As morning frost becomes the norm and long summer nights feel ever more distant, many see the change of seasons as a time to withdraw and curl up inside. Not at Snow Peak. We embrace heading outdoors in colder months to reconnect with nature and enjoy the clearer night skies and quieter campsites. With a little preparation and the right equipment, camping in the winter can be a rewarding experience offering warming memories to sustain you through the colder months.
We’ve compiled a list of our Retail Manager Ollie’s ultimate winter camping tips to provide a guide to staying warm and making the most of all that winter camping has to offer.
* Pack some night clothes – keep these dry and separate from your day clothes and use these exclusively for sleeping in (more advice on what to wear below).
* Pack a base layer – Merino wool is ideal; synthetics work too but avoid cotton.
* Pack a buff / snood – these are great for keeping the neck warm and keeping any drafts out of your sleeping bag. It can also be pulled over your face if it gets really chilly.
* Pack a hat – something small and low profile that’s comfortable for sleeping in.
* Always plan and pack for the worst-case scenario. Have a look at the surrounding area and see anything nearby (villages, pubs etc…)
* Smaller tents tend to conserve heat because there is a smaller internal volume making it easier to retain temperatures.
* Loft up your sleeping bag ASAP – Unpack your sleeping bag as soon as you can to get the insulation lofting. Compressed down / synthetic fibres can’t trap air and won’t keep you warm.
* If it is raining try and set the inner of your tent up under cover to prevent the important bit of your tent where you will be staying from getting soaked. If cover isn’t available just try and get the tent up as quick as possible to minimise wetness to the inside of the tent.
* Leave damp shoes / clothes outside your tent if possible – taking a “wet, drybag” to store anything that’s got damp throughout the day is a good way to avoid condensation building inside the tent.
*Our sleeping bags indicate a guideline for the minimum temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep you warm and give you a good night’s sleep. Always try and sleep in temperatures above the temperature rating of the sleeping bag.
* When considering your sleeping equipment, it’s important to remember that your sleeping pad is just as, if not more important than your bag! Sleeping pads provide an extra layer of comfort, but for winter camping they also provide an extra layer of insulation between you and the cold floor.
* Avoid breathing directly into the bag – When it’s really cold, it may be tempting to hide away inside your sleeping bag. When we breathe, we can exhale almost 500ml of water throughout the day! This can collect in your sleeping bag as you sleep causing the insulation to get damp and soggy which in turn will leave you feeling cold.
* Open up the vents - This sounds counter intuitive to open up your vents in the cold weather, especially if it’s raining outside but the goal here is to eliminate any damp which may accumulate in the tent during cold weather by increasing airflow through the tent.
* “You warm the bag” – is something I always remember when I’m out winter camping. Sleeping bags aren’t heaters, they’re heat retainers. They work by trapping our body heat in the insulation. To keep warm at night, it’s always recommended to make sure you go to the bathroom (explained below) and have a hot drink before bed.
* Pee before bed – you might have jumped into your sleeping bag in the early evening before bed for some time to chill out before you go to sleep. But before you settle down for the night, as cold and miserable as it is outside, it’s recommended you try and go to the toilet. The reason is that your body will use a lot of energy to keep your bladder up to body temperature which it could be using to keep you warm throughout the night.
* Avoid going to bed with too many layers – It’s easy to want to wrap up with all your layers when getting into a sleeping bag that feels cold (before your body has warmed it up) but this will cause you to overheat as you sleep and sweat causing the sleeping bag to get damp and thus you, cold.
If you wake up cold between 3-4am cold, you’ve gone to bed wearing too much! Wear as little as you feel comfortable wearing when you first get into bed and add on as you go, it won’t take long for your sleeping bag warm up.
* Pre-heat the bag – if you really feel the cold or it is particularly cold out, you can prewarm your sleeping bag before bed. I throw in a handwarmer or hot water bottle 30 mins before bed to get everything nice and toasty. This combined with layering down will enable a nice, warm sleep.
* If you have a hot water bottle keep it on your chest, keeping your core warm is the key to staying toasty.
* Enjoy the cosiness of your tent and embrace the wilder weather! It’s always nice to reward yourself in the morning with a nice hot cup of tea or coffee.
* One of the joys of winter camping is being able to cook up a hearty, warming meal and there are so many great seasonal vegetables to choose from. Keep an eye out for our future blog posts where we’ll share some of our favourite seasonal Takibi recipes.
* If you're new to winter camping, try starting in early autumn whilst it is still mid temperatures so you can get used to camping in the cold.
If you’re eager to embrace the outdoors this winter and want to find out more about winter camping, our collection of tents and gear, and more staff recommendations, come and join us at our Head Office on the 11th and 12th of November for our Winter Tent Show and Takibi Archive. Information about the event on our upcoming events page, or at our eventbrite here.