January 02, 2024 3 min read

Winter camping offers a unique and crisp experience to those that want to brave the cold. As the temperatures drop and snow starts (no matter how slowly this year), the key to a successful winter camping trip lies in the quality of your gear and knowledge. We'll explore essential winter car camping tips for your next adventure so you can stay out for longer this season.

5 Tips for Winter Camping and Sleeping in the Cold


Invest in a Good Mattress or Sleeping Pad

Investing in a quality mattress or sleeping pad designed for cold-weather camping is paramount. Mattresses with a high R-value will keep you the warmest, because the higher the R-value, the more insulation your sleep system will get. All HEST mattresses are crafted with high R-values and temperature resilient foam that won’t become rock solid when you’re sleeping in below zero temperatures. Opt for the HEST Sleep System with a high R-Value of 11.8, this mattress will keep you warm even in the chilliest of nights.


Mastering the Art Layering 

Just as you layer your clothing to stay warm, layering your bedding is crucial for winter camping. We like to add our bedding setto our sleeping set up in any season, but when it’s cold out, each layer counts. On top of a fitted and top sheet, we suggest HEST's hydrophobic goose Down Comforterwhich is insulated enough to keep you cozy even on a chilly night, but on especially cold nights you can add a sleeping bag layer for extra cold weather- think 15 or 0 degree bags. This layering technique ensures that your body heat is trapped, providing a toasty cocoon for a restful night's sleep.


Add Heat to Your Sleeping Area

Before hopping into bed, take a few minutes to preheat where you are sleeping. We like to heat up a non-insulated water bottle before heading to bed, so when we crawl in, the sleeping bag is nice and toasty. This tip will also help you fall asleep faster. Another easy way to keep warm is to use hand or toe warmers! Our extremities are typically the first places to get cold, so keeping toe warmers on your socks or hand warmers in your layers, will help keep you warm through the night. Also, do some jumping jacks or move around a bit before you get in bed so your internal temp is warmer and heats bed up more quickly/traps more heat in. .    


Be Mindful of Darkness

Winter days are shorter and the sunsets always come too quickly, even if we’ve been dreading  the oncoming 4:30 PM sunsets all fall! These short days limit your time for winter outdoor activities, so plan your days accordingly. We always like to keep a headlamp or lightsource in our backpack, so we aren’t skiing, snowboarding or hiking down in the dark. 


Stay Hydrated and Well-Nourished

Maintaining proper hydration and nutrition is crucial for staying warm in cold weather. Cold air tends to be dry, so your body works harder to stay warm and you can become dehydrated without even realizing it. While you’re out adventuring, packing a thermos of hot broth or tea, warms the body while keeping you hydrated and fueled. When packing food for your camping trip, think about how easy it will be to prepare and that it won’t freeze in your campsite during the day. That way when you get back to camp you can easily chef up a warm meal for yourself without your fingers getting too cold! Before you go to bed, make sure to take a pee. Your body expends energy keeping your pee/bladder warm, so if you empty your bladder it will warm you up!



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