Camping is pretty much a year round activity in Australia and many of us aren’t phased by a little bit of cold weather. We have had a couple of trips where it has been pretty cold – our first trip to Rainbow Beach comes to mind, as well as Stanthorpe which is located in the middle of the Granite Built and can experience temperatures in the negative during winter. So how do you survive camping in cold weather?
Here are my Top 5 Tips:
There is nothing worse than trying to sleep if you are cold. If you are in a camper trailer you have a slight advantage in that the bed is up off the ground. A good woolen underlay can help insulate against the cold, as can good quality woolen filled doona’s. For the kids, camp stretchers are a better alternative to air mattresses as they get them up off the ground. We also put mats on the floor and have woolen blankets that go on top of the camp stretchers. If you are using sleeping bags, you need one that is correctly ‘rated’ for the temperatures you are camping in.
A summer weight sleeping bag is not going to do the job if you are camped in the Snowy Mountains in the middle of winter. To find the right sleeping bag for your needs it can be very worthwhile to talk to the people at your local camping store. Most stores have a good range of sleeping bags suitable for all sorts of different weather conditions and can advise you on the best for the type of camping you will be doing.
If you are going to camp somewhere where you know it will be cold, you want to give some thought to how you position your camper trailer or tent. You will want to take advantage of any sunshine for as long as possible so face the widest part of your trailer towards the north and away from any large trees that will produce shade in the afternoon. This will also allow for any condensation that may have built up overnight to dry out thoroughly.
One of the best things about camping in colder weather is enjoying a camp fire. But whenever you have a fire you must consider the safety aspects of one as well. Never build your camp fire to close to your tent or trailer. You don’t want anything catching on fire from a flying ember, nor do you want to fill your tent up with campfire smoke. Wood that is green or damp will produce lots of smoke until it drys out. You might consider having a small tarp to throw over your wood to prevent it from getting damp. Make sure that your fire is out before you go to bed. You don’t want it flaring up over night and possibly blowing embers onto your tent whilst you are asleep.
Suitable clothing is the key to keeping yourself warm in cold weather and I think layering is definitely the way to go. That way you can easily add or remove a layer as the need arises. A singlet or thermal style top is a must to put on first. There are some great products out there that fit snugly to your body and help insulate it. After that you can add layers like jumpers and jackets. A pair of good quality woolen socks are a must as well. They will help keep your feet warm as well as drawing moisture away from your skin. Don’t forget to add a beanie too as body heat can be lost through your head.
If you happen to travel with a furry friend or two, don’t forget their needs in colder weather, especially if they are not used to the cold or are older. Keep them warm with a raised bed, an extra blanket and a doggy jacket. Don’t forget to keep them safe around the campfires.