Camping trips in winter are wonderful. You experience nature in a completely different way and it is often wonderfully peaceful. Compared to camping in the summer, winter camping is a bit more challenging – or should we say snowy? – in terms of preparation.
Read on for a few essential tips for a warm and comfortable sleep in colder temperatures:
1. Build a ‘sleep system’
When we talk about a ‘sleep system’, we mean the combination of the right gear to make yourself as warm and comfortable as possible at night. When you use a sleeping bag, the filling is actually always compressed in the areas you lie on, which means that the insulation value at those contact points is reduced. Less insulation means less warmth, so what can you do to compensate?
This is where building a “sleep system” comes in. Cold doesn’t just come from the air, it comes from the ground. The best thing you can do here is combine your sleeping bag with a warm sleeping pad. “Is there such a thing as a warm sleeping pad?” we hear you say. Sure there is! And it’s indicated by the term “R-value. The higher the R-value, the warmer your sleeping mat. A good sleeping pad can make a big difference in how warm you sleep.
2. Fit of your sleeping bag
Once in your sleeping bag, it’s nice to have enough room to at least turn around and move around a bit. However, if you are camping in the winter, it is not recommended to use a sleeping bag that is too roomy. Why? A good sleeping bag regulates your body heat in a way that you actually keep yourself warm. Too much room in a sleeping bag can cause that valuable body heat to escape. On the other hand, if your sleeping bag is too small, you may also be compressing all the insulation (filling) with your weight, creating “cold spots” as we described in point 1.
We know… Lots to take into account! But what we really want to say is: find a sleeping bag that fits (your body). Maybe you find yourself in one of the following situations:
– You are tall. Then it’s a good idea to look for an XL sleeping bag, like our Triple-S XL sleeping bag.
– You’re small. If so, you’re probably used to sleeping bags that leave a lot of space at the bottom. Because of the loose space at the bottom, there is a good chance that your feet will get cold. That’s why we recommend going for a sleeping bag made for a shorter body, like our Orion 180S.
– You are slim. You may then like to use a slim fit sleeping bag that fits nicely to your body. With our Orion 400SC, for example, you’ll be fine.
– You’re a woman. This sounds like we’re generalizing, but studies have shown that men’s comfort temperature is generally 2 degrees lower than women’s comfort temperature. So that means women actually always need a slightly warmer environment – or warmer clothing – than men. For this reason, we have sleeping bags in our collection that are specifically designed for women. They are warmer in places where it is needed (feet and chest) and have a nice slim fit. Our Orion 400SC is a great example of this!
You probably saw this point coming. It is very important that your clothes stay dry – and warm where possible. Good options for sleeping-in-the-winter clothing are for example long (thermo) underwear, gloves, socks and a hat. Of course, the choice of clothing also depends on the weather conditions. In summer, you may not need gloves or socks.
Tip: store some extra warm clothing in the sleeping bag while you are in it. If you get cold at night, you can always put these clothes on. Bonus: the clothing is warmed by your own body heat!
4. ‘Get warm before you get in’
A classic outdoor saying. Make sure you are warm before you go into your sleeping bag. Once you go into your sleeping bag with a cold body, it will be very difficult to warm up again.
– Before you go to sleep, do some warm-up exercises so that you raise your body temperature. The nice thing is that you also take this heat with you into your sleeping bag. A good sleeping bag will also retain that valuable body heat.
– If you have the means, you can fill a thermos flask or water bottle with hot water. The bottle then serves as a kind of pitcher and keeps you warm in colder weather!