5 tips for staying warm when backpacking in winter

Cold days and frosty nights will be upon us before we know it.    I, for one, am looking forward to it, because that means winter camping is here!

winter camping how to stay warm
Photo Credit: tmo-photo via Compfight cc

If you are ready for winter, and wanting to try camping without all the gear, we share a guest post from James, of http://www.bestairmattressguide.com, who is sharing 5 tips for keeping warm when you are backpacking this winter!

Winter in the countryside, in the forest or in the mountains is a must see for everyone. Now, some people choose to go to a resort and just look at all the lovely snow from inside their warm cottages or ski the day away, in a perfectly calm and orderly manner.

Other people take the more adventurous option and go winter camping – and carrying all their gear on their back (food, tent, sleeping gear).  While it may sound interesting and an experience that every single person should go through at least once in their lives, winter camping can get pretty chilly if you don’t know how to manage your living condition.

Here are five backpacking tips for keeping the temperature in the in the superior double digits during the winter months. 

1.   Wear three layers of clothes:

It’s important to have a base layer made of materials like synthetic or merino wool, because they dry quickly. It’s a rookie mistake to use cotton as the layer that touches the skin. In the winter, cotton keeps the moisture in and it takes hours for it to dry completely.

The second layer of clothes is the one that keeps you insulated and warm. Warmth is essential, so be sure to use down or fleece, materials that are known for their ability to keep the heat in and the cold out.

The third layer must be waterproof, windproof, but also well ventilated, such as laminates and polyurethane – coated fabrics.

winter backpacking how to stay warm

2.  Move around -  a lot

The reality is that you will get cold. Very cold.

However, good blood circulation is a must, no matter the season you choose for camping. Therefore, you need to exercise, take walks around the campsite or just rub your hands all over your legs and arms every couple of hours to ensure that your blood flow is optimal.

Good circulation keeps you warm and helps you get warm quicker. If you know you suffer from bad circulation in general, don’t use tight clothing during camping, since it restricts the blood flow.

keep warm when camping backpacking

3. Keep hydrated

Water keeps your systems working to their full potential, which generates heat. The problem is that cold weather is not exactly conducive to drinking lots of water. Simply put, you don’t get thirsty in winter, which you probably already knew.

Nonetheless, you have to keep yourself hydrated in order to function properly. Water bottles need to be protected from the cold, in specially designed thermoses, made from foam, so as not to freeze.

backpacking in winter tips keeping warm when camping

4.    Use quality camping materials and choose your campsite carefully:

The perfect winter campsite is in a clearing, somewhere in a forest, surrounded by too many trees to count.

The reason behind that rather romantic site is much more practical: trees keep the wind at bay.   If you are in high country, where snow occurs in winter (think Victoria and NSW and Tasmania) without strong wind, the snow won’t gather in piles and your tent won’t need to be made from steel sheets to withstand the weather.

Which brings us to quality camping gear: never forget an insulating tarp, an excellent sleeping pad, like Therm-a-Rest ProLite Plus and both an underquilt and a topquilt.

Get more information on sleeping pads on http://www.bestairmattressguide.com.

Photo Credit: The real Jonesnow via Compfight cc

5.  Think about what you eat:

Just like with water, you need the energy that only food provides so that you can keep your body working.

Winter camping is not exactly conducive to cooking gourmet food over a camp fire, so choose wisely when you pack your lunch box. You can get your protein from jerky or dehydrated eggs, while nuts, breads, candy, oatmeal and dried foods will give you an extra boost of energy.

Thanks to James for sharing his North American advice on winter backpacking – it certainly does get cold over there!

If you have any tips on backpacking and camping in winter, share below.