The temperature is dropping, wind speeds are climbing, and snow is expected to fall in the highlands. Yet I refuse to retire my tent to the gear shed. Sure, winter is coming, but that never means it’s time to stop camping.
Trust me, I spend half the year in Durango, CO. I summit 14ers at night. I know a thing or two about how to stay warm in a tent.
Stop shivering yourself to sleep. Follow these 11 tips and feel as cozy as a flame-engulfed marshmallow all night long.
Our bedtime experience is directly correlated with how we treat ourselves during the day. Stay hydrated, keep your body fueled and don’t get sunburned. While it’s easy to neglect personal care for the sake of a few extra miles, all that wear and tear is going to catch up with you, in the form of a freezing cold and bad night’s sleep.
Your sleeping pad is all that is separating your body from the cold, hard ground. If you skimp on your pad you could wake up in the middle of the night shivering cold — that is, if you’re able to fall asleep at all.
In particular, get a sleeping pad with an R-value (or temperature rating) appropriate for the temperatures you’ll be camping in. For our recommendations, check out our guide to the best backpacking sleeping pads.
Knowing how the weather behaves in certain areas is the foundation to keeping warm while camping. Cold air sinks and hot air rises, so the valley floor (which also can act as a wind tunnel) is going to feel like a patch of the arctic.
What’s more, the highest points are often exposed to windy and potentially dangerous weather conditions. Avoid the windchill and pick a protected mid-elevation point.
The crotch bottle, or belly bottle, is a classic warm body trick. Right before you go to bed, boil water on your backpacking stove, fill your Nalgene and shove it inside your sleeping bag. This makeshift heating pad can be tucked right up against your belly or shoved inside the front of your long johns. It’s an easy way to generate instant heat in your bag that will last all night.
Does sticking a water bottle against your crotch sound gross? Great! Now nobody will ask for a swig from your bottle during the day. Win, win.