Here I’m gonna be talking about how you can keep yourself warm during those cold nights when camping.
If you’re cold easily and you’re a cold sleeper then this article is for you.
Here I want to share with you a few tips that will make your next camping and hiking more comfortable and hopefully a little bit warmer.
We’re just getting into cold nights and if you’re in the mountains, it can get quite chilly at night.
It can be really bad if you are unprepared, if you don’t have the right tent or the right clothes or if you are not prepared for cold nights.
I’m gonna be sharing with you a few simple tips that you can apply when you’re cold at night.
First of all all, these tips are based on three simple rules.
Firstly, you can use your body as a heater.
Secondly, your body loses heat the fastest at the ends of it, meaning your hands, your feet and your head.
And thirdly if the cold is coming from the ground up.
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Keep Your Head Warm
As I just mentioned, your head is one of the places where your body loses its heat quickest. What we can do to prevent that is obviously cover your head and you can do that in a few different ways.
First of all, if you have a hood on your sleeping bag, just use that at night. It’ll keep you warm for a lot longer. If you don’t have a hood or you’re still cold, you can use a beanie.
I always bring a beanie with me on trail. I use a merino wool beanie, it’s very lightweight and the wool retains the heat a lot longer. It’s one of the better investments I’ve made.
If you don’t have a hood on your sleeping bag and if you didn’t bring a beanie, another thing you can use to cover your head is actually a buff.
If you don’t have any of these, so you don’t have a buff, you don’t have a beanie, you don’t have a sleeping bag hood, the other thing you can do to keep your head warm is basically to use anything you have in your backpack to cover your head.
You might have a jacket or a down jacket, anything to keep your head covered will help you keep yourself warm for a lot longer.
Extra Pair of Socks
The second thing I would suggest is to always bring an extra pair of socks. By that I mean a pair of socks that you keep dry and you keep only for sleeping.
It will keep your feet warm, so you will retain a lot more body heat for longer.
I usually bring a pair of woolen socks. Wool is a material that will retain your body heat a lot longer.
But you can just wear any type of socks as long as it’s not cotton, because cotton is definitely something that you don’t want to bring on trail. It smells and when it gets wet, it doesn’t dry quick and it basically keeps you cold.
Once we’ve covered our heads and our feet, one thing I would recommend as well is to invest in a good pair of thermals.
You’ve got different types of thermals and different types of material. But I am a fan of merino wool.
I usually bring a pair of merino wool pants and a long-sleeve merino wool t-shirt.
Keep in mind that you have different thicknesses. The level of thickness will determine for what weather it can be used.
The thicker the material, the more weight you will carry.
Some brands don’t have different thicknesses. Bear in mind the thicker the layer of merino wool, the warmer it will keep you.
Another good material for thermals is a mixture of merino wool and polyester. It’s a good combination to trap your body heat.
There are different brands and different materials. Just be on the lookout for good pair of thermals by checking the material they are made of.
That brings us to the next tip.
Your thermals can act as a base layer, but then again, if you’re still cold, you can actually use a layering system.
You can just use a base layer, a mid layer and then an outer layer.
Your thermals can be the first layer and then if you’re still cold, you can wear a fleece, and if you’re still cold, you could use a down jacket or another layer that keeps you warm, preferably wool.
Talking about down jackets, it’s another thing I would definitely invest in. It’s one of my best investments I’ve made. It’s very compact and it is a very warm layer.
Insulate From the Bottom
In the beginning I talked about the cold coming from the ground up and the next step is really to insulate.
When I know that the conditions I’m going to are a bit colder than normal, I usually bring a reflective mat with me.
It will create an extra layer on the bottom, which will reflect your heat back into your tent or on top onto your body.
If you don’t have a warm mattress or you don’t have that reflective mat, another thing you can do is create a layer under you with your clothes. It’s better to create a layer under you than to create a layer on top of you because the cold is coming from the ground up.
You will find that if you put your clothes under you, you will retain your heat a lot longer.
Hot Water Bottle
The next tip is actually my favorite one. I discovered this tip about a year ago. It’s so simple that I just thought why haven’t I thought about that before.
When I’m at home I usually use a hot water bottle to put in my beds for those very cold winter nights, but you can actually do the same on trail.
What I do is before I go to bed, I usually heat up a little bit of water and just before boiling points, I pour it into my drinking bottle and that’ll keep me warm.
If you put a sock over it or a t-shirt, then it will keep you warm without burning yourself.
When I wake up in the morning it’s usually still warm depending on how cold it’s been at night. But it usually retains the heat all night.
I sometimes use two bottles. One for my feet and one for my upper body.
Just remember with this tip, don’t pour the water in while it’s boiling. Always wait a little bit until it’s below that boiling point.
Also if you’re using soft plastic, you might find it after you’ve done it for a few times, the plastic will really start to wear out and so it’s better to use it in hard plastic.
Hot Food or Drink
We can use our body as a heater.
The way we can actually start our body heater is to drink or eat something warm before you go to bed, preferably a calorie dense meal.
Because the way it works is your body will start working to actually digest the food, which means that your blood will be flowing and your body heats up, which means that you will retain the heat a lot longer when you’re sleeping.
Obviously if you drink some soup or tea, you will have that warm feeling inside and it will definitely keep your mind off the cold.
Pee Before Bed
Of course another tip is to go to the toilet before you go to bed.
There’s nothing worse than having to go to the toilet in the middle of the night when you’re all tucked in and warm. And then you have to restart all over again.
Don’t Go To Bed Cold
This might sound simple but it’s easy to say that when you’re cold you just want to tuck into your sleeping bag and you know call it a night
The best thing you can do is actually to move around and use your body to start the heating process.
The way it works is when you’re moving, your blood will start flowing and your body will gain body heat.
You can do anything you like, such as jumping jacks, push-ups. Anything you want just to get that blood flowing. And then you can go to bed and keep that warmth in your sleeping bag.
Another thing to keep in mind is that dampness creates coldness.
If you find yourself in a tent with high condensation inside, it might feel a lot colder than when you have no condensation at all.
There are a few ways you can get rid of that condensation. Basically you do it with ventilation.
When you ventilate your tents in a way that it reduces the moisture inside, you will feel instantly warmer or not as cold.
One way you can use to ventilate your tent is to create an airflow inside your tent, so then the wind can get through it and it will not retain that moisture inside. It will keep the air flowing.
We finally come to the last tip and that is choose your campsite wisely.
One thing you can do on a very cold night is just to choose a protected campsite that will protect you from the wind and other elements.
For example, if you’re camping in the forest, the leaves will act as the first base layer.
I would definitely suggest keeping them in mind. Of course we don’t always have a choice and then the other tips will be very helpful.