20 Winter Camping Tips to Keep You Warm Year Round
Camping in the winter months can be wonderful but you’ll need to prepare for the harsh UK weather. We’ve complied our top winter camping tips for you below so you can enjoy feeling crunchy leaves underfoot, snap snowy photos and snuggle up in your sleeping bag on one of our campsites this winter.
1. Set up camp while it’s still light
With an earlier sunset in the winter months, it’s a good idea to pitch up before the sun starts to set. It’s difficult enough to set up your camping space when it’s dark, but in the winter months, the temperature will start to drop early too. Pitch your tent, hook up your motorhome and get cosy in your caravan before the cold sets in.
2. Don’t wait until you’re cold to take action
If you start to notice your feet or hands getting chilly, take action right away. Getting on top of being cold immediately is the best way to prevent it from taking over your camping trip.
3. Insulate from the ground up
If you’re tent camping in winter, one of the most important elements of your sleeping area will be the insulation between you and the ground. In the summer, a ground mat suffices, but in the winter, the ground will be much colder. There are specific winter mats and beds available, view our camping mat guide. The same rule applies to dogs, ensure their sleeping area is insulated.
4. Take extra blankets
You can never have too many blankets when you’re camping in the colder months. They’re useful for throwing on the ground as extra sleeping insulation, layering up when you’re relaxing on the campsite and even for taking out on walks to throw down for somewhere to sit.
Tight clothing can reduce circulation, which will make you feel cold quickly. Instead of bundling up tightly, wear layers made up of materials designed to keep you warm. Thermal base layers are a great idea as well as items made from wool, silk and polyester. Down is a good option for jackets, but it’s not waterproof. View our waterproof jacket recommendations.
6. Keep your shoes inside
When your summer camping, leaving your shoes in your porch or awning is fine to prevent mess from coming inside your unit. However, when you’re camping in the winter, you’ll want to make sure your shoes are kept inside, in a warm area in your tent to prevent them from freezing.
7. Maintain ventilation
It may seem unproductive to open your vents in cold weather, but the added airflow will reduce condensation, which could lead to damp conditions. You’re much more likely to remain warm when you’re dry so keeping moisture at bay should be your top priority.
8. Stay dry
If your clothing, shoes or bedding gets wet, it’ll be much harder to stay warm. Many materials lose their insulating properties when wet, rendering them useless. Take extra clothing and keep in a waterproof bag so you always have dry clothing available
9. Take extra lights
Don’t get caught out by the early nights, make sure you pack a torch and head torch which can be useful if you end up having to move around in the dark.
10. Take a tent just big enough
A small tent is much easier to keep warm in the winter with reduced air space to heat up.
11. Eat yourself warm
Foods that take longer to digest should help your body to stay warm for longer. Oats, bananas, potatoes and caffeine can help to raise your body temperature. In general, if you eat nutritious, balanced foods, your body will have the right type of fuel to keep you warm. Remember to take snacks like nuts, cheese and granola bars out with you if you’re spending the day outdoors. Whip up some of our winter camping recipes for tasty fuel.
12. Stay hydrated
Drink plenty of water and don’t overdo it on the alcohol. Look after your body to keep it performing optimally.
13. Useful kit
A shovel, first aid kit, emergency blanket and even hand warmers are a few things you might benefit from in a pinch.
14. Sleep warm
If you get into your sleeping bag cold, you’ll find it hard to warm up. Try and get yourself warm before climbing in, and you’ll find it easier to get comfortable.
15. Choose your pitch carefully
If there is a prevailing wind, an ideal pitch will be one that gives an element of natural shelter; fences and bushes can provide handy windbreaks but avoid camping under trees where there’s a risk of falling branches and where dripping water will continue a long time after the rain stops.
16. Invest in a winter tent
If you intend to camp out regularly at the coldest time of the year, it’s worth considering investing in a 4-season tent. Compared to 2 and 3-season (level 1-3) shelters, these models offer the twin benefits of walls that maximise heat retention, and a sturdy build to withstand beating winds.
Although it’s a wise camping option in the harshest conditions, it can, however, start to get warm and stuffy in a 4-season tent when it’s slightly milder. As such, if you plan to only ever camp out in chilly — but not sub-zero — conditions, then a 3-season model could be the way forward. A good one will give you decent strength and insulation, but shouldn’t get too hot in warmer weather, making it a versatile year-round option.
Of course, even if the forecast is favourable, the chance of rain — or snow — can never be discounted in our British weather. If a tent leaks in summer, at least there’s the option of putting your wet things out to dry in the warm air once the rain stops. Winter doesn’t give you this luxury, so waterproofing becomes even more of a priority. On new models, look for the Hydrostatic Head (HH) rating; the standard measure of waterproofing on tents. A model with a 3000 HH rating or above should give effective protection against heavy, prolonged downpours.
17. Take suitable footwear
Chances are that winter camping will involve walking through mud, snow, and rain. There’s nothing worse than having wet or cold feet when you’re camping so keep your feet warm and dry with walking boots and remember to take plenty of socks.
18. Check the weather
Keep an eye on the weather leading up to your camping trip. If there’s heavy snow or a windy storm forecast, you can prepare accordingly.
19. Stay on the grid
If you’re camping solo, let someone know where you’re going, especially if it’s a remote campsite and the weathers particularly bad. Check in with them once a day so they can raise the alarm if you get into trouble.
20. Make your own winter packing list
Using the tips in this guide and our camping checklist, put your must-have items on a list that you can refer to each time you go winter camping.
Pack up your cosy camping gear to enjoy frosty mornings and walks in the crisp winter air. If you haven’t already booked your winter camping trip, view our open all year campsites.