Enjoy the outdoors in winter by covering up, wearing layers, and utilizing backcountry shelters. Lately, the temperatures in much of the mid-west and northeast have been bitterly cold, and well below freezing.
When the temperature is this cold, exposed skin can freeze quickly, and one can be prone to cold weather injuries such as frostbite or hypothermia. Below are some ideas for winter camping hacks to help campers and travelers who decide to brave the cold weather.
Winter Camping Hacks For Bitter Cold Temperatures
We have shared before 10 Tips For Camping When Cold Weather Hits but this is a little different. We are now talking bitter cold, almost Polar Vortex kind of weather. Winter is just winter when you are talking December or February, but when January really gets rolling? Look out.
Benefits of Winter Camping
Winter camping is a wonderful way to get in touch with nature, build character and enjoy good times with your family and friends. These are some of the benefits of camping in cold weather and safety measures to keep you healthy and warm.
Deepen your appreciation for nature.
It’s easy to love a spring day but winter can be more demanding. Whatever the hardships, enjoying freshly fallen snow and longer star-filled nights may convince you that the effort is worthwhile.
Learn to work as a team.
Everything will be harder when you’re outdoors in cold weather. You’ll need to pull together to get the tent up before it gets dark and make breakfast when the ground is frozen.
When the summer crowds are gone, you’ll have a lot more space to yourself. Enjoy the silence and the chance to see more wildlife.
Persevere through obstacles.
Success in life often depends on being able to persist even when you run into complications. The skills you learn while camping will help when you’re pursuing other goals.
Become patient with discomfort.
Much of the stress in life comes from our minds rather than from external conditions. You’ll return home a little wiser when you see how you can make cold feet feel warmer by remaining calm.
Develop more gratitude for common amenities.
It’s easy to overlook indoor plumbing and central heating in our daily lives. When you go without them for a little while, you’ll feel more appreciative.
Learn eco-friendly habits.
Many campers are becoming increasingly conscious of leaving as little behind as possible. You’ll help build a more sustainable world as you focus on ways to reduce your footprint, including using alternatives to burning fuel.
Tactics for Keeping Safe and Warm:
Turn heaters off overnight
Portable heaters can cause carbon monoxide poisoning if used improperly. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and turn them off before you go to sleep.
You may need to eat more calories than usual because your body will be burning them up to fight the cold. A bedtime snack is especially good for raising your temperature a little. Focus on complex carbohydrates that are easy to carry around and simple to prepare.
Dry winter air can be dehydrating. Your body needs plenty of water in order to regulate its temperature and keep your blood flowing smoothly. Carry a thermos so you can drink liquids frequently. Plain water is best. Low-sodium soups are also a good choice.
Get the right gear
Selecting the right equipment will make it easier to protect your wellbeing and have a good time. Check out winter tents that provide more coverage and stakes that are designed for snow. Chemical heat packs can keep your hands and feet toasty.
Cover the Skin to Prevent Frostbite
Make sure to cover any exposed skin with clothing before venturing outdoors to prevent frostnip or frostbite. Some areas of concern include the face, ears, and hands.
These parts of the body can suffer a cold injury quickly, especially if there is a wind chill. A wool or fleece cap, balaclava, fleece face mask, and several pairs of gloves or mittens will work.
Insulate the Body to Stay Warm
Use adequate clothing layers to retain body heat. These include base layers, middle layers, and outer layers that trap heat from the body but also protect the body from exposure to wind or the elements.
Also, by dressing in layers one can remove layers if necessary to release heat, such as when hiking or digging a snow cave or add layers to retain heat when feeling cold.
Half your body heat really can escape through your head so choose your hat carefully and wear it all the time.
Wear Adequate Footwear
Wearing the right boots keeps the feet warm, and can help prevent cold injuries. When shopping, look for the temperature rating of the footwear. Does the rating only apply when in active use?
If so, then the boots may not keep the toes as warm when standing around in camp. Make sure the boots will be appropriate for the kind of activity they will be used for. Wear thick wool or poly-blend socks.
Stay Active to Stay Warm
Moving around gets the blood going, and creates heat that can be trapped by clothing. Doing something also helps keep someone in a positive mindset, as opposed to standing around in the cold.
Be careful not to work too hard that requires the body to sweat to cool off. Sweat chills the body and can take a while to dry, sapping the body of needed heat.
Know When to Come Inside
Sometimes the safe plan is to stay inside, such as when the thermometer drops well below zero. People who have had previous cold injuries can be prone to re-injury. If young children are on the trip, then it might be a good idea to bring them inside for safety.
Use a Cabin to Winter Camp
An alternative to a full-on wilderness winter camping trip is using a cabin or insulated yurt for shelter. These allow the user the opportunity to get out during the day to hike, snowshoe, or ski, and to warm up in the evening in a heated shelter to dry clothing and boots and warm up. This can be an excellent option for winter camping with young children.
Know your limits
Check the weather report and pay attention to local advisories. Play it safe with your own life and the lives of rescue personnel. You may be going into areas without a cell phone signal so ensure that someone knows where you’re headed and when to expect you back.
If you’ve been putting your tent away as soon as the weather turns cold, you may want to give winter camping a chance. With some simple precautions, you can stay safe while you experience a new sense of peace and adventure.
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