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5 tips to keep you warm during winter camping

Low temperatures, wind, and snow aren’t a reason for staying at home. On the contrary, winter is actually a perfect season for camping and hiking; in fact winter camping is my favorite from all of the seasons! It's the perfect opportunity to break the everyday monotony and head out to the wilderness covered in soft snow, and enjoy the clean and fresh air. It's also often the quietest time out there and thus the ideal way to have a little nature meditation.


I have camped in various temperatures (even in -20C!) and various snow conditions (snowstorms give me unbelievable energy!) and I have been nice and cozy all of these times. Here are 5 tips that I consider lifechanging when you want to stay warm during winter camping:


1. Your body is your heater

Usually, the first concern when camping and hiking in winter is being cold. Keep in mind that clothes, blankets, and sleeping bags don’t produce heat. Your body produces heat, and clothes simply preserve that warmth and keep it wrapped around you. So, if you want to feel warm when sleeping, move around a little bit before snuggling the sleeping bag. Run around or do some jumping jacks to get the blood flowing, and you will feel toasty and cozy all night long.

Woman standing in front of winter camp.
My coldest nights in tent (-20C) were spent during the Fjällräven Polar sled dog expedition back in 2019.


2. The cold comes from the ground

When sleeping outside, you need to remember that the cold comes from the ground. Instead of covering yourself with everything that you can find in your bag, pay attention to the insulation between the ground and yourself, i.e. increase the layers underneath you. Don’t use that big puffy winter jacket as a blanket – place it on the sleeping mat and let it protect you from the cold that comes from the snow. Also, if you can find some fir tree branches around you, you can collect them and make yourself a soft and bouncy bed.

Winter camper sleeping in big sleeping bag in snow
Fir tree branches, thick sleeping mat, and winter parka layered underneath kept me nice and toasty here.


3. Don’t sweat, don’t get wet

When outside, at sub-zero temperatures, it is very important to regulate your body’s temperature. If you hike, ski, or do some chores around camp, take off some of the layers so that you don’t get too hot and start sweating. On the other side, if you sit down and enjoy your meal or a drink, put on some layers. Once the underlayers get wet, the body temperature starts to fall quickly. If you start sweating, take the underlayers off and immediately replace them with dry ones.

Woman in snowshoes stamping down snow in winter camp.
Layer down when doing camp chores! Remember, don't sweat, don't get wet.


4. Eat and drink, a lot!

One of the most influential way to keep warm in the middle of a snowy wilderness, is to eat and drink a lot. A LOT! For example, on a daily basis in freezing temps you might need to eat around 3,000 calories just to exist! Add some physical activity (which is usually much harder thus more energy consuming during snowy times) and your calorie intake should be even 5000! Also remember to drink as you still need the water even when you don't feel hot or dehydrated. Drink water even if you don’t feel thirsty. you should drink AT LEAST 2-3 liters per day! And, no worries – you won’t pee at short intervals. Your body will use that water to help you function flawlessly in the cold weather.

Woman sitting in snow, in winter camp, eating camp food.
The food will keep your body producing energy, make sure it's well fed!


5. Protect your exposed skin

Wearing sunscreen (preferably SPF 50) during winter camping is essential. But, you also need to protect yourself from the wind, because windburn can be really painful. To protect your skin, apply some thick oil-based cream, or cover the exposed skin (cheeks, nose, and ears) with scarves or balaclavas. Also, don’t do anything with bare hands – use your gloves to protect your fingers, because once they get cold, it is very hard to warm them up.

Red cheeked woman sitting in sleeping bag in snow
Learn from my mistakes - wear high SPF sunscreen even in winter.


A BONUS TIP!

6. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Don’t be afraid to go out there and enjoy the snowy landscape. Winter hiking and camping are awesome and thrilling activities. Just follow these tips, and enjoy all the beauties that nature has to offer in the coldest season.

Failed attempt at putting up a tent in snow.
My first time setting up a tent in snow wasn't neither easy or pretty.

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