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Carry On Camping In Cold Weather!

With shorter daylight hours come longer and colder nights. Colder days too, of course, but living with them is easier than coping when camping. During the day we're active and can easily add or remove layers of clothing to keep us comfortable. Through evenings and nights, it's not so easy but far from truly difficult. Most of us tend to trim back camping plans through the winter but it's a shame to lose a whole season. Insulation is the key to comfort through the night - from both the surrounding air and the ground. Happily, that's fairly easy to achieve with a combination of warmer sleeping bag, baselayer nightwear and a good sleep mat. Sitting around in a tent for several hours can be boring, even claustrophobic, so the trick is to reduce that time as far as is sensibly possible. First, start early, stop as late as is feasible and safe. Second, turn cooking your evening meal into a positive activity rather than a chore. A little imagination and extra time can turn a solo or twin meal into a feast that will help keep you warm through the night and set you up for the next day. Lighting is a key factor during winter nights with a versatile head torch as a key winter camping essential; it's the safest way to illuminate cooking and tent life. Most advisors state categorically that you should never, ever use a stove inside your tent but, very often, it's the only practical way to cook on camping trips. Rain, wind, snow and the cold itself mean that most winter camping meals will be prepared, cooked and eaten inside a tent with legs and torso tucked into a cosy sleeping bag. The key to avoiding a tent fire is to be super careful and cook by an open doorway. If conditions are so bad that it's not possible to do that then resist the temptation to batten down the hatches with all tent zips closed. Condensation will soak you and your gear with the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning raised dramatically - camping in winter is not worth dying for, after all. Good ventilation is the answer and most tents offer a variety of options that maintain protection from the elements whilst allowing moisture vapour and noxious fumes to escape. Consider it a priority, along with space, weight and packed size. Top Tip Don't bury your head in your sleeping bag as the moisture vapour in your breath will condense in the fill, gradually wetting it and reducing its warmth.