The key to a fun and successful cold-weather camping trip is typically described in two words: stay warm. A long day of ice fishing, hiking, hunting or backpacking will come to an uncomfortable and potentially hazardous end if your sleeping quarters do not provide enough warmth for you to rest easy.
Shivering and chattering teeth are the first signs of mild hypothermia. This spasmodic reaction is your body trying to warm its core while reminding you to get somewhere with more heat as soon as possible. If the contractions stop before you warm yourself up, it’s a sign of more advanced and dangerous hypothermia. These three tips will ensure a comfortable camping excursion in freezing temperatures.
All the tricks and technology in the world can’t beat good old-fashioned layering as a first line of defense from the elements. Put your long johns and thermal shirt on before the sun goes down, so your body keeps the heat it already has versus trying to warm itself up when the temperature drops. Wool socks are best, with a second pair of cotton socks underneath for extremely cold nights.
A long-sleeved shirt and fleece sweater will provide warmth and comfort while sleeping. Camouflage pants made of fleece-like Microtex material are the perfect all-purpose pants for your daytime activities and for sleeping at night. A wool stocking hat and water-resistant fleece gloves should also be worn to prevent heat from escaping your body. Lauren Greenway of Wilderness Medical Center in Salt Lake City told Live Science that eating a large meal before bed helps the body stay warm longer. Proper hydration is also key to maintaining heat.
Mr. Heater Little Buddy
Never burn propane in an enclosed area. This is especially true for stoves and hot plates that emit a lot of carbon monoxide. The Mr. Heater Little Buddy is safe to use indoors because of its 99.9 percent burning efficiency, which allows very little waste to escape into the air. The unit also has a low-oxygen sensor that will automatically shut down the heater if levels drop below 18 percent.
The Little Buddy will produce heat for upward of five hours on a one-pound propane cylinder. They are safe to use right in your tent. Despite all the built-in safeguards, it’s best to partially open the roof vent or windows in your tent for ventilation. A cheap CO detector is also a good just-in-case safeguard.
Therm-A-Rest NeoAir XTherm Pad
No matter how well a sub-zero rated sleeping bag is made, it still has to lay on a hard, freezing cold ground. The best part about Therm-a-Rest’s NeoAir XTherm Inflatable Pad is that it weighs less than a pound and takes up very little space in your backpack.
The XTherm provides four layers of heat-trapping reflective barriers that insulate you completely from the ground. The stuff sack doubles as a pump sack to help inflate the pad quicker and more efficiently. Those who don’t mind carrying the extra weight can get a separate battery-powered pump for even faster inflation. The XTherm comes in four sizes and includes a repair kit for emergency fixes.
Your mind is also an effective tool for keeping warm. Think warm thoughts and focus on the positive aspects of your surroundings. Cold-weather camping will eventually becomes second-nature for those who prepare properly.