Fall Camping Tips
With the arrival of fall and the beautiful golden larches, we also welcome the onset of colder temperatures. If you are planning on camping this fall, here are some tips to stay warm:
1. Separate yourself from the ground:
When sleeping on cold ground, it is especially important to insulate yourself from the ground below. Adding a closed cell foam pad is a great cost-effective method of increasing the R value of your sleeping pad (the number that indicates how insulated your pad is). Remember to put the foam on top of your air mattress, and not underneath. It might not be quite as comfortable, but it helps reduce the amount of convective heat loss. For some tips on how to choose a sleeping mat, check out our Blog: Sleeping Mats: How to Choose.
2. A hot water bottle:
Before you go to bed, boil some water, pour it in a water bottle, put the water bottle in a thick sock (to prevent it from burning you) and put it inside your sleeping bag. This will create a nice ‘heating pad’. Make sure you close the bottle well to prevent any accidents while you sleep.
3. Zip your outer layer or rain jacket around your feet:
This will protect your feet from any wind and acts like a vapor barrier liner by reducing the amount of heat lost by evaporative cooling.
4. Don’t hold your pee at night!:
Believe it or not, this is extremely important. When nature calls, just get up and go. The longer you ignore it, the more energy your body needs to spend keeping your urine warm instead of you.
5. Go to bed with a full happy belly:
Your body needs fuel to stay warm, so skipping dinner in favor of staying tucked in your sleeping bag is not a good idea. Choose foods that take a long time to digest so that they can keep you warm all night long.
6. Use a separate set of clothes as pajamas:
Changing your evening clothes for something dry before bed is a great way to stay warmer at night. Merino wool, synthetic fabrics, and wool are all good choices for night time wear. Avoid wearing cotton, tight fitting clothing or anything that could cause compression and restrict blood flow to your extremities.
7. Manage your condensation:
At night we still radiate heat from our bodies and breathing, which creates condensation. While sealing in your tent can make it feel warmer initially, if your breath creates too much condensation on your tent it can backfire by getting your sleeping bag and gear damp when you move around at night. You can prevent this by opening a vent (or even a door). When you sleep, try to keep your mouth and nose outside of your sleeping bag. It can feel warmer initially if you curl in, but eventually all the warm moist air that you breath out is going to interfere with your sleeping bags ability to keep you warm. If it is cold enough at night for condensation to freeze, sweep it up and carry it out of the tent before it gets a chance to melt and wet your gear.
8. Emergency blanket:
Also known as space blankets, emergency blankets are not only for emergencies. In cold weather, they can be pretty handy. The easiest way to use them is as a vapor barrier liner – just tuck it into your sleeping bag with the reflective side facing your body. It will stop heat loss from evaporative cooling, and the shiny reflective coating will reflect your heat back to you. You can also put it under your sleeping mat if the reason you are cold is from inadequate ground insulation.
9. Remember to protect important items from chance of freezing:
While this doesn’t relate to keeping your body warm, keeping your phone charged, and water filters filtering is important! Put anything you don’t want to freeze inside your sleeping bag, or add hot water bottles and glove warmers to items you want to keep warmer overnight (like your boots).
10 The most important tip: Be safe!
It’s fun to push the boundaries of what we can and cannot do, and it’s great extending the camping season into fall, but it’s better to be able to come back and do it again next year. Make sure you check the weather forecast and know the warning signs of hypothermia. Small accidents can become much more dangerous in the cold, so make sure you are prepared!