10 “Cool” Camping Tips

By Suzanne Wiley

Memorial Day in North Texas is warm. Sometimes down-right hot. For me, Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer and it’s usually always the first weekend I hit the lake.

Even though the water can still be a tad chilly for us warm-blooded Texans, it is always warm enough outside to get in the water during the holiday weekend. One year, my SO and I planned a tent camping trip with friends for the extended weekend. We arrived at the lake Friday night, a day ahead of everyone else. After exploring, cooking dinner and roasting marshmallows, we crawled in the tent for a cozy night’s sleep. About 1:30 in the morning, both of us woke up freezing. The temperature had dropped about 40 degrees! Completely unprepared for the frigid (to us) temps, the rest of the night was pretty dang uncomfortable. Dare I say, it was almost worse than tent camping in Texas on the Fourth of July—which is miserable by the way. Fortunately, we had our friends bring more blankets the next day just in case the rest of the weekend’s weather was the same, but it just goes to show how important it is to be prepared before heading out.

Honestly, I prefer early summer or early fall camping to winter because I can’t stand being cold. However, there are plenty of hardcore 12 Survivors campers who actually prefer to camp during the winter months. Why? Because:

  • You have a better chance of spotting and tracking wildlife
  • It’s quiet
  • There aren’t crowds
  • The mosquitoes are gone
  • The sky is big and bright…and star gazing is better
With the right gear, winter camping is cozy and enjoyable. : Photo credit Phil Knudsen, USFWS
With the right gear, winter camping is cozy and enjoyable. Photo credit Phil Knudsen, USFWS

You don’t have to wait until spring to go camping—there are plenty of tried and true ways to keep warm during winter camping.

Here are ten of our favorites.

  1. Check the weather and know your limitations. Ours was a rookie mistake and we could have completely avoided our discomfort with just a few extra supplies.
  2. Whether you sleep in a sleeping bag or on an air mattress, use a closed-cell foam sleeping pad to put between you and the ground or you and your air mattress.
  3. Pack chemical hand and feet warmers and stuff them in your sleeping bag right before turning in.
  4. Wear a wool or polyester beanie, socks and gloves to bed.
  5. Cook a late dinner full of fats, protein, carbs and sugars and drink hot chocolate before hittin’ the hay. (One of the few times these are good for you!)
  6. Wear moisture-wicking fabrics like wool, polyester and other synthetics, especially if you’re hiking or exercising. Sweating or staying in wet clothes will increase your chance of hypothermia.
  7. Wear loose-fitting layers to bed. Double-up on your core, like wearing a thermal undershirt.
  8. Purchase a cold temperature-rated sleeping bag in the right size. Too small and you’ll stick your limbs out. Too big won’t utilize your body heat properly. A sleeping bag liner helps, too.
  9. Keep the tent ventilated to avoid condensation build-up.
  10. Pitch your tent in an area protected from wind but still avoid branches and trees that could fall.

We’re big fans of all-season camping here at 12 Survivors and have plenty of resources for you to be the best prepared for your camping trip:

The Essential Winter Backcountry Bug-Out Bag Gear List

Surviving Severe Cold Weather

Packing Checklist for Fall Camping

Do you have any winter camping tips? Leave them in the comment section.

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