Want to meet some like-minded people and learn more about winter camping? Wisconsin Overland events are a great way to get outside and have fun in the snow.
“Ah, the leaves have fallen and soon it will be winter. I never camped in the winter before moving to Michigan, I’m so bummed I wasted all those years not doing it. But it’s never too late. My wife thinks I’m crazy, but I think winter camping has some really big advantages over “normal” camping; my two favorite being less people around and less bugs. Obviously, cold weather brings challenges in staying warm outside and dry inside your tent, vehicle or however you camp.” -Asa Meadows, Northology Adventures October 2022
PART 1-Shelter & sleeping, no heater required.
It may surprise you to hear that whether you sleep in your car, tent or trailer, you don’t need to heat the space inside the shelter. You do, however need to keep yourself warm. The most important part of that equation is a good sleeping bag (with liner) and a sleeping pad that will insulate you from below. This article in Backpacking Light describes how “R-values alone are not enough for many consumers choosing new sleeping pads,” so be sure to do some research.
Getting into a warm bed makes turning in for the night a lot more pleasant. We picked up a 12v electric blanket and pre-warm the bed in our teardrop trailer. This iHealth Comfortwarm blanket is small, has three heat settings and three timer settings. We used it at Overland the Red when overnight temps got cold enough to freeze your water bottle overnight. You could always throw a few Hot Hands handwarmers in your sleeping bag or try the old hot water bottle trick. I want to try these rechargeable, electric portable pocket heaters. I will let you know how they work out, and if you tried them, let me know what you think.
A few additional things we do to make sure we don’t wake up shivering is to change into clean, dry clothes. You would be surprised how much dampness collects in your clothing during even a lazy day of driving around. A few jumping jacks before bed gets some natural heat gong, and wearing a hat is also important to prevent heat loss from your noggin. My nose does get a little cold being the only thing peeking out of my sleeping bag but if the rest of me is toasty, I fall asleep with a smile and listen for wildlife sounds in the darkness. Hopefully animals like wolves and owls, not my campmates snoring.
“Ok, so what do you have to have to have the perfect winter camping experience when it comes to sleeping and comfort? It’s the same answer I say to “what’s the best whisky and how to drink it?” Whatever you have, whatever you like and however you like it. And at the end of the day they are just tools.” -Asa Meadows
NEXT UP Winter: Extend Your Camping Season Part 2- Warming your shelter