THE BLOG

8 Camping Hacks to Keep You Warm at Night

There are so many things we love about this time of year...the leaves changing, fewer crowds at our favorite destinations, and the cool crisp air of autumn. The down side is that that cool air can turn freezing at night when you're out camping in the wilderness.
09/24/2015 05:48pm ET | Updated September 24, 2016
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Written by Corinne White, Contributor for The Outbound Collective.

There are so many things we love about this time of year...the leaves changing, fewer crowds at our favorite destinations, and the cool crisp air of autumn. The down side is that that cool air can turn freezing at night when you're out camping in the wilderness. Don't let cooler temps stop you from camping this fall! Check out this list of tips for staying warm while camping and start planning your next camping trip.


Photo: Moe Lauchert

1. Make yourself a "crotch bottle".
Don't put that JetBoil away just yet. You're going to need to boil more water for your "crotch bottle." There's an important artery that runs inside your inner thighs that's important for regulating warmth, so a hot water bottle nestled up against your crotch is going to keep you nice and toasty. Just think of it as your backcountry teddy bear that you have to take to bed with you.

2. Do 50 jumping jacks right before you get into your tent to go to sleep.
No, this isn't a trick to burn additional calories. You might feel like an idiot doing jumping jacks in the dark, but this hack is an important one. If you're already cold when you get into your tent, it's likely that you will stay cold throughout the night. Doing a boatload of jumping jacks will get just warm enough (not sweating) to feel snuggly when you crawl into your sleeping bag.

3. Go camping with your SO and snuggle.
Or just get to know your random tentmate really, really well. It's true: nothing will keep you as warm as another human body. Do you want to be little spoon or big spoon?


Photo: Matt Clark

4. Eat olive oil, chocolate, peanut butter...Eat anything that is high in fat.
I once heard a group on a skiing hut trip were nearing hypothermia, so they passed a jug of olive oil around and chugged as much as they could. Bottoms up!

5. Bring two stocking caps.
Make sure they are different colors, so you can be the most fashionable person on the trail. Just kidding. But bringing two hats will ensure that you always have a dry, warm one. Having a warm hat isn't useful at night if it's been out in the rain or snow all day. The solution? Bring two.

6. Don't freak out that you're cold and put on all of your clothes.
This, in fact, might actually make you colder. Sleeping bags actually use your own body heat to further warm you, so if you have a million layers blocking your natural body heat from the bag, it's not going to work at its highest functionality. I had one friend who said he sleeps naked in his bag. I haven't tried it yet, but I will say this friend was a real badass, so it probably works.

7. Don't get wasted.
Yes, a bottle of backcountry whiskey might be half the reason you go backpacking. But listen: even though that alcohol might make you warmer initially, it could backfire very quickly. One, alcohol dehydrates you, and dehydration makes you colder. Two, the warmth and buzz you get could give you false confidence about how warm you really are. Nothing is more frightening than having a friend get wasted while outside, and passing out in unsafe conditions.

8. Splurge on great gear.
Okay, so this isn't really a "hack," but one non-trick to staying warm is simply having great gear. You're going to feel different in a $60 jacket than a $400 down one. I'm not saying you need to get the most expensive, cutting-edge gear out there, but you should do research and think about investing in pieces that will last forever--and keep you warm.

Remember to always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and be sure to brush up on LNT principles for backcountry fires as well.