You’ll need more than a campfire to stay warm when camping in the cold weather. Your gear may not always be up to par in really cold temperatures. Here are a couple ways to improve the temperature ratings on some of your gear.
Sleeping Bag Liners: If you have a sleeping bag with the temperature rating of 40 degrees, but you are going to experience 30 degree lows, you will need a little extra lining to your bag. Most sleeping bag liners can take your temperature rating down by about 12-15 degrees. You can choose from fleece, synthetic (silkweight), or cotton fabrics for your sleeping bag liner. If you are a hot sleeper, it is suggested that you choose a synthetic fabric. Cotton is usually the least effective sleeping bag liner, because it does not breathe as well as a synthetic material.
Water Bottle Koozies: Water freezes. It’s a fact of life. This is something you don’t want to happen to you when you are camping under the stars. That hilarious hillbilly koozie that you have might actually have a purpose. When you go to sleep put a koozie (or thick wool sock) around your water bottle. Waking up to a frozen block of ice in the morning, is never fun. Take a few seconds to protect your water and you will be much happier in the morning. Another option is stuffing your bottle in your sleeping bag with you.
Fire Starting Supplies: Nowadays, you don’t need to rub two sticks together over some brush. Companies like Light My Fire are making it much easier to start a fire in an instant. Campfires aren’t just fun to look at; they are a wonderful source of heat in the freezing weather.
An air pad: A thin foam pad won’t cut it when you are laying on snow, or cold ground. Having an insulated air mattress can boost the warmth in your sleeping bag. A sleeping pad like the Therm-a-rest Neo Air or the Big Agnes Insulated Air Core can make a world of difference, your pad should be at the very least, ½” thick, but it is suggested to be more. An insulated mattress will keep you 3 times warmer than an uninsulated mattress, so be on the look out for that extra insulation when shopping for your mattress pad.
Stake out your tent precisely: If you don’t have a 4-season tent, a 3-season can work as long as you stake out your tent properly. Aside from the tent/fly material difference in 4-season and 3-season tents, the 3 season tent fly is generally around 6 inches shorter from the ground, allowing more air to flow into the tent. If staked out properly, this will minimize the ability of air to creep into your tent. Most of the time, 4-season tents are over built for average winter camping, so it is not completely necessary to purchase a brand new tent for your yearly Winter camping adventures (unless of course these are taking place on Kilmanjaro, or the like). If your 3-season tent has a zip cover over the mesh windows, even better.
Dressing warm is obvious. Hopefully some of these tips will give you a little extra warmth on those cold winter camping trips. Now you have no excuses…