Winter Camping: Dress For Success

Winter camping can be invigorating. It is a whole different camping ballgame than camping in warmer months.

There are special considerations when one exposes themselves to harsh elements and the best protection against injury and illness are the personal supplies you bring along.

It’s Not the Clothes You Wear but How You Wear Them

In order to stay warm, you not only need the proper clothing, but you need to wear it properly.

Heat loss is one of the biggest dangers when you are out in the cold outdoors. Your body functions as a furnace to keep you warm.

You lose heat through a variety of means such as respiration, evaporation and convection.

If you are physically active, heat production increases and when you decrease your level of activity, heat begins to abate as well. The way to stay warm is to insulate the body.

Insulation can be done by layering your clothing. When material is dense, it quickly transfers heat using the conduction principle.

Dead space between your skin and clothing layers is where heat is produced and to thermally insulate yourself is to keep that space between your skin and an article of clothing where it is needed; next to your body.

Proper Layering Techniques

Too many layers can cause you to overheat and this is as bad as not having enough layers.

Layers trap the heat that is conducted from the body and it is important that you find that perfect balance that will keep you warm without causing you to sweat.

Sweating causes you to lose more heat than if you had stayed dry. Learn to adjust your layers to your unique body temperature. Practice layering at home at the same levels of activity as you will be engaging in when camping.

If you intend on hiking steep hills with a heavy backpack, do the same before you leave for your trip so you have a general idea of how many layers of clothing is ideal for you.

The Best Material

The best fabrics for winter camping clothing to be made of are wool, fleece, pile, polypropylene and other fabrics that don’t absorb water in cases of overheating.

Thermal underwear, woolen socks and coats made of hydrophobic materials will keep you the warmest.

Winter camping presents unique challenges to the camper, though by no means are they insurmountable. It is a wonderful experience to be out in the cold, biting air, feeling as perhaps pioneers from the past felt.