When camping in winter, the most important consideration you have is keeping warm- which is a two-fold process: keeping the heat in, and keeping the cold out.
The most effective way to achieve this is by dressing in layers. This gives you the freedom to adjust your attire in order to help regulate your body temperature. It’s more important to dress in layers in the outdoors as you are constantly exposed to the elements and don’t have your usual access to a full wardrobe.
Three layers is a good place to start, consisting of: A liner layer, an insulation layer and an outer layer, which should generally be wind and waterproof. If you get these three layers right you will be much better equipped for the cold.
In terms of winter dressing, another essential is to avoid cotton at all costs. Great for the summer as a lightweight and breathable material, however it is not nearly as good in winter. Unfortunately cotton loses all insulation when it gets wet, as well as taking an extraordinarily long time to dry, leaving you wet, cold and uncomfortable. Your best bet in a winter camping situation is to swap out cotton for synthetics.
Cold, wet and icy feet generally mean you will be freezing and miserable the whole day, not to mention uncomfortable. The best way to avoid this is to ensure that the outer layer of your boots are waterproof either because they are plastic, or because you have taken the time to oil leather boots properly.
Believe it or not, one of the easiest ways to lose body heat is through your head. It is therefore necessary to consider wearing some kind of protective layer on your head to avoid losing valuable heat. A balaclava is a good option as it will also cover your face and neck at the same time if it is very cold.
A common mistake that campers make is to try and wear additional socks in order to keep their feet warm. This is dangerous because too many pairs of socks can constrict circulation and actually inhibit your feet from warming up. This said however, always pack a few extra pairs of socks- wet socks can really make a winter camp uncomfortable and cold, so make sure you have some dry supplies in case your socks do get wet.
Gaiters are a worthwhile consideration if you are planning a winter camping or hiking trip. They will make a massive contribution in keeping your feet dry and therefore warm as well.
So those are a few tips in order to remain warm, dry and comfortable during your next winter camping experience. It’s all about planning ahead and making sure you are wearing appropriate outdoor clothing during your trip.