8 Ways To Stay Warm While Camping In Cold Weather
Don’t let the cool temperatures of the fall season keep you from getting out and camping. There are great advantages to “cold season” camping, including fewer people, fall colors, and seeing areas in different seasons, to name a few.
With some preparation, most people can stay comfortable in cooler temperatures and keep on adventuring!
1. No cotton next to your skin.
Cotton holds moisture and is not at all warm. Natural fibers like silk and wool are good insulators that have moisture-wicking properties. Synthetic fibers like viscose, Vætrex, or polypropylene add some technology to their fabrics to maintain warmth (even when wet) with minimal bulk.
They make some really soft wool blends now that don’t itch like you might remember as a kid.
Having a snug-fitting silk undershirt on as a base layer keeps air from seeping in around the skin and wicks away any moisture you may give off while you are out enjoying life.
Additionally, it will lengthen the use of your shirt by keeping the body grime isolated, extending your laundry interval a bit more.
3. Double up on hats.
Most people know to dress in layers, and that includes your head. Wearing two hats allows you extra warmth, blocks wind, and allows you to take one off if you get warm. You can even add an ear band if you tend to get cold.
4. Loosen your laces.
You need space around your toes to keep them insulated. Don’t get boots that are too tight or pinch you anywhere. Boots that are too tight or wearing too many socks will restrict this air space around your toes and you will get cold.
Sometimes all you need to do is loosen your laces some, or take off a pair of socks and you will have warmer feet.
5. Eat more fats.
Cold weather increases your calorie requirements, so don’t worry about eating—you will burn it off. The important thing if you are trying to stay warm is that your internal furnace needs fuel to do that. And the best fuel to burn to stay warm is fat.
So put cream in your coffee, butter your toast, and add some cheese and avocado on your eggs. Take pocket food like trail mix with nuts, your favorite dark chocolate, or smoked salmon and crackers to enjoy on the move.
Sitting still makes you cold, so get up and move. Yes, it is harder when you are dressed in layers and wearing boots, but if you are cold you need to get your heart going so it can pump warm blood into your fingers and toes.
The more you move, the more your body will be able to adjust to the cold, so get out and walk, run in circles, dance like nobody is watching, whatever you need to do to get your blood moving.
7. Keep dry with 2 sets of things.
Any moisture in your clothing, including moisture from sweat and breathing, will make you feel cold. Always have a set of dry things to put on, and alternate as you go through different activities in the day.
You only need two sets of a base layer, clothing, gloves, hats, etc to allow you to alternate the set you wear and the set that is drying.
If you find you are cold and just can’t seem to get warm, go pee. If your bladder is full (or partially full), your body has to expend energy to keep that liquid warm, which takes away from heating important things like your brain and muscles.
Tent campers looking to keep warm can apply all of these techniques, and may also want to know, how to stay warm in a tent without electricity.
See also: 3 Ways To Keep Warm When RVing In Winter
Geezzzzz, how about “Get closer to the campfire????”
That is intuitive, yes? I have never had to tell someone who is cold to move closer to the fire. ????
Merrily Robinson says
I place yoga mats on my camp chair to sit on at the fire! Helps keep the backside including legs from a draft
I love that idea!
Janet Miller says
This offers some good tips for camping in the desert! I am hosting a rally in January for about 100 RVing Women members and wish to share this post. Many of our guests are first time boondockers. Hope sharing with others is ok? Please advise if not! Janbouldercity@aol.com
It’s not fat we burn in order to keep warm, it’s Carbohydrates. Roughly it goes like this:
We begin burning what we’ve eaten that day, first the Simple Carbohydrates: Sugars and Starches, Breads and Pastas. After those are gone, we burn off Complex Carbohydrates: Fruits and Vegetables and Beans, (beans are a carb and a protein). Any carbs not burned off that day have the potential to stay and become fat. Fat is never burned until ALL the Carbohydrates are gone, and then it’s usually only the fat in the day’s diet that is burned.
When I backpacked in cold weather I used the tips above, plus a few more. I developed a routine; I removed clothing one piece at a time so as not to freeze, washed up with wipes, applied antiperspirant, and redressed one item at a time in clean underwear/long underwear, and socks as I went along. Just before climbing into my mummy bag at night I ate a high calorie granola bar, put on my boots, went outside and did jumping jacks, enough to warm up, but NEVER NEVER enough to sweat! Then I quickly got in the tent, took off the boots, and climbed into my mummy bag and zipped up. Within minutes I was all nice and toasty and easily fell asleep.
I have never heard of tip #8. I pee because it’s uncomfortable and unhealthy not to empty the bladder frequently enough. Urine is created and stored at body temperature because it’s inside of our body, but I’ll look it up because I don’t know everything, (Shhhhhh… don’t tell my kids and grandkids)
Boots to the Trail and Happy Camping!
All good info. What I learned in the army and the military uniforms are designed to help you stay warm in the winter and cool down in the summer. The key, never wear any tight fit clothing. This is also why uniforms included wool socks and long john under garments (not cotton). Take a look at how snow skiers wear their cloths to stay warm during outdoor sports events, this is why they make things like down jackets. Agian great and perfectly timed info. Ofcourse here in Southern California, there is no need to dress for severe cold weather, even tho it has been cooling down at night a little . Be safe and happy travels.
tight in the summer, looser in the winter. Try being a Marine with sleeves down in hot weather and you will find BDU’s aren’t so great for temperature control in hot humid environments. Glad I’m not subject to the whims of what officers deem visually acceptable anymore!
