Imagine this, you have your tent setup on a nice patch of flat snow and are just about ready to get some well earned sleep.  You try to fall asleep but the cold is stopping you, your feet are freezing and you are starting to feel dizzy because you have your head tucked in your sleeping bag trying to escape the chill.  I have been here before; many times….you’d think I would have learned after the first time right…
That is the precise reason why I am writing this post, because I did eventually learn how to stay warm while winter camping…it took a while…so now I will pass this knowledge onto you all.
The following 9 tips will help you stay warm even in the coldest of conditions so you won’t have to stare at your tent ceiling all night because you can’t sleep.

1) Eating well before bed

Before you ever get into your sleeping bag you need to make sure that you eat high protein, high fat foods, this will keep your metabolism running high and in turn will generate body heat. Make sure and eat a high calorie diet and stay hydrated.  So, before bed eat and eat well.

2) Use a closed-cell foam sleeping pad

It doesn’t matter how warm your sleeping bag is, it will be cold if you are not insulated from the ground.  Most air mattresses will only insulate down to about -1 Celsius. If you want yours for comfort, lay down a foam pad first then place your air mattress on top, personally this is what I do, I have the Therm-a-Rest Z-Lite and place a Therm-a Rest pro-lite on top, this keeps me well protected from the ground, also, if your air mattress bursts while on expedition then you are not completely screwed.

3) Hot water bottle

Invest in a Nalgene bottle or two, this can be used as a water bottle during the day and then at night can be filled with boiling water and thrown into your sleeping bag to heat it up before you get in, this will keep your toes nice and toastie.  The bottle will stay hot for a few hours and you will also have unfrozen water to drink in the morning thereby killing 2 birds with one stone ?

4) Put your partner’s pad close to yours

Less cold air will rise through the tent floor, pretty self explanatory, so cuddle up to your partner!!

5) Stuff clothes into your bag  

If you have room in your sleeping bag stuff it with your clothes for the next day along with your boot liners.  This avoids you having big pockets of air between you and the sleeping bag and means you have less space to warm up with your body heat.  It also means you have warm clothes to put on the next morning.  I hate having to put on “cold” clothes the following morning and there is nothing worse than trying to force your feet into frozen boots.

6) Don’t burrow into your bag

Make sure that you have room at the top of your bag to breath through a “blowhole”.  If you burrow down into your sleeping bag then moisture from your breath will collect in your bag, this means a wet sleeping bag, not a good situation to be in!

7) A pee bottle is essential

Make sure NOT to hold it!  You will be drinking plenty of water and will more than likely need to go pee during the night.  Holding it makes you colder in the long run as your body has to keep your urine warm.  Guys, invest in a good pee bottle and girls, get a funnel, it’s better than going out into the cold -20 c air.

8) Have a midnight snack

If you wake up in the middle of the night use the opportunity to munch on some high calorie food, this is fuel to keep your warm.

9) In a storm sleep in shifts

During storms sleep in shifts and check the tent rigging every few hours, if you wait too long you might risk losing the tent. It goes without saying that you should always pitch the tent correctly.  Lots of expedition tents will also have internal guy lines, this gives the tent extra stability.  For more stability attach your guy lines to rocks, on a very windy night tent pegs sometimes are not as reliable.  Here is a link to a video on how to tie a taut line hitch, this is the one I use when attaching the guy lines to rocks.  Click here

These are just a few of the winter camping tips that have helped to keep us warm when it’s freezing outside. Do you have any others to add? Let us know in the comments below.


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