How To Stay Warm While Camping In Cold Weather

For many people, the best time to go camping is in winter. 

Everyone enjoys a good campfire, making winters much more fun than the summers.  

Nothing beats a relaxing hot tub soak or sitting near a fireplace with a hot drink and a warm blanket. But none of it is fun when it’s 40 °C.  

Likewise, frigid weather can also put a wrench in your plan. However, cold is much easier to deal with than heat. 

To stay warm while camping, wear warm clothes in layers, keep your tent warm, use proper caps, gloves, and socks, drink hot drinks, exercise, use heating patches and electric blankets, and choose the correct position for your tent.

Let us look at all of them more closely. 

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1. Wear Warm Clothes In Layers

Layers can help you to stay warm whether you are outdoors or indoors. 

Generally, if you are outdoors, you want to avoid cotton because it losses its heat retention properties when it gets wet. Wool, however, is the opposite. It doesn’t lose its heat retention properties. 

A simple layer structure can look like this:

Warm thermal underwear first, then your regular clothes, then a wool base layer (you can go for a sweater, pullover, fleece here), followed by a down jacket over everything.  

You can add or remove layers based on the weather. That is the beauty of this setup. In case, temperature drops, you can easily add another layer. And remove some layers if you are in a warm place.

Wear Warm Clothes In Layers
Wear Warm Clothes In Layers

2. Keep Your Tent Warm

Well, there can be different techniques to keep your tent warm. But it starts with buying a tent for cold temperatures in the first place. 

Other ways to keep your tent warm is:

2.1 Warm Sleeping Bags

Sleeping bags from some brands claim to suit the 0 °C. Check the ratings of these sleeping bags before buying. Generally, they are labeled whether they will work for 0 °C, 20 °C, or 50 °C.  

If you lack many options, invest in getting a low-temperature bag. Nights are generally colder; they are even more so without wood/concrete indoors. 

2.2 King-Size Blanket/Quilt/Duvet

You can also carry a king-size blanket. You can put it across the bottom, put a sleeping bag above, and cover your sleeping bag with the blanket. So now you have your low-degree sleeping bag layered with a blanket. 

2.3 Portable Heater

Two types of portable heaters do the job well: electric and propane. 

If you have a sufficient power supply in your camp, an electric heater is a better option. It is inexpensive in comparison. Additionally, it has fewer issues than propane gas heaters. 

On the other hand, a propane gas heater is a portable heater in the truest sense. You can carry as much fuel as you want, and you can use it anywhere. 

However, propane gas burns with oxygen. Thus, if you use propane heaters inside a tent, you will have to keep a small slit open in your tent. Otherwise, you will feel suffocated. 

In either case, keep the heater away from clothing, tent walls, and blankets. 

2.4 Electric Heating Pads And Blankets

Electric heating pads are localized, while electric blankets can cover you entirely. They are good to add ons if you are going to a frigid place. 

However, make sure not to overuse them. If you go out when your body is heated, you can fall sick due to temperature differences. So, use them wisely.  

3. Accessories For Extermities

Extremities like ears, neck, hands and feet get cold faster. If they are not covered, you can fall sick pretty quickly. 

Accessories for extremities include basic things like woolen tuque, caps, gloves, scarves, and socks. They help in keeping your extremities hot and prevent body heat loss. 

  • Tuque/woolen cap helps to keep your head warm and prevents heat loss through your head
  • Woolen gloves keep your fingers warm
  • Thick wool socks help when your feet get cold
  • You can wear a scarf if the exposed area near your neck feels cold

In addition to these, you can also use heating patches for your extremities.

4. Heating Patches

Heating patches are another localized items that you can use for extremities. They are generally small and inexpensive and give enough heat to keep a particular body part warm for hours.  

However, be careful when you use them. These patches can get extremely hot. It is better not to use them directly on the skin. Have a layer of cloth between the patches and your skin. 

5. Drink Hot Drinks

Having a hot drink before going to bed helps you stay warm and have a comfortable sleep.  

Having a nice hot chocolate, soup, or broth gives you energy, and your body stays warm.  

A glass of hot milk provides good sleep and keeps you warm. 

Additionally, to avoid getting up from the bed in the middle of the night and losing the heat, you should always go to the washroom before sleeping.

Drink Hot Drinks
Drink Hot Drinks

6. Having The Right Sleeping Gear 

So after you finish wearing good woolen clothes and drinking a hot drink, next is to have a warm set of blankets, quilts, throw blankets, etc. 

v Throw blankets only help up to 5 degrees Celsius. So, only use them after checking the temperature of the place you are camping. 

v If you choose to camp in the mountains, go for good sleeping bags. They are better at handling the lower temperature.

v Some people are claustrophobic, and they can not stand the constriction while sleeping. Sleeping bags may not be their first preference in that case. They can choose to go for some good quilts and a sleeping pad instead. 

However, make sure that your sleeping pads and sleeping bags have a good temperature rating to keep you warm. 

7. Position Your Tent To Minimize Wind And Chill

Depending on the area you are camping in, choose the locations for your tent.

If you are camping on a beach or next to a lake, it will not be the warmest place with a massive body of water right now is next to you.

Also, if you are in grasslands, then there will be winds. That can affect the temperature very much. 

So, check areas away from the seashores or windy places and decide your tent location.

Generally, sheltered positions are always better, as you are not directly exposed.

If your camp is next to the water bodies, you will also have to deal with bugs. 

Additionally, never tent at the bottom of the valley. Because the cold air settles down at the place 

8. Exercise To Stay Warm

If you exercise before going to sleep, it keeps your body heated. You do not have to go out. You can do some exercises in the comfort of your tent itself. Such as:

  • Jog on the spot
  • Some squats
  • Stretching and yoga
  • Sit-ups

This will improve the blood flow. With your muscles working, your body will generate heat that will stay with you when you go to sleep.

However, don’t over-exercise, so much so that you start sweating. Because when sweat cools your body, you will also feel a bit wet and cold. And you might also smell.

So don’t do so much exercise that you sweat but just a little bit of it to warm up your body.  

Exercise To Stay Warm
Exercise To Stay Warm

9. Hot Water Bag/Bottle

You can use a hot water bottle/bag that is generally used for cramps and pain relief to warm your sleeping bag or quilt.  

If you do not have it, you can make a makeshift hot water bottle by filling hot water in a metal water bottle. However, be careful with it. It gets scalding, and any contact with your skin can burn you. Wrapping it with some clothes will solve that issue for you. 

If you have none of the above, you can also use a stone near your campfire. It would have absorbed heat, and if you wrap it with cloth, it will essentially work as a hot water bottle for you. However, once again, be careful when you are handling hot rocks. 


Usually, some of the tips mentioned above may sound like overkill. However, it is better to over-prepare with temperature variations out in the open. 

The techniques mentioned in this article are also helpful if you go snowboarding or on a ski trip. 

Happy camping!


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