While spring and summer are undoubtedly the most popular camping seasons, there are some joys to winter camping that you simply don't get at any other time of year. With the drop in temperature comes a drop in visitor numbers. If you like to escape the crowds, then winter is the perfect chance for you to have a private woodland adventure.
We've had our fair share of experience when it comes to conquering the cold, so we've compiled our top 8 tips from around the office to help you enjoy the magic of winter camping.
The Right Sleeping Bag: This is a big one, and something far too easily overlooked. We could write a whole blog post on the ins and outs of sleeping bags but the long and the short of it is this; most decent sleeping bags will usually have two ratings, a comfort temperature, and a limit temperature. While the limit temperature will give you a safe night’s sleep, it’s always best to pick up a sleeping bag with a comfort temperature that roughly matches the conditions you’re going to camp in.
Pro-tip: Keep your nose and mouth outside your sleeping bag as your breath contains a great deal of moisture that can cause dampness to collect in the bag as you sleep.
Layer Up: A simple yet effective way to stay cozy in your tent is by layering correctly. A good merino base layer will keep you warm while wicking any moisture away from your body, and using a proper layering system with a decent base layer, a warm mid-layer, and an insulated outer layer means that you can adapt your temperature levels to suit your needs.
Elevation and Separation: The factor that makes a Tentsile the perfect choice for winter camping, separation from the cold ground! Being in contact with the ground on a cold night can really sap the warmth straight out of you, so being off the ground in the trees is the first step to avoiding this. When there are no trees available and you’re forced to camp on the ground you can achieve this separation with a good inflatable sleeping mat such as our own Sky-Pad topped with a traditional roll mat for extra warmth and separation from potentially cold air.
Pro-tip: Want an even cozier night in your Tentsile? Combine your natural elevated comfort and ground separation with a Sky-Pad for an even better night’s sleep!
Insulate Your Tent: A cozy tent is a warm tent, and while camping blankets and heat shields look nice, they also provide valuable insulation to your camp set-up. Think of your tent like your house, it’s harder to heat big open spaces than a cozy room. Keeping some extra blankets handy can really help to give you that home comfort feeling while securing a good night’s sleep.
Pro-tip: Use a hot water bottle to pre-warm your sleeping bag. Want to save space? Use a stainless-steel water bottle filled with hot water to save you from carrying two separate pieces of gear!
Your Camping Location: Select a protected campsite, off the valley floor and other low areas where cold air settles. A good rule is to be about 50 feet above the valley floor. Pitching in a sheltered spot out of the wind will help when you ventilate your tent at night. This may sound a little strange at first but there’s a good reason for it. The heat from your body, and your breath itself, can cause condensation to build up and make everything in your tent slightly damp. Remember, damp equals cold.
Warm Food & Drink: As a British company, we know there’s nothing like a good cup of tea to warm one’s soul, and as campers, we know that hot food and drink can be the key to a good night’s sleep on a cold winters evening. Not only will the food warm you up while eating, but your body's digestion and metabolism will keep you warm throughout the night. Nuts and oats are also a great way to snack before bed to ensure a cozy and warm rest.
Failed to Prepare? Prepare to Fail: As with everything on this list, preparation is key. Know the area you’re planning to camp in, research the weather conditions and any complications you're likely to encounter. If you’re camping in a park manned with rangers consider calling ahead to see if they have any insider information or updates that could be useful to you, failing this do some research on the area online to read about other’s experience there. Remember, hope for the best, prepare for the worst, and always tell someone back home what your plans are.
Knowledge: Our final and most important tip – knowledge is key. Know how to use all your gear, you don’t want to be stood in the cold trying to figure out how to use your shelter, or getting a chill while trying to work out why the stove won’t light. A simple test pitch of your campsite could avoid an uncomfortable night’s sleep or worse. Someone with cheap gear and the knowledge of how to use it is far better off than someone with top of the range gear and no idea what to do with it!