This is a checklist for what to do when camping in the winter to ensure you have just as comfortable of a night’s sleep as you would any other time of year out in the sticks…
- Hot Water
About an hour before going to bed, boil up some hot water, and put it in a spill-proof container, such as a Nalgene bottle, and toss it into your (properly rated) sleeping bag. This will make it nice and cozy for when you are ready to climb in yourself.
- Hand Warmers
If you have some hand warmers, open up a couple of these and toss them into your bag as well when going to sleep, at the food, mid-section, and head of the sleeping bag. This also helps keep you nice and toasty.
Have some beef jerky on you? Eat a bit before going to bed – it takes your body some work to digest this, and it goes right into the furnace to help produce more body heat.
Make sure you are not dehydrated before going to bed. Your body needs water to keep the engine running smooth.
Before settling down, even if you need to wait a bit longer, go to the bathroom. Otherwise, your body is using up resources that could keep you warm, trying to keep your pee warm. What’s the point if you need to get rid of it anyways?
Make sure when you are getting into your bag, you also have a few layers on. Not enough to sweat, although if you do, it’s time to think about dropping a layer or two. Since in a mummy bag, your face is really the only thing exposed, using a balaclava, wool hat, Buff, or something like that to retain heat from your head is a must.
If you are using an un-insulated air pad, or just a closed-cell foam pad, or something else entirely, make sure you use a system here. Keep something like a closed-cell foam pad on the bottom against the surface your are sleeping on, and something like an air pad under your sleeping bag. If you are in direct, or close-to-direct contact with the ground, snow, tent floor, or a cold bunk, an added layer keeps you that much further away, so it does not draw the heat away from where it should be, your body.