Just because its cold and snowy outside doesn’t mean you have to put off your dream backpacking trip until spring. A winter camping trip can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, if you do it right. Here are some tips to get you beginners out into the cold!
Bring Extra Calories
Your body is essentially just a moving, talking furnace. You put fuel (food) in, and energy is put out in the form of either movement or heat. Using this analogy, it’s pretty obvious that one of the best ways to keep the furnace going is to keep putting fuel in. You’ll want to bring more snacks, as well as higher calorie meals, preferably higher in fats and sugar, than usual. Feel free to have that extra candy bar just before bed, it will help keep you toasty all night long.
Bringing a furry friend can’t hurt
Maybe your camping partner isn’t down for cuddling or doubling up in sleeping bags and you need something to fill that void. Dogs are one of the best space heaters for your tent. Just make sure you take measures to keep them warm and make sure your trip is within their abilities! Some outdoor retailers carry dog sleeping bags, alternatively, an extra piece of a foam pad and a cozy blanket should do the trick!
Jumping jacks before bed
The best heater is your heart! Sleeping bags don’t provide warmth, they just trap the heat your body gives off. This means that if you go to bed cold, you’re going to sleep cold. So the best way to fix this is to go to bed warm. Run around the campsite or do jumping jacks before bed. It might wake you up and take you longer to fall asleep, but at least you’ll be nice and toasty.
Hot water bottle in sleeping bag
Another trick to staying warm at night is to throw a bottle of hot (not boiling) water in your sleeping bag. This has two purposes. First, it keeps you warm at night and, second, it keeps your water from freezing overnight, which I feel helps me stay on top of dehydration. You still need plenty of fluids in the cold, and nothing is less appetizing than almost frozen water when you’re already chilly.
Bring more camp fuel than you would in the summer
This is especially important if you’re using your stove to melt snow. It can take ten minutes to melt snow with a tiny camp stove and another ten or fifteen for it to reach the boiling point. That’s between 20-25 minutes of fuel per meal, or twice as much fuel as you’d normally use, depending on the size of the pot and how many people you’re feeding. So when you are planning and packing, bring two and a half times as much fuel as you would normally bring, just to be safe. Running out of camping fuel in the summer isn’t as big of a deal as it is in winter.
Throw your electronics in something that won’t freeze
First things first, you might not want to mix this with the water bottle trick, that could end badly if your bottle leaks. Cold can wreak havoc on your batteries. Cold batteries can’t put out the same amount of power as they could if they were warm and die quicker. If you’re camping out for a few days, you’ll want to keep your batteries warm during the day and overnight. Be sure to keep your phones or GPS units in your coat or sleeping bag for most of the trip