Winter Camping Tips
Winter camping can be one of the most inspirational and beautiful adventures you could ever have the chance to experience... It is usually relatively bug free (as most bugs don't like the cold) and campsites are quiet and empty compared to the Summer months. But be warned, Winter camping can also turn into a complete and utter disaster very quickly. The difference between these two outcomes is simply paying a little more attention to the planning of your outdoor escape.
1) Layer Up - Dress Appropriately
When travelling to your destination, either in the car or hiking you'll be quite warm and your body will maintain a constant heat while you are on the move or completing your camp set up, so it is important to dress in clothing that you can add and remove in between periods of inactivity. Warm undergarments (thermal undies) are a must as well as a woollen fleece blend of socks / stockings and a light-weight but waterproof jacket. Also a scarf, a beanie and mittens or gloves are advisable.
Finally, the CampKings Crew will also take a pair of UGGS and if you do too - make sure to scotch guard them before you go to help repel the frost, water and dew.
2) Build your campfire
As soon as you arrive at your campsite, before completing anything else, START YOUR CAMPFIRE!
This will be a welcome source of warmth for you. Make sure that you have prepared for this by packing some firelighters, waterproof matches and kindling. If you are camping in any National Park in Australia, be sure to take your own fire wood as removing or using the wood in these areas is not permitted as this could be a home or shelter to some of our native animals.
3) Utilise the power of the sun
Using a compass, check the passage of the sun remembering that it will rise in the East and set in the West. Most smart phones will have a compass available so don't stress if you haven't got one in your kit. Once you have aligned yourself and are ready to set up, angle your tent entry away from the direction of any predicted winds and if you position your tent correctly, the morning the sun will warm your tent (and you in it) and also help to burn off any dampness or night dew before you need to roll it away on pack up day.
4) Drink plenty (of water)
In order to keep your body temperature up it is important that you drink lots of water and stay hydrated. You should consume either hot or cold water based drinks like tea or hot chocolate and make sure that at night time when you need to go - YOU GO... Holding on will actually make you colder so as difficult as it may be, you should get out of your warm, cosy sleeping bag to empty out, and then crawl back in!
5) Insulate and protect your campsite
The CampKings Crew recommend setting your tent up beneath a tarpaulin kit or tarp shelter as this will stop the cold air and dew settling on your tent and a tarpaulin will also help to protect you and your camp site from the night air. It is also very beneficial to use rubber / foam mating beneath your tent or to line your tent floor and insulate your bedding from the cold earth if you don't have a set of stretcher beds. You can also go 'old-school' and use newspaper to do this for the same effect.
6) Prepare for and expect condensation
As you breath throughout the night, you will expel warm air and this will eventually cause a build up of moisture along the walls and on the roof of your tent. The build up will lead to a wet inside and possibly even a wet floor and while this usually cannot be avoided, it can be minimised by leaving some windows open on your tent to allow good ventilation. Yes, this will allow some cold air to come into your tent, but the warmth generated by you in your sleeping bag will be enough to keep you warm throughout the night.
Leaving windows open would only really be advisable if you have a tarpaulin shelter kit or a tent designed for window ventilation as the weather could change while you are asleep. It is also said that a pan of cooled charcoal at the foot of the tent, or hanging from the roof midway, will absorb moisture like a sponge. You should also definitely avoid taking anything wet (clothing, towels, shoes) into your tent.
7) Get Ready for Bedtime
Do not strip down before crawling into your sleeping bag - Get into your warm winter woollies and don't forget your socks and beanie. If your feet and head are warm, almost 80% of the areas from where heat escapes from your body are protected. Just before you retire, enjoy a night cap and boil the billy in order to fill your hot water bottle and most importantly, don't use an air mattress as it will cool beneath you just like the air outside. When the air in the mattress cools down, it will be like sleeping on a chilly block of ice! Brrrr...