Ten Winter Camping Hacks

Ten Winter Camping Hacks
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  • Using a stove in your tent is usually not a good idea because of fire and carbon monoxide poisoning, but in the most extreme cold conditions—we’re talking under 20 degrees —it can help to cook in your tent to warm your shelter while saving time and energy. I use my Jetboil System for hot drinks and pre-made soups so I am enjoying hot meals in minutes. (Tip: Always light the stove in the vestibule; open the door(s) and vestibule at least a foot; use a stove platform; and air out your tent immediately if you begin to feel a headache/nausea.)
  • Bulk up all of your zipper pulls. Most traditional pulls on jackets, pit zips, and leg vents were not necessarily designed to be used with big gloves or bulky mittens. Add pieces of lanyard roughly 3 inches long for easier access.
  • Dead phone, camera or other small electronics? Place it in an inside pocket, next to your body, and it will likely come back to life. Also, store your electronics in your sleeping bag at night to keep them from getting to cold.
  • Don’t sweat! It doesn’t matter how great your wicking base layer is, sweat too much and stop for just a few minutes and you’ll be very cold. Proper layering is essential.  I am constantly making adjustments to fine-tune body temp. Even if it is -10 degrees, if I get too warm I’ll unzip my jacket until I cool down.


  • Make eating and drinking routine. In cold weather it can be difficult to stop and fuel up. I keep a strict schedule: move for an hour and then take a five- to seven-minute break to eat and drink. Halfway through the day, I’ll have hot soup.
  • Foggy goggles? It could be because you’re too hot and your face is sweating; cool down (see #4). Alternatively, warm air from your mouth or nose could be sneaking up under your goggles. The most common culprit? Wearing goggles over a neck gaiter.
  • Keep boot liners dry. I take my liners out and put them in my sleeping bag at night. Bonus points for taking out insoles as well.
  • Sleep in your clothes to add some degrees to your sleeping bag. -40 degree bags are heavy so I take down jacket and pants and stay warm and toasty all night. Make sure you are using a good ground pad also to insulate yourself from the cold ground.
  • Middle of the night bathroom trips in the freezing cold are not my idea of good time. Store a large mouth Nalgene bottle in your sleeping bag, marked with HUGE writing or a skull and crossbones (what I do) so you don’t accidentally drink it and use inside your tent to do your business. Sorry ladies, this one is difficult for you but I have seen it done. ☺  
  • My favorite: Add 20-40 grams of butter to every meal on long trips. You burn more calories in winter and need more fat to stay warm. Besides, everything is better with butter!