Cold Snap Camping Hacks

About: I love being outdoors, hiking, camping, kayaking and appreciating Nature. I love figuring things out and using my head and hands in creative ways and then sharing what I've learned on Instructables and on my...

Imagine you go camping and are hit with a cold snap in the middle of the night and you wake up shivering in your sleeping bag. It happens to the best of us and you can't just get up and go buy a warmer sleeping bag, so you'll need to know these cold snap hacks so you can warm up and go back to sleep.

1. Get some calories: trail mix or hard candy, any small snack to spark your metabolism. Do this first and then while your body is generating more heat,

2. Take all your extra clothes and put them inside your sleeping bag. They'll be cold but will gradually warm up and add to the insulation of your sleeping bag.

3. Put your hat on. Tons of heat goes right out of the top of your head, and a hat traps a lot of it.

4. Put your rain-gear over your sleeping bag to trap even more heat.

5. When your clothes have warmed up, put the softest ones on. You'll be warmer.

6. Stay inside your tent if you have to urinate. (See my video: Cold Snap Camping Hacks)

7. Practice using your sleeping bag before you go camping so you won't be fumbling around in the dark.

8. Breathe inside your sleeping bag to capture all the warm air you're exhaling. (If you feel you're suffocating, its time to come up for air.)

9. Don't breathe on your glasses if they're cold or they'll steam up and be useless.

10. Keep things you don't want to freeze inside your sleeping bag. I keep baby wipes, (which will freeze together if you let them), electronics, (cellphone, camera batteries, etc.) a bottle of water, since if that freezes you have nothing to drink. Suggest other items in the comment section below.

I hope you never wake up freezing when camping. It happened to me and I barely survived. Here's a video of me recalling that fiasco: I Went Out Alone and Got Lost It happened 20 years ago and I still shiver when I think about it.

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    5 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Couple of things here. I was trained in cold weather survival by the Canadian military. We did 2 weeks in the snow and cold in February.

    1. Do not sleep in the clothing you will wear outside. They get damp in the bag. Then you go outside in damp clothing and get cold. Your first thing was do not put your damp clothes in the bag with you.

    2. Do not breath into your sleeping bag. You breath is moist and then the inside of bag gets moist and cold. Wearing hat is very good though.

    3. We where trained to put our outdoor clothing under sleeping bag, between it and the ground sheet.

    4. Do not sleep with socks on. Feet sweat and cold feet = bad day!

    Still very good article with many good tips.

    2 replies

    Reply 3 years ago

    Thanks for the tips, Loonieone. I never served so I learned these from freezing my butt. I like socks when I sleep and the moisture buildup is minimal, but I can see where in the deep cold you encountered that policy makes a lot of sense, as does not breathing inside your sleeping bag. You guys didn't have inflatable mattresses to insulate? Then it makes sense to keep extra clothing between you and the ground. More than one way to skin a cat and your comments added to what I hoped to do, which was give some ways to stop shivering. Thanks!


    Reply 3 years ago

    lol. No inflatable mattresses then. I still do a lot of camping but to old for winter camping now. But do use a inflatable mattress now. Enjoyed this very much. Have fun stay warm and dry.


    3 years ago

    The only thing I would add is odd to some but handy.

    Get a 1ltr hot water bottle this will warm up your bag and also gives you a warm water supply if you wake up thirsty. It also doubles as a water supply carrier on it`s own

    1 reply