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5 ways to stay warm while camping in the cold

You know already about the biggest myth about Australia? “It’s always crispy hot and sunny?” Yeah, I don’t think so! This morning it was 4 degrees (Celsius) in Perth and it’s officially spring in this part of the hemisphere.

Rugged up in front of the heater or cuddled up at night, I’m not complaining (maybe just a little) as living in a house makes weather so much more bearable. But as I said, it’s spring which is the BEST time to watch wildflowers along the Western Australian coast. Yet, the two and a bit hours drive north is just that much too far to visit national parks only for a day trip. Which brings camping back into the discussion.

Now I said living in a house is great; a fact you’re sorely reminded of when you’re camping. Last weekend we ventured north again and only with a bit of preparation the chilly nights don’t turn into a nightmare. Here my pearls of wisdom:

1. Avoid camping in the cold
This sounds obvious. If you plan a camping trip, regardless of where you travel to, research temperatures instead of simply assuming that it’ll be alright. Chances are, it won’t! Misconceptions exist. A Sydneysider recently told me about his planned adventure to Uluru in August where he wanted to camp with his family. Uhum, really? Yes, it’s the desert, but did you at least take one look at the average minimum temperature in Alice Springs? Yep, told you so!

2. Avoid the wind chill
If you, like me, can’t follow the sound advice above because the local attraction of, let’s say pretty little flowers that only blossom once a year, lures you out into the cold then keep in mind where you camp. Any protection you can find will help a great deal. See, our van is a wonderful windbreaker. It doesn’t have to be particularly windy as even a little bit of a breeze can send you shivering. Last weekend Thorsten took at least half an hour (it felt like hours though, I must admit, but hey no judgement here!) to park our van for the night so that it protects us from the breeze.

3. Be prepared
Munching on our dinner, sipping on our wine and enjoying amazing sunsets is why camping is so much fun. As soon as the sun sets, no matter how well you park your van or place your tent, IT WILL GET FREAKING COLD. The only way to combat this is to put on layers and layers of clothes (which you should have brought). Jumper, jacket, hoodie and blankets – anything goes and by 6.30pm we were rugged up like little mummies.

4. Use the early escape
Despite the layers of clothes and blankets by 9.00pm the temperatures were so unbearable there was only one escape: we all went to bed. Yes, it sounds pathetic, but given that you sit in almost complete darkness and it’s nice and quiet around you chances are you’ll be sleepy anyway. Also, cuddling up in a tent or van sound terribly appealing, doesn’t it?

5. Use your sleeping bag properly
Now, if you’ve never slept in a sleeping bag before you need to understand that if you crawl into your sleeping bag with five layers of clothes on hoping for a good night sleep YOU WILL BE COLD. Sleeping bags only keep you warm if you slip in with minimal clothing. I know, a bit counterintuitive, but your clothes will insulate your body temperature so that the padding of your sleeping bag can do nothing for you. However, just a sleeping bag may not keep you warm either, but you can put additional layers ON TOP OF YOUR SLEEPING BAG like blankets, towels or clothes. That’ll guarantee you a cozy night….that is only if the additional layers on top don’t slip off, of course.

Have I missed anything? How do you keep warm at night when camping?

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. “if the additional layers on top don’t slip off, of course” Yep- I can sing a song of that one.. 😉

    • I had you in mind when I wrote that…so sorry!

      • Ah-don`t worry. I`m glad to give you food to write..
        A nice campfire can also warm you up..assumed it is allowed… 😉

  2. Strip off to get in your sleeping bag, but put your tracky daks, and hoody etc underneath your pillow. That way if you do get cold in the night, or have to go outside for whatever reason it’s easy to find. And can save bringing two pillows.

    And always plan for it to be colder than you think.
    The coldest I’ve ever been was night 2 into our drive from Perth to Adelaide, staying on a marsh in cocklebiddy (one of those tiny towns on the nullabor) and we only had city track pants, jumpers, no layers to speak of. First big town we stopped at we bought winter clothes and thermals. Lesson learned.

    • Oh yes, putting it under the pillow is a great idea. It warms the clothes up too so you don’t have to pull ice cold gear on the next morning…VERY good thinking!

  3. Good advice for avoiding a cold tush, save for the moments where a tush need be exposed. 😉


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