Susan Smith says
Whoa..you need to educate yourself about KETO, burning fat & limiting carbs, for reasons other than weight loss…Better health is the #1 reason..too involved to address here.
I’d think that body temperature pee in my bladder would act as a buffer to help keep me warm. Just like keeping gallon jugs of water in the refrigerator.
Drinking cold liquids or cold food, will cool you down–because your body has to warm them up.
D O says
I’m thinking more how to keep the trailer/RV/camper warm. I am a big fan of large fluffy (DRY!) towels as an auxiliary layer of bedding (works amazingly well!). If you have ANY kind of combustion heating you need a functioning carbon monoxide detector — cold symptoms while RVing can actually be CO poisoning.
Greg Brooks says
Wear insulated chest-high bib ski pants around your RV camper in extreme cold; they work like a charm. You can ever sleep in them and wear them everywhere around camp. I swear by them. Paired with a down parka, and all suggestions above, you should stay toasty warm all winter-long with a tiny bit of propane, etc.
When winter hits I leave the camper at home and switch to my wall tent and wood stove. Unless your at a campground were electricity is available it gets pretty pricey heating your camper with tiny propane tanks and charging your batteries with a generator.
Technically, you can refill a 1 lb propane cylinder but they are really designed for single use only. And, you are prohibited from transporting a refilled disposable cylinder. BUT, there is a company that manufactures 1 lb cylinders that are indeed designed to be refilled and meet the DOT regulations. They sell a kit that allows a standard 20 lb tank to refill one of their 1 lb cylinders – I bought the kit plus two additional cylinders … in the long run, it will definitely save money and is easy to refill the cylinders using the kit.
bart simpsonson says
One of the biggest problems in cold or colder weather is condensation forming, particularly on the windows, and running down and eventually soaking any wood in its path, leading to the formation of mold and later, rot. The volume of an RV is of course a small fraction of your home, further concentrating the moisture of, at the very least, your respiration. Cooking and bathing of course up the ante, and only more and more heat within the RV is pretty much the only thing that will drive off the moisture. Just saying.
Nicholas Branch says
The correlate to Pee is to drink water!
Jay Sigel says
One of the worst things you can do is use an RV in below freezing weather. The RV pictured is an ancient one without slide-outs or awnings. You can get ice forming on the topper awnings and they will not retract. Ice can also make it difficult to retract the slide-outs themselves. Any ice on the roof will slide around like a pinball machine, striking your AC shrouds and anything else on the roof and then landing on any cars next to you. Getting up on the slippery roof to remove the ice is difficult, dangerous and can damage the roof structures. Sewer hoses will crack when cold and water hoses will be very stiff if not totally frozen. The outside compartment doors can freeze and their locking mechanisms can fail to operate properly. Ice pot holes on the road can damage your suspension and anything else that hangs low enough under the coach. Your coach deserves better use than this. Avoid driving north of I-10 in the winter months unless you absolutely have to.
By the looks of it, the RV in the picture, stopped on a uphill incline ,on snow , may be there till spring! Good luck.
Stephen Monteith Albers says
You’ve got the cart before the horse. The best way to enjoy temperature extremes is to buy a 4-season unit that is designed for it. Failing that, changing out the pathetic joke stock windows for glazed double pane ones will make a HUGE difference in livability for any RV.
How do you keep your RV pipes from freezing while driving between campsites in cold weather?
Please see below for comment.
Sorry for commenting in wrong spot.
How do you keep travel trailer pipes from freezing when driving between campsites in cold weather?
I lived in my 5th wheel in -40 weather as I worked in the plants. I layered my clothing, wore 2 pairs of socks. Plus wore a summer jacket over my layered clothing. I was always moving and kept warm. My trailer had its challenges in the winter, each winter was different but I survived. Fridge was hard to keep working. No running water to the trailer vacuum truck to empty your tanks came around. Every spring I took it in to get the trailer serviced and the fall just in case. I had 4 50lb propane tanks hooked up to my trailer which would probably last me a month but less depending upon the weather. I did this for ten years. So as long as you are comfortable and willing to put a little effort into winter camping by making sure you are warm and the trailer is ready for the winter
If they aren’t wrapped/winterized, they still need to be blown free of water each time before freeze up.
You don’t ever have to worry about them if no water is in the pipes. Skiing, camping, visiting family etc your safe from worry with water of 3 n 5 gallon jugs in your Camper with you. Boil water to wash dishes, wash up with wipes or warm water etc. Don’t store any water in tanks or pipes or hot water tank. You will be surprised how little water you will use. Toilet has been winterized with antifreeze if you use for a weekend it won’t freeze can be dumped on the way home or better yet use a honey can and dump daily at bathroom road stops.
If it starts to snow i stay warm by turning the ignition key and driving someplace warmer!
Mike B says
LOL – proof of #8 – yesterday our dog wouldn’t stop shivering. I held her tight and wrapped her in a blanket, but it didn’t help. We were sitting in the sun but the temp was in the low 60’s. I told my wife I would take her for a walk and if she didn’t warm up, I would put her in the motorhome. As soon as we hit the grass she did a big pee. No more shivering after that.
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