Many campers have trouble staying warm at night. Even during summer camping trips, a sudden shift in the weather can leave you shivering in your tent if you’re not prepared. In most cases, cold weather is annoying and uncomfortable, but you can face hypothermia if you’re camped in a particularly rough area.
To keep yourself safe and comfortable during the night, you’ll need the right equipment, good food and warm clothes. Here’s what you need to know.
Wearing the Right Clothes
Always pack for cold weather when you’re camping in the fall, the early spring, or in an area where night temperatures dip below 60 degrees or so.
Bring wool clothes, long underwear, heavy socks and a heavy-duty sleeping bag. Make sure that you’re comfortable in your sleeping gear and pack on as many layers as you can. You can always take off a layer if you get too warm, and sweating is always better than shivering at the campsite.
Avoid cotton clothing if you’re camping in a rainy area. Water can sap heat away from your body, and cotton excels at holding moisture close to your skin. Opt for polyester blends and wool to keep yourself warm and dry.
Chemical heating packs are a great resource if your clothes aren’t quite keeping you warm. You can pick up heat packs from most hardware stores. Keep a few in your emergency supply kit if you’re camping during the late fall or winter.
Preparing Your Campsite
A roaring campfire will certainly provide some heat, but you’ll need to think about insulation if you want to keep your tent from losing its stored heat.
Put your tent on a slight incline with a tarp under it. Choose a small tent designed for your camping conditions and patch any holes before you head out to your campsite.
Never go camping with just a sleeping bag–you’ll regret it when the temperature drops and the ground gets cold. Put a foam sleeping pad under your sleeping bag. If you’re camping in a particularly cold area, bring two foam pads. Avoid pads made from poor insulators like cotton.
Eating the Right Foods
Your body is pretty good at regulating its own temperature if you give it the fuel that it needs to perform. Always pack foods with a ton of protein and healthy fat and eat snacks every few hours during colder camping trips.
Before you go to bed, eat a calorie-rich meal to give your body the energy that it needs to heat itself. Peanut butter and trail mix are excellent choices. Soup is also great if you’ve got a way to heat it up before you eat it.
If you’re still cold after following all of these tips, you can get a small gas heater for your tent. However, these units can cause dangerous carbon monoxide build ups, so keep your tent flaps open while the heater runs and shut the heater off before you go to sleep.
By paying attention to heat sources and investing in some quality insulation, you shouldn’t have any trouble making it through the night comfortably. Prepare before your trip and try to learn from each new experience.