23 Essential Winter Camping Hacks
Reasons why camping in the winter is actually better: There are no bugs, the wildlife is in hibernation, and no one but you is crazy enough to be out there in the arctic temperature.
1. If your flashlight batteries stop working in the cold, warm them up before using them.
Batteries don't discharge as well until warmed up, so hold them in your hand near a heat source or keep them in your sleeping bag.
2. Buy your winter camping essentials when they're on sale during the summer.
3. If you've got room in your sleeping bag, keep your clothes for the next day in there with you.
4. Use hand warmers to warm up your sleeping bag.
5. Yoga mats can double as foam sleeping pads to isolate you from the ground.
6. Keep your matches in a metal, not plastic, container.
7. Don't sleep with your face buried under the covers/sleeping bag.
8. If there are other people in your tent, sleep close together so that less cold air rises through the tent floor.
9. Make your own flannel sleeping bag liner.
10. If you have to pee, don't hold it. Use a pee bottle.
11. Put boiling water in your water bottle and sleep with it at your feet.
12. Open the vents in your tent even if it's freezing.
13. Cowboy coffee is the easiest and best way to make coffee while camping.
14. Buy or make a stove stabilizer platform so your pot doesn't fall over while cooking.
15. Keep your water bottles upside down so they freeze at the bottom first.
16. Tie a tarp between two trees to create a wind wall.
If you have heavy wind and/or snow coming from a particular direction, a wind wall will keep your tent warmer and help with fire building as well.
Click here for a handy graphic on tying tarp knots.
17. Double insulate your sleeping bag the DIY way with two car windscreen heat reflectors.
18. Wrap your fuel bottles with duct tape.
19. Use wooden utensils, not metal ones.
20. Use your backpack as a foot cover.
21. Hook a binder or key ring to your zippers to make them easier to unzip.
22. Know the quickest and best way to start a fire in adverse conditions.
23. A powerful pocket chainsaw helps you cut wood easily — especially when you're having a hard time finding dry wood.
And now for some basic survival tips:
Wear synthetics, and say NO to cotton.
Start shedding layers the second you start perspiring.
Wear sunglasses to prevent snow blindness.
You can drink the snow.
Invest in a pair of fleece-lined waterproof socks and a balaclava.
If you know you're going to be in a wet climate, wool socks might not cut it. Used by the U.S. military, these socks keep extremities dry and warm down to temperatures as low as -30º F. They're $54.95 from Hammacher Schlemmer.
A balaclava will keep cold air out much better than a hat and scarf will. Under Armour makes a good one.