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Cold Weather Camping


Cold Weather Camping

With just a little preparation, you can spend a cold night in camp warm & comfy.

Key Factors · Sleeping Bag · Sleeping Pad · Sleeping Clothes

Other Reminders: Most Scouts have a sleeping bag but few have one that is adequate for subfreezing temperatures. Here are some alternatives.

  • Winter Weight Bag (very expensive).
  • Sleeping bag within a bag. Two lighter weight bags may be combined, one inside the other to achieve or surpass the insulating ability of a winter weight bag.
  • Sleeping bag liner. It is designed to fit inside another sleeping bag. A liner can be fairly expensive but can also be used as a warm weather bag.
  • Improvise a liner with a blanket. Fold the blanket lengthwise to form an envelope into which you slide feet-first. Overlap the edges to prevent drafts. Fold the bottom to avoid bunching as well as drafts but leave enough room so your feet aren't cramped. Place an Insulating barrier between you and the ground.


  • Closed Cell Foam Pad. Make sure the pad is at least 3/8-inch thick. Closed cell foam won't absorb water.
  • Therm-a-rest Mattress is a combination foam pad-air mattress and provides good insulation. The cost of this type of bedding may be high.
  • Layers of newspaper inside a plastic bag. The layers should be thick enough to provide good insulation. This is quite heavy and tends to absorb water.

A regular Air mattress is not good for Winter Camping.
Any sleeping pad should be the full length of the campers body.

Some Suggestions:

  • Use the layering method in which you wear sleeping clothes that trap a layer of warm air close to the body.
  • Sleeping clothes should be clean, dry and loose fitting. Avoid tight elastic cuffs or waists. Synthetic expedition weight long underwear tops and bottoms are great. These look like a sweat shirt and sweat pants (soft and fuzzy on the inside), but are NOT cotton.
  • Never sleep in clothes you wore during the day. Wet or dirty clothes do not insulate as well as clean dry clothes.
  • If your sleeping bag does not have a wind collar, you may need an extra layer of clothes or a sleeping hood to protect your shoulders from the cold. Protect your head and Neck. You lose up to 80% of your body heat from this area. You may want to consider wearing a stocking cap that can be pulled over your ears for extra protection.
  • Provide extra protection for the feet. A loose fitting pair of clean wool socks helps to keep your feet warm.
  • Keep things you may need in a duffel bag close by. These things may include: Drinking water, Flashlight, Lip Balm, Handkerchief, snacks and clean clothes for the morning.
  • Heat reflecting "Space Blankets" are Okay for a ground cloth, but not for use on top of the sleeping bag.
  • Avoid Cotton. Synthetic fibers and wool help keep you warm by wicking moisture away from the body.