Getting out and going camping with the family is a lot of fun, but in reality, who likes being cold? Being cold vs. staying warm can be the difference between not enjoying your camping trip and having an awesome time camping with the family.
Use these 18 tips on how to stay warm while camping to ensure that everyone has a great time and remains warm while enjoying the great outdoors.
1. Bring the Right Clothes
This might sound obvious, but your clothes are your first line of defense when it comes to staying warm. Check the weather before you leave so that you have a good idea of what to expect. If the highs are in the 40s, you probably won’t want to be packing shorts and tank tops.
You’ll also want to bring some extra clothes. Especially for our kids, we always ensure we have an extra day or two worth of clothes. Inevitably, our kids find a way to get their clothes wet or ripped enough to the point where we need to break out the extra clothes.
2. Build a Fire
In addition to enjoying a campfire while out in the woods, it’ll help keep you warm and toasty. Before you head out on your camping trip, you’ll want to check online for any fire restrictions. It’s never fun to get to your campsite to learn that there is a fire restriction.
Another aspect you’ll want to consider when it comes to having a campfire is wood. Can you gather enough wood at your campsite to enjoy an extended fire, or will you need to bring wood with you? Either way, if you have enough wood for the entire day, a campfire will help to keep you warm, even on especially cold days.
3. Ensure You Have a Warm Sleeping Bag
Just like having the right clothes is extremely important, ensuring you have a sleeping bag rated to the correct temperature is very important. Some sleeping bags are rated for warmer weather, while others are rated for colder weather.
We typically err on having sleeping bags that are rated for colder weather than we expect to experience. You can learn more and find a list of great sleeping bags in our best sleeping bags post.
4. Use Enough Insulation Between You & the Ground
In addition to a warm sleeping bag, you’ll want to have enough insulation between you and the ground. The ground will get cold at night and will suck the heat right out of you. While there are multiple options, there are a couple that we recommend.
A foam pad like Teton Sports sleeping pad works well to provide you with decent insulation beneath you and will help you stay warm while camping. A foam pad will work well on the ground or even on a cot. Either way, you’ll want at least a couple of inches of insulation below you. There are lots of options, but we personally like the 3-inch gel memory foam pads. It offers a lot of comfort and stays soft even when cold.
Another option that works well is to use a few extra blankets. Fold them up and put them under you while sleeping and they will help keep you insulated from the cold ground.
5. Keep Your Feet Warm
If your feet get cold, you will have a hard time keeping the rest of your body warm. The first and probably the easiest way to keep your feet warm is to invest in some insulated boots. Boots will go a long way to keeping your feet warm and will often be the only extra precaution you need to take to have warm feet. There are many great options for insulated boots on Amazon that will work great in any condition.
If you don’t want to buy new boots, there are a couple of other tips that will still help to keep your feet warm. First of all, keep your feet dry. If your shoes are not waterproof and you are walking around in the snow, there is no way you are going to stay warm. If there will be snow, you can easily pick up some waterproof socks that will help to keep your feet dry.
If snow and water won’t be too big of a concern, then grab a few pairs of warm wool socks. These will keep your feet nice a warm all day long.
6. Keep Your Hands Warm
Just like keeping your feet warm, you’ll want to make an extra effort to keep your hands warm. You’ll want to bring a pair of warm gloves or even a pack of hand warmers. It really will warm your whole body to hold onto a set of hand warmers on a cold day.
Like hand warmers, a fire is a great way to warm your hands. Who doesn’t love sitting around a campfire, holding out your hands to warm up, and enjoying the outdoors?
7. Put an Extra Tarp Over Your Tent
When it comes to your tent, you’ll want to add an extra tarp over the top. The tent material is not the thickest and doesn’t do an awesome job of retaining the heat inside the tent. Adding an extra tarp to the top of the tent will help to keep more warmth inside the tent.
Additionally, if your rainfly does not extend all the way to the bottom of the tent walls, a tarp is a great way to bridge that gap. Having the tarp extend all the way to the bottom of the walls will help to prevent drafts from blowing up the side of the tent, under the rainfly, and directly into the tent.
8. Consider Brining a Tent Heater
Having a heater inside your tent is a great way to stay warm while camping. There are multiple types of tent heaters you can use, but you’ll want to pick the right one for your situation.
If you will be camping at a campground with electricity, then you can easily use an electric heater. This is a great option because you don’t have to worry about carbon monoxide and can run the heater all night long. This will keep the inside of your tent dramatically warmer than the outside.
If you will not have electricity at your campsite, then you can still use a propane tent heater. Mr. Heater Buddy is a great tent heater that is rated for indoor use. There is still a risk of carbon monoxide, so we do not recommend running the heater while you are sleeping. With that being said, these heaters are a great way to warm the tent before you go to bed, right as you wake up, or while you are changing.
We use the Mr. Heater Big Buddy for our tent, but that is because we use a 20 person tent, which is pretty large.
