If you’ve ever camped in winter you’ll know it can be cold enough to freeze off certain parts of a brass monkey!
I’m a retired Army Sergeant and I’ve camped in freezing conditions many times. I think the coldest was on a mountain in Canada, where it was -30 and we dug a snow hole to sleep in. I couldn’t feel a thing when I woke up and my fingers struggled to strike the match to light the campfire in the morning.
With this experience under my belt, here are my best tips:
Shelter against the elements
Unless you’re braver than me, you’ll need/want shelter! As soldiers, we often used to set up camp quickly, using a basha shelter. A basha is a bit like a tarpaulin sheet with poles; it is light to carry and can be angled against the elements, however, most people will use a tent. When choosing a tent, you’ll want a lightweight option that is easy to put up and packs down to a size that won’t hold you back.
An absolute essential is a good quality Goretex bivi bag, which is waterproof and breathable, such as this army-issued one. A bivi bag goes over your sleeping bag and the reason for this extra layer is that the LAST thing you want is rainwater (or even sweat) beside your skin/clothes and then it freezing!
When you are facing an overnight in the bitter cold you need a special cold weather sleeping bag which can keep you warm in sub-zero temperatures. You will not get away with a standard sleeping bag! A few of the friends on our Facebook page suggest putting a layer between you and the ground by either using a sheet of radiator reflector foam or even branches from a fir tree. Another tip was to heat up the inside of your sleeping bag using a hot water bottle before you climb in.
Next up, you’ll obviously need food and water. You may not know this, but gas canisters can freeze, so for cooking, I always take a Hexi block cooker, which can be lit with a match or lighter. I also take a decent-sized flask for water, a mess tin, compact cutlery and something boil in the bag to eat.
The last wee piece of advice I have for you is to take a head torch. There’s nothing harder than setting up camp in the freezing darkness with one hand! And one last tip from the Facebook page? A hip flask with a single malt!
Do you agree with this list? Afterall, not too many of us are lucky enough to have a tipi with a wood burner like one of our good friends on Facebook (you’ll find a pic of his tipi in the comments of this Facebook thread).
Have you got any other cold weather camping tips? Share them with us…