zap your body's hydration, and if you add an exersion, such as setting up camp, or snowshoeing, the effect is doubled. Constantly sip a tepid, lukewarm or warm beverage of your choice: water (lukewarm water may not be your first choice, but we like it), sports drink, juice, decaffeinated tea or coffee, broth, etc. Quite simply, food is energy, so keep the fuel high when you are cold weather camping. There are a lot of different options, but simple, calorie dense foods and one-pot meals are the way to go. Eat regular snacks of protein, carbohydrates and fat--nuts and jerky are great choices. Also, if you wake up chilled, have a chocolate candy bar ready--it truly will help you warm up.
7. Wear Layers, But Never Cotton
You have a base, middle and top layer. The base layer goes against your skin. Thermal clothing (AKA long underwear or Long Johns) are a great choice, as they wick moisture away from your skin while the baffling creates warmth. The middle layer depends on a myriad of conditions, but should be somewhat loose and comfortable. Wool is the first choice here for its superior thermal properties. For your outer layer, always go for water proof not water resistant. You may need to change clothing a few times a day given rising and falling temps and what your activities are. Finally, if you get wet for any reason, change clothes as quickly as possible. This is one time we actually recommend over-packing. Take at least 3 or 4 changes of clothing more than you think you will need.
8. Sleep, The Right Way
This is all about layers. A shocking amount of heat can be lost if you aren't properly insulated against the ground. This means even the warmest sleeping bags are cold sleeping bags if you don't set up properly for cold weather camping. Start with a closed cell foam pad on the ground, then add our Crua Self-Inflating Mattress: https://widebend.com/products/crua-self-inflating-mattress-by-crua-outdoors. Next, we highly recommend our Crua Mummy Sleeping Bag (for temps down to 25 degrees Fahrenheit): https://widebend.com/products/crua-mummy-sleeping-bag-by-crua-outdoors. Consider adding a sleeping bag liner as well. Our Crua Culla blanket can double as both a sleeping bag liner and a blanket: https://widebend.com/products/crua-culla%E2%84%A2-blanket-by-crua-outdoors. Another tip is never sleep in the same clothes you wear during the day. Even small amounts of moisture can become a problem, and you'll appreciate changing into fresh clothes each night. Store them in your sleeping bag. Finally, about an hour before bedtime each night, heat water to a boil, add to a stainless steel water bottle and slip into your sleeping bag on top of your clothes. Everything should be toasty warm as you crawl into your Crua Mummy Sleeping Bag for the night.
9. Don't hold it, go ahead and pee
Fact: Your body uses additional energy if your bladder is full. Fact: It's more convenient for a man to pee at night than a woman. Fact: Ladies, we're with you on this one. We won't beat this to death, but suffice to say, if you have to go, do so! It's better for you and you'll stay warmer if you do.
10. Know The Signs of Frostbite & Hypothermia
No matter how experienced you are in cold weather camping, frostbite and hypothermia can sneak up on you. We highly recommend always camping with a partner if the weather is going to be cold. A partner can keep an eye on you and may notice behavior you aren't aware of, such as clumsiness or pale spots on your face. Frostbite is when tissue freezes, and it's most common on fingers, toes and ears. Always have several pairs of hand and feet warmers on hand, and change as often as needed. Wear a really good hat, and keep gloves and socks dry at all times! Do not place the affected area under hot water or rub it, which can damage the area. Placing the affected area against warm skin is helpful (usually less so for your partner). Hypothermia is defined as core body temperature dropping below 95 degrees, and can be life threatening. In mild hypothermia, there is shivering, clumsiness and usually some mental confusion. In moderate hpothermia, you will see severe shivering, true lack of coordination and obvious change in mental state. In the last stage, shivering usually stops and the person is completely disoriented. In all cases, immediately remove the person from what is causing the cold stress, such as wind or snow. Ensure the person has warm, dry and insulated clothing. If moderate or severe hypothermia, the person should be evacuated and treated by medical professionals.
Cold weather camping takes some planning, but it's well worth the effort. People that do this are well prepared, have the right gear and generally really enjoy themselves. Winter camping can be a whole lot, and we hope you give it a try.