There is nothing more beautiful than standing in front of snow-covered mountains under a clear starry sky, or breathing in the scent of pine trees in the middle of a snowy forest landscape.
However, even the most spectacular setting doesn't make up for miserable camping in sub-zero temperatures. Because all you will think at the sight of such a beautiful scenery is:
How can I survive this bitter cold?? And how do I save my hands from freezing to death??
However, don't worry: you and your hands will be fine if you take our 11 tips to heart. These are true life hacks! We show how you can survive the frosty weather well warmed and well prepared – and enjoy a wonderful camping trip as well. As beautiful as you thought you would be.
1 Sufficient insulation on the tent
While a larger tent may be more comfortable in the summer, in the winter the smallest possible tent is the better choice. The reason is that a larger tent takes much longer to heat up with your body heat, because there is much more cold air in the room. A smaller tent offers accordingly a smaller surface, which can warm up faster. So get ready for a cozy time together with your comrades in the tent!
It's also important to make sure your tent is waterproof. Rain or snow can easily penetrate your tent in the winter and increase the cold feeling if your tent is not waterproof. It should also be robust enough to withstand wind. If you are still unsure about the right choice of tent, you can consult our article where we compared different tents to find the best among the best for you.
2 Suitable insulating clothing
When it comes to your choice of clothing, it's also best to take waterproof and insulating clothes with you! Especially your jacket and shoes should be waterproof, because once moisture gets in, not only will you feel cold and miserable – it will also take longer for them to dry in the cold air. Make sure your shoes are freshly waterproofed and leak-proof to prevent such occurrences.
Especially the fingers and feet get cold faster in winter and make you shiver faster. So always take a hat and gloves. (If you should wear gloves even when golfing in winter, it is obligatory when camping.)
It's also a good idea to bring at least one extra pair of gloves and an extra pair of socks in case your other clothes get wet.
It can also happen that you lose one or the other glove on the way. If you find that a pair of socks is not enough, you can also take your spare socks and put two socks on top of each other.
From personal experience, we advocate in winter especially ski underwear, because they keep incredibly warm due to their synthetic material.
Tip: If you dress in layers, you can always take off or put on a piece of clothing depending on how cold or warm it is. This will prevent you from sweating and your clothes from getting wet on the inside, which can quickly make you feel cold.
It's best to wear a base layer of merino wool, followed by an insulating mid layer like a sweater or fleece jacket. The top layer should be windproof.
3 Bye-bye, air mattress!
Camping is very demanding on the body, so it's important to get a good night's sleep to let your body recover during that time. However, this is not so easy in given cold conditions. Sleeping loses more heat than any other activity, as the body shuts down.
To avoid freezing when you fall asleep, we recommend that you get a 4-season sleeping bag. These are, as the name suggests, good for outdoor camping all year round. In warm weather they ventilate excellently, and in winter they withstand freezing temperatures well. In addition, you can also get a blanket and a foam sleeping pad to keep the cold away from you even more.
If you feel the cold is still coming through, you better put some extra clothes under you and a down jacket on top for an extra blanket.
Also, opt for a mummy sleeping bag rather than an air mattress. As much as we like to sleep on an air mattress – in winter they don't provide enough insulation, which you really need in colder temperatures.
4 heat pads and heat pads
Our modern technology makes it possible to take a piece of warmth with you in practical formats, in case your own body heat is not enough. Such heat pads are generally handy for 'thawing out' freezing limbs, like your hands or your feet. Meanwhile, there are also heat pads with adhesive layer, which thereby stick to your clothes to keep cold parts of the body warm.
For example, on the back of your jacket inside. Or our tip: pre-warm your shoes with hand warmers like these – a truly wonderful feeling of not slipping into your freezing cold shoes after getting out of bed!
Tip: You can also use a stainless steel container as a heat source! Before you put out your campfire, fill your stainless steel water bottle with hot water and stow it at the end of your sleeping bag to keep your feet nice and warm all night long.
5 What to eat?
You may be briefly upset about your food choices when you unwrap the eggs and bagels you brought with you and find them in a frozen state. As a rule, anything that contains a small amount of liquid will freeze in sub-zero temperatures. Plus, in cold weather, you still need to make sure to eat nutritious foods and make sure you're getting enough calories, because trudging through deep snow all day can get tired and exhausting. Even being cold burns a lot of extra calories that need to be replenished by food.
What is best to take with you? Our tip is to bring bacon, stews or chili with you for winter camping. Sandwiches are also a good option if prepared in the morning and placed in an insulated bag next to a thermos of hot water for tea, soup, or hot chocolate. Keep in mind that crackers are much better than sliced bread, as the latter freezes more easily due to its water content. Also remember to take some butter. This helps store healthy fats in your body, which are then converted to sugar to keep your body's energy levels up.
6 Cooking in the cold
If you want to make a campfire in winter, it is best to find a place that is as dry (as possible). If the whole place is covered with snow, first dig a depression in the snow and then put a layer of – as good as possible – dry sticks on it, preferably they should be green.
This layer guarantees you that the fire will not immediately diminish as soon as it comes into contact with the snow, thereby extinguishing it. If you are unsure about how to build a good fire, check out our article on how to do it.
If you are cooking on a camp stove, you can use an insulated pad under the stove to keep the snow from melting away under it.
An insulating pad can be an old computer mouse pad, for example, something like this works great for it!
But be careful: compressed gases like butane or propane don't work well in cold temperatures, even liquid gases quickly take on the same temperature as air, so be careful not to hurt yourself when handling them in subzero temperatures.
7 Think about your water supply
In the absolute cold, or when you're exposed to rain and snow, you often don't think to hydrate yourself as well. Sufficient hydration is very important, especially in winter, as cold air usually has less moisture than warm air.
Dehydration can cause fatigue and help you get cold faster and in the worst case scenario, hypothermia.
Use an insulated container, such as z.B. A thermos that you fill with water to keep you hydrated during your hike. To prevent your water from freezing overnight, keep your thermos in your sleeping bag where you sleep. Or place it upside down on a snowbank and bury it so that the ice is at the bottom of the container when it starts to freeze. However, the snow should be able to insulate your thermos well enough so that it doesn't freeze.
8 Keep moving
The easiest way to stay warm on a chilly day is to keep moving. Plan enough activities into your camping trip, such as z.B. Hiking, gathering firewood, or other projects that keep you physically on your toes. You can also have active games, like a scavenger hunt, where you have to move around a lot.
9 Take a nourishing cream with you
Chapped skin from the cold can be uncomfortable – so make sure you also have a hand cream to apply to the dry area and protect it from the cold. Don't ignore areas that aren't dry, but are more exposed to the cold – so put cream on your face, ears, neck, wrists or hands to prevent frostbite. Vaseline or animal fats are especially recommended.
10 Temperature is important (especially at night!)
There's nothing like feeling the warmth and glow of a campfire on your cold face and noticing your cheeks and hands gradually thaw out. Not only will you stay nice and warm, but it will also lift the spirits of the group tremendously and make you feel much more at home already.
If a campfire is not possible right now, you can also light a candle lantern in the tent to warm yourself and your comrades. However, be sure to be aware of fire safety hazards and don't leave the lantern alone and unattended.
If you light it half an hour before you go to bed, it should warm you up enough before you go to sleep and turn it off again. It may also be too early to sleep? The cozy glow of a candle lantern is very inviting for a round of board games, and another round, and another…
11 Play it safe
Before you set out on your hiking adventure, always check the weather conditions to make sure you have everything you need for the weather conditions. It's also important to know where you are at all times, because it can get dangerous if you get lost and it's cold, wet and dark.