When you go camping in winter, and many Australians love to pack up their ute or 4WD and go on an adventure over winter – well, while you WANT to be there, it can still be a miserable experience if you are cold and wet. So, how can you camp during winter and really enjoy it?
Things You Need for Winter Camping
The right bedding
It’s important when you go camping – especially in winter – you buy the very best bedding you can afford when it comes to being able to sleep and stay warm – this is so important! Some of those cheaper sleeping bags out there are fine in mild conditions, but when it really gets cold you need a sleeping bag that can handle the conditions you will be using it in. Remember that the temperature rating is just a guide and there are other factors you need to consider when choosing the right sleeping bag. Don’t go crazy and get one for sleeping in the snow – if you’re not going to be sleeping in the snow, but do your research. If you do feel the cold get a bag rated at zero degrees, this should keep you warm during the night. You can always go lower depending on where you plan to be camping.
You can also add a sleeping bag liner to give you more warmth. You can always place some more blankets on top of you, but remember too, you need to pay attention to what you plan to be sleeping on. Will you be sleeping directly on the ground? Or on a camp stretcher? What you have UNDER you is more important than what you have on top of you. Get the sleeping bag and stretcher or padding that is right for you and for the conditions. This is one of your biggest winter camping issues solved.
A great way to stay warm inside your tent is to use a hot water bottle. While it might sound old fashioned, it’s great to pop into your sleeping bag before you get in. It doesn’t melt, doesn’t require electricity, and you can put it at the bottom of your sleeping bag to warm your toes, or you can hug it as you fall asleep.
Other suggestions to get warm include
- Make sure you have had a nice hot meal before you go to bed, the warm food is then used as fuel by your body during the night to help you stay warm. One of the highlights of camping during winter is enjoying a good hot meal before bed.
- Another good way to stay warm is to eat a high-energy snack before you go to bed, as your body warms up it burns up those calories. Don’t go to bed after eating a big steak – your digestion will have to work hard during the night and that won’t help you sleep.
- Don’t drink too much before you go to bed. There is nothing worse than having to get up in the middle of the night, in the cold to go to the toilet.
- If you feel like it, before bed, have a quick walk around, or jump around, it will get your metabolism going which in turn will help keep you warm. It’s just a little exercise to keep you warm.
- While it’s great standing around the campfire, enjoying the warmth from the fire, that warmth only stays with you while you are next to the fire, so think about the other ways to warm up too.
When camping what you wear also makes a huge difference. So, it’s time to go to bed, do you wear what you have on? Or do you change? The correct answer is to get changed – into some clean and non-sweaty clothes. (changing will also help keep your sleeping bag clean). Layering your clothes is a good option, but avoid cotton. Wear your thermals and build up the layers but do this before it’s icy and cold. Wear socks and a beanie or hat – you lose a lot of body temperature through your head so a hat is an important item to wear.
You’re in the sleeping bag
You’ve followed these tips, you are fed and watered, in the right clothes and now you’re in the sleeping bag…. What’s next?
- Even if it is cold, don’t burrow your head into the sleeping bag
- Use the drawstrings around the top of the sleeping bag – that’s what they are there for
- If you find cold air is still getting in use a scarf or jacket to pad around your neck
- Don’t make the bag so hot you end up sweating
- If your bag is bigger than you and you have empty space fill it up with the clothes you plan to wear the next day
- Don’t forget to pack everything you need in your ute or 4WD – make a list to double check you don’t overlook anything you will need!