Cold Weather Camping Instructions

In order to safely camp in cold weather, the following are needed:

  • Long polypropylene underwear
  • Polypropylene sock liners
  • Wool socks
  • Winter/snow pants
  • Fleece sweatshirt or pullover
  • Layered winter jacket
  • A hat and gloves (with spares)
  • For wind conditions a face cover
  • Winter boots: VERY IMPORTANT rated to at least -20 deg and with removable liners. The removable liner serves 2 purposes, first you remove them from the boot at night and sleep with them on your feet (keeps your feet warmer at night) and when you wake up the part of the boot that your foot goes in is already warm.
  • A Nalgene type water bottle (very easy to get dehydrated even in the winter)
  • A plastic mess kit is nice because it is no fun eating out of a tin mess kit when it is below 10 degrees.
  • A mug for warm beverages.


For a good night’s sleep out in the cold, the following advice is very important. Let’s start from the tent floor up and remember the whole idea is to insulate yourself from the ground (remember, we lose far more heat to the ground than to the air):

  • On the tent floor place a heavy duty survival blanket with the shiny side up. This reflects any body heat back towards you and away from the ground. If big enough it can be wrapped around the sleeping bag for added warmth. Always have the shiny side facing the camper.
  • Next is your sleeping pad. A solid foam or combination air/foam is best. An air mattress by itself will draw heat away from your body.
  • On the mattress goes a wool blanket (heavy to carry so may not be useful for cold weather backpacking) this further insulates you from the cold ground.
  • Next is your sleeping bag. For cold weather a minimum of a 0 degree thinsulate bag will be perfect (down filled are great if you can guarantee that they will stay dry, they do not insulate when wet. Watch a group of scouts on a campout and there is no way you can guarantee their gear will stay dry). This sleeping bag should be a mummy bag (rectangular bags from department stores are cheaper but simply do not keep you warm in colder weather in fact they can leave you dangerously cold).
  • Inside the sleeping bag goes a fleece sleeping bag liner. This adds another layer and can increase the rating of the bag by 10 to 15 degrees.