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Cold Weather Camping Tips

More campsites (like the Camping & Caravanning Club's Troutbeck site pictured) are staying open for longer these days opening up opportunities to camp in relative comfort all year round. Wild camping is fun but a hot shower has great appeal! Layers of thin clothing rather than a heavy jacket allow you to adjust levels of insulation and warmth quickly and easily. Avoid getting sweaty as damp clothes soak up body heat. Natural fills like feather and down in sleeping bags lose their insulation values when wet or even just damp. For most of us in the UK, it means that synthetic fills are more reliable unless you are confident you can keep your down-filled bag dry. A 'mummy' shape bag means there is less space for your body to heat and it hugs your head and shoulders like a cocoon. Try not to sleep with your head inside your sleeping bag as your breath pumps damp air into the bag reducing the insulation properties and warmth. Take every opportunity to air out your bag and tent as body moisture vapour and warm breath condense in the tent at night and the moisture will reduce warmth. It might even freeze on the inside of the tent giving you an unwelcome frosty shower in the morning. A sleeping bag liner can make a big difference to how warm you feel throughout the night. Cold ground draws heat away from you so insulating yourself is essential. A closed cell foam sleeping pad or self-inflating air/foam mattress offer good protection from the cold which can be boosted by lying on spare clothing. A little light exercise before turning in will raise your body temperature and help to warm your bag; don't overdo it and end up sweaty. Put on dry clothing such as a spare base layer top and 'long johns' before slipping into your sleeping bag. Wear a snug hat such as a beanie to bed in order to cut down heat loss through your head. Store your sleeping bag loosely in a large mesh or cotton bag between trips to make sure it keeps its loft and insulating value. Before you brave the morning chill, pull the clothes you plan to wear inside your bag to warm them up. Torch batteries are affected by cold but you can coax a dead battery into life by warming it up in your hands or a pocket. If you keep them in your sleeping bag, try to avoid lying on them!
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