9. Bring Extra Blankets
Having extra blankets with you will come in handy in many different ways when trying to stay warm while camping. We most often use extra blankets at night when we are sleeping. On the nights that are extra cold, we will typically through an extra blanket over our sleeping bags. This gives you an extra layer of warmth and will help to keep you warm at night.
As mentioned before, you can also use them under your sleeping bag to help provide extra insulation beneath you. You can also wrap them around you when outside. Our kids like doing this when sitting around the fire. It keeps their backsides warm while they enjoy the heat from the fire.
10. Try Using a Heated Seat
Sitting around the fire is nice, and it will keep you warm but wouldn’t be nice to have a seat that stayed warm even without a fire? Well, you can have that even when camping. Check out this heated camping chair. It’s a great way to add a little more comfort while trying to stay warm while camping.
The chair runs off of a USB battery and but this would be best if you were at a camp that had electricity. This would make it easy to recharge the battery so that you can enjoy the heated seat for all long as you would like.
11. Use a Warm Water Bottle in Your Sleeping Bag
Another great way to stay warm in your sleeping bag is by placing a hot water bottle at the bottom of your sleeping bag. Warming water up over the fire or camp stove before bed, pouring it in a water bottle, and placing it at the bottom of your sleeping will warm you up very quickly.
The water bottle won’t stay hot all night, but you will be surprised how long it will stay warm. Additionally, once the hot water bottle initially helps you to warm up in the sleeping bag, you often won’t need it any longer, and your sleeping bag will do the rest of the work to keep you warm.
12. Use a Bunting for Babies and Toddlers
Everyone knows that keeping babies and toddlers under a blanket or in a sleeping bag is virtually impossible. So why not have your baby wear their sleeping bag? That’s exactly what you can do with a bunting. Buntings are basically wearable sleeping bags for babies and toddlers. There are multiple options, but we have really liked the Columbia boys bunting and Columbia girls bunting.
We have used buntings for all our kids and have been camping with babies as young as 6 months old. The buntings are great and keep your baby nice and warm. We have also found that when our babies are in their bunting, they tend to move around less. This allows you to place an extra blanket over them if the night gets extra cold.
13. Stay Dry
Keeping dry will be very important in your efforts to stay warm while camping. If you get wet and don’t dry off quickly, you will end up getting cold, and it will take quite a bit of effort to warm you back up. If you get rain while camping, follow these tips for camping in the rain to stay dry and comfortable.
You’ll want to ensure you have the right gear, like rain jackets, ponchos, a waterproof tent, etc. Taking a few extra precautions to keep yourself dry will help you avoid getting cold and not enjoying your camping trip.
14. Prepare Hot Meals & Drinks
Eating hot food will surprise you with how quickly it will warm you up. We really enjoy eating a hot breakfast on a brisk morning when out camping. It will take a little extra work when preparing, but it’ll start you off on the right foot and get you warm early in the morning.
Another great option is having a hot drink. Drinking some hot chocolate or coffee throughout the day is an easy way to keep you warm, even when there is no fire to sit around. Our kids love having a hot cup of hot chocolate before they even eat their breakfast.
15. Go for Walks or Hikes
You need to get moving. Going for walks or hikes throughout the day is a great way to get your blood pumping and circulating through your body. After even a 5-minute walk, you will begin to feel warmer and less cold.
Your body will have to work a lot harder to keep you warm if you are sitting around all day without much activity. We will typically plan at least 1 walk/hike or more intense activity during the day that helps everyone stay warm.
16. Let the Sun Warm You
Be conscious of where you are standing and sitting throughout the day. The sun will help you a lot to warm up. There is a big difference in temperature between sitting in the shade and sitting in direct sunlight.
When we know it will be a cold camping trip, we typically try to set up our tent where the sun will hit it during the day. You will be surprised how warm the inside of your tent will get during the day. This will give you a warm place to retreat to if it gets too cold for you outside.
17. Bring a Hot Shower
Taking a hot shower is an awesome way to warm us during a cold camping trip. If you camp at a campground that provides showers, then it’s an easy thing to do to take a hot shower. On the other hand, if you are not at a campground that has showered, this will be a little more difficult but still possible.
We have accomplished this with the Camplux Tankless Water Heater. This water heater has allowed us to take a hot shower on even some of the coldest days. If water hookups are available at your campground, this is still pretty easy to set up.
We typically camp where there are no electric or water hookups, and so we use a Westinghouse generator to power a pump to pump water from a barrel to the water heater.
Yes, this is more work and gear, but we have really enjoyed our hot showers, and you won’t regret your investment that keeps you clean and allows you to take hot showers.
18. Warm Up Hand Washing Water
Another great way to stay warm is to heat up the water that you’ll use to wash your hands. We create a handwashing station with a 5-gallon water jug. We fill it up with hot water, which will stay warm all day long. That warm water helps keeps our hands warm even when they get wet from washing.
You can either warm up some water over a fire and dump it into your handwashing station or use something like the Zodi Zip Water Heater to heat the water right in the water jug.
There are a lot of great tips for staying warm while camping, and we hope we’ve given you some that will help you on your next camping trip. Now take some of these ideas, use them on your next cold-weather camping trip, and get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
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