Packed Suitcase | Cold Weather Camping: Survival Tips
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Cold Weather Camping: Survival Tips

Cold Weather Camping: Survival Tips

I was recently invited for a weekend of camping and outdoorsy fun in Virginia’s beautiful Shenandoah National Park. I was excited for the trip but terrified of one small detail… the trip was in late October.

Sure, late October is the perfect time of year to visit Shenandoah. It’s literally one of the best places in the country to see the autumn leaves. The problem is that I am distinctly a warm weather person. I’m the type of girl that gets cold in August. (Seriously.)

In the Mid-Atlantic region, October is a month that can often be either really warm or really cold. Of course, our weekend was cold. Like lower 30s cold.

Here are my newly tried and tested tips for surviving a camping trip in brrr-licious cold weather.

Wear Layers. Unabashedly.
Who cares if you waddle like a penguin because you have on 4 pairs of pants and can’t bend your knees! At least you’ll be warm (or warm-er) and when you run into unprepared campers who didn’t bring enough layers, you’ll get a jolt of confidence and feel like you are a camping expert.

Side Note: For some good layers info, check out my Packing for Patagonia post… I used many of the same layers for this trip as well!

Build a fire with maximum heat projection
We tried several different methods over the course of the weekend (drawn from various girl scout memories) but by far the fire with the most effective warming was the TeePee style fire.

To build a TeePee fire of your own, start by creating a mound of leaves and smaller kindling materials into the fire pit. Light the base layer and once you’ve got a steady (yet small) fire going add your larger logs vertically over the kindling to form the shape of a TeePee.

Voila! Hello, warmth!

Plan activities from dusk til dawn
When it’s cold, the worst thing to do would be to just sit and think about how cold/ miserable you are. The solution is to keep yourself busy! Make an involved dinner, tend the fire, organize your tent, go on a hike.

The busier you keep yourself, the warmer you’ll be…AND the more tired you’ll be when it’s time to go to sleep!

View from my hike… so pretty!

Bring an extra comforter to pile on top of your sleeping bag.
I happened to bring an extra down comforter and I don’t think I would have made it if I didn’t have my very own warmth cocoon. If you have it, bring it because the extra comforter can make a world of difference.

Bring the essential warming beverages.
You know… Hot Chocolate, Cider… Bourbon. These will help warm you up in no time!

And remember, if all else fails you can always sleep in your car! But hopefully with these tips, you won’t have to!

How have YOU survived a cold-weather camping adventure? Do you have any tips to add?

  • Megan
    Posted at 03:49h, 26 October

    That's a good looking fire!

  • Mandy Kilinskis
    Posted at 13:25h, 26 October

    I've enjoyed seeing these photos on Instagram and I'm glad that they made another appearance on your blog!

    If I ever get roped into camping – but I hope I don't, because I can't stand it – I'll make sure to follow these tips. Especially the bourbon, haha!

  • Packed Suitcase
    Posted at 15:20h, 26 October

    @Mandy- thanks! I couldn't resist using the instagram'd photos here as well… 🙂

  • Adela @ FourJandals
    Posted at 10:49h, 30 September

    The autumn colours in the photos are lovely. Whisky is another goodie to keep you warm!

  • D.J. - The World of Deej
    Posted at 16:08h, 01 October

    I’m not in to camping, but I’d imagine a flask or two of Knob Creek would help